Home page

Genetic Counseling


Genetic counseling programs prepare people to counsel patients and families dealing with, or at risk for, genetic disorders or birth defects.

Genetic counseling programs prepare people to counsel patients and families with genetic disorders. Students learn medical genetics. They learn to assess inheritance patterns and risks. They also learn counseling and interviewing skills.

Genetic counseling programs include topics such as:


A few universities offer graduate programs in genetic counseling. A master’s degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master’s degree.

See schools that offer this program.

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.

Additional requirements at most schools include:

Typical Course Work

Graduate Program Courses

This graduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

In addition, you are often required to complete a research project about a specific genetic disorder and counseling techniques.

In most genetic counseling programs, you are required to participate in several (three or more) clinical and laboratory rotations. This means that you work and study in hospitals and medical centers under the supervision of doctors, nurses, and professors. Typically, you "rotate" through different hospital units, such as prenatal care, pediatrics, and cancer. Students continue learning about genetics, biology, and diseases while also learning firsthand what it's like to be a genetic counselor. They learn to apply their course work to real-life situations. Rotations also give students valuable experience that they can apply to their work after they complete their degree.

Things to Know

Although some schools offer bachelor's degrees in genetics, you must have a master's degree in order to become a counselor.

Most graduates from genetic counseling programs become certified. You must pass an exam to receive your certification. Many employers require that you become a certified genetic counselor before you are hired; some, however, will hire you but require that you become certified after you begin working.


No information available.