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Clinical Laboratory Scientist Program

Train for your CLS certification at Scripps in San Diego

Two Scripps lab scientists in white coats review a specimen label together.

Train for your CLS certification at Scripps in San Diego

The Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS) Training Program at Scripps Health in San Diego offers an intensive, full-time, 12-month educational program for clinical laboratory scientists, providing didactic and practical instruction in all major discipline sections of a large health system clinical lab. Training encompasses performance and evaluation of routine lab tests as well as high-complexity laboratory procedures.

Completion of the Scripps CLS Training Program meets part of the qualifications for CLS licensing requirements in California. Other licensing requirements include subsequent certification by a national certification agency (such as ASCP BOC) and receipt of a passing grade on the California Law exam required by the California Department of Public Health, Laboratory Field Services section (CDPH–LFS). 

Our program produces highly qualified graduates who are ready to immediately enter the clinical laboratory profession. Our staff includes clinical instructors who are knowledgeable and experienced clinical laboratory scientists, as well as physicians, leaders and other professionals who embrace the role of educator. In keeping with the Scripps mission, we educate trainees in a caring environment and mentor them to make a positive difference in the communities we serve.

Currently, our CLS program does not charge a tuition. Just as Scripps believes all patients should have access to affordable and quality health care, we believe future scientists should have access to affordable and quality education. Please note that students are responsible for costs associated with housing, transportation, textbooks, licensing/certification exam fees, immunizations required for health clearance and medical insurance. A stipend is not offered at this time.

What is a clinical laboratory scientist?

A clinical laboratory scientist is a health care professional who performs a variety of chemical, hematological, immunologic, microscopic and bacteriological diagnostic analyses on body fluids, such as blood, urine, sputum, stool, cerebrospinal fluid, peritoneal fluid, pericardial fluid, synovial fluid and other specimens. 

A CLS uses sophisticated biomedical instrumentation and technology. The role requires a blend of manual dexterity and reasoned judgement to provide accurate laboratory results that form the basis of approximately 70-80% of all medical decisions. 

Clinical lab scientists are qualified to pursue laboratory and leadership careers in many environments, including hospitals and clinics, reference and forensic institutions, industry (such as biotech and research), and public health. This role is also referred to as a medical laboratory scientist (MLS) or medical technologist (MT).

CLS careers at Scripps Health

You might be asking yourself, “Is a clinical laboratory scientist a good career for me?” A clinical laboratory scientist is a good career for people who enjoy the intrigue and challenge of science and medicine while making a difference behind the scenes by contributing to the diagnosis and treatment of patients. 

Why seek CLS training opportunities at Scripps Health over the many CLS programs in California? As a legacy organization in San Diego, Scripps is consistently honored for clinical innovation, quality care and leadership.

In recent years, Scripps has been recognized by:

  • Fortune Magazine as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For (2020)
  • Fortune Magazine as 4th on the list of 40 Best Workplaces in Health Care (2020) 
  • U.S. News & World Report in their 2019-2020 annual Best Hospitals list, with the combined programs of Scripps Green Hospital and Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla ranked No. 1 in the San Diego region, and among the best in the nation in eight specialties — Gynecology, Diabetes and Endocrinology, Pulmonology, Cardiology and Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology and GI Surgery, Orthopedics, Geriatrics, and Neurology and Neurosurgery
  • College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) as one of the “Most Wired” health systems in the nation (2019)

One hundred percent (100%) of the graduates of the Scripps Health CLS program have found employment in the clinical laboratory professional field. Most are employed in a hospital setting, where their skills have led to positions as a generalist CLS, who is competent in many areas of the lab. Others have moved directly into specialty areas, such as microbiology, molecular diagnostics and immunology. 

Overall, Scripps is invested in professional growth and training, with specialty nursing programs and fellowships and residencies in medicine to name a few. Our commitment to professional education and advancement is highlighted on the For Health Care Professionals webpage. You can search current job openings on our careers portal.

Pass rates

Scripps has a long history of teaching clinical laboratory professionals and had hosted its own CLS program in the past. Since 2009, the Scripps Lab has provided practical training experiences for medical laboratory technicians and phlebotomists. In 2016, under a program partnership with the San Diego CLS Training Program Consortium, Scripps revitalized full lab practical training for clinical laboratory scientists. 

Since 2016, Scripps Health CLS program trainees have achieved a 100% pass rate on the nationally recognized ASCP Board of Certification (BOC) Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) Certification exam.

Program Outcome Measures






Number of trainees accepted






Program graduation rate






Pass rate, 1st attempt*






Job placement within 3 months**






*ASCP BOC Medical Laboratory Scientist certification exam

**In a clinical laboratory or related field after graduation

CLS program curriculum

In April 2020, Scripps Health received program approval by the California Department of Public Health, Laboratory Field Services to independently offer didactic training — to complement already established practical training — and become a comprehensive standalone CLS training program.

Scripps has one core lab and five hospital labs located throughout San Diego County — from Chula Vista in the south to Encinitas in the north. During the training year, each trainee typically is tracked to complete all practical rotations at the main core lab and at approximately three of the five hospital labs. All didactic lectures are held once a week throughout the year, at one of the central lab locations.

The Scripps Health Clinical Laboratory Scientist Training Program curriculum includes complementary theoretical, technical and hands-on training, accomplished by both didactic instruction and practical “bench” rotations. 

The program’s discipline areas include:

  • Chemistry; Automated, Manual, Special, Point of Care
  • Phlebotomy and Processing 
  • Urinalysis 
  • Hematology/Coagulation 
  • Microbiology/Parasitology; Processing, Bacteriology, Mycology, Virology, Parasitology, Automation 
  • Transfusion Medicine (Blood Bank)
  • Immunology/Serology 
  • Lab Operations
  • Advanced Topics: Molecular Diagnostics, Immunogenetics & Flow Cytometry

In addition, trainees are obligated to attend:

  • 2-3 days of institutional and program orientation 
  • 1 week of program review

A detailed schedule is provided to the student at the start of the program year.

1 of 5

The Scripps hematology laboratory handles a busy morning run.

2 of 5

Patient samples are ready for testing in the blood bank analyzer.

3 of 5

Our success is due to collaboration between lab leadership and Scripps administration.

4 of 5

Our labs use state-of-the-art advanced technology.

5 of 5

This graduate now works for Scripps in a satisfying and rewarding career path.

How to apply

To qualify for the Scripps Clinical Laboratory Science Training Program, please note the pre-admission requirements, FAQs and important dates below.