Medical Laboratory Science Program (MLSP)

instructor and studentCareer Description

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.


University of Iowa's Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine currently offers a bachelor's degree in medical laboratory sciences through affiliation agreements with Mercy College of Health Science in Des Moines, Iowa. Students can enroll in the programs as the final year of a bachelor’s degree or as an additional year following receipt of a bachelor’s degree.

Mercy College of Health Sciences

The University will partner with Mercy College of Health Sciences in Des Moines to provide the MLS professional program including didactic and clinical experiences. The program provides theoretical knowledge and clinical experiences in chemistry, hematology and hemostasis, immunology, immunohematology, microbiology, molecular diagnostics, and urinalysis.  Students can enroll in the program as the final year of a bachelor’s degree or as an additional year following completion of a bachelor’s degree.

Features of the Program

  • 720 hours of clinical experience in hospital setting
  • All hands-on learning in the clinical laboratory setting performing testing alongside preceptors on real-time patient samples
  • Clinical experiences in the laboratories at MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center-Des Moines
  • Two rotations of clinical experience in each laboratory discipline (90 hrs + 90 hrs)
  • Small class size
  • Individualized help and attention
  • Full-time MLS faculty

Applying to the Program

Students should apply to the Medical Laboratory Sciences Program at Mercy College of Health Sciences. The priority application deadline at Mercy College of Health Sciences is October 15. The application is a two-step process. Step One is application to Mercy College of Health Sciences and Step Two is application to the MLS Program at Mercy College. All required application items for both steps must be received by the October 15 deadline for priority consideration. 

Applications are reviewed once they are complete. All applicants meeting the priority application deadline and minimum admission requirements are invited to attend an optional MLS Program Session on a designated date in late October/early November. Interviews are scheduled with all qualified applicants and conducted by November 15. 12 students are admitted each year.

Admission decisions are communicated to applicants by December 1. Admitted students must accept or decline offered positions by December 15. Late applications are accepted and evaluated for admission as they are received if open positions remain after the priority application process has been completed. More information regarding the application process can be found here and the undergraduate course catalog here.

Successful Program Participants Also Possess the Following Abilities

  • Types and difficulty of courses taken
  • Evidence of well-rounded education
  • Courses taken that are not required but recommended
  • Work experience
  • Volunteer and extracurricular activities
  • References (part of the application process)
  • Activities that indicate social consciousness and involvement
  • Cumulative and science GPA

The MLS Program Year

Students seeking entry into the Medical Laboratory Science Program should take three or more years of prerequisite coursework at the University of Iowa or another college. Following application, no later than October 15 of the junior year, admitted students start the MLS Program in late August/early September of the senior year. Didactic and clinical courses occur throughout the three-semester program. The students will attend face to face didactic courses taught by Mercy College of Health Sciences faculty on the Mercy College of Health Sciences campus in Des Moines.  Students will complete clinicals at MercyOne Medical Center-Des Moines. 

The Mercy College MLS Program prepares graduates for service and leadership in the healthcare community. The Program provides students with the academic and clinical experiences needed to become caring, ethical, and competent medical laboratory scientists who will work independently and in teams to perform laboratory testing, correlate, evaluate, develop, and assure validity of laboratory information and collaborate with other health professions in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. 

Students complete the program in mid-August. Students will receive a Medical Laboratory Science certificate from Mercy College of Health Sciences including 40 semester hours. 40 semester hours will be transferred to the University of Iowa (UI) to combine with the existing credits to award the Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Sciences from the Carver College of Medicine. Graduates of the Mercy College of Health Sciences MLS Program grants graduates eligibility to sit for the national MLS certification exam from offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification.

The Mercy College of Health Sciences Medical Laboratory Science Program is accredited by:

National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences

5600 N. River Road
Suite 720
Rosemont, IL 60018-5119
1-773-714-8880
Fax: (773) 714-8886
E-mail: info@naacls.org

Employment Opportunities

MLS graduates are well qualified to work in health care, research, or industry; in hospital or clinic laboratories, and in doctors' offices, private clinical laboratories, or the armed services.

MLS graduates can use their degrees as building blocks to careers that require MS, PhD, MD, DDS, MBA, or other advanced degrees.

MLS graduates can practice their profession in the U.S. military as well. Between the Army, Navy, and Air Force, there are 500 to 600 MLS active duty “lab officer” positions. They practice in settings ranging from spartan field hospitals to tertiary care medical centers as well as research facilities and offer exceptional opportunities for free graduate and post-graduate education.

In a Clinical Laboratory Setting, Clinical Laboratory Scientists May:

  • Work in clinical chemistry, hematology, immunohematology, immunology, molecular pathology, and/or clinical microbiology
  • Perform analysis on blood, urine, and other body fluids
  • Operate complex instruments to generate scientific data that aid in the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of disease
  • Evaluate quality assurance data to ensure accurate and reliable test results
  • Use independent judgment and problem-solving abilities
  • Develop research projects to evaluate new products and methods
  • Provide and participate in continuing education

Alternative Job Options Include:

  • Environmental chemist
  • Research assistant
  • Research and product development scientist
  • Laboratory administrator
  • Laboratory sales representative
  • Veterinary and zoo laboratorians
  • Continuing education coordinator
  • Educator
  • Technical representative
  • Laboratory computer specialist
  • Waste management supervisor
  • Epidemiologist
  • Industrial laboratorian
  • Pharmaceutical laboratorian
  • Marketing manager

These jobs are found in various settings including hospitals, research facilities, private industry, public health, pharmaceutical companies, and educational programs.

To receive additional information and specific course requirements, please e-mail mls-program@uiowa.edu.