Online Histotechnician & Histotechnology Programs in 2021
Find the right histology program and review top schools to jump-start your career and get certified.
Written By Edumed Staff
Last Updated: 02/18/2021 ——
Once you’ve set your sights on a career in histology, it’s time to get the education to make that dream happen. Quality online histotechnician and histotechnology programs equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the workforce. To help you in your search, we researched and vetted online programs in histology from schools across the U.S. to find the very best. These offer the all-important accreditation employers want as well as the affordable price tag you need. Here’s a detailed look at the best schools for histology in 2021.
Indiana University-Purdue University offers two programs in HT, a certificate and associate’s degree. Undergraduate Certificate in HT is a ten-month, 24-credit program. With both programs, the didactic and practicum courses are delivered in a hybrid modality, with studies at home and experience hours conducted on-site. Upon completion of the certificate, graduates can take the Histotechnician Certification Examination HT(ASCP). Want to earn a degree? The university’s 60-credit Associate of Science degree can be completed in two years. Educational requirements are comprised of 30 units in general education courses and 30 units of histotechnology related courses. Students must also have access to a participating training laboratory for the supervised practicum experiences. Applicants are also required to have current employment in a histology lab.
Students can choose from one of two Albany State the undergraduate programs to earn a certificate or complete a Histologic Technician Certificate or an Associate of Applied Science in Histologic Technician. program in histology trains students with the assessment of collected human and veterinary tissue specimens. Students for the certificate as well as the degree must complete a hands-on externship of at least 300 clinical hours at approved histology laboratory. The 18-credit certificate curriculum includes online courses in Histology with related laboratory sessions. Coursework includes studies in Immunohistochemistry Procedures, Parasitology, Mycology, and Virology. To meet requirements for certificate admission, students Program applicants must have completed a college degree and prerequisite courses in college algebra, chemistry, human anatomy and physiology. For those who want a degree, Albany State University’s Associate of Applied Science in Histologic Technician degree requires 60 credits of undergraduate studies dedicated to HT and general education courses. Online courses are in Human Anatomy and Physiology and the Principles of Chemistry. In the sophomore year, students add in studies in Microbiology.
Prior to entry to the degree program, students are expected to complete pre-requisite courses in mathematics, chemistry, and biology.
Histotechnician (HT) Undergraduate Certificate
Length: 10 months
Mode: Partially online
Histotechnician Associate of Science
Length: Two years
Mode: Partially online
Students w/ Institutional Aid7%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
Harcum’s Histotechnician (HT) Associate Degree program is a blended program, offering convenient online studies with in-person practicum laboratories. The program can be completed in two years. Students must complete required coursework in Anatomy and Physiology (two semesters), Microbiology, and a General Chemistry Elective in addition to general education courses. The on-site, supervised practicum is a 3- to 6-hour lab held each fall and spring semesters. These practicum labs offered weekdays in the daytime. The goal of the HT program is to prepare its graduates to sit for the Board of Certification exam sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP). Graduates are trained to evaluate findings from histopathologic examinations in order to recommend treatment. Applicants to the certificate program are expected to provide high school (GED) transcripts unless they have completed a bachelor’s degree.
Histotechnician Associate Degree
Length: One year
Cost: $2,600/total cost
Mode: Partially online
Accreditation: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Students w/ Institutional Aid89%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
Profiling Online Histology Degree Programs
Looking for an even closer look at universities offering online histotechnician and histotechnology programs? We’ve spotlighted two accredited programs to help you learn more about admission requirements, tuition costs, and what you’ll learn in labs and classes.
The University of North Dakota (UND)
The Department of Medical Laboratory Science at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences offers the Histotechnician Certificate Program. Completed in just two semesters, this program is designed for online learners who want to get into the workforce immediately upon graduation. The $7,500 tuition and fees are spread out over the two semesters, during which students will earn 19 credits. Working professionals will have the opportunity to complete all hands-on work at the clinical site where they are already employed, making the educational pursuit even more convenient. With three start dates—January, May, and August—online students can start the program when it’s convenient for them.
Admission requires a minimum of an associate degree with a 2.8 minimum GPA, successful completion of prerequisites in biology, math, and chemistry as well as a clinical site placement. Other admissions criteria include three recommendations, a criminal background check, and verification of immunization and health status.
Florida State College at Jacksonville
The Associate in Science in Histologic Technology at Florida State College offers courses designed for online learning coupled with hands-on requirements that prepare students to enter the workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge.
Consisting of 76 credits, applicants are expected to come to the program with completed prerequisites in English, algebra, biology, and anatomy. Forty credit hours will focus on general coursework, while 36 credit hours are in professional courses. Some courses include Medical Terminology, Histotechniques Lab, Special Topics in Histological Techniques, and the practicum. Students must earn a “C” or better in all professional courses. The associate degree can stand alone or can be articulated into the bachelor’s degree.
In order to enter the program, students must hold a high school diploma or equivalent, complete a program application, and have the interview process completed by a set date (May 15 for a fall start). Students are expected to complete two face-to-face labs each semester at the FSCJ North Campus in Florida, while all other lab work can be completed at an approved clinical site close to the student’s home.
Inside Online Histology Programs
The only way to know if a histology program is right for you is to get to know the program inside and out. Learn what to expect from the curriculum, examine the costs, look at the financial aid options, and explore the career prospects for graduates. It’s also important to decide whether you want to enter a histotechnician or histotechnologist program as well as whether you want to pursue an HT or HTL certification. Not sure where to begin? Keep reading—we’ve got the answers you need to help make those decisions.
What is the difference between a histotechnician and histotechnologist?
Though a histotechnician and a histotechnologist are two different careers, their work overlaps. The two might work in the same laboratory, while doing different jobs in order to get to the final result. Here is a look at the differences between these two careers.
Roles & Responsibilities
The histotechnician is responsible for preparing small samples for viewing under a microscope; their exacting work is crucial to the testing process. This preparation includes selecting appropriate samples, dyeing them with special pigments, mounting them on slides, and ensuring the slides are in the proper condition to be sent to higher laboratory personnel for review.
The histotechnologist has more in-depth knowledge of how and why such tissues might be viewed and, thus, can look for underlying health problems in a patient who might cause variations in samples, evaluate newer techniques and processes, and manage new situations or emergencies that might arise in the lab.
Academic & Certification Requirements
This job requires an associate degree; the applied science degree typically takes two years and prepares students to move into the field upon graduation. A clinical program in a hospital setting might also be sufficient. This can lead to the HT certification.
This job requires a bachelor’s degree, including clinical work, and can lead to the HTL certification. The bachelor’s degree takes about four years of full-time study to complete.
Roles & Responsibilities The histotechnician is responsible for preparing small samples for viewing under a microscope; their exacting work is crucial to the testing process. This preparation includes selecting appropriate samples, dyeing them with special pigments, mounting them on slides, and ensuring the slides are in the proper condition to be sent to higher laboratory personnel for review.
Academic & Certification Requirements This job requires an associate degree; the applied science degree typically takes two years and prepares students to move into the field upon graduation. A clinical program in a hospital setting might also be sufficient. This can lead to the HT certification.
Roles & Responsibilities The histotechnologist has more in-depth knowledge of how and why such tissues might be viewed and, thus, can look for underlying health problems in a patient who might cause variations in samples, evaluate newer techniques and processes, and manage new situations or emergencies that might arise in the lab.
Academic & Certification Requirements This job requires a bachelor’s degree, including clinical work, and can lead to the HTL certification. The bachelor’s degree takes about four years of full-time study to complete.
How much does it cost to earn a degree or certificate in histology online?
When considering a histology program, one question is bound to come up: how much will this cost? The costs of tuition and fees for a histology degree can vary widely depending on the type of school, with community colleges typically costing less than four-year schools and public schools costing less than private. Where a student lives comes into play as well, even for online programs; some schools charge out-of-state tuition for online programs, while others charge in-state, and still others charge a special tuition for online learners. Financial aid, scholarships, and grants can also play a role in determining how much a program will cost for a given student.
To provide an idea of what to expect for tuition, we’ve compiled the following:
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Histotechnology
Total Credits: N/A (one year of study)
$12,900 (Flat fee)
What do you learn in an online histology program?
Though every online program is unique, there are some things that will be universal among histology programs, including the core courses. These classes are filled with the knowledge and skills those in a histology career will need in order to do their job well. Below are some of the courses students can expect to encounter.
Sometimes split into two courses, these classes focus on an introduction to fundamental techniques necessary for those in the histology field, such as fixation, solutions, processing, preparation, and staining. Deeper into the course, students learn topics including pigments, minerals, muscle and connective tissue, nerves, immunohistochemistry, and enzyme histochemistry.
Histology Lab Theory
This broad overview of topics in the histology world prepares students to move into more in-depth subjects in the field as well as the workings of a laboratory and an introduction to laboratory management.
Molecules, Cells, and Tissues
Sometimes known by a variety of introductory course names, this particular line of education focuses on the concepts and principles that govern how the tissues of the body work together, providing background knowledge for students as they move into more advanced courses. The laboratory component helps students develop crucial skills with the microscope, including the use of light and staining, to create a proper image.
Human Structure and Function
This lab and lecture course looks at the various functions of the human body and how the tissues act in different ways in each organ or structure. Topics touched on include respiratory, cardiovascular, lymphatic, GI, and skin systems, as well as a look at urinary, reproductive, and endocrine functions and systems of the body. Students will learn about these systems through lecture and examine the systems through lab work.
Also known as a practicum, this course is dedicated to ensuring students get the proper number of hours in a histology laboratory setting, where they learn procedures and techniques for staining and evaluating tissue samples. This supervised experience will help students hone their skills in the lab and prepare them for the rigors of their future job.
Those who complete a program in histology can expect to gain the physical and academic skills that will help them throughout their career. Some of these skills include the following:
Strong attention to detail
Familiarity with laboratory technology
Patience with prolonged study in a laboratory environment
Physical ability to repeat fine, careful movements over and over
What’s it like to complete a histology program online?
Many histology programs, especially certificate programs, are designed to be taken entirely online. The coursework is often delivered via lectures, slides, and video presentations for students to view at their own pace, though certain deadlines may need to be met.
A hands-on clinical aspect of these programs, however, requires students to attend clinical work on campus one or two times per semester. The rest of the clinical work can be completed at an approved site, including at a student’s current job, closer to the student’s home. Though some hours can be expected, those in the associate degree program can expect less hands-on work than those in the bachelor’s program.
Should my online histology program be accredited?
Accreditation is a vital part of choosing the right school. Regional accreditation, sometimes called institutional accreditation, speaks to the accreditation a school earns after undergoing an in-depth evaluation by an independent body and being found to meet the standards of a quality education. Regional accreditation is important because it proves the degree a student earns from that school is worth something. Beyond that assurance of reputation, it also helps assure any credits earned at that school are eligible for transfer to other schools and allows students to qualify for financial aid, as schools without accreditation do not qualify for federal aid.
In addition to regional accreditation, there is programmatic accreditation. This means a program itself is accredited, usually by an independent body that focuses strongly on that particular field. For histology programs, the accrediting body is the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS). This accreditation is crucial for ensuring students can earn HT or HTL certification upon graduation from their program.
Three main degree options are available for histology programs: the associate degree, the bachelor’s, and the undergraduate certificate. The associate degree is the minimum requirement for work in the field and will qualify a graduate for the HT certification. The bachelor’s and certificate require more time, but will allow a graduate to sit for the HTL certification. Choosing the right degree path depends upon where you want to go with your career.
Online Histology Associate Degrees
Associate degree programs in histology typically take two years to complete and focus on either preparing students to move into the workforce immediately (the associate of applied science) or move into the bachelor’s degree. Students usually complete one year of general education requirements before jumping into the professional courses that focus on histology, including introduction to anatomy and physiology, bodily tissues, and laboratory procedures, as well as hands-on clinical work. Upon completion of the associate degree, students should be prepared to earn their HT certification.
Best for … those who want to earn their HT certification and get into the workforce quickly.
Total Credits: 60 credits
Other Common Requirements: High school diploma
Time to Complete
Part-Time Program: 3 – 4 Years
Full-Time Program: 2 Years
Online Histology Bachelor’s Degrees
The bachelor’s degree takes four years of full-time study to complete and focuses on both general education and professional-level courses to prepare histology students for moving into positions that offer opportunities for advancement. Students will take courses in histology basics, including the use of slides and the identification of tissues, as well as topics including microbiology, anatomy and physiology, and statistics. Laboratory work is expected in this program, which can often be completed at an approved facility near the student’s location. The bachelor’s degree can prepare students for HTL certification as well as give them a good foundation for advancing into management or supervisory roles with experience.
Best for … those who want to earn their HTL certification and pursue supervisory opportunities.
Total Credits: 120 credits
Other Common Requirements: Some prerequisites, such as a “C” or better in science, math, or statistics courses.
Time to Complete
Part-Time Program: 5 – 6 Years
Full-Time Program: 4 Years
Online Histology Certificate Programs
Certificate programs in histology can take the form of undergraduate level, where students must have an associate degree to enter, or graduate level, designed for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in a science or allied health field. These programs typically last less than one year and provide students with a strong overview of the skills and knowledge necessary to work in histology careers. Students will dive right into the clinical aspect, learning hands-on, while they also attend virtual lectures. These certificate programs prepare students to move into laboratory work upon graduation.
Best for … those who have earned an associate or bachelor’s degree in an allied health field and want to move into histology careers.
Total Credits: 24 credits
Other Common Requirements: bachelor’s degree
Time to Complete
Part-Time Program: 18 months
Full-Time Program: 9-12 months
Paying for Your Online Histology Program
Though the bottom line of tuition and fees might come as a shock, it’s important to remember there are many methods of funding that help make that bottom line more manageable. Finding the proper funding before enrolling in a program is important so your education isn’t hindered by a lack of funds. Here are a few of the financial assistance options that exist for histology students.
Scholarships specifically for histology students are available through many professional organizations, including those that focus on pathology, histology, medical laboratory work, and the like. Other scholarships can be found on dedicated scholarship websites, where a quick search for “histology” or “pathology” can yield many results. Learn more about scholarship opportunities on our scholarships page, including EduMed’s scholarship for undergraduate students.
Just like scholarships, grants don’t have to be paid back. The most common is the Pell Grant, which is awarded by the federal government to most students who are attending an accredited institution. To obtain grants, students must first fill out the FAFSA, since many grants are based on need.
Though loans are often not the first choice for paying for school, they are sometimes inevitable. The good news is that many loans offer deferred payments or no interest until graduation, which bodes well for those who live in an area where jobs in the field are abundant.
Four-year colleges and universities often offer work study programs, which are meant to help students pay their way through school by taking on campus jobs or jobs related to their field. In addition to being a financial boon for some, work study programs can also help students build valuable experience while in school.
Other Financial Aid
Other forms of financial aid might be available, such as grants from schools and work study programs. The only way to know what a student qualifies for is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student aid, or FAFSA. This important document will calculate how much a student is expected to pay out of pocket as well as provide information to schools about the student’s financial needs.
Taking the Next Step: What You Can Do with Your Histology Education
Understanding the industry as a whole, seeing where histology careers are trending, and having a firm grasp of the career landscape before entering the program are all important components in helping you take the next step. However, other key questions should also be considered.
Do I need certification to work as a histotechnician or histotechnologist?
In order to work as a histotechnician or histotechnologist, an individual is encouraged to have certification to do so. While this is not an absolute requirement, most laboratories will have their own internal requirements that do include certification for their histology employees. Therefore, certification is highly recommended to help ensure you can find a job upon graduation as well as to improve the chances of higher pay and better job security. The work that someone chooses to do in the field might also help determine their choice to become certified; for instance, over 83 percent of core lab technicians are certified, while only about 72 percent of those working in immunology are, according to the ASCP 2017 Vacancy Survey.
These certifications come from the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC). Both the HT and HTL certification require higher education from an accredited institution. Here’s more on what’s required:
The certification to become a histotechnician can open doors to work in laboratories that focus on a variety of tissue analysis.
Paths to HT Certification
Option A:Successfully complete an accredited histology program within five years of the date of application for the certification.
Option B:Complete at least 60 semester hours of credit from an accredited university with at least 12 semester hours in biology and chemistry, or an associate degree with the same 12 semester hours in biology and chemistry, as well as one year of full-time work in a histopathology laboratory in the United States.
The certification for a histotechnologist offers better options for advancement in the laboratory, including supervisory positions.
Paths to HTL Certification
Option A:Complete a bachelor’s degree with at least 30 semester hours of biology and chemistry as well as completing an accredited program within the past five years.
Option B: Complete a bachelor’s degree with at least 30 semester hours of biology and chemistry as well as one year of full-time experience in a histopathology laboratory in the United States.
Some might wonder, “If certification is not required, why bother?” There’s good reason, and it all comes down to career trajectory and the financial bottom line. According to the 2018 ASCP Vacancy Survey, 42 percent of respondents confirmed that certification was not a requirement to get hired in the field. However, 59 percent of staff held certification, and an impressive 76 percent of supervisors were certified, suggesting that those who have certification are more likely to move up the workplace ladder.
What does a histology career path look like?
Those who earn a degree in histology have several potential jobs on the horizon, which are largely dependent upon the certification they choose and, therefore, the degree they pursue. HT certification, open to those with an associate degree, is the first step. Those who choose to pursue the bachelor’s degree will see many other doors opening up in the field. Here are just a few examples of what’s available to those who earn a degree in histology.
How much can you make with a career in histology?
Histology programs prepare students to move into a fast-growing field. But how does that compute to salary expectations? As with most positions in the health field, salary is dependent upon three things: level of education, certification, and experience. Where a person lives and where they work can also affect their income; for example, one facility might pay more than another, even though they are in the same geographic area. For instance, according to the ASCP 2017 Wage Survey, HTs in private labs make an average of $29.92 per hour, while those in non-academic hospitals make $24.79 per hour.
The following table shows the spectrum of salaries, based on education, experience, and role, for histotechnician and histotechnologist professions:
Average Annual Wages of Histotechnicians and Histotechnologists
Earning the degree isn’t the end of the journey. Throughout their career, a graduate might need additional resources to help with pertinent topics, changing rules in the field, and networking with other professionals. In addition, graduates might decide to pursue other degrees in similar fields to fulfill changing responsibilities. Read on for the must-have resources and an introduction to additional degrees someone might choose on their journey into the medical and allied health field.
Resources for Histotechnician & Histotechnologist Students & Professionals
From choosing a degree program to taking courses to finding a job in the field, it is always important to know where to find the most pertinent information. Whether you are just starting your search for a degree program or moving into professional learning and networking, these resources can help.
National Society for Histology This organization offers insights, advice, education, resources, and events for members at all stages of their career in the field.
A phlebotomist works in a laboratory, doctor’s office, hospital, or other healthcare setting to draw blood and other fluids for assessment. This certification program can take as little as four months and is designed for those who want to get right into the workforce upon graduation. Cross-training in a variety of other areas related to phlebotomy, such as blood banking and histotechnology, can help graduates find better job security and higher pay.
Online Medical Lab Technician Programs
In most cases, medical lab technicians need an associate degree. This program takes about two years, during which students will learn clinical procedures, medical equipment operation, lab testing, biochemistry, equipment maintenance, and more. The focus of the program will change some of the courses a student takes; for instance, those focusing on surgical tech will take courses in pharmacology, while that may not be required for an x-ray tech major. These programs aim to get students into the workforce as soon as they graduate.