Admission to these graduate programs is highly competitive and requires completion of a baccalaureate with excellent academic credentials. Bachelor's degrees are generally earned in biology, psychology, social work, nursing, chemistry or a related field, and a minimum grade point average of 3.0/4.0 is required by 10 of 22 US programs accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counselors (ABGC). The General Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required by most programs with some wanting minimum scores of 50th, 55th or 70th percentiles or greater than 1500 combined for the verbal, quantitative and analytical sections. GRE Subject Tests are required by a few of the programs and recommended by others. Because requirements for programs are distinct, it is important to determine the exact admission requirements for the institution you wish to attend.
Successful applicants to most graduate programs in Genetic Counseling have completed the following undergraduate courses. Biology including a semester of general genetics is required, with anatomy and physiology, developmental biology or embryology, and advanced human genetics desirable. Upper-level biochemistry following general and organic chemistry, statistics and sometimes calculus are essential. One or two courses in psychology (occasionally one in developmental human psychology) are usually necessary, and courses in ethics, philosophy, counseling, behavioral or social science are desirable.
Some type of counseling experience is critical for acceptance to the majority of programs. This may include volunteer or paid work that involves helping other people and becoming acquainted with the medical environment. One-on-one counseling with training and supervision by the agency is important. Examples include a crisis intervention center, family planning, student health, a clinical setting with relevance to developmental disabilities or genetic diseases, or a clinical genetic center. A good understanding of genetic counseling as a profession is imperative, and shadowing a genetic counselor is one way to gain exposure to the profession.
We recommend that students at Millersville University complete the following courses to prepare themselves to be competitive when seeking admission to graduate programs in Genetic Counseling.
- BIOL 364: Genetics and Molecular Biology
- BIOL 356: Functional Human Anatomy (Prerequisite BIOL 211: Zoology)
- BIOL 465: Developmental Biology
- BIOL 467: Human Genetics: Analysis and Applications
- CHEM 111 and 112: Introductory Chemistry I and II
- CHEM 231 and 232: Organic Chemistry I and II or CHEM 235: Organic Chemistry
- MATH 235: Survey of Statistics
- MATH 161: Calculus
- PSYC 228: Life Span Human Development OR PSYC 227: Development of the Child and Adolescent (Prerequisite PSYC 100: General Psychology)
- PHIL 285: Moral Problems in Medicine
- PSYC 447: Counseling Strategies - may also be advantageous