Medical Laboratory Science Program

The Austin State Hospital (ASH) Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) Program is an integral part of the Regional Clinical Laboratory (RCLA) at Austin State Hospital (ASH). The state hospital is a facility within the Health and Specialty Care System of the Texas Health and Human Services agency. The laboratory is located in building 635 on the Austin State Hospital campus.

The program was initially accredited in 1956 and graduated its first student in 1957. The program has a long history of producing exceptional graduates for employment throughout the United States.

The program is designed to instruct students in the academic and practical phases of laboratory medicine.

Graduates are eligible to take the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) Board of Certification (BOC) examination given by the American Society for Clinical Pathology as well as other national certification exams.

Application process

MLS Student Handbook and Mandatory Orientations

The MLS Student Handbook (PDF) provides prospective and current students with detailed information regarding the program’s policies and procedures.

Students are required to attend a mandatory orientation session the summer prior to starting the program. The focus of the orientation is an in-depth discussion of the MLS Student Handbook policies and procedures. Those accepted will receive an email setting the date and time for the orientation. Students are state employees and will be required to attend a comprehensive orientation covering the hospital’s policies and procedures.

Students may be dismissed from the program due to failure to follow the rules and regulations of the organization and/or the MLS program or for failure to maintain a grade of 75 or above in lecture and clinical courses.

General Admission Requirements

General academic requirements for admission are those specified by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (ASCP) for eligibility to sit for the Medical Laboratory Scientist exam. Students with a bachelor's degree and all required courses will be given equal consideration with undergraduate academic affiliates who meet all requirements.

Admission to the Medical Laboratory Science program is competitive and limited to four students per year.

Applicants should be:

  • In good health.
  • Independent learner with excellent time management skills.
  • Fluent in written and spoken English.
  • Able to discriminate between colors.
  • Possess manual dexterity skills to manipulate equipment with accuracy and precision.
  • Possess good near-sided vision.

Foreign applicants will be considered for admission contingent upon meeting all requirements and having an F1 visa, work visa or green card.

Please visit the Application and Admissions Requirements web page for complete requirements and instructions.

Options for Program Completion

There are three options for completing the MLS program:

  1. Baccalaureate Degree Program: Completion of all prerequisite academic courses (90-100 semester hours), as outlined in the Medical Laboratory Science degree program at each respective university. Check with the registrar of your school for exact degree requirements and school affiliations. Students from an affiliated university will receive 30 semester credit hours upon completion of the program.
  2.  Baccalaureate Degree in related science with a minimum of 16 semester hours of biological sciences (including courses in immunology, anatomy and/or physiology, genetics and/or molecular biology and microbiology), 16 semester hours of chemistry (including organic/biochemistry), and one semester of statistics. Other course work can be substituted for required courses if deemed equivalent by the MLS program director.
  3. Foreign Baccalaureate Degree: Must submit a transcript evaluation verifying U.S. baccalaureate degree equivalency with all required coursework. This evaluation must accompany the application form and will be required to determine the applicant's initial eligibility. The evaluations can be obtained from one of the evaluation agencies listed with the MLS program application.


Students enrolled in the program spend eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, in clinical and didactic instruction in all areas of the ASH clinical laboratory. Students are additionally assigned outside rotations to expose them to a variety of equipment and/or procedures that are not performed at ASH. The following affiliates are used for these rotations:

  • Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas – teaching hospital with 211 beds in operation, the region’s only Level 1 trauma hospital, provides a wide variety of services.
  • Clinical Pathology Laboratories – large reference laboratory offering services across the Southwest United States. Employees over 1900 people at the 100,000 square foot main laboratory facility in Austin.
  • Department of State Health Services Laboratory – the largest state public health laboratory in the United States, testing over one million samples per year.
  • We are Blood – blood collection and processing facility providing blood and blood products to over 40 medical facilities in a 10-county region.

Clinical instruction includes training under the direct supervision of qualified laboratory staff as well as daily group lectures given by qualified instructors in their specialty areas.

Students rotate on an individual basis through six major departments of the laboratory. These departments and the approximate time spent in rotation are as follows:

  • Clinical Chemistry – 13 weeks (includes general chemistry, toxicology, and special chemistry)
  • Microbiology – 12 weeks (includes bacteriology, mycology, and parasitology)
  •  Hematology and Coagulation – 11 weeks
  • Blood Bank and Phlebotomy – seven weeks
  • Immunology, Serology and Molecular Diagnostics – three weeks
  • Urinalysis – three weeks

Program Costs

There are no tuition fees charged by the program. Affiliated universities which the student attends may require tuition.

Students are required to purchase approximately $800 worth of books. Students will receive a list of required textbooks after accepting their position in the class so they can begin the process of purchasing them.

Students are required to purchase personal liability insurance that costs approximately $45.

Students should arrange for housing before reporting for training. Apartments or rooms are generally available in neighboring areas.


Students are classified by the State of Texas as Professional Trainees. As state employees' students will receive a small, monthly stipend of approximately $600.

After two months in the program students are eligible for the state of Texas group health insurance at no cost.

Students are allowed to take major state holidays and earn limited vacation and sick leave.

NAACLS Program Outcomes

As a program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), the ASH MLS Program must make outcome measures for the past three years available to prospective and enrolled students. The outcome measures defined by NAACLS includes: completion rates, placement rates and the Certification Exam pass rates.

All graduates of the ASH MLS program take the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (BOC) Medical Laboratory Scientist national certification exam. Additional data has been provided for the certification exam comparing ASH program mean scores with the hospital-based MLS program scores mean. The minimum score to pass the exam is 400.

OutcomeNAACLS Requirement2020202120222023Three Year Average
Number of GraduatesNA44344
Completion Rate70%100%100%100%100%100%
Placement Rate70%100%100%100%100%100%
ASCP BOC Pass Rate75%100%100%100%100%100%
Program MeanPass = 400>546635473640NA
Hospital Based National MeanPass = 400>537526520511NA


  • Austin State Hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission.
  • The Regional Clinical Laboratory is accredited by the College of American Pathologists.
  • The Medical Laboratory Science Program is fully accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

NAACLS Contact Information

5600 N. River Road, Suite 720
Rosemont, IL 60018-5119
Phone: 773-714-8880

Program Contact Information

Email the ASH MLS Program.

Please make phone calls Monday through Friday during business hours.

Carrie Dillon, Education Coordinator

Terry Kotrla, MS, MLS(ASCP)BB – MLS Program director