How to Choose Cytotechnology Schools and Colleges

Bachelor's and master's programs for cytotechnology are offered both traditionally and online. Licensure may be required in some states, and professional certification is available to graduates of an accredited program. Keep reading for tips about selecting a school for your cytotechnology studies.

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Cytotechnologists perform microscopic studies of cell samples to identify disease and test for evidence of cancer, bacterial infection or viruses. Cytotechnology programs typically exist at the bachelor's and master's levels at teaching hospitals and 4-year colleges and universities.

10 Cytotechnology Schools

There are schools across the country with applicable programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered* Tuition 2015-2016**
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Dartmouth, Massachusetts 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate:
In-state $12,588
Out-of-state $26,173 Graduate:
In-state: $2,071
Out-of-state: $8,099
Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences Rochester, Minnesota 4-year, private not-for-profit Certificate Undergraduate:
$17,182*
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, Texas 4-year, public Bachelor's In-state $4,590 Out-of-state $23,280
University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, Nebraska 4-year, public Certificate Graduate:
In-state $7,830
Out-of-state $22,410
George Washington University Washington, District of Columbia 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's $50,435
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, North Carolina 4-year, public Master's In-state $9,143 Out-of-state $26,354
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis Indianapolis, Indiana 4-year, public Bachelor's In-state $9,056 Out-of-state $29,774
St. Louis University Saint Louis, Missouri 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, certificate Undergraduate: $39,226
Graduate: $18,900
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock, Arkansas 4-year, public Bachelor's In-state $6,963 Out-of-state $15,999
Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: $35,264
Graduate: $27,798

Sources: *School websites, **National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

  • Students are encouraged to check state requirements and verify that an educational program meets accreditation standards prior to applying. Some states regulate the profession of clinical laboratory scientists and may require licensure for cytologists. Students may want to also verify that a program offers proper preparation for a license.
  • Most programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels have limited admissions. Candidates are typically required to complete 2-3 years of general education and prerequisite courses prior to entering the professional program. Some master's programs do not require a bachelor's degree, though most expect a high undergraduate GPA for specific coursework in biology, chemistry and mathematics. Applicants of a graduate program may require nationally recognized certification or field experience for acceptance.
  • Nearly all programs include clinical experiences as an essential part of the cytotechnology program. Teaching hospitals often provide on-site laboratory exposure, while other universities may offer rotations at affiliated hospital and commercial laboratories. Due to the nature of the scientific community, students may use clinical practicums to develop future employment leads.
  • Potential applicants should also research employment statistics of the school's graduates and the general reputation of the school they plan to attend, as well as scientific publications of the faculty.

Bachelor of Science in Cytotechnology

Students declare an undergraduate major in cytotechnology during their junior or senior year and typically must have completed three years of undergraduate coursework prior to beginning cytotechnology coursework. Students must have completed undergraduate coursework in the biological sciences and chemistry to qualify for the program. Programs typically limit the number of accepted applicants, and coursework is focused solely on biological research, microbiology and disease-specific cytology. Laboratory courses teach proper collection and preparation methods, and students utilize the training during the latter part of the program through clinical practicums at a hospital or clinical lab. Some schools award both a certificate of completion and a bachelor's degree to graduates of the program.

Master of Science in Cytotechnology

Several graduate schools offer a Master of Science degree in either cytotechnology or laboratory sciences with a cytopathology concentration. Programs require clinical practicums and may require a thesis as well. Students may find online programs that offer didactic teaching through distance learning with on-site participation during laboratory rotations. Typically taking two years to complete, courses focus heavily on disease and lab method research. Studies may provide focus on the pathology of specific medical disciplines, such as gynecology or oncology.

When choosing a degree program related to cytotechnology, students must verify prerequisites, employment statistics for graduates, professional exposure opportunities, and that the program is accredited and prepares them for licensure.

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