Histology Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's & Online Course Info

About this article
What kind of job can you get with a bachelor's or master's degree in histology? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and histology training programs.
View available schools

Studying Histology: Degrees at a Glance

Histology is the study of the structure of organic tissue. In many laboratory settings, histotechnicians and histotechnologists work closely with doctors and pathologists to diagnose disease. The histotechnicians prepare slides containing human tissue for examination by a pathologist. The histotechnologists perform tasks that require a set of more complex skills and apply their knowledge of the underlying causes of specific diseases.

The bachelor's degree program can prepare you for entry-level histotechnology opportunities. Keep in mind that histotechnician positions generally require an associate degree. In addition, the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) - the industry-standard for histology accreditation - only accredited 6 programs as of October 2012. The master's degree program provides the education to pursue histotechnologist, community college or laboratory supervision positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that histotechnologists and histologic technicians might experience 10% to 19% job growth over the 2010-2020 decade.

Bachelor's Master's
Who is this degree for? People seeking entry-level research or histotechnician positions Individuals seeking histotechnologist or teaching positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Histotechnologist or histologic technician ($57,000)* (Both degrees provide the training required for a similar career path with the exception of:) -Postsecondary biological science teacher ($86,000)*
Time to Completion 4 years full-time 1 year full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 120 credits - Roughly 34 credits
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent Bachelor's degree in related discipline
Online Availability None as of November 2012 None as of November 2012

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Bachelor's in Histotechnology

The bachelor's degree program offers a strong scientific curriculum. Generally, pursuing a degree in medical technology or the biological sciences prepares students for an undergraduate degree program in histotechnology. Some schools require that students complete roughly 60 credits of coursework - at another college or university - in chemistry or biology. Some schools offer courses that prepare students to take the American Society for Clinical Pathology's (ASCP) histotechnologist certification. Keep in mind that some programs are competitive, with a few admitting a total cohort in the single digits.

Pros and Cons


  • Medical laboratory technician positions were expected to grow by 15% over the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Histotechnologists and histologic technicians earned a relatively competitive average salary of $57,000**
  • Programs provide students the foundation required to pursue a master's degree


  • Histotechnician positions only require an associate's degree
  • A bachelor's degree might over-qualify you for some clinical laboratory positions
  • Pursuing and maintaining certification requires additional financial resources and time

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 job growth projections), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program prepares students to work in several settings, including veterinary and medical offices, hospitals and independent laboratories. The program delivers a science-based curriculum that develops skills in tissue management, cellular morphology and laboratory procedures. Students spend substantial time performing tasks in a laboratory environment. Following are some common courses offered by the programs:

  • Molecular techniques
  • Medical microbiology
  • Laboratory mathematics
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Histotechniques
  • Applied chemistry

Online Degree Info

The substantial amount of time required in the laboratory and the scientific nature of the program make very few, if any, online programs available. Online programs might not offer a professional education. Keep in mind that an online program's accreditation might influence your ability to pursue industry-standard certification. The NAACLS accredits histology programs.

Stand Out with This Degree

Employers generally prefer job candidates who possess industry-standard certification. The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) administers the histotechnologist certification. Qualification requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum of 30 semester hours in biology and chemistry. In addition, the ASCP requires laboratory work and many employers prefer candidates with hands-on experience. Some states require a license for those who wish to practice histology. You can contact your state's histology society to inquire about licensing. Consider pursuing internships during your studies to gain a minimum of one year of experience in a clinical laboratory environment.

Master's in Histotechnology

The master's degree program delivers a deeper knowledge of histology and offers the opportunity to specialize in several areas. Students participate in theory-based or experiment-based thesis options. Some programs deliver a master's degree in biology coupled with a certificate in histotechnology. The completion of a clinical experience course is common and provides exposure to hands-on access to clinical settings. Clinical case studies and capstone projects will complement your education. You might find the program offered through a college of biology or pathology.

Pros and Cons


  • Postsecondary teachers earned a relatively competitive annual mean salary of $86,000*
  • Programs prepare students to pursue a range of positions in and out of the industry
  • Degree courses can prepare students for opportunities in healthcare leadership


  • A master's degree is not required for histotechnologist opportunities; a bachelor's degree is suitable
  • Histotechnologist salary potential and the cost of attending a graduate program might not present a good return on investment
  • Pursuing the appropriate licensing or certification for teaching positions requires additional time and financial resources

Source: **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

The master's degree program delivers a focus in pathology and chemistry. In addition to required coursework, programs offer elective courses that develop a deeper understanding of specific issues in histology. You can expect to take courses in experimental pathology, cell biology, biochemistry and infection. Elective courses might include molecular genetics, animal virology and stem cell biology. You can expect to spend substantial time working in a laboratory setting. Some programs require a research-based thesis, while others offer coursework in healthcare leadership.

Online Degree Info

Similar to the bachelor's degree program, finding an online master's degree program might prove difficult. If you find a program, keep in mind that many employers prefer candidates with a degree from a program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). In addition, obtaining some certifications might require a NAACLS-accredited program.

Stand Out with This Degree

Obtaining the appropriate certification might improve your job prospects. In addition, pursuing an appropriate clinical experience or practicum will provide the practical exposure most employers prefer. If you plan to pursue teaching opportunities, keep in mind that you must meet your state's minimum education requirements. You can contact your state's department of education to inquire about the minimum certification or licensing requirements to pursue teaching positions. Multiple career paths exist and pursuing courses in a specialty, such as forensic pathology, marine biology or industrial research might provide additional career opportunities.

Popular Schools

Featured Schools

The George Washington University

  • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics
  • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences

What is your highest level of education?