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Diagnostic Cytology

Please note that Intake into the Diagnostic Cytology program has been suspended for the 2016-17 and 2017-2018 academic years.


View slideshow about the Diagnostic Cytology program [PDF, 2.5 MB]

Who are Cytotechnologists?

Photo - Diagnostic Medical CytologyCytotechnologists are highly skilled health care professionals who help physicians with cancer detection and disease diagnosis. Cytotechnologists care for patients by prioritizing, processing and screening cell smears, biopsies and body fluids for cancerous or precancerous changes. Cytotechnologists are trained to evaluate specimens from many different parts of the body.

Where do Cytotechnologists work?

Cytotechnologists perform a variety of functions and can work in different hospital settings or private laboratories both nationally and internationally.

  • Cytology labs
  • Assist on surgical biopsies
  • Clinical research
  • Quality control specialists
  • Education 

How do I become a Cytotechnologist?

The School of Health Sciences offers a four year Bachelor of Health Science (BHSc) degree program which includes theory and clinical practice. Students will take core professional development courses with a concentration on diagnostic cytology specific skills. A diploma option is possible after completion of year three.

Entrance Requirements

To be considered for admission High School applicants require grade 12 academic English, Math, Chemistry and Biology with no mark below 70% in each of these courses and an overall minimum average of 75%. Post secondary applicants require a minimum GPA of 2.75 (on a 4.30 scale), with no grade lower than C in prerequisite courses. Priority
consideration is given to permanent residents of the Maritime provinces, then to residents across Canada and then to all other applicants. Admission can be competitive and meeting the minimum entrance requirements does not guarantee admission.

Examples of Courses in the Program:

  • Human Anatomy & Physiology
  • Diagnostic Cytology Lab Applications
  • Gynecological Cytopathology
  • Non-Gynecological Cytopathology
  • Pathology & Histopathology for Diagnostic Cytology
  • Microscopy
  • Health Care Ethics

Program Outline

View the course descriptions for Diagnostic Medical Cytology »


Clinical practicums

One of the benefits of studying in the School of Health Sciences is the opportunity to do hands-on clinical work. After years 1, 2, and 3, every student spends 8 weeks during May and June working full time in a health-care centre. Some choose to stay in Halifax to complete the practicums, while others travel to locations elsewhere in the Maritimes and, in some cases, across the country.

Professional Associations

The Canadian Society of Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) is the national professional association for cytotechnologists. Cytotechnologists employed in Nova Scotia are licensed by the Nova Scotia College of Medical Laboratory Technologists (NSCMLT). 

Job Opportunities

Cytotechnology is an evolving profession with employment opportunities across Canada and internationally. Working hours are generally 9-5 and salaries vary from province to province within Canada or internationally.

For more information on Diagnostic Cytology, please visit CSMLS or NSCMLT.