School of Medical Laboratory Science - Application Requirements

An applicant to the Mercy Hospital Joplin Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program must initially meet one of the following criteria:

  • Completion of a baccalaureate degree or higher prior to the start of the program
  • Current enrollment in one of the program’s academic affiliates and eligible for a baccalaureate degree, from the respective university, upon successful completion of the MLS program

The MLS program is affiliated with:

  • Missouri Southern State University, Joplin, MO
  • Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KS
  • Missouri State University, Springfield, MO
  • Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO
  • University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO
  • Lincoln University, Jefferson City, MO
  • Arkansas Tech University 
  • Missouri S and T

Note:  A non-degreed, non-affiliated applicant may be considered if space is available and the individual’s respective college or university agrees to certain terms of cooperation. The program director can provide further details.

Additional criteria for application includes:

  • A minimum science grade point average of 2.5 based on a 4.0 scale
  • Residence in the local area (SW Missouri/SE Kansas/NE Oklahoma), attendance at an area college or university or moving to the area prior to the start of the program
  • Completion of the following minimum prerequisite coursework*/**/***
  • Minimum of sixteen (16) semester hours in Chemistry
  • A biochemistry or organic chemistry course must be included. (A biochemistry course is highly recommended.)
  • Minimum of sixteen (16) semester hours in Biology
  • A microbiology course, with a laboratory experience, must be included.
  • An immunology course must be included.
  • Completion of at least one course in mathematics above the remedial level


* The content of the prerequisite chemistry and biology courses must be considered applicable towards a major in either of those degree fields or a major in medical laboratory science/medical technology.

**  An applicant who has completed a baccalaureate degree and prerequisite coursework more than seven years prior to application must demonstrate current knowledge in chemistry and biology especially microbiology. This can be done by work experience or additional coursework. Please contact the program director for further details.

*** Prerequisite coursework can be taken at a university or college as a non-degree seeking student if an individual’s degree has been previously awarded but all coursework must be completed prior to the start of the program if the applicant is selected for admission to the program.


An applicant who has obtained a degree outside of the United States must also meet the following criteria:

  • Possess the appropriate immigration status and form(s) to study in the United States and complete the MLS program.

Neither admission to nor successful completion of the MLS program guarantees an offer of employment with Mercy. Mercy does not currently sponsor immigration visas for employment in medical laboratory positions. Any applicant who cannot legally be employed without such sponsorship at the time of application for a position within Mercy, will not be considered for employment.

Submit a transcript evaluation performed by an approved transcript evaluation service. The program director can provide a listing of approved agencies.

This can be a lengthy process and should be initiated before applying to the MLS program.

A course by course report, listing the United States equivalency for each credential and United States semester credits and grades for each course, is required. The completed evaluation should be sent directly to the program director.

The MLS student must be able to:

  • Demonstrate effective written and oral communications skills in the English language.
  • Read and comprehend technical and professional materials (i.e. textbooks, magazine and journal articles, handbooks, and instruction manuals).
  • Follow verbal or written instructions in order to correctly and independently perform laboratory test procedures.
  • Clearly instruct patients prior to specimen collection.
  • Effectively, confidentially, and sensitively converse with patients regarding laboratory tests.
  • Communicate with faculty members, fellow students, staff, and other health care professionals verbally and in a recorded format (writing, typing, graphics, or telecommunication).
  • Independently prepare papers, prepare laboratory reports, and take paper, computer, and laboratory practical examinations.

The MLS student must be able to:

  • Observe and perform laboratory operations in which biologicals (i.e., body fluids, culture materials, tissue sections, and cellular specimens) are processed and tested for their biochemical, hematological, immunological, and microbiological components.
  • Characterize the color, odor, clarity, and viscosity of biologicals, reagents, or chemical reaction products.
  • Employ a clinical grade binocular microscope to discriminate among fine structural and color differences (hue, shading, and intensity) of microscopic specimens.
  • Read and comprehend text, numbers, and graphs displayed in print and on video.  

The MLS student must:

  • Be able to manage the use of time and be able to systematize actions in order to complete professional and technical tasks within realistic constraints.
  • Possess the emotional health necessary to effectively employ intellect and exercise appropriate judgment.
  • Be able to provide professional and technical services while experiencing the stresses of heavy workloads (i.e., large number of tasks to complete in a limited amount of time), task-related uncertainty (i.e., ambiguous test-ordering, ambivalent test interpretation), emergent demands (i.e. test orders that must be done as soon as possible), and a distracting environment (i.e. high noise levels, crowding, complex visual stimuli).
  • Be flexible and creative and adapt to professional and technical change.
  • Recognize potentially hazardous materials, equipment, and situations and proceed safely in order to minimize risk of injury to patients, self, and nearby individuals.
  • Adapt to working with unpleasant biologicals.
  • Support and promote the activities of fellow students and of health care professionals. (Promotion of peers helps furnish a team approach to learning, task completion, problem solving, and patient care.)
  • Be honest, compassionate, ethical, and responsible. The student must be forthright about errors or uncertainty. The student must be able to critically evaluate her or his own performance, accept constructive criticism, and look for ways to improve (i.e. participate in enriched educational activities). The student must be able to evaluate the performance of fellow students and tactfully offer constructive comments.

Students accepted in the MLS program must successfully complete a criminal background check, health examination and drug screen prior to the start of the program. 

The MLS student must:

  • Possess these intellectual skills: comprehension, measurement, mathematical calculation, problem solving, reasoning, integration, analysis, comparison, self-expression, and criticism.
  • Be able to exercise sufficient judgment to recognize and correct performance deviations.

The MLS student must be able to:

  • Move freely and safely about the laboratory
  • Reach laboratory bench-tops and shelves, patients lying in hospital beds, or patients seated in specimen collection furniture.
  • Travel to selected sites for practical and seminar experience.
  • Perform moderately taxing continuous physical work, often requiring prolonged sitting or standing over several hours.
  • Maneuver phlebotomy and culture acquisition equipment to safely collect valid laboratory specimens from patients.
  • Control laboratory equipment (i.e. pipettes, inoculating loops, test tubes) and adjust instruments to perform laboratory procedures.
  • Use an electronic keyboard to operate laboratory instruments and to calculate, record, evaluate, and transmit laboratory information.  



The application, letter of explanation, reference letter and degree confirmation are available via the links provided below. The deadline for the completed application is November 1 for the July class and August 1 for the January class.

Viable applicants are invited for a personal interview with the program’s admissions committee. The interview process takes about one hour.

Admission to the MLS program is on a competitive basis. The MLS program’s admissions committee evaluates each applicant based on academic and non-academic criteria such as science and math GPA, work experience, references, and personal interview. Up to four students are selected for each incoming class.

Selected students, alternates and others are notified by the end of December for the July class and by the end of August for the January class.