Clinical Lab Science

Clinical Lab Science Preparation at UC Davis

Clinical Laboratory Scientists work with pathologists, other physicians or scientists who specialize in clinical chemistry, microbiology, or other biological sciences. Together, they detect, diagnose, and treat many patient diseases. As part of this health care team, clinical Laboratory scientists are responsible for performing tests and developing data on the patient's blood tissues and body fluids. They have the knowledge of the principles behind these tests. They have the ability to recognize physiological conditions affecting test results and the ability to develop data that may be used by a physician in determining the presence, extent, and the cause of disease.

In addition to working in a clinical laboratory, jobs for clinical laboratory scientists are available in departments of public health, industrial labs, pharmaceutical companies, the armed forces, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Clinical laboratory scientist licenses may be general (for all areas of the clinical lab), or limited to performing procedures in one particular area (clinical chemistry, clinical microbiology, immunohematology, and toxicology).

Training And Licensure

Completion of a bachelor's degree is followed by a 12-month training program in a clinical laboratory approved by the State of California Department of Health Services. All candidates accepted into a clinical training program must have a trainee license from the California Department of Health Services.

Most training programs in California are run by universities (e.g. UCs, CSUs, Loma Linda) and take place in hospitals; some programs are run by the hospitals where training occurs, and others by private companies (e.g. Blood Source). Please review the list of approved CA training programs.

For more detailed information on programs in California, please see our CLS Program Chart. Also check out our CLS Advising packet.

Basic Requirements

Requirements for becoming a nationally-certified and California-licensed clinical laboratory scientist include a bachelor's degree with courses pertinent to the clinical laboratory. Although no particular undergraduate major is required, some schools prefer students majoring in one of the biological sciences or chemistry. As long as all prerequisites are met, any major may be chosen.

Academic Preparation

A bachelor's degree with a science major and a overall GPA of 3.0 is required to apply. Clinical Lab Science programs have specific coursework requirements. Please see our Advising Sheet for more information.

Introduction to Clinical Hematology is currently offered by UCD Extension. This course is a comprehensive introductory course for those interested in a career in clinical laboratory sciences. Register online here.

Statement of Interest

A statement of interest in a personal statement indicating your interest in a career in clinical lab sciences.

Letters of Recommendation

Programs require three letters of recommendation either from your science professors or employer.


Most progams require personal interviews prior to acceptance into clinical training. Some will contact you directly to schedule your interview, while other require that you request an interview.


The Fall deadline is January 1st

Interviews will be held in early March

Applicants will be notified with the decision before April 1

The Spring deadline is September 1st

Interviews will be held in October or November

Applicants will be notified with the decision on or before January 6th

Becoming Licensed

Trainee and CLS Licenses

Before starting a training program, you must have a Technologist Trainee License.

  • Apply during your last two quarters before graduation or when you have finished all required coursework. 
  • A renewable training license will be issued after you have received your bachelor's degree and your final transcript has been confirmed. You are then legally qualified to participate in a training program. No examination is required.

After completing the 12-month training program, candidates are eligible to take a national exam which is acceptable for licensing in California.  

  • Applicants must apply to ASCP and send official transcripts and document showing completed CLS training.
  • Applicants need to apply to Laboratory Field Services (LFS), pay a license processing fee, and pass a short on-line quiz testing their knowledge of CA State Law.
  • After successfully completing these three steps, the CA license will be issued and they will become a licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist.

Limited Licenses

Minimum requirements for obtaining a limited license to perform diagnostic procedures limited to a specific area of the lab are:

  • Clinical Microbiology: A BS in Microbiology plus one year full-time training or experience in microbiology in an approved clinical lab.
  • Molecular Pathology: Some limited molecular programs are available in California.

All training for limited licenses must be post-baccalaureate.

Advanced Licences And Degrees In Clinical Laboratory Science

Clinical Chemistry

A Clinical Chemist is licensed to engage in the direction and supervision of clinical lab activities limited to chemistry, or to engage in the work and direction of a lab providing service only within the area of clinical chemistry. Requirements include:

  • an MS or PhD in Chemistry
  • one year of training in chemistry in a clinical lab
  • three years experience in a clinical lab, two of which are at the supervisory level.

Graduate education must include 30 semester or equivalent quarter hours in chemistry. Applicants with only an M.S. need the equivalent of one year full-time training in procedures and principles involved in the development, modification and evaluation of lab methods.

Clinical Microbiology

A Clinical Microbiologist is licensed to engage in the work and supervision of clinical lab activities limited to clinical microbiology, or to engage in the work and direction of a lab service only pertaining to this area.  Requirements are the same as for clinical chemistry except that training and experience should be in microbiology.


A Bioanalyst is licensed to engage in the work and direction of a clinical laboratory.

Requirements include:

  • an MA, MS or PhD in one of the biological sciences
  • a minimum of four years experience as a licensed medical technologist in California.


For medical technologists wanting to advance to supervisory positions, or fulfill requirements for a bioanalyst license, there are MS programs specifically in medical technology with an emphasis in a particular area such as clinical chemistry, clinical immunology, clinical microbiology, hematology, lab management, and immunohematology. Currently, CSU Dominquez Hills offers such programs.

Supplemental content

Register for the GRE

The GRE is not a course-dependent test, meaning there are not specific UCD courses you need to take to prepare. The best way is to give yourself time to study the test by buying to test prep books or taking a test prep course.

Whatever you do, do not take the test without preparing! Click here to register for the GRE.