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Cls Personal Statement

Clinical Lab Sciences

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?

Becoming a Clinical Lab Scientist

Academic Preparation


Applying to CLS Programs

Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Clinical Lab Scientist?

  • Clinical (or Medical) Laboratory Scientistswork 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).

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Becoming a Clinical Lab Scientist

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. 

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Academic Preparation

  • 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.

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Myth: If I'm going to get a C- in a class, I should intentionally get a D or F in that class in order to retake it for a better grade.

Fact: Do not fail a class on purpose in order to retake it for a better grade. Even though the lower grade will not be included in your UC Davis GPA, it will remain on your transcript and most centralized applications will count that first grade into your application GPA.

Additionally, the health profession schools will still see it. It is better to have a C- in the course and improve through other courses in the same discipline than to take a D or F.

Most health professional schools require all prerequisites to be completed with a C or higher. Although you cannot repeat the C- at UC Davis, you will need to repeat it somewhere else either over a summer or after graduation.

If you need to discuss this or any other academic difficulty futher, please make an appointment with a staff advisor. 

CLS Prerequisite Courses at UC Davis

  • General chemistry: CHE 2ABC
  • Physics: PHY 7ABC
  • Biochemistry: BIS 105 (or 102 + 103)
  • Medical Microbiology: PMI 127
  • Immunology: MMI 188 or PMI 126
  • Hematology:UCD Extension Course
  • Human Anatomy: EXB 106 (or CHA 101)
  • Physiology: NPB 101
  • Genetics: BIS 101
  • Statistics: STA 100
  • Mycology: MMI 130 or PLB 148
  • Virology: MIC 162
  • Parasitology: ENT 156

Note that the above information is only a guide and programs may change their required prerequisites at any time.


  • 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.

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Myth: I can do a lot of meaningful experiences to make up for a weaker GPA.

Fact:  Having many meaningful activities will NOT make up for a low GPA.

You must focus on your grades during your undergraduate years, earn at least a 3.0, and then begin adding experiences. You can always take a year or two off after graduation to gain more experience. It is better to graduate from UC Davis with a higher GPA and less experiences than lots of experiences but a low GPA. 

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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Can the microbiology prerequisite be fulfilled by an intro microbiology class (e.g., MIC 101)?

No; programs require that it be a medical microbiology courses. UC Davis students should take PMI 127 to fulfill the prerequisite.

Who should write me letters of recommendation?

Letter writers should understand and be able to attest your abilities and skills. The LOR can be written by an instructor or professor; though some programs do require that two of the three letters are written by professors. Letter writers who can attest to your laboratory skills and science abilities are generally preferred.

Is there a required standardized exam?


What degree is required and is there a preferred major?

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

Can I take online courses?

Some online courses are acceptable; however, students should take any courses that includes a lab section in-person. Before registering for any course not listed above, it is advisable to verify acceptability for the course with a program representative.

Please note that Laboratory Field Services, the California agency under the California Department of Public Health (CDPH-LFS) that issues the CLS Trainee Licenses (TRL), will not accept the following courses from Weber State University if completed after June 1, 2014:

  • MLS 5810, 5103, 5104 Clinical Microbiology

  • MLS 5101 Clinical Chemistry

Can I apply while still taking courses?

Yes, but proof of enrollment must typically be included in the application. Students should finish all courses before entering the program. Please check with each program you plan to apply to before applying and check when all courses must be completed by.

Is work experience in a clinical laboratory required?

No, but due to the requirement of strong laboratory skills, work experience in a clinical laboratory or a similar environment is generally recommended. However, experience in a research or university laboratory is acceptable as well. Possible work experiences include working as a laboratory technician, laboratory assistant, phlebotomist, and/or volunteering in a clinical laboratory.

More questions? Check out our FAQ. 

Student Advisement

From the time of admission, incoming students receive regular communications from the program director advising them of policies, requirements and other training issues. Students are provided with training guides, reviewed during orientation, which contain all policies and procedures related to the program. As students progress through the year, guidance is provided on professional and career-related topics.

In addition to the program director, each laboratory division has at least one education coordinator, usually a senior CLS, specialist or supervisor, who is available for assistance and guidance. Students can also seek counsel from the laboratory administrative director and program medical director.

All meetings and discussions of student concerns are held in confidentiality and take place in an office or other private area that can be closed off from public access. Whether a student is having personal or academic problems, or issues related to peers or laboratory staff, program officials strive to maintain sensitivity and impartiality in all situations.  

Service Work

Students will not be substituted for service work in place of regular, paid laboratory staff.  Any service work performed by students outside of regular academic hours is noncompulsory.  

Withdrawal from the Program

A student desiring to withdraw from the program must present his/her intention and reason for withdrawal in writing to the program medical director. Upon review of the request, an exit interview will be scheduled with at least one program official. Documentation of the interview and written request will remain in the trainee’s file. Laboratory Field Services and all relevant UC Irvine departments will be notified of the student’s withdrawal. Issuance of scholarship checks shall terminate upon withdrawal from the program. The student will return all medical center property upon termination.

Academic Progression

In order to progress in the Medical Technology Training Program, students must successfully fulfill the minimum requirements of academic achievement. 

Training objectives and student competencies are well defined for each unit of instruction. Achievement of objectives and competencies may be documented through competency checklists, by achieving passing scores (70 percent or better) on lecture/laboratory exams and quizzes and maintaining an overall “B” average in each rotation. Students must also achieve at least satisfactory ratings on each clinical rotation evaluation.  

Students are expected to develop a sense of responsibility and ethics related to patient care, which is reflected in attitudes toward learning. If a student is unable to achieve and maintain the level of performance required, the program is obliged to take steps toward probation and/or release from the program.  

Any combination of deficiencies in academic/laboratory performance can result in probation, final probation or release from the program. Verbal and written warnings are issued to the student during the period when he/she is not meeting minimum standards of the program.  

Student Conduct  

Academic integrity: Students are expected to refrain from cheating and plagiarism, to refuse to aid or abet any form of academic dishonesty and to notify faculty or program officials about observed incidents of academic dishonesty. Any student caught cheating or performing other serious acts of intentional academic dishonesty will be dismissed from the program.
Unacceptable behaviors: Examples of behaviors that are unacceptable at any time during the training program include: excessive, unexcused absences; involvement in non-professional behavior involving patients, students, staff or instructors; unauthorized possession/use of a controlled substance during work periods; violence or threats of violence; and dishonesty, theft or misappropriation of university property. Such behaviors will not be tolerated and will be cause for dismissal from the program.

Corrective Action

Corrective action may be required for minor offenses or deficiencies or those situations in which the student knows or reasonably should have known that the performance or conduct was unsatisfactory. Initial corrective action will begin with oral counseling. A reasonable time period shall be allowed for the student to improve after the oral counseling. When the student's performance has not improved with oral counseling, written counseling shall be initiated. 

The written warning shall describe the nature of the offense, the method(s) of correction, and the action to be taken if the offense is repeated or the deficiency persists. The student has a right to request reviews of the action by using the Student Appeals Procedure.  

Release from the Program (Dismissal)

If, after probationary and/or corrective action processes, the deficient performance is not resolved, the student shall be informed in writing of dismissal from the program. The notice shall specify the effective date of release, state the reason(s) for dismissal and state the student's right to request review of the action by the student appeals procedure. Issuance of scholarship checks shall terminate upon release from the program. Laboratory Field Services and all relevant UC Irvine departments will be notified of the student’s release. The student will return all medical center property upon termination.  

Student Appeals Procedure

It is the policy of the university to encourage and facilitate the resolution of complaints in a prompt and equitable manner. The student appeals procedure is established for implementation when a student believes that he/she has received an unfair or inequitable evaluation. If the situation cannot be resolved by initial discussions with the immediate parties, an impartial grievance committee will be convened to review and determine the course of action.

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