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Master of Cytopathology Practice (MCP) Program

The UTHSC Master of Cytopathology Practice (MCP) degree program is the only program in the country that prepares graduates for certification in both cytotechnology and histotechnology. Graduates of the program will have the skills necessary to prepare and process tissue and cellular material for microscopic analysis as well as the ability to evaluate and interpret all types of cytologic material. They will be able to perform, interpret and correlate ancillary testing for proper triage of patients. They will be able to meet the current demands of the profession and will be able to engage future technology as it becomes standard in the anatomic pathology laboratory. Graduates will also have the necessary assessment skills to direct quality improvement activities and assume positions of leadership in management, research and education.

Students enter the program with 85 credit hours of pre-requisite courses detailed on the admissions requirement page. A bachelors degree is required for admission to the program.

The program is 2 calendar years or 21-months in length and is extremely intense and fast-paced. MCP students are in classes and laboratory sessions from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Clinical experience and didactic instruction are provided throughout the program. Students are assigned to off-campus clinical experiences in the fall and the spring terms of the second year.

Graduates may choose employment in cytotechnology or histotechnology or both. Many employers seek graduates who can work in both areas of the laboratory. The shortages of medical laboratory professionals is critical and expected to increase as older professionals retire.

Additional Information

For admission to the Master of Cytopathology Practice degree program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), students are expected to be able to successfully meet the Technical Standards outlined below. Students are required to sign the Technical Standards Commitment form indicating their understanding and ability to meet these standards either with or without accommodations (for persons with documented disabilities). Any questions about these technical standards should be directed to the program director of the MCP program. 

UTHSC receives applications from a diverse body of potential students including those with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to help students meet these technical standards when appropriate, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Any student wishing accommodations should contact the Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion (SASSI) for further information. Information regarding accommodations can be found on the SASSI website page or by calling 901-448-5056.

In the event a student cannot fulfill these Technical Standards with or without reasonable accommodations at any time in their program, the student will be ineligible for admission or continued enrollment in the program. In addition to ensuring that students can meet the intellectual, emotion and physical criteria for cytotechnology and/or histotechnology, it should also be noted that of utmost importance is the student’s ability to provide for the welfare and safety of their patients and others. This is the foundation of all Technical Standards and if this cannot be done, the student is unable to meet the criteria outlined by the Technical Standards. 

Once enrolled in the MCP Program, students must meet the requirements of the curriculum, including the demonstration of the skills described herein for the Program in order to progress through the curriculum and to graduate.

General Abilities

  • Ability to measure, calculate, analyze, interpret, synthesize and evaluate data
  • Possess organizational skills and be able to solve one or more problems within specific time frames which are often short
  • Ability to perform duties and assignments in a timely fashion while under stress and in a variety of settings
  • Ability to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of anatomic, histologic and cellular structures
  • Ability to acquire specified microscopic interpretive skills as presented by microscopic demonstrations and other experiences required by the curriculum
  • Possess sufficient stamina to tolerate physically taxing workloads
  • Ability to sit for long periods of time while working with a microscope or at a microtome
  • Ability to remain alert and concentrate for extended periods of time
  • Ability to acquire information developed through didactic instruction, independent learning, clinical experience and consultation
  • Ability to understand reading assignments and to search and evaluate the literature
  • Ability to complete written assignments and maintain written records
  • Ability to use a computer for instructional assignments and patient care activities

Observational/Sensory Skills:

  • Visual acuity (corrected to 20/40); visual perception with respect to depth and color
  • Ability to discriminate fine details and structures in objects under a microscope
  • Ability to observe demonstrations and participate in laboratory experiments

Physical and Motor Skills

  • Possess sufficient motor function to operate/manipulate and maintain a microscope, microtome and other laboratory instruments or equipment
  • Dexterity with both wrists, hands and arms, and dexterity will all fingers
  • Ability to grasp, pinch, push, pull, hold, extend, rotate and cut
  • Possess eye-hand coordination and ability to accurately judge distance and depth
  • Ability to manipulate or control small objects such as tissues with forceps and scalpels

Communication Skills

  • Ability to communicate in English in oral and written form
  • Ability to participate in discussion in the classroom, the clinical arena and with colleagues and patients

Professional Conduct, Behavioral & Social Skills

  • Ability to function as part of a team through communication, consultation, negotiation, and sharing
  • Ability to manage time, organize workload, and meet deadlines
  • Ability to delegate responsibilities appropriately and supervise others
  • Ability to adhere to safety guidelines for self and others
  • Ability to comply with standards and regulations required by external agencies
  • Ability to follow instructions/procedures with accuracy and precision
  • Ability to maintain intellectual and emotional stability and maturity under stress, while also maintaining appropriate performance standards
  • Ability to learn and exhibit professional attributes

Clinical Judgement

  • Ability to prioritize and perform laboratory testing
  • Ability to obtain and/or verify patient samples
  • Ability to make sound judgments and formulate diagnoses after correlating clinical data with laboratory findings
  • Ability to adapt to a variety of patient care situations, including crises
  • Ability to troubleshoot instrumentation problems and resolve staining inconsistencies


  • American Esoteric Laboratory Memphis, TN
  • Blount Memorial Hospital Maryville, TN
  • DermPath Laboratory* Memphis, TN
  • Doctors' Pathology Services Jonesboro, AR
  • Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital Florence, AL
  • Highlands Pathology Consultants Kingsport, TN
  • Jackson Madison County Hospital Jackson, TN
  • Loyola University Medical Center Maywood, IL
  • Methodist University Hospital** Memphis, TN
  • Outpatient Cytopathology Center+  Johnson City, TN
  • PathAdvantage Associated Dallas, TX
  • Poplar Healthcare** Memphis, TN
  • Rush Medical Group Meridian, MS
  • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital* Memphis, TN
  • St. Thomas Health Services Nashville, TN
  • Trumbull Pathology Laboratory** Memphis, TN
  • Vanderbilt University Hospital** Nashville, TN
  • Veterans Affair Medical Center** Memphis, TN
  • Veterans Affair Medical Center Oklahoma City, OK

*Histology only
**Histology and cytology
+elective-one week only

May 8, 2024