Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Medical Laboratory Assistant National Certificate

The Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) National Certificate program is accredited by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). Graduates are eligible to write the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) national exam for Medical Laboratory Assistants (MLAs).

If you are a student in certain provinces outside of BC, specifically in three Atlantic provinces (NS, NL, PE), choose this program, rather than the MLA Certificate program, which is for BC students. If you are unsure of which program to take, contact the Program Administrator, Science. 

Before applying to this program, please contact the Program Administrator, Science, to discuss the availability of practicum placements in your geographical area.


The program can lead to rewarding employment in a health care setting. Refer to Frequently Asked Questions for more about this program and the MLA profession.

Program Description

This program consists of five theory courses and a clinical practicum in a hospital or laboratory, under criteria developed by TRU. Combined, the courses and practicum provide the theory and skills required for graduates to function as Medical Laboratory Assistants in hospitals or laboratories.

The program is equivalent to 20 to 24 weeks of full-time study. You have a maximum of 30 weeks to complete each course and two years to complete the program. You are encouraged, however, to complete the program in under one year. Please note that extensions are not granted for this program.

Program Requirements

Admission Requirements

Certain admission requirements may be waived upon permission from the Academic Director or a designate.

Additional Requirements

Residency Requirements

A minimum of 6 TRU credits (distance or on-campus)

Certificate Requirements

Eighteen credits total, as follows:

HLTH 1981, Medical Terminology (3)
MDLB 1221, Professional Practices and Safety in Health Care (3)
MDLB 1321, Phlebotomy Procedures and Specimen Preparation (3)
MDLB 1521, Microbiology Specimen Preparation (3)
MDLB 1611, Pre-Analytical Procedures for Histopathology (3)
MDLB 1991, Laboratory Practicum - Evaluation of National Competencies (3)

Optional Course

HLTH 1141, Introduction to Electrocardiography (3)

Student Responsibility

it is your responsibility to locate and arrange for your clinical practicum placement. However, please contact the Program Administrator before you begin to arrange for this placement.

Consult with your Program Advisor to ensure that the courses you select are available and appropriate for your program of study and educational goals.  Otherwise, you may find that a course does not meet the requirements and cannot be applied toward the program’s credential.

You must provide your own funding, as the Medical Laboratory Assistant National Certificate program is not eligible for full- or part-time loan or grant funding through the Canada Student Loan programs. However, funding may be available through other government or private sources.


Email the Program Administrator, Science to apply to this program or with questions about it.

Email Student Services to speak with us about Open Learning and its programs and courses.