Genetic Counselors are health care professionals who have obtained special graduate
degrees and experiences in the areas of medical genetics and counseling. Genetic
counselors are part of a health care team that provides support and information to
families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders and to families
who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions.
The Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling is the preferred degree in the United States.
Courses typically include clinical genetics, population genetics, molecular genetics,
psychosocial theory, ethics, and counseling techniques. Certification in Genetic
Counseling is available by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). The
following website lists the accredited Genetics Counseling programs in the United
A bachelor’s degree is required to enter graduate programs, but no particular degree is required.
Most genetic counselors have entered the profession from a variety of disciplines including
medical laboratory science, genetics, nursing, psychology, public health, biology and social work.
You should select a major that would be a good career for you if you decide against genetics
counseling as a career or if you are unable to obtain admission into a program. Within your
degree, you must include the required prerequisite classes in your selected major and do
very well academically. Requirements vary by program, so it is important to consult the
requirements at the accredited programs listed on the website above. However, the
following courses are generally required:
Inorganic Chemistry (1 year with
CHEM 121, 122
CHEM 417 or equivalent
Behavorial Science (1 year)
PSYC 300 and one additional
BIOL 360 or 370
Biology (1 year with Lab)
BIOL 210/213 for programs that only
require general biology
BIOL 215/216 for programs that require Human
Anatomy and Physiology; highly
Volunteer or internship hours that involve counseling or patient contact are recommended and could be required by some programs.