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Is there anything I should know before committing to an online Master’s degree program in medical laboratory science?

Hello! I’m a junior at Johnson & Wales University and my goal is to become ASCP certified in medical lab science and work as a lab technologist. The most realistic next step for me is to attend an online program in MLS, either post-baccalaureate certificate or Master’s degree. I am hesitant to complete online schooling, as laboratory careers are very hands on and I don’t know if I’ll be able to receive the correct training online. Can anyone give me any advice or knowledge about this? What should I expect? Will employers avoid applicants that completed school online? Can you recommend any online MLS programs? Thank you! #mls #healthcare #laboratory-science #graduate-school #scientist #student #online-school #medical-lab-science

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Mark’s Answer

Hi Abby,

Make sure you are ready for the commitment before starting and are serious about starting on the degree! You will want to do your research before making that commitment. When each class starts, take a broad look at the course. Having a broad understanding of the course will help you to complete your work. Understand what is expected and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

You will want to familiarize yourself with the school. In regards to "lab time and hands on" one way you can prepare is by finding online groups. A school may hold a virtual open house for incoming students to learn more, etc. Online programs may also publish videos or podcasts discussing their courses. You might be able to reach out to professors. You might also visit the campus if possible.

I hope this helps!

Thank you for the help!! Abby T.

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Corin’s Answer

Hey Abby!

Interesting connection between us, I started off working in the lab when I was in the Air Force, but I ended up graduating with a degree in nursing. Although I don't work in the lab anymore, I can offer you some insight from the perspective of "hands on" medical professions. I obtained 3 nursing degrees online and it has not hindered my career in anyway. Maybe 10 years ago this was an issue, but today, most people are attending school online. You will do the theoretical portion of your degree online, the practical portion will require you to actually go into a lab. Different programs handle this part in different ways so check with the school on how they deal with practical hours. For me, I was required to find my own preceptor and maintain my hours and meet my goals independently. Some schools do this for you. To give you a focused answer...in this day and age online school is the norm not the exception, so go for it!

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Jason’s Answer

Good afternoon,

One method you can take to see is consider auditing a course over the summer and see how it "feels" for you. Assuming you had a similar year like the rest of us, you are used to online schooling, however this does not mean it will be just as good. You need to look at accreditation of the school compared to brick and mortar schools. I would also look into the school alumni if there are any on their site and google them. See what kind of careers they have, the careers of their faculty, etc.

Broaden your question to a different audience as well. Ask any career that you think may be similarly "hands on". Nursing, psychology, etc. See what those responses are.

And although I do not work in your field, it is very possible an employer that strongly values education over other variables may look less upon you due to the online capacity of the degree(depending on the hiring manager and their understanding of the online experience).