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Medical Laboratory Science Student Information

The Medical Laboratory Science Program is an 11-month training program that will result in a certificate in medical laboratory science from Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center while fulfilling requirements for a bachelor’s-level degree in a Medical Laboratory Science-related major from the affiliating college or university.

The program typically fulfills the student’s senior year of college (3+1 option), but applicants with a BS degree (4+1) who meet the entrance requirements will be considered.

The mission of the program is to prepare individuals for the practice of medical laboratory science and provide qualified laboratory professionals for Penn State Health’s needs, as well as regional, national and global needs. The curriculum encompasses didactic and clinical experiences; the development of professional and leadership skills; and a commitment to life-long learning. The program promotes the values of respect for others, integrity, teamwork, and excellence in providing the high-quality care patients need and deserve.

The program culminates with the student attaining career-entry competence as a medical laboratory scientist.

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Program Details

Goals Expand answer

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Medical Laboratory Science Program strives to:

  • Provide educational experiences relevant and appropriate to medical laboratory science
  • Provide a quality-driven curriculum based on current needs and latest testing methodologies and technological advances, including all aspects of clinical laboratory operation and management
  • Immerse students in the day-to-day responsibilities of laboratory practitioners committed to the mission, vision and values of Penn State Health
  • Share information, provide resources and create a consistent training program to build stronger teams and create a culture that cultivates stable and sustainable relationships within our health care systems and beyond
  • Encourage student to constantly seek opportunities for individual personal and professional growth to enable success in career-entry level positions and their professional development into well-trained and highly skilled laboratory scientist, with the potential for higher-level health care positions, including the pursuit of advanced degrees to meet their career goals
  • Prepare graduates for certification and/or licensure in medical laboratory science
  • Broaden community awareness of the profession of medical laboratory science and its vital role in providing the best quality care for patients, as well as improving the health of our community
  • Help meet the demand for competent practitioners in a variety of laboratory settings and venues
  • Share expertise around the globe (global health)
  • Help the student learn new skills and to seek out and share knowledge to promote teamwork in the health care setting and surrounding community
Class Size Expand answer

Eight students are accepted into the Medical Laboratory Scientist Program each year.

Tuition Policies Expand answer

The tuition fee for the program is reviewed annually and is currently set at $15,000.

Other student expenses include textbooks and living expenses.

Students participating through an affiliated institution will pay their fourth-year tuition to their home institution, and a portion of that will be used to cover the cost of the program. Students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree will pay the set tuition amount.

Financial aid: The program is not eligible for Title IV funding and does not offer financial aid.

Students receiving financial aid from their college or university will continue to receive aid during their internship as it represents the fourth year of college or university study.

For students from unaffiliated colleges and universities: Tuition is payable in two installments: one due before the first of the month of orientation, and one due in January for the second semester.

Graduates and students from unaffiliated colleges/universities enrolled under temporary agreements will be billed directly by the hospital at the standard tuition rate (currently $15,000) at the times listed in this policy. Payment is made by the individual student to Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

If a student fails to pay tuition, student will not be awarded a graduation certificate nor will grades be forwarded.

For students from affiliated institutions: University policy is to reimburse the hospital from tuition it receives from the students at a percentage of the tuition each semester.

For students from affiliated colleges or universities, note that your tuition is determined by your home college or university and not Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and may differ from the posted tuition.

Failure to complete program: If a student does not complete the program, refunds for tuition paid will be negotiated. Any subsequent tuition to the hospital will not be billed.

Acceptance fee: For all students, an acceptance fee of $300 is due at the time of acceptance into the program to reserve a seat in the class. This fee is non-refundable.

Academic Calendar Expand answer

During the program, students attend classes and participate in various clinical activities. Time is divided between the classroom, student laboratory and clinical laboratory settings.

  • Program start: June
  • Time off: July 4 (one week); Labor Day (one day); Fall Break (two days); Thanksgiving (two days); Winter Break (two weeks); Spring Break (three days)
  • Program end: April
  • Total time: 48 weeks (44 weeks of instruction)

Students routinely attend class and/or clinical experiences from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. All educational and experiential training will occur at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center facilities. There are no classroom or clinical laboratory experiences scheduled on the six holidays observed by the Medical Center.

Curriculum Overview Expand answer

Curriculum activities provide for laboratory skills development and mastery, as well as a knowledge base in medical laboratory science. Acquiring this knowledge and perfecting these skills enables program graduates to function in many laboratory settings, including hospital, physician office, reference, research, forensic and industrial laboratories.

The curriculum is structured to provide the principles of Medical Laboratory Science through didactic presentations, laboratory exercises and practical experience within a clinical laboratory setting that meet or exceed standard set by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

The program is divided into two phases:

  • Pre-clinical education in classroom and student laboratory settings (eight students, one to two educators).
  • Experiential learning through scheduled rotations throughout the clinical pathology laboratories at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center (one to two students, one trainer).

Lectures, group discussions, student laboratory activities and rotation assignments in service laboratories are used as effective learning opportunities.

Courses Expand answer

Six courses are required as part of the MLS program.

Note: Affiliated colleges and universities will assign credit according to individual requirements of their bachelor’s degree.

To Apply

Application Overview Expand answer

The Medical Laboratory Science program admits eight students per year.

Admission to the program is determined by an Admissions Committee, which will offer admission to those students whose academic performance, recommendations by references and attributes in the affective domain indicate the highest probability of success.

The committee uses a system based on the cumulative grade-point average, the science GPA, college affiliation, reference letters and an interview rating by the committee to evaluate and rank applications.

Students from academic affiliates of the program will receive preference in case of equal rankings.

Applicants for admission to the program will receive equal consideration regardless of race, color, religious or sexual preference, ethnic or national origin, age or sex.

To Apply Expand answer

Applications for the 2020-2021 Medical Laboratory Science program are being accepted now through January 2020.

In order to be admitted to the Medical Laboratory Science program, the following are recommended or required:

  • Minimum GPA in chemistry and biological sciences of 2.75
  • Minimum overall GPA of 2.75
  • Two references
  • Personal interview, where applicant will be evaluated as to accountability, teamwork, time and resource management, self-confidence, communication and interpersonal skills, maturity and motivation for the field of medical laboratory science
  • Transcript evaluation (performed by university/college program liaison/adviser and/or by the MLS program director)

In addition, applicants with a degree from a foreign university must have their transcripts evaluated for U.S. equivalency.

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Prerequisite Curriculum Expand answer

The following curriculum prerequisites are suggested or required for admission into the Medical Laboratory Science Program at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

  • A minimum of 90 semester hours of study in an accredited college or university completing college-specified courses to receive a bachelor’s degree.
  • Completion of all courses prerequisite to the clinical rotation year as required, including:
    • Chemistry: Minimum 16 semester hours of courses acceptable to the major that encompass areas such as general chemistry, analytical chemistry and organic and/or biochemistry. Courses must include labs. Survey courses do not qualify as fulfillment of the chemistry prerequisites.
    • Biological sciences: Minimum 16 semester hours of courses acceptable to the major that encompass areas such as microbiology, immunology, anatomy/physiology and genetics. Highly recommended courses are applied/pathogenic microbiology and molecular biology. Cellular biology and biology seminar are suggested electives. Courses should include labs. Survey courses do not qualify as fulfillment of the biology prerequisites.
    • Mathematics: One course in college-level mathematics is required. Statistics is recommended.
    • Other: An introductory course in computer literacy is recommended.
  • Applicants with a baccalaureate degree who completed minimum course requirements seven or more years before application must update their academic preparation by enrolling and completing courses, at the discretion of the program director, in microbiology, immunology, biochemistry and/or genetics with a grade B or better to ensure academic preparedness.
  • Applicants with a degree from a foreign university must have their transcripts evaluated for U.S. equivalency (e.g., by World Education Services Inc., New York, NY). This evaluation will determine the applicant’s eligibility by assessing academic preparedness. The ability to communicate readily in English orally and in writing is an essential requirement for the program.
  • All required pre-clinical medical laboratory science courses must be completed and the student must be eligible for a baccalaureate degree from a college/university or must currently hold a baccalaureate degree.

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Resources for Students

Functional Expectations Expand answer

Students must possess certain physical, mental and behavioral attributes to be able to complete the Medical Laboratory Science curriculum. These represent non-academic demands of the program.

As part of the application process, students must read and sign off on reading and understanding of these functional expectations. A student must meet these expectations without or with reasonable accommodation.

Inability to function in these essential areas at an entry-level capacity, with or without reasonable accommodations, may compromise successful completion of the program. The need for reasonable accommodations will be discussed after acceptance into the program.

In addition to the essential functions, students are required to undergo pre-placement health screening. This screening includes PPD testing, health history, immunization compliance and drug screen. Criminal background checks will be performed prior to admitting any student to the program. A student who fails the drug screen or criminal background check will not be allowed to enter the program. The cost of the above screenings and checks are at the student’s expense. Penn State Health is a smoke-free environment.

The ability of an individual to participate in and complete the instructional activities of the program will be determined through discussion among the applicant, the program officials, the student’s personal physician and the campus physician, as appropriate.

See detailed functional expectations here

Evaluation Details Expand answer

MLS students are evaluated not only on academic achievement, but also on practical skills development and mastery, and on professional behaviors exhibited throughout the year. Instructional objectives are provided to students to facilitate the learning process. Evaluation mechanisms are designed to measure attainment of these objectives. The program’s course grades and credits will be recorded and maintained by the program.

A written mid-year progress report of the student’s performance is submitted to the appropriate college/university after the first semester, and a final transcript is submitted within one week of completion of the clinical year. The college awards the appropriate credit and the baccalaureate degree; the program assigns grades for the clinical courses and presents a certificate of completion given all financial obligations associated with the program have been met.

The granting of the degree and certificate of completion are not contingent upon passing any certification or licensure examination.

Contact the Program

For details, contact:

Mary Beth Miele, PhD, MLS(ASCP)CM, RM(NRCM)
MLS Program Director
Instructor, Department of Pathology
Penn State Health
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
500 University Dr.
Mailcode H160
Hershey, PA 17033-0850

Phone: 717-531-7461
Fax: 717-531-0154
Email: mmiele@pennstatehealth.psu.edu