Turn your interest in biology and detailed data analysis into an exciting career in health care. The Certificate in Cytotechnology from UW-Madison provides the expertise needed to assist clinicians in detecting cancer in its earliest and potentially most curable stage.

Is this Program Right for You?

The medical field involves much more than doctors and nurses. Nearly 80% of medical decisions are based on laboratory test results. Cytotechnologists—the people who study cells obtained from almost all body systems—are one type of laboratory professional in the field. The UW-Madison Certificate in Cytotechnology is an accelerated program that allows you to help people you have never met by working behind-the-scenes of patient care.


A cytotechnologist is a type of cancer diagnostic specialist. You search for and interpret cell changes so that doctors can intervene and make patient care decisions. Cytopathology increasingly incorporates molecular oncology into its domain as the field of cancer genetics progresses. There will be a growing need for cytotechnologists able to discern significant cellular alterations by microscopy and modern molecular biology techniques. The job carries with it a huge level of responsibility, as well as many opportunities for employment in a variety of labs found in hospitals, clinics, research institutes, and the private sector.


If you are interested in biology, data, details, and working independently—and have a background in biology or biochemistry—a career in cytotechnology could be for you. Many of our students have bachelor’s degrees and come to UW-Madison for a single year to complete their Certificate in Cytotechnology.


Our program is like having a job in a laboratory. You are on campus all day Monday through Friday. You are taken through human anatomy, physiology, and pathology relevant to cytotechnology, completing all didactic work by spring. From April to August, you do clinical rotations in hospitals and labs, working for cytotechnologists, cytogeneticists, and lab managers. By the time you complete your certificate, you are well prepared to sit for your board certification.


At UW-Madison, we have a deeply personal relationship with our cytotechnology students. You are part of a very small group of students under the supervision of people who are committed to your success. In addition to teaching you lab skills, we help you refine your career goals, interview skills, and résumé. We are connected with medical facilities across Wisconsin and throughout the country, and are often asked to help fill open positions for cytotechnologists.


You will leave our program ready to assist the medical community and patients. Our goal is to have you enter as a student and leave as a peer with whom we collaborate throughout your career.


What You Learn

  • Develop and improve your microscopic skills and diagnostic acumen
  • Study human anatomy, physiology, and pathology
  • Learn the cytologic method of interpretation and diagnosis
  • Build the necessary knowledge to pass a certification exam
  • Become a laboratory leader

Where & How You Learn


  • Accelerated
  • Face-to-face, in class or labs, Monday through Friday, from 8am-4pm


  • Move through the program with a cohort of 12 or fewer students
  • In your first two semesters, attend lectures and discussions, with 400 hours at a microscope
  • At the end of your second semester, take a series of comprehensive exams that test your knowledge of cytopathology
  • Your third semester is devoted to supervised microscopy of clinical specimens; you also rotate through various clinical settings to gain practical experience in advanced laboratory procedures, quality assurance, and cytogenetics

Apply Now

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