Share on:

Frequently Asked Questions

Photo of Mayo medical laboratory science student handling a specimen
Back to top

What is a medical laboratory scientist?

Medical laboratory scientists work with state-of-the-art equipment to analyze a variety of biological specimens. Medical laboratory science personnel are responsible for performing scientific testing on samples and reporting results to physicians.

It is estimated that 60 to 70 percent of all decisions about a patient's diagnosis, treatment, and hospital admission and discharge are influenced by laboratory test results.

Medical laboratory scientists collaborate very closely with physicians in diagnosing and monitoring disease processes, as well as monitoring the effectiveness of therapy. Areas of medical laboratory training include microbiology, chemistry, hematology, immunology, transfusion medicine, toxicology and molecular diagnostics.

Medical laboratory science professionals have completed a bachelor's degree and passed a national certification exam that qualifies them to work in all parts of the medical laboratory.

Back to top

What is the career outlook for a medical laboratory scientist?

A medical laboratory scientist's analytical, scientific and technical skills are a valuable and desired asset for employment opportunities. There is currently a national shortage of certified clinical laboratory scientists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that medical laboratory science positions exhibit faster than average employment growth and forecasts excellent job opportunities.

Medical laboratory science training is also a great way to prepare for careers in medicine and research science. Opportunities also exist for medical laboratory science graduates in the areas of biotechnology, forensics, laboratory management, quality, research and education.

At Mayo Clinic, medical laboratory scientists interested in advancement opportunities may choose from several tracks including development, technical, education, quality and management.

Back to top

What is the current pay or salary for a medical laboratory scientist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual salary earnings of medical or clinical laboratory technologists were $57,580 in May 2012.

Back to top
Photo of Mayo medical laboratory science students in a classroom
Back to top

What does the Mayo Clinic Medical Laboratory Science Program entail?

Once accepted into the program, students spend 10.5 months in training. The program consists of didactic lectures as well as hands-on clinical rotations. The entire program earns the student 43 academic credit hours.

The program includes web-supported courses with online content, and students participate in daily laboratory sessions in our new state-of-the-art teaching laboratory. Students complete courses in hematology, clinical chemistry, immunology, clinical microbiology, molecular diagnostics, transfusion medicine, laboratory management, quality control and method validation.

From there, the students advance to their clinical experiences, where they are able to perform clinical laboratory testing in the context of the work setting.

Back to top

What type of degree or certification is granted with this program?

Upon successful completion of your Medical Laboratory Science Program, students receive a certificate of completion from Mayo School of Health Sciences. Students enrolled in the 3+1 program receive a certificate in medical laboratory science from Mayo School of Health Sciences and a baccalaureate degree from their home institution.

Students enrolling in the post-baccalaureate receive a certificate in medical laboratory science from Mayo Clinic. Graduates from our program are eligible for certification through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (BOC) and are credentialed as medical laboratory scientists, or MLS(ASCP)CM.

Our program has a 90 to 94 percent first-time pass rate for the national certification examination, and our program mean score is above the national mean for both hospital- and university-based programs.

Back to top

What are some of the personal qualities that are important for a medical laboratory scientist?

All qualified medical laboratory science candidates typically possess the following general characteristics:

  • Aptitude for the basic sciences, computers and laboratory instrumentation
  • Ability to work quickly and carefully
  • Self-sufficient, precise and thorough
  • Emotional stability under pressure
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
Back to top

How long is the program?

The Medical Laboratory Science Program curriculum is taught in 10.5 months. During the first six months, students complete 35 credit hours of the program's didactic and laboratory lessons in the Medical Laboratory Science Program teaching laboratory.

From there, students advance to their clinical experiences. The clinical experiences include four months of laboratory rotations and are a second application of the medical laboratory science curriculum in the context of the work setting.

Back to top

Can a student work while participating in the program?

Some students have worked while attending the program. We recommend that no student work more than 10 to 12 hours a week as the curriculum can be demanding and requires consistent review and study effort. There is an estimated four to six hours of homework a day. Most of the students who have worked have expressed that it was challenging for them to keep up with the content.

Back to top

What are the application deadlines for the respective start dates?

See Application Process for deadline information. Applications are accepted throughout the year, but applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. The application materials must include a completed application form, essay, two to three letters of recommendation (online form is acceptable), and official transcripts.

Back to top

What are the prerequisites for the program?

Applicants must demonstrate an overall GPA of at least 2.75 on a 4.0-point scale and a strong track record in science and math. Math and science courses that are required and recommended for admittance to the Medical Laboratory Science Program at Mayo Clinic are:

Subject Prerequisites
Biological sciences (16 semester hours)


  • Microbiology (with lab preferred)
  • Anatomy and/or physiology

Strongly recommended:

  • Genetics
  • Molecular biology
  • Immunology
Chemistry (16 semester hours)


  • Organic chemistry (with lab)

Strongly recommended:

  • Biochemistry
Mathematics and statistics

Strongly recommended:

  • Statistics
Back to top

What are my references required to submit on my behalf?

It is preferred that your references, at a minimum, complete the online recommendation section where they will rate certain qualities on a level of 1 through 5. Additional comments can also be submitted as part of that process. If the reference would prefer, a separate hard-copy letter also may be submitted.

Back to top

How is the interview process conducted?

Applications are first reviewed for eligibility. Eligible applications are then evaluated with emphasis on course work (upper level science courses with lab), grades, knowledge of the field, essay and letters of recommendation.

The highest quality candidates are selected for interviews. The interview process includes a behavioral panel interview as well as individual interviews with each of the faculty. It includes a tour of the facilities and typically lasts about three to four hours.

Back to top

Is it possible to visit the program facilities prior to submitting an application?

Anyone interested in our program is encouraged to contact program staff to request a tour. We are happy to provide a tour of the program facilities as well as some of the laboratories at Mayo Clinic. We encourage job shadowing as it can be a valuable factor in deciding whether or not medical laboratory science is the right career for you.

Back to top
  • Sep 29, 2016
  • ART904416