Online Medical Laboratory Technician Schools: How to Choose

Medical laboratory technicians must have laboratory experience in the field to become certified; therefore, students typically complete hybrid programs rather than fully online programs. Learn about the choices involved in selecting a school and what kind of curriculum to expect.

When choosing a program for medical laboratory technician training, it is important for students to consider desired program level, availability, and clinical requirements. Interested individuals should also think about previous experience, career goals, and licensure requirements when making a final decision.

How to Select an Online Medical Laboratory Technician School

A few community colleges offer partially online medical laboratory technician programs. Students can enroll in an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree, depending upon their current level of education. Hybrid programs for medical laboratory technicians are usually offered at the associate's level, although bachelor's and master's programs are available to become a medical laboratory technologist. Students must then factor in the lab requirements.

Program Level

Prior to choosing an online school, applicants must consider their career goals and level of study. Those looking to become a medical laboratory tech only need to complete associate's degree program in medical laboratory technology to begin work. However, online programs in medical technology are available at the bachelor's and master's levels. Students completing these programs are qualified to become certified medical laboratory technologists.

Online Availability

Though licensure requirements vary by state, most employers look for medical laboratory techs who are certified through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), which requires them to have graduated from an approved institution in order to meet certification requirements. To become approved, an institution must provide students with clinical training; therefore, programs are typically offered in hybrid formats.

Laboratory Requirements

Some institutions allow students to take coursework over the Internet, then meet clinical requirements at a local area hospital or college facility. Others allow students to complete their clinical requirements at a number of different approved facilities across the country. Another option is for students to complete clinical requirements at a medical laboratory where they already work.

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Online Programs for Prospective Medical Laboratory Technicians

Online Associate of Applied Science in Medical Laboratory Technology

This degree program is designed for students who have no experience in the allied health industry. The degree is normally presented online via education software that combines email and message boards. Prior to program completion, students must meet clinical hour requirements. Students complete online coursework in areas such as:

  • Urinalysis and body fluids analysis
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology

Online Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science

A bachelor's degree program expands on the knowledge clinical laboratory technicians gained in an associate program through electives and general education. These degrees also provide the clinical experience needed for ASCP technologist certification. However, students with extensive work experience may be able to waive the clinical portion. Required coursework includes:

  • Biostatistics and research
  • Advanced clinical hematology and hemostasis
  • Advanced clinical microbiology
  • Chemistry
  • Immunohematology

Online Master of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science

These programs are designed for those members of the medical laboratory profession who wish to expand their careers through advanced education. Master's degree programs focus on recent advances and research in the industry. Students can typically find these programs in fully online formats. Elective and required coursework can include:

  • Molecular diagnostics
  • Infectious disease
  • Healthcare regulations
  • Advanced topics in cytology

Schools with Online Programs in Laboratory Science

Weber State University's Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences offers two relevant degrees for individuals currently employed in a hospital or lab. The first is a two-year Associate of Applied Science Technician degree and the second is a four-year BS Medical Technology (MT). Both programs are available online but the BS contains administrative coursework that the AAS does not. The AAS degree requires successful completion of 63 credits consisting of both specialized and general education coursework, while a BS degree requires the completion of 120 credits. After completing the AAS MLT program, students are eligible to take the ASCP MLT certification examination. The two available tracks depend on the individual's desired future work environment. Online tuition is a flat fee regardless of physical location.

Rutgers has an online program available for a Masters in Clinical Laboratory Science. It focuses on the application and evaluation of knowledge in laboratory science to improve clinical laboratory and health care services. The MS program requires completion of 33 credits. This includes required specialized coursework, electives, and a self-directed graduate project that looks at a current issue in health care delivery. Students should be practicing professionals and have a baccalaureate degree in addition to being ASCP certified.

When choosing an online medical laboratory school, individuals must take into account program level, availability, and proximity to a laboratory environment. While many programs accept coursework via the internet, the clinical element generally must be completed in person.

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