GWU Medical Laboratory Sciences Program Frequently Asked Questions

Jump to: Admissions Questions | Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid | General Program Questions | BSHS Questions | Post-Baccalaurate Certificates Questions | Clinical Practica Questions


Admissions Questions

How do you evaluate applicants?
We utilize a holistic approach to our admissions process, meaning all application materials are considered when making an admissions decision. This includes grades, academic history and rigor of previous academic programs, letters of recommendation, and prior work experience, to name a few.   

Are applications for the undergraduate programs reviewed with the same criteria?
Yes, we review applications for all of the undergraduate programs (BSHS and Post-Baccalaureate Certificates) identically and follow the requirements that are indicated on our website.

How is my overall GPA calculated during the admissions process?
If you have attended multiple institutions, your final GPA and credits earned are factored together to determine your overall GPA.

How is my science GPA calculated during the admissions process?        
The science GPA is determined by factoring together all attempts to complete the science prerequisite course requirements for the particular program.

Can I still apply if I am missing one of the required courses?
Yes, provided you meet all other requirements for admission. If admitted, it would be on the condition that you complete the required course in your first semester and submit an official copy of your transcript shortly thereafter in order to continue in the program.

Do I need to complete the background check and drug screen? 
Yes. It is a requirement of all students enrolled in clinical programs at GW to complete a background check and drug screen as part of the admissions process. You will be sent an email during the first few weeks of your first semester with instructions on how to complete these requirements. Students are responsible for the cost of these screens.

How long will it take before I get admitted?
First you must submit your application.  Once your application is submitted and all of the required materials have been received, it usually takes two weeks to review and finalize the admissions decision. While each semester has a stated admissions deadline, the admissions staff begins reviewing applications 4-6 weeks in advance of the stated deadline and will issue decisions as they become available. Please note, if you are a local student applying to one of our clinical programs, decisions will not be made until 1-2 weeks after the published deadline. 

How many students are accepted each semester?
Over the last several years and across all MLS programs, the acceptance rate has been approximately 80%. Please note that applicants are reviewed and admitted based on their individual strengths and not in pursuit of meeting a particular admissions number.

What is your board of certification pass rate for the MLS exam?
First Time Pass rate 2014: 100%
First Time Pass rate 2015:88%

I have a Bachelor’s degree but want to get MLS certified. Is there a way I can do this without getting another Bachelor’s degree?
Yes, we have a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in MLS that is specifically designed for students who have an earned Bachelor’s degree.  This certificate program will provide you with the MLS courses and eligibility to take national MLS certification examinations. Per GW policy, students with an earned Bachelor’s degree are not eligible for admission into BSHS degree completion programs.

I am applying for the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate but do not see this option in the application. What do I choose?
The Post-Baccalaureate Certificates are Undergraduate Certificates; therefore, select Undergraduate Certificate from the Degree drop-down menu in the application.

Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid

How much is tuition?
Tuition information can be found on our Tuition and Financial Aid website.

I’m planning to use financial aid, what is the process?
Applying for financial aid is a process separate from applying for admission into the program. You will need to work with the Office of Student Financial Assistance and complete the appropriate paperwork to receive an aid award. It is recommended that you apply for financial aid when you apply for admission to expedite award disbursement in the event you are offered admission.

What additional fees are there?
In addition to tuition, there is a $35 registration fee each semester and each online clinical MLS course includes a $30 proctoring fee for use of the remote proctoring service RP NOW. Laboratory courses in the Blended BSHS in MLS program include a $75 lab fee.

Do I have to pay for the practicum courses?
Yes. The practicum courses are still part of the MLS curriculum (i.e., credit earning coursework).

Are these programs financial aid eligible?
Most of our programs are financial aid eligible. Please refer to our Tuition and Financial Aid website for details.

Are books included in the tuition and fees?
No, textbook costs are not included. Details on required texts are made available in the Schedule of Classes, on the GW Bookstore’s website, and in the course syllabi. Guidance for locating textbook information is available on the Student Resources page.

General Program Questions

Are all of the courses in this program online?
All of the didactic courses in the MLS programs are taught online. These programs also include at least one practicum course (the number of practica vary depending on the program).  The practicum courses are completed in an approved hospital or diagnostic laboratory and will include some online components. Students in the Blended BSHS program will complete in-person lab courses each semester at the Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn, VA.

How do I take exams if the courses are taught online? 
To maintain the academic integrity of the program, the GW MLS program requires that students use a web-based remote proctoring system called Remote Proctor NOW in every MLS-designated course throughout the program. Additional information on this system from Software Secure, Inc. can be found at this address: http://www.softwaresecure.com/product/remote-proctor-now/.  See below the IT requirements to use Remote Proctor Now.

Can I take classes year-round? 
Yes. We offer the majority of our courses in every semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer), thereby allowing students to make progress on their degree or certificate year-round. Summer courses are not required. Students in the BSHS and MSHS programs also take Health Sciences (HSCI) courses, which have limited availability. Your advisor will alert you to course availability and help you plan accordingly.

Can I work while I am taking the classes?
Yes, most of our students work while they are in our program.  We recommend that if you work, you should only take courses on a part-time basis.

Can I pursue my degree part-time?
Yes, most of the students in these programs are part-time. Please refer to the GW Office of Student Financial Assistance website for details on qualifying for part-time financial aid.

Can I pursue my degree full-time?
Yes, this is an option for students who are not working and have limited obligations outside of school due to the time commitment necessary to be successful in this program. Please refer to the GW Office of Student Financial Assistance website for details on qualifying for full-time financial aid.

Students pursuing categorical certificates will not be able to pursue those programs on a full-time basis due to the number of total credits included in those programs.

How much time will I need to complete my classes each week?
We recommend that students in our undergraduate programs budget 4 hours per credit per week for studying. A part-time pace, for undergraduate financial aid purposes, is designated as 6-11 credits per term; therefore students can expect to spend 24-44 hours per week on coursework. A full-time pace, for undergraduate financial aid purposes, is 12 credits, resulting in about 48 hours of studying per week.

Students in graduate programs are encouraged to budget 12-15 hours per week for each course.

How do I register for classes?
The MLS programs utilize a managed registration system, meaning each semester you will work with your advisor to create a schedule for the upcoming semester and then your advisor will process your registration on your behalf.

How do I move through the program?
For the BSHS and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in MLS, students must successfully complete Phase I (didactic courses) before becoming eligible to enter Phase II (clinical rotations). In order to successfully complete Phase I, students must complete all MLS courses with grades of C- or higher and have a 2.5 MLS GPA. Students must also complete the Clinical Rotation Request form and submit any other required documents as indicated in the CRR.

For the Categorical Certificates and the clinical MSHS programs, students must complete the core clinical MLS courses to become eligible to enter their program’s rotation. Certificate students must also complete courses with grades of C- or higher and maintain a 2.5 MLS GPA; MSHS students must maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Students who fail to meet the minimum GPA requirements may be placed on academic probation, suspension, or face possible dismissal. The Regulations section of the GW Bulletin includes detailed information on academic standing. Details on the academic grievance and appeals process are included in this section as well.

BSHS Questions

How many credits can I transfer into the program to obtain a BSHS in MLS?
Due to academic residency requirements, we are only able to accept 60 credits for transfer into the BSHS in MLS program.

Can I transfer in credit for the MLS courses?
Due to certification examination and accreditation requirements, we are unable to allow students to transfer in coursework as substitutes for MLS core courses.

How long will it take me to complete the BSHS program?           
This depends on the pace at which you pursue your program. The majority of our students work through our programs at a part-time pace due to employment and other responsibilities. The program requires completion of 60 GW credits as outlined on the program’s curriculum website. At a part-time pace, students can complete the BSHS in 7 semesters and 5 semesters at a full-time pace.

What is the difference between the fully online BSHS and the blended BSHS?
The fully online BSHS program is open to students who are currently MLT certified through ASCP or AMT and completed an accredited MLT program. The blended program is designed for students who reside in the DC area and have completed an associate’s degree or equivalent credits (60+) and do not have previous MLT experience.

I already have a Bachelor’s degree and want to become an MLS, can I enroll in one of the BSHS in MLS programs?
Unfortunately, no. Per GW policy, students with an earned Bachelor’s degree are not eligible for admission into BSHS degree completion programs. Students who have an earned Bachelor’s degree are eligible for our Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in MLS, though, which is specifically designed to meet this need.  This certificate program will provide you with the MLS courses and eligibility to take national MLS certification examinations.

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Questions

Can I transfer credits from my Bachelor’s degree in place of some of the courses included in the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program?
Due to certification examination and accreditation requirements, we are unable to allow students to transfer in coursework as substitutes for MLS core courses.

How long will it take me to complete the full Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program?
This depends on the pace at which you pursue your program. The majority of our students work through our programs at a part-time pace due to employment and other responsibilities. The program requires completion of 45 GW credits as outlined on the program’s curriculum website. At a part-time pace, students can complete the full Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in 6 semesters and 4 semesters at a full-time pace. The Categorical Certificates can be completed in 3 semesters.

What is the difference between the full Post-Baccalaureate Certificate and the Categorical Certificates?
The full MLS Post-Baccalaureate Certificate will provide you with all MLS courses and practica and upon successful completion you will be eligible for the MLS national certification examinations. The categorical certificates will provide you with the MLS courses and practica in one area (i.e., Blood Banking, Chemistry, Hematology, or Microbiology). Upon successful completion, you will be eligible to take the Technologist subject national exam and you will only be eligible to work in that one area of the lab.              

If I enroll in a Post-Baccalaureate Categorical Certificate now, can I enroll in one of the other categorical subjects later?
If you are interested in multiple categorical certificates, or there is any possibility that you would want to become MLS certified, then you should apply for and enroll in the MLS certificate. Students who wish to complete an additional categorical certificate must complete all required coursework - even those courses which appear in both programs, therefore it is more economical to pursue the full MLS certificate. In addition, students can only complete up to two categorical certificates due to the fact that courses can only be repeated once. 

I am pursuing a Post-Baccalaureate Categorical Certificate (Blood Banking, Chemistry, Hematology, Microbiology), but am thinking about doing the full MLS Certificate; can I change my degree later?
You will need to submit a new application if you want to switch to the full MLS certificate. We recommend that you do this early on in your program to ensure that you have taken courses in the proper sequence.

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Clinical Practica Questions

Will I be assigned to a clinical site by GW?
Local students who live in the Washington DC Metro Area can be placed in one of our affiliate hospital labs in the area. Students who live outside of the Washington DC Metro Area are required to secure a satisfactory clinical site at the time of admission.

I have identified a clinical site. What is the next step?  
Once a clinical site is identified, the GW clinical coordinator will determine if the site performs all of the mandatory testing required.  If the facility is missing tests in any area, the student may need to find an additional site to complete the requirements for the rotations.  Once a site or sites are identified and approved; an affiliation agreement with each site is initiated.  The student cannot begin the clinical rotations until there is an affiliation agreement in place. 

Which clinical sites is the GW MLS program affiliated with?
The GW MLS Program has been affiliated with many outstanding and diverse clinical sites throughout the nation. These include medical centers, diagnostic laboratories, and military hospitals. GW has a long-term relationship with the following local affiliates: George Washington University Hospital (DC), Suburban Hospital (MD), Sibley Memorial Hospital (DC), Children’s Medical Center (DC), Holy Cross Health Silver Spring (MD), Holy Cross Health Germantown (MD) and Virginia Hospital Center (VA). This list is subject to change as we add/remove clinical sites. Local students are typically placed in one of these primary affiliates.

Can I automatically be placed in a clinical site that I already know is affiliated with GW?
GW establishes an affiliation agreement with all facilities prior to the clinical practicum rotations.  However, GW does not have the authority to automatically place students into these sites, since many of these affiliations are temporary and are only generated for an individual student.  GW has local primary affiliates, which are the only sites that GW can use to place students for rotations. Students securing their own clinical sites must acquire permission from the clinical site to attend the rotations. 

Have you worked with any clinical sites previously in my geographic area?
We have many clinical affiliates nationwide; please contact the GW MLS clinical coordinators (mlsclinicals@gwu.edu) for state-specific questions.

I am a local to the Washington, DC Metro area. Can I secure my own clinical site?
Yes, you may secure your own site. This site must be an accredited lab that includes all specific lab areas required to complete your practica.

I live outside of the Washington, DC Metro Area. Can I relocate to DC to attend clinical rotations?
Due to a high volume of applications and limited number of local clinical spots, we are typically unable to place non-local students in one of our primary local affiliates. Keep in mind that, it is also important for students to develop a professional relationship with a clinical site in their own geographic area to create future employment opportunities.

I have tried to find a clinical site but I am not having any luck - what can I do?
We highly recommend that you make appointments with the laboratory director/manager or the education coordinator for the lab at various hospital labs in your geographic area and go IN PERSON to discuss the clinical practicum. Bring the letter with the CSV with you since that provides an explanation of what you need.  DO NOT call or e-mail requests since it is far too easy to say no via e-mail or telephone.  Also, it is difficult to explain what you need if you are not there in person to answer questions.

Can clinical rotations be done at multiple sites?
Yes and sometimes this is necessary if one of the sites does not perform some of the required lab tests.  For example, if the clinical site does not do blood banking, then you may need to find another site to complete the blood banking practicum.  In these cases, we will establish an affiliation agreement with both clinical sites.

Can I complete my clinical rotations at the facility where I am employed?          
You may do your clinical rotations at your work place, however, we do not count work hours towards clinical rotation hours. You should make necessary arrangements with your lab manager to complete them at separate times.

Can I identify my clinical site after I start the program?

It is a GW MLS program requirement that students must have had secured a clinical site at the time of admissions. Military students deployed overseas may identify a clinical site later.

Can I change my clinical site later?
Yes, you may change your clinical site later and submit a new CSV form to the clinical coordinator.  It will also require another affiliation agreement which can take up to 6 months.  Consequently, it is better to have the clinical site confirmed as early as possible.

What is the Clinical Site Verification form?
Students who are securing their own clinical site must have the Clinical Site Verification form (CSV) filled out by the laboratory manager or the education coordinator of the clinical facility. The CSV form provides useful information about the facility; such as, the accreditation status and the specific departments within the lab. This will help us to make an initial assessment about the facility.

What is an affiliation agreement?
An affiliation agreement is a legal contract between the university and the clinical site for the purposes of placing students in clinical rotations at the clinical facility. The agreement consists of the mutual promises and specifies the responsibilities required for all parties (student, clinical site and university). It is important that the prospective clinical sites understand that if they agree to train a student, we will establish an affiliation agreement with that facility prior to practicum courses. In rare cases, affiliation agreements may fall through (usually due to legal conflicts between parties), and GW may not be able to establish an affiliation agreement with the student’s preferred clinical site. In this case, the student may be asked to make other arrangements with a different clinical site.

Can I enter clinical rotations when I am still taking didactic online courses?
Students must first finish all their coursework from the didactic portion (Phase I) before they can enter clinical rotations (Phase II).
 

How soon can I start my clinical rotations (Phase II) after I complete the didactic portion (Phase I) of the program?
The clinical sites can schedule your rotations to begin the semester after you finish your didactic coursework. In the event of limited availability of clinical rotations in a specific semester, clinical sites may schedule rotations in the semester following the requested semester.

Can I do my rotations in the Summer semester?
Please be advised that most clinical sites do not provide training in summer months due to short staffing availability. Local students will typically be scheduled to attend rotations in the Fall or Spring semesters. If you have secured your own clinical site, your lab manager will determine summer availability if that is necessary.

What are my options when clinical placement cannot be guaranteed immediately?
Local students who choose to attend rotations in one of GW primary affiliates: In the event of limited availability of clinical rotations, the GW MLS Program may have to schedule the student's clinical rotation in the semester following the requested semester. In the case that the student cannot be placed in rotations immediately after the completion of the didactic portion of the program, the student will be given a priority placement in the following semester. This delay would not negatively affect the student’s academic standing in the program.

Students who secure their own clinical sites (typically non-local students): In the event that a clinical site cannot provide a clinical experience in the semester requested by the student, the GW MLS program will work with the clinical site to determine if the practica can be completed in the following semester. In the case where a clinical site can no longer take the student, the student may be asked to make some other arrangements with a different suitable clinical site (i.e. finding placement at a different clinical site). In rare cases, if the student is unable to make arrangements with another site in her/his preferred geographic area(s), the student may have to relocate to Washington DC area to complete the clinical portion of the program.

Can I attend clinical rotations on a part time basis?
Part-time rotations in our primary local affiliates are typically not available. If you are securing your own site, the lab manager may allow you to do your rotations on a part time basis over an extended period of time. Please discuss this possibility with your lab manager/coordinator.

Is training on the evening/night shift available?
Training hours will be determined by your clinical site.

Am I going to be eligible to apply for state licensure after graduation?
You are eligible to apply for the ASCP board of certification (BOC) examination.  Once you pass the BOC, you are eligible to apply for MOST state licenses; however, the guidelines and requirements for state licensure vary.  You must identify the requirements for licensure (if applicable) in the state that you reside and determine what you need.  GW does not provide state licenses and we do not know the criteria for every state.  We do know that CA has very specific requirements for eligibility.

I have an MLT certification, do I still need rotations?
Yes, all students are required to complete the clinical rotations in order to earn their MLS degree or certificate.