May 27, 2024  
2022-2023 Academic Bulletin (July 2022 Ed) 
2022-2023 Academic Bulletin (July 2022 Ed) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Cytopathology Practice, MCP


Keisha Burnett, Ed.D., Program Director
Leslie Lopez-Calderon, M.D., Medical Director

Program Objectives

The curriculum for the Master of Cytopathology Practice (MCP) degree is designed to prepare competent entry-level histotechnologists and cytotechnologists with the skills necessary to prepare tissue and cytologic specimens for microscopic analysis, and  to  accurately  evaluate  and  interpret all types of cytologic material. Graduates of the program 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 prepared to engage future technology as it becomes standard in the anatomic pathology laboratory. Graduates of the program will also have the necessary skills in quality assessment to direct quality improvement activities and assume positions of leadership in management, research and education. Graduates of the program are qualified to sit for both the cytotechnologist and histotechnologist certification examinations offered by the American Society of Clinical Pathology Board of Certification.

Curriculum Description

The program is a full-time professional degree program that leads to a Master of Cytopathology Practice degree. Students must complete a baccalaureate degree at an accredited college or university that includes specific pre-requisite courses prior to enrolling in the program on the campus of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Students receive both clinical experience and didactic instruction throughout the program, with the greatest emphasis on microscopic interpretation of cells for diagnosis of disease. Techniques of specimen collection, fixation, preparation, processing, embedding, microtomy and staining are mastered, as well as procedures for documentation and quality improvement. Students perform and interpret ancillary technologies including immunohistochemistry and molecular diagnostic techniques. They are introduced to laboratory management principles and laboratory information systems. Required oral presentations by students include selected scientific literature reviews and case studies. Students also design and conduct a research project for presentation.


The UTHSC Program in Cytopathology Practice is accredited by  the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), 25400 U.S. Highway 19 N., Suite 158, Clearwater, FL 33763; (727) 210-2350; The program is also accredited for histotechnology education by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), 5600 N. River Road, Suite 720, Rosemont, IL 60018-5119; (773) 714-8880;


To be eligible for consideration for admission into the MCP program, applicants must meet the requirements listed below:


  1. A baccalaureate degree and all pre-requisite courses must be completed prior to enrollment.
  2. Completion of the following credit hours of prerequisite coursework with a grade of “C” or better in each course:
Prerequisite Course Work Credit Hours
General Biology 8
General Chemistry 8
English or Communication 9
Social Science 6
Mathematics or Statistics 3
Upper Division Science* 15

*Recommended courses in upperdivision science include cell and/or molecular biology, microbiology, immunology, biochemistry, genetics, and histology

  1. Minimum overall grade point average of 3.0 OR minimum overall grade point average of 2.5 with a competitive score on the GRE.
  2. Submit official transcripts of above coursework
  3. Personal interview with members of the admissions committee
  4. Foreign applicants whose native language is not English must submit results of the TOEFL, with a minimum score of 550 on the written test, 213 on the computer test, or 80 on the TOEFL iBT®.
  5. Completed application form including an essay describing the applicant’s reasons for choosing the profession and their career goals. A non-refundable application fee must accompany the application.
  6. Pre-professional advisory committee recommendation from college or university attended OR two letters of recommendation from previous college instructors.
  7. Ability to meet published technical standards of the College of Health Professions and the Master of Cytopathology Practice degree program.
  8. Coursework from another professional degree program may not be transferred to meet the requirements for admission to or graduation from the MCP Program. There is no advanced standing or placement in the program.
  9. No credit is awarded for prior experiential learning to meet the requirements for completion of the Master of Cytopathology Practice degree.

Applications are accepted online at

Application deadlines:  
  • Early deadline:
  • Regular deadline:
  • Late deadline:
January 30
April 15
June 15

Health Requirements

In addition to general UTHSC requirements, students admitted to the program must submit evidence of good health. The health examination should include a chest x-ray or tuberculin skin test and a comprehensive eye examination which includes a test for color vision. (Imperfect color vision is not a basis for excluding an applicant from the program but instructors should know if this defect exists.) Students are also required to be immunized against Neisseria meningitidis and the Hepatitis B virus.

Technical Standards

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

Scholarships and Expenses

The following scholarships are available to students entering the Master of Cytopathology Practice Degree program:

  • UTNAA Scholarship
  • Erickson-Rube Scholarship
  • Diversity Scholarship

Clinical Affiliations

Clinical affiliation sites are located in Memphis, throughout Tennessee, and in other states. Due to the limited number of clinical sites in Memphis, it is necessary for students to accept the financial impact of traveling and living out of town for a portion of their clinical assignments. The Master of Cytopathology Practice Degree Program will make every effort to place all students on clinical rotation.  Occasionally, a scheduled clinical experience at an affiliation site is unavailable due to circumstances beyond the control of the University.  However, because the experience is required for graduation, the program may arrange for other options that include placement at a more distant clinical site or a simulated laboratory experience on campus.  A student’s graduation due to lack of clinical placement may be delayed if a clinical rotation cannot be secured and the student is not able to take advantage of the other options provided.

Program-Specific Policies

Attendance Requirement

Cytopathology practice students are expected to attend all scheduled classes, student labs, and clinical lab assignments. In the case of absence due to illness or emergency, the student should notify the appropriate faculty member and clinical site no later than 8:30AM of the day missed. For any other absences, prior arrangements must be made with the specific instructor(s) involved. Appointments for health services should not be made during scheduled class time.

Grading Policy

Written and practical examinations and performance evaluations are a part of the educational program throughout the curriculum. All courses in each term must be passed before the student is allowed to progress to the next term. No credit for any course is awarded until the end of the term. The point- grade conversion scale used by the cytopathology program for all courses is as follows:

94-100 = A

92-93 = A-

89-91 = B+

85-88 = B

83-84 = B-

80-82 = C+

75-79 = C

73-74 = C-

Below 73 = F


Information about grading for incompletes and withdrawals is covered in the general college section of the bulletin. Students should reference this information about grade assignments in these situations.

Curriculum Summary - MCP

The Master of Cytopathology Practice degree program curriculum consists of 4 terms. The following summarizes the required courses included in the Master of Cytopathology Practice degree professional curriculum. Required courses are offered annually during the terms indicated. Students move through this program in a cohort.

Total: 14 credit hours

Total: 19 credit hours

Total: 25 credit hours

Fourth Term (Spring: Jan - May)

Total: 14 credit hours

Total Hours: 72 credit hours

Progress, Promotion and Graduation

Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and meet all required professional, technical and ethical standards to progress to the next term in good standing. Any student who earns a grade below B in any course or whose GPA falls below a 3.0 may be placed on academic probation or dismissed. Using the guidelines outlined for progress and promotion under the General Information section in this catalog, the student will be carefully evaluated by the Progress and Promotions Committee of the program to determine the course of action which is best for the student and for the program.

Requirements for Graduation - MCP

The following requirements must be satisfied to earn the degree of Master of Cytopathology Practice:

  1. Satisfactory completion of 72 credit hours of core course requirements.
  2. Obtain a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  3. Satisfactory completion of a research project and presentation are required prior to graduation.
  4. Satisfactory score on written and visual comprehensive examination.
  5. Successful   students   will   complete   the   program   in   May   and   will   be   eligible   to   take national certification examinations and apply for a Tennessee license to practice in the state.
  6. Granting of the MCP degree is not contingent upon passing a certification exam or obtaining licensure.
  7. Students must discharge all financial obligations to the University and remove all deficiencies documented by the Registrar.

Attendance at graduation is mandatory. Those unable to attend the commencement must obtain permission to receive the degree in absentia by filing a written request with the Dean of the College


The two awards given to students in the Master of Cytopathology Practice degree program are named for former faculty members who provided distinguished service to the University.

  • Cyrus C. Erickson Award in Cytotechnology: This award is presented to a graduating student in recognition of professional ability in cytology, intellectual curiosity and a sense of responsibility.
  • Gerre Wells Gourley Award in Histotechnology: This award is presented to a graduating student in recognition of professional attitude, knowledge and technical skill in histology

Certification Examination and Licensure

Graduates with a Master of Cytopathology Practice degree qualify to sit for the national certification examinations in cytotechnology and histotechnology administered by the Board of Certification (BOC) of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). The examinations are year-round in major cities throughout the United States. Graduates who successfully complete the examination are entitled to use the designation CT (ASCP) and/or HTL (ASCP). After certification in cytotechnology or histotechnology, graduates are also eligible for certification in molecular biology, MB (ASCP). Graduates in the program seeking employment in the field of cytotechnology in the state of Tennessee must also obtain a license to practice from the Tennessee Medical Laboratory Board. A passing score on the ASCP certification exam is required for licensure in Tennessee.

Student Professional Organization Membership

Cytopathology practice students are eligible for student membership in a number of professional associations including the American Society of Cytopathology, the American Society for Cytotechnology, the National Society for Histotechnology and the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Students are encouraged to apply for membership in one or more regional or national professional organizations.