Pre-Cytotechnology Plan

The UT Martin Pre-Cytotechnology Plan is designed to prepare students for application to a graduate program in cytotechnology.  By following the Pre-Cytotechnology Plan recommendations, students will be eligible for admission into most graduate cytotechnology programs.  The courses listed in the plan are intended only as a guideline and students are strongly encouraged to review the requirements for their school(s) of choice as they vary from school to school. 


Please note:  The Pre-Cytotechnology Plan is not a major and does not fulfill the requirements for a baccalaureate degree at UT Martin.  The courses listed below are recommendations and are not required for degree completion unless also listed under the student’s chosen major. 


Frequently Asked Questions


What does a cytotechnologist do?
Cytotechnologists are laboratory professionals who study cells to determine if there are any abnormalities.  Their duties may include collecting, preparing, and staining body cell samples and then examining those cells under a microscope to look for abnormalities or clues that may signal the beginning of a cancerous growth.  Cytotechnologists often work closely with pathologists and other physicians to diagnose and treat cancer.  Additionally, cytotechnologists may be involved in research to determine the most effective chemical treatment for each type of cancer cell.


Is there a demand for cytotechnologists?
Yes, employment of Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians such as cytotechnologists is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2026.


What degree to do I need to become a cytotechnologist?
In order to be eligible for certification, you must have a bachelor’s degree and attend a cytotechnology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).  Most cytotechnology programs offer a bachelor’s degree; however, some programs award a certificate and a few programs award master’s degree. 

Most graduate programs allow students to apply prior to earning a baccalaureate degree and some offer a combined bachelor’s/master’s program so that students may earn a B.S and an M.S. simultaneously.  It is important to note, however, that in order to be certified, an individual must have a Baccalaureate degree or higher from a regionally accredited college/university and have successfully completed a CAAHEP-accredited cytotechnology program.  Additionally, some states (including Tennessee) require individuals to be licensed in order to practice cytotechnology. 


Do I have to have a license or a particular credential?
The recognized credential for cytotechnologists is the Certified Cytotechnologist (CT) through the American Society for Clinical pathology (ASCP).  Additionally, the state of Tennessee requires cytotechnologists to be licensed.


How many cytotechnology programs are there in Tennessee?
There are 25 cytotechnology programs in the United States. The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis is the only cytotechnology program in Tennessee.


How long is the typical graduate cytotechnology program?
Certificate programs are usually approximately 1 year in length.  Bachelor’s programs are usually 4 years and Master’s programs are typically 2 years post-baccalaureate. 


Are there any required admissions tests for cytotechnology programs?
Bachelor’s programs may require the SAT or ACT; certificate and Master’s programs may require the GRE.


When should I apply?
Applications to graduate cytotechnology programs should be submitted in the summer or fall of the year preceding the desired admission date.  For most students, this means that they will apply the summer after their junior year. 


Do I have to have a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into a graduate cytotechnology program?
A baccalaureate degree is required for licensure; however, some of the graduate programs offered a combined B.S./M.S. degree. In those cases, you do not have to have a bachelor’s degree prior to being accepted into the graduate program.


What kind of grades do I need to get into a graduate cytotechnology program?
Most graduate cytotechnology programs require a GPA of at least 2.5; however, a GPA of at least 3.0 is recommended.  Moreover, most graduate cytotechnology programs require that all prerequisite classes be completed with a grade of “C” or higher.


Do I need any professional experience?
Unfortunately, opportunities to observe or job shadow in the field of cytotechnology are rare so no experience is required; however, you should have an adequate understanding of field prior to applying to a graduate program.  If at all possible, you should try to at least visit a lab or interview a cytotechnologist.


Will I be a pre-cytotechnology major?
No.  The Pre-Cytotechnology Plan is not a major and does not fulfill the requirements for a baccalaureate degree at UT Martin.  The courses listed in the plan are recommendations and are not required for degree completion unless also listed under the student’s chosen major. 


What should I major in?
The best major is the one in which you are most interested and the most likely to succeed.  For students wishing to earn a baccalaureate degree from UT Martin prior to enrolling in a graduate program, the Bachelor of Science in Biology – Cell and Molecular concentration and the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry major include many of the courses listed below. 


What are the minimum requirements for a cytotechnology program?
The admission criteria for graduate cytotechnology programs vary somewhat; however most programs require approximately 20 hours of biology and chemistry electives.  The choice of electives is typically left to the student and, in general, only a few prerequisites are specified. 

The most common prerequisites are:

  • 8 hours of biology
  • 8 hours of chemistry
  • 6 hours of English
  • 3 hours of Statistics


What classes at UT Martin should I take as a pre-cytotechnology student?
When choosing biology and chemistry electives, students are strongly encouraged to choose upper division courses, particularly courses involving a lab.  Classes in microbiology, zoology, and physics are recommended.  While not an exhaustive list, the following courses are strongly recommended for students considering applying to a graduate program.  You should always check with your advisor and/or school(s) of choice before deciding which classes to take.   

  • Biology 130 Foundations of Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Diversity
  • Biology 140 Foundations of Biology: Cell and Molecular
  • Biology 336 Genetics
  • Biology 337 Cell Biology
  • Biology 338 Cell Biology laboratory
  • Chemistry 121 General Chemistry I
  • Chemistry 122 General Chemistry II
  • Communications 230 Public Speaking
  • English 111 English Composition I
  • English 112 English Composition II
  • Math 140 College Algebra OR Math 210 Elementary Statistics and Probability
  • Microbiology 251 General Bacteriology OR Microbiology 310 General Molecular Microbiology
  • Zoology 251 Anatomy & Physiology I
  • Zoology 352 Anatomy & Physiology II
  • Zoology 440 General Parasitology
  • Zoology 462 Histology


Where can I find out more about the field of cytotechnology and cytotechnology education?
American Society for Cytotechnology (ASCT)
Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
American Society for Clinical Pathology
American Society of Cytopathology

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