Pre-Medical Laboratory Science Plan

The UT Martin Pre- Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) Plan is designed to prepare students for application to a Medical Technology (MT) or Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) professional program.  By following the Pre-MLS Plan recommendations, students will be eligible for admission into most MLS programs; however, the prerequisite courses required for admission vary from one institution to the next.  The courses listed below are intended only as a guideline and students are strongly encouraged to review the requirements for their school(s) of choice. 

Please note:  The Pre-MLS 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 medical laboratory scientist do?
A medical laboratory scientist is a critical part of the behind-the-scenes healthcare team.  They are responsible for performing, analyzing, and evaluating tests on body fluids such as blood, urine, and tissue.  While many medical laboratory scientists work in labs associated with physicians’ offices or hospitals, they can also be found outside the lab in administration, public health, sales, and education.  Medical laboratory scientists can specialize in areas such as microbiology, molecular biology, and blood bank technology.  Some of the tasks performed by medical laboratory scientists include using a microscope to examine blood and other body fluids; making cultures of body fluid and tissue samples; determining the presence of bacteria, fungi, parasites, or other microorganisms; analyzing samples for chemical content or a chemical reaction; determining concentrations of compounds such as blood glucose and cholesterol levels; and typing and cross matching blood samples for transfusions.

Is there a demand for medical laboratory scientists?
According to the US Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2026.


What degree to do I need to become a medical laboratory scientist?
In order to be eligible for certification, you must have a bachelor’s degree and attend a Medical (or Clinical) Laboratory Science program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency
for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). 


Do I have to have a license or a particular credential?
There are two recognized credentials for medical laboratory personnel: Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) and Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT).  Individuals holding the MLS credential may be called medical laboratory scientists, medical technologists, or medical laboratory technologists. 


How many MLS programs are there in Tennessee?
There are four programs that award a B.S. degree, one that awards an M.S. degree, and two that award a certificate.

B.S. degree: Austin Peay State University, Lincoln Memorial University, University of Tennessee Medical Center, and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center

M.S. degree: the University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Certificate: University of Tennessee Medical Center and Vanderbilt University Medical Center


How long is the typical professional MLS program?
The professional programs are one to two years after completion of either a bachelor’s degree or two-years of pre-professional coursework. 


Are there any required admissions tests for MLS programs?
Programs awarding a master’s degree usually require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) while programs awarding a bachelor’s degree may require the SAT or ACT. 


When should I apply?
Applications to an MLS programs should be submitted in the fall of the year preceding the desired admission date.  For students applying to a graduate program (M.S. or certificate), this means that they will apply during their senior year.


Do I have to have a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into an MLS program?
Not necessarily.  Most MLS programs are designed as the last year or the last two years of a Bachelor of Science program, in which case you do not need a baccalaureate degree prior to entering the program; however, there are a few MLS programs that only offer a certificate of completion.  There are also a few MLS programs that offer a Masters in Medical Laboratory Science.  In general, certificate programs and Masters’ programs require a baccalaureate degree prior to admission. For MLS programs that do not require a baccalaureate degree, applicants are typically required to complete a minimum of two years of pre-professional college coursework. 


What kind of grades do I need to get into an MLS program?
Most MLS programs require a GPA of at least 2.5; however, a GPA of at least 3.0 is recommended.  Moreover, most MLS 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 medical lab science are rare so no experience is required; however, you should have an adequate understanding of field prior to applying to a program.  If at all possible, you should try to at least visit a lab or interview a medical laboratory scientist.


Will I be a pre-MLS major?
No.  The Pre-Medical Laboratory Science 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 an MLS program, the Biology – Cell and Molecular Concentration and the Bachelors of Science in Chemistry Major include many of the courses listed below. 


What are the minimum requirements for an MLS program?
The specific courses required vary from school to school and you should contact your school(s) of choice for more information. 

At a minimum, most MLS programs require:

  • 8 hours of anatomy and physiology
  • 8 hours of general chemistry
  • 8 hours of biology
  • 6 hours of English
  • 8 hours of organic chemistry
  • 4 hours of microbiology

What classes at UT Martin should I take as a pre-MLS student?
While not an exhaustive list, the following courses are strongly recommended for students considering applying to an MLS program.  Students should always check with their 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
  • Chemistry 121 General Chemistry I
  • Chemistry 122 General Chemistry II
  • Chemistry 341 Organic Chemistry I
  • Chemistry 342 Organic Chemistry II
  • English 111 English Composition I
  • English 122 English Composition II
  • Math 140 College Algebra
  • Math 210 Elementary Statistics and Probability
  • Microbiology 251 General Bacteriology OR MBIO 310 General Molecular Microbiology
  • Microbiology 401  Immunology
  • Zoology 251 Anatomy and Physiology I
  • Zoology 352 Anatomy and Physiology II

Where can I find out more about the field of medical laboratory science?

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