The Cytotechnology Program was created by the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene in 1957 and is currently part of the Laboratory of Genetics within the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cytotechnology is the study of cells obtained from body tissues. Through intensive microscopic examination, cytotechnologists discern minute cellular alterations to differentiate malignant from normal cells.

Participants are UW–Madison students in University Special student status. Students who successfully complete the 50-week Cytotechnology Program receive a certificate in cytotechnology from UW–Madison. They may also become an CT(ASCP) by passing the ASCP Board of Certification Examination.

The program is divided into three terms. During the first two terms, the 38-hour weeks consist of lectures, discussions, quizzes, and approximately 25 hours of microscopy. Students complete a series of comprehensive examinations aimed at testing their knowledge of cytopathology at the end of the second term. The third term is devoted to supervised microscopy of clinical specimens. Students also rotate through various clinical settings associated with the practice of clinical cytology, which provides practical experience in the areas of advanced laboratory procedures, quality assurance, and cytogenetics.



A minimum overall GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale is required.

Recommended preparation for students who will have received their Bachelor’s degree prior to the start of the program:

  • 20 credits of science (biology and chemistry courses preferred)
  • 3 credits of mathematics or statistics
  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in science coursework

There is currently no option for advanced placement, or counting outside coursework toward program requirements.


Prospective students may be accepted into the Program after completing three years of undergraduate coursework with an affiliated college or university within the affiliate institution's cytotechnology track. This coursework must include a minimum of:

  • 28 credits of biological science and chemistry
  • 3 credits of mathematics or statistics

Favorable consideration will be given to applicants with an above average academic record and recommendation.

Students in the 3+1 program enroll at UW-Madison as Special Students.


Applications are due by March 1 for full consideration for the incoming class that starts in August. Applications must include all official college transcripts (not just your most recently attended school) and three letters of recommendation. Interviews are conducted in March and April, and decisions are made in May for an August start. If a class does not fill, late applications and interviews may continue until July.

You may apply online for the program. If admitted to the program you will also be required to submit a UW–Madison special student application to gain student status and become eligible to enroll in your courses.

GENETICS 470 Basic Cytology and Laboratory Procedures1
GENETICS 570 The Female Reproductive System8
GENETICS 571 Clinical Practice I1
GENETICS 572 The Respiratory System3
GENETICS 573 The Genitourinary System2
GENETICS 471 Advanced Laboratory Procedures1
GENETICS 568 The Central Nervous System1
GENETICS 569 The Breast1
GENETICS 574 The Gastrointestinal System3
GENETICS 575 Miscellaneous Systems3
GENETICS 576 Effusions2
GENETICS 577 Applied Cytology I1
GENETICS 670 Seminar in Clinical Cytogenetics1
GENETICS 672 Seminar in Laboratory Operations and Quality Control1
GENETICS 673 Seminar in Clinical Cytology1
GENETICS 578 Applied Cytology II1
GENETICS 671 Advanced Clinical Practice8
Total Credits39
  1. Establish the biological and medical background knowledge necessary to understand the clinical significance of cytologic diagnoses and related ancillary tests
  2. Become proficient in screening of gynecologic and nongynecologic slides for rare findings, including developing the accuracy and speed expected by future employers
  3. Develop diagnostic accuracy and speed as expected by future employers
  4. Demonstrate professional and ethical standards of conduct within the medical laboratory


ASCP Board of Certification Examination

Professional Certification/Licensure Disclosure (NC-SARA)

The United States Department of Education requires institutions that provide distance education to disclose information for programs leading to professional certification or licensure about whether each program meets state educational requirements for initial licensure or certification. Following is this disclosure information for this program:

The requirements of this program meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Washington, Wisconsin

The requirements of this program do not meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Not applicable

The requirements of this program have not been determined if they meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming; District of Columbia; American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands


Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs1

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2023.


On recommendation of the Cytotechnology Programs Review Committee, sponsored by the American Society of Cytology.