Medical laboratory scientists perform sophisticated laboratory tests used by physicians to diagnose and treat disease. They manage every aspect of the lab to rapidly produce the reliable data needed for helping patients.

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 Study at 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 a partnership between the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and Allen College in Waterloo, Iowa. Allen College's 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.

Course Work

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 the program should consult with a program adviser early on to plan appropriate course work.

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 learn how lab tests are best applied to diagnose and monitor human disease. They work with clinical laboratory scientists in hospital laboratories to apply knowledge and skills in hematology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, immunohematology, immunology, molecular diagnostics, research, and laboratory management.

The clinical year curriculum includes online lectures and rotations in laboratories that teach the basic knowledge and skills used in all areas of laboratory diagnosis. During the fall and spring semesters, students work one-on-one with laboratory professionals in the clinical laboratories of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center while completing additional web-based course work.

Graduates earn a BS degree in Health Sciences from Allen College in addition to the BS degree from Iowa.

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

Admission Requirements

Admission to the MLS 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. Applications are accepted until the class is filled.

Review the Allen College MLS website ( for the current requirements for admission to the program.

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.

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Student Opportunities

In addition to nearly 600 student organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple living-learning communities, study abroad programs, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and 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, so MLS graduates have numerous employment opportunities nationwide. They consistently find employment before or very soon after graduation. Starting salaries are $42,000 to $45,000 or more, 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.


The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships. Allen College also offers student aid for students in the clinical year.

Application Process

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Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Medical Laboratory Science (BS)
Four-Year Graduation Plan
Competitive Admission
Accepts 10-15 students per year