University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota




Medical Laboratory Science (formally Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS))

All students interested in applying to the Medical Laboratory Sciences Program at the University of Minnesota must attend a First Step Information Session and complete our Admission Eligibility Diagnostic Tool.


MLS Admission Levels – Year 3 vs. Year 4

The Medical Laboratory Sciences Program has several unique features that prospective students should explore. First, there are two levels for admission to MLS; as a Year 3 or Year 4 student. Because many students come to the MLS Program with prior degrees and/or transfer coursework in math and sciences from other institutions, the MLS Program has defined Year 3 and Year 4 status based on progress in required MLS classes, NOT on what year in school a student is entering or the number of credits they have earned.

Admission to Year 3

Starting in Year 3 is highly recommended, and requires that students have completed the quantitative, chemistry, and biology prerequisites for admission. Once admitted to Year 3, students have one year to complete Biochemistry, Genetics, Microbiology with lab, MLS Immunobiology, MLS Laboratory Techniques, MLS Professional Issues and any remaining liberal education requirements* before they move into Year 4. Students who complete Year 3 and are in good academic standing do not have to re-apply for admission or progression to Year 4.

Admission to Year 4

Year 4 admission is possible if students have already completed the quantitative, chemistry, and biology prerequisites AS WELL AS all liberal education requirements*, MLS Laboratory Methods,  Immunobiology and  Professional Issues. The last three will be offered in Summer for admits to take prior to fall semester.

MLS has a Hybrid Curriculum

Another important feature of the MLS Program at the University of Minnesota is the hybrid nature of its curriculum. The Medical Laboratory Sciences program’s educational delivery model employs a Hybrid Teaching model using a “flipped” classroom delivery method. Educational research has shown that for optimal learning to occur students must be actively engaged with the content. So instead of the “Sage on the Stage” where the instructor talks and students sit and listen, the instructor takes the role of their “Guide on the Side.” Students read the content material, view videos of lectures, and may practice some problem solving on their own time. Students then come to class and work together to practice applying the knowledge, solving case studies, and developing new ideas all guided by the instructor. The instructor can correct any misconceptions of critical material well in advance of the exam.

This model has many advantages for student learning. Students can work at their own pace and when their schedule allows; they can listen to lectures as many times as they want; and because lectures are recorded they won’t miss something the instructor said. When students work together on problem solving in class, they build confidence and mastery learning, instead of slipping back into memorization habits.

In the MLS Program, lecture courses and portions of the laboratory courses are recorded and available to students in advance. Face-to-face sessions for lecture courses (not labs, which meet almost every week) may only be scheduled 5-10 times per semester.  But those face-to-face meeting times will be highly enriched learning opportunities with plenty of opportunity to ask questions. Our own program data has shown that students in a flipped classroom or technology enhanced classroom environment out-perform students in a traditional classroom.

Students should explore whether or not they are ready for online learning prior to applying for admission to the program.

Two Performance Sites (Locations) for Year 4: Twin Cities or Rochester

MLS has performance sites (locations) at the Twin Cities and Rochester campuses as a way of increasing access to the program and training more students to enter the workforce. Assignment to a performance site takes place for Year 4; all Year 3 students currently attend classes in the Twin Cities. The same faculty teach at both campus locations in state-of-the-art laboratory facilities. The Rochester performance site has a small-college atmosphere and student housing connected to campus through the skyway system. The Twin Cities performance site is located within the larger Academic Health Center on the Minneapolis campus and is a much more urban environment. Each location provides comparable access to student support services and amenities. Students must attend laboratory classes at their assigned performance site, but can attend lectures at either campus location. Laboratory classes are scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that students who live off campus can commute to their assigned site.

Newly admitted and continuing students entering Year 4 are asked for their performance site preference, but students are NOT guaranteed placement at their preferred site. Notification of site assignment takes place in May, allowing students time to plan their work, family, and housing needs in advance to accommodate an assignment at either performance site for the upcoming fall term.

Clinical Experience Education Sites

During the last semester of the MLS degree program, students participate in a 12 week clinical experience (four 3-week blocks) providing the opportunity to apply their campus education to the real world of the medical laboratory. Clinical affiliation sites, which are located throughout the state of Minnesota and a few in Wisconsin, are fully accredited by a number of professional and private agencies. Students are assigned to clinical experience locations based on a number of factors including academic standing, housing availability, and number of experiences available at each clinical affiliate. Students are usually assigned to at least one rural location for a 3-week rotation to learn the differences in practice in smaller facilities outside of a metro area. To provide all students with a balanced clinical experience, clinical placement is assigned by the program instead of by student preference.

Find Out More

Students are also strongly encouraged to take the one-credit Orientation to MLS (MLSP 1010) course, which is offered online during fall, spring, and summer sessions. This class is available to students not yet admitted to the U of M through our College of Continuing Education.

Certification Requirements

  • Upon completion of the MLS program students are eligible to take the national certification examination provided by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).
  • Successful completion of the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC) exam after graduation provides eligibility for state licensure and employment in a medical laboratory.
  • Some states have their own licensure requirements to practice in a laboratory setting. You will need to verify with an individual state regarding trainee licenses or other requirements for new graduates.

(* A baccaulareate degree from an accredited institution fulfills the liberal education requirements needed for a second major or degree in MLS from the University of Minnesota).