Frequently Asked Questions

What is the tuition for this program? The tuition for the MDS program is established by the university and can be found on the Finance Division website:
http://finance.unc.edu/saur/student-account-services/tuition-and-fees/
Scroll down to "Charges for Attendance" and click on the current academic year. The tuition for the MDS program is found toward the end of the document under Off-campus programs, Allied Health Sciences, Master of Clinical Laboratory Sciences (MCLS).

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Can I waive the application fee or the enrollment fee? No, the application fee must be paid before we can consider your application. The enrollment fee must be paid in order to hold your position in the program. Both are non-refundable. The enrollment fee is applied toward your fall semester tuition.

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Do I have to take a GRE subject test? No, only the General GRE test is required.

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I sent my GRE / TOEFL scores to UNC-Chapel Hill electronically. Do I also have to send you a hard copy of the test results? No. Your official GRE or TOEFL scores will be automatically incorporated into your online application.

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Can I request a specific clinical rotation site? Students will submit requests for clinical rotations, and will be assigned sites by the beginning of the fall semester. Because clinical sites will take 2 students at the most, not all students will get their first choice for their clinical rotations.

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Can I complete the clinical rotation in a laboratory near my current residence? The UNC MDS program currently uses the following clinical sites for the clinical rotation:

  • UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
  • Laboratory Corporation of America, Research Triangle Park, NC
  • Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute, Chantilly, VA
  • Molecular Pathology Laboratory Network, Maryville, TN
  • University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA.

If you are interested in a clinical rotation at a site that is not listed above, please read this document. The document describes the process of establishing new clinical sites. Note that this process must by completed during the student's first year in order for the desired clinical site to be considered for a clinical rotation.

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Can I complete the Master’s Degree without the clinical rotation? This program is designed to prepare graduates for national certification examinations and positions in molecular diagnostic laboratories. The clinical rotation is essential to this preparation and is required for the Master’s Degree.

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If I am already working in a molecular lab, do I still have to complete the clinical rotation and student lab? In order to complete the program, students must complete all courses (except that 610L is not required for certified laboratory professionals). All students must meet the goals and objectives of the clinical rotation, and complete all the checklists and assignments.  Students must be able to complete work on their projects independently.  Depending upon the test menu and facilities at the specific site, it may be possible for students who are already working in a molecular laboratory to complete their clinical rotations at that site (see next FAQ).

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Can I complete the clinical rotation at my current place of employment? Some students may be eligible for Route 2 or Route 3, which allow  students to meet some of the requirements for the clinical rotation by documenting their clinical competency in molecular testing at their current place of employment.  To determine whether or not you qualify for Route 2 or 3, see the description of the Routes and the steps for applying for Route 2 or Route 3 on our Curriculum page.

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Can I enroll as a part time student? Because the MDS students start and finish the program as a cohort, part time students are not accepted at this time.

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Can I take one course for continuing education? Because the MDS students start and finish the program as a cohort, we are only accepting full time students for enrollment in MDS courses.

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What kind of computer equipment do I need for the courses? See the AHS Technical Requirements for Distance Education Students page:
http://www.med.unc.edu/ahs/distance-education/technical-requirements

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How do I get technical assistance? Technical assistance is available through the University Help Desk at 919-962-HELP, or go to http://help.unc.edu to use live chat support or to submit a support request online. You can also go through the course instructor or teaching assistant.

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How many hours a week do the courses take? Obviously, this varies from student to student. These are demanding graduate-level courses. Many students have said that they were not prepared for the time commitment and had to adjust their time accordingly. The average number of hours per week/per course is 10-12. For some it is more and for others less.

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How long can I take to complete the MDS program? We expect students to start and finish the program as a cohort in four semesters. In the event that a student can not complete the courses in this time frame, the student will have up to 4 years to complete all the courses and receive the Master’s Degree.

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I have never taken an online course, what is it like? Do I have to be online at a certain time? No, you do not need to be online at a certain time. There are, however, specific activities that must be completed by a certain time. Each course consists of a mix of readings, group assignments through a discussion forum, individual assignments and audio/visual tutorials.

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Will I be able to ask questions of the instructors? All courses have a faculty member who is very accessible via phone or email.

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Is there campus housing available for the laboratory course and the clinical rotation? Students seeking housing should go to: http://housing.unc.edu

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After I complete the MDS program and pass the certification exam, can I put some credentials (initials) after my name? Yes, once you pass the exam you will be certified as MB(ASCP).

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Will there be job placement assistance for individuals who complete the MDS program? Although we do not specifically match students with job openings, the clinical practicum offers the student an excellent opportunity to learn about one employment setting. In addition, MDS employers can list job openings on the program website.

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Can I get a brochure or other printed material describing the MDS program? There is no additional printed information on the MDS program because we have attempted to put all the information on this website. If you have suggestions for additional information that would be helpful on this website, please contact us.

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Can I use the UNC tuition waiver program for MDS courses? Yes. UNC employees should review the guidelines in the tuition waiver to see if they are eligible.

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What is the average salary of a technologist working in a molecular diagnostic laboratory? The MDS program prepares graduates for entry-level positions. Although it is a Master’s degree program, graduates of baccalaureate degree programs are also qualified for these entry-level positions. In a recent survey, MDS graduates reported starting salaries between $40,000 - $50,000 / year. One graduate commented: “Salaries tend to be based more on experience than education. With little direct experience in the clinical laboratory, you may start with a salary close to or just slightly higher than a student with a BS degree in Clinical Laboratory Science. My starting salary after graduating from MDS was $45,000 per year. However, the experience and education that I gained in the program allowed me to perform at a much higher level than other techs during my first year. As a result, I'll be promoted more quickly to a leadership role within the laboratory, thus increasing my salary faster than the average tech.”

The following is a list of average annual salaries for medical technologists working in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area compiled by Monster.com in 2013:

Job Title

Typical Salaries
(Raleigh area)

Medical Technologist

$61,219

Laboratory Supervisor II

$79,017

Laboratory Manager

$87,560

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Can I transfer graduate level credits in molecular diagnostics from another college or university to this program? Transfer of course credit from another college or university will be evaluated on a case by case basis.  In some cases, it may be possible to receive up to six hours of credit.  A formal written request for credit transfer for previous course work must be submitted with the application packet.  The final decision regarding transfer of credit will be made by the admissions committee.

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Can UNC issue visa documents for the MDS program? Because the MDS program has a significant number of on-line courses, immigration regulations do not allow UNC to issue the appropriate visa eligibility documentation. International students who are already in the U.S. and plan to maintain their current visa status while completing the MDS program may enroll in the program if their current visa allows them to study while in the US.

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