If you're interested in health care, laboratory work, producing and using scientific data, and analytical problem solving, then Medical Laboratory Science may be the career for you.

Medical laboratory scientists perform a full range of laboratory tests used by physicians to diagnose and treat disease. They work quickly and carefully to confirm the accuracy of test results and report laboratory findings to pathologists and patients' physicians. 

As an MLS, you'll work with microscopes, complex electronic equipment, computers, and precision instruments to give clear and accurate reports to physicians. Up to 70 percent of physicians' decisions related to disease diagnosis and treatment are directly related to laboratory results, making you a vital part of a patient's medical team.

Career options for students in this degree program include working in health care, research, or industry; in hospital or clinical laboratories, in doctor's offices, or in the armed services. This major also is excellent preparation for advanced study in science, medicine, dentistry, business, and other areas.

Why Iowa?

Students in the Medical Laboratory Science Program (MLSP) at Iowa have achieved tremendous success on national certification exams and in the workplace. In the past five years, 96 percent of enrolled students completed the program and 99 percent of graduates passed a national certification exam on their first attempt.

Iowa's program is offered through partnerships between the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and Mercy College of Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa, and St. Luke's Unity Point in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This program is fully accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. 

Graduates of this program are eligible for national certification, and mean test scores and pass rates on the national certification exam consistently place the University of Iowa among the nation's top sites for MLS education.

Overall, the curriculum provides patient-centered educational opportunities and firsthand experience working with specimens from patients who have a wide variety of illnesses. Students are challenged to integrate their knowledge of biological and chemical principles and epidemiological data with their understanding of technical procedures to determine and communicate the clinical significance of laboratory findings.

Iowa offers related undergraduate degree programs in Radiation Sciences and Nuclear Medicine Technology.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Medical Laboratory Science Program's clinical year of study requires satisfactory grades on about three years of prerequisite course work (in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, microbiology, genetics, immunology, precalculus, statistics, English, and public speaking). Students usually apply for admission to the clinical year early in the fall semester of their junior year and begin the program the following year. Students must apply to the MLS program directly and applications are accepted until the class is filled.

Students who have not yet completed the prerequisite course work need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Upon admission to the college, the student will work with an adviser to select the course work required for later application to the MLS program's clinical year of study.

Review the Mercy College of Health Sciences website for the current requirements for admission to the program.


Medical Laboratory Science
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
  Competitive Admission
Enrollment is limited.
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

On average, Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

The demand for medical laboratory scientists is much greater than the number of people qualified to fill the positions and, with a 100 percent placement rate, Iowa's MLS graduates have numerous employment opportunities nationwide. The projected job growth from 2018 to 2028 is 14 percent. In 2021, the median salary was $57,800 and may be higher, depending on shift differentials, bonuses, and location.

Opportunities for advancement include positions such as lab manager, computer specialist, technical specialist, or sales representative. An advanced degree in basic sciences, medicine, hospital administration, or business can expand your earning potential.

Graduates often enjoy diverse work environments, including labs in hospitals, research institutions, public health facilities, forensic units, or pharmaceutical companies. They also have an impact in the field as integral members of health care teams, providing information essential for the treatment and prevention of disease.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 study abroad programs, and multiple Undergraduate Research Opportunities.


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

Mercy College of Health Sciences offers financial aid for students in the clinical year. More than $300,000 in scholarships is available annually. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.


The Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in medical laboratory science at Iowa is competitive and requires completion of about three years of prerequisite college course work before students can apply for admission to the program for its clinical year of study. Students interested in this degree program should consult with a program adviser as early as possible to plan preclinical studies that meet all requirements. 

Before beginning the professional program, students must complete all prerequisites, including the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core requirements, and must earn at least 84 s.h. of college credit. 

During the first three years in the program, students acquire a strong foundation in biology and chemistry with additional course work in math, statistics, English, and oral communication.

In their senior year, called the clinical year, students begin the three-semester Medical Laboratory Science Certificate program at Mercy College of Health Science in Des Moines, Iowa. The program includes both intensive classroom instruction and clinical laboratory experiences. Students learn to perform, evaluate, ensure accuracy and validity, interpret, and correlate the results of a wide variety of laboratory tests used in the diagnoses and treatments of patients. They also problem solve, direct and supervise, and troubleshoot issues that arise in laboratory settings. 

In order to earn the Medical Laboratory Science BS degree from Iowa, students must successfully complete the professional program requirements at Mercy College of Health Sciences.  

See Medical Laboratory Science in the General Catalog for more information.