Cytology Degrees by Degree Program Level

Cytologists, also called cytotechnologists, analyze cells and their environment to detect abnormalities or toxins that can lead to infection, disease or cancer. Find out about the bachelor's and master's degrees available to pursue this line of work.

Essential Information

Cytologists typically work under the supervision of pathologists. A bachelor's degree is required for entry-level positions, and graduate degree programs are also available. Before students begin their bachelor's degree program they must hold a high school diploma or GED. Those who graduate with a cytology degree may decide to earn a cytology certification as well.

Cytotechnologists work in private laboratories, clinics, hospitals, universities and health organizations as certified cytotechnologists, or in cytotechnology administration or research. Successful individuals will possess communication skills, attention to detail, scientific knowledge, analytical abilities and patience.

Cytotechnology Bachelor of Science Degree

Degree programs in cytology- also referred to as cell biology- train students to examine the composition, structure, function and interaction of cells. Curricula are designed to prepare individuals to work in clinical laboratory settings. Students learn basic science principles and complete clinical practica. Training is focused on detecting abnormalities at the cellular level using microscopic evaluation methods.

Cytotechnology students must have a strong understanding of human biology and laboratory techniques. The following courses are offered by many cytotechnology programs:

  • Medical ethics
  • Clinical microbiology
  • Chemistry
  • Laboratory techniques
  • Cytology techniques
  • Human anatomy

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Anatomy
  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Cellular Biology and Histology
  • Embryology and Developmental Biology
  • Neuroanatomy

Cytotechnology Master of Science Degree

A cytotechnology master's degree program prepares graduates for professional careers in administration, clinical laboratory science, research and management. Program curricula combine classroom learning with clinical experiences, with the emphasis on laboratory work. Students focus on diagnostic techniques and on analyzing microscopic specimens. Courses are highly scientific, requiring focus and patience.

Advanced programs in cytotechnology require students to grasp fundamental techniques and theoretical principles. Coursework extends into research and management to prepare graduates for leadership roles. Courses offered in cytotechnology master's degree programs include:

  • Fine needle aspiration
  • Health sciences management
  • Research methods in health sciences
  • Cytogenetics
  • Gynecological cytology
  • Cell analysis

Popular Career Options

A cytotechnology master's degree qualifies graduates for leadership roles in the public and private sectors. Some career opportunities are:

  • Laboratory administrator
  • Academic researcher
  • Veterinary laboratory technologist
  • Educator
  • Biotechnician
  • Forensic technologist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the employment outlook for clinical laboratory technicians, which are comparable to cytotechnologists, as increasing 18% from 2014 to 2024. The demand for new tests may fuel this growth. In May 2015, the BLS reported that clinical laboratory technicians earned a median of $38,970, while clinical laboratory technologists earned median salaries of $60,520.

Continuing Education Information

The American Society for Clinical Pathology provides national certification for those who hold advanced degrees. Individuals who pass the certification exam may use the title Specialist in Cytotechnology (SCT) after their names. State licensure may also be necessary to practice in some states. Those seeking a Ph.D. degree may consider a program in clinical laboratory sciences or cytopathology.

Laboratory work requires a high level of education and is experiencing high demand. Those who are interested in cytology can pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in cytotechnology.

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