Clinical Lab Sciences

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There are many pieces to the clinical lab scientist training program application, including your GPA, personal statement, list of experiences, letters of recommendation, and biographical information. Use the navigation below to explore each aspect of preparing for a clinical lab scientist training program.


  • What is a Clinical Lab Scientist?
  • Clinical (or Medical) Laboratory Scientists work with pathologists, other physicians, and 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, 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).

  • Becoming a Clinical Lab Scientist

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    Before starting a training program, you obtain a Trainee License through the California Department of Public Health. This license permits you to train, not work, as a licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist. 

    To obtain a trainee license, you must have a bachelor's degree and must have completed the following coursework:

    16 semester or equivalent quarter units of chemistry, which must include clinical chemistry OR analytical and biochemistry.
    18 semester or equivalent quarter units of biology, which must include hematology, immunology, and medical microbiology.
    3 semester or equivalent quarter units of physics (light and electricity)

    Visit the California Department of Public Health to apply for a trainee license. 

    CLS Training Programs

    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). 

    Training programs are 12 months. 

    CLS License

    After completing a training program, candidates are eligible to take a national exam to be a certified Clinical Laboratory Scientist. 

  • Clinical Lab Sciences Prerequisites
  • CLS Prerequisites Courses to Take at UC Davis
    General Chemistry CHE 2ABC
    Physics PHY 7ABC
    Biochemistry BIS 105 OR BIS 102 & BIS 103
    Medical Microbiology PMI 127
    Immunology MMI 188 OR PMI 126
    Hematology UCD Extension Course
    Human Anatomy EXB 106 & EXB 106L OR CHA 101 & CHA 101L
    Physiology NPB 101/NPB 101L  OR NPB 110C/NPB 101L 
    Genetics BIS 101
    Statistics STA 100
    Mycology MMI 130 OR PLB 148
    Virology MIC 162
    Parasitology ENT 156

    * Check your major requirements before choosing classes.

    See the Clinical Lab Sciences Program Prerequisite Chart for a sample list of CLS programs and their requirements.

    Note: The above courses are only suggested, not absolute. 

    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.

    Prerequisites and minimum GPAs differ by program.

  • Experiences
  • Each CLS program has a set of "Essential Functions" that are expected of their CLS students. Applicants should have good laboratory technique, strong critical thinking skills, the ability to work under stressful conditions, and a professional attitude. Any experiences that you have had that can demonstrate these skills will make you a stronger applicant.

    Laboratory experience is essential in building and demonstrating your laboratory skills and abilities and can be gained through working in a college laboratory, research laboratory, or volunteering in a hospital-based clinical laboratory.

  • Applying to CLS Programs
  • Standardized Exam

    The GRE is not required for CLS programs. 

    Personal Statement

    Explain your interest in a career in clinical lab sciences. 

    Letters of Recommendation

    Programs require three letters of recommendations from either professors or employers; many require two to be from instructors. Some schools also require letter writers to complete a form in which they should be able to address familiarity, the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses, the applicant’s ability to do independent work, and the applicant’s profile (e.g., reliability, emotional control, laboratory skills, etc.). 


    Most programs 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. 

    Choosing Programs

    There are 227 accredited CLS programs in the nation as of October 2015. In California, there are thirteen CSL programs with ten nationally approved programs and 3 CA-only approved programs, including those at CSU Los Angeles, Physician’s Automated Lab, and Children’s Hospital Central California. 

    Each program varies in terms of minimum GPA, prerequisites, class size, tuition/fees, etc. When selecting programs to apply to, be sure to take these factors into consideration as you may not need to pay any tuition for some, while others can be much more costly. Also, while programs typically last for only a year, there are a couple of programs that may last longer.

    If you have any questions in regards to selecting programs, please come see an advisor at Health Professions Advising.

  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • More questions? Check out our FAQ page or schedule an appointment with an adviser!