Varied clinical experiences, interprofessional approach

Evolving technologies have created an important transition in genetic counseling with a newer emphasis on genomics. Other considerations for training include preparing students to manage an increasing number of available genetic tests and the development of new reimbursable service delivery models that can serve larger communities.

Genetic counselors are increasingly being recognized for their contributions to primary care, and the vital role they play in today's healthcare settings. Your studies will also prepare you to understand how individuals engage cognitively and emotionally with genomic information, how they cope with the information, and how they make decisions regarding use of the information.

Gain access to top clinical sites in Boston and throughout New England at the MS in Genetic Counseling program at the MGH Institute. Learn in interprofessional teams of students at a graduate school focused exclusively on the health professions.

Program Overview

The MS Genetic Counseling Program at MGH Institute of Health Professions prepares genetic counselors to be leaders in the field of genetics and genomics. Outstanding clinical and non-clinical fieldwork experiences, expansive research opportunities, dedicated faculty, and an active-learning curriculum create an engaging learning environment that equips genetic counseling students to provide exemplary patient care, recognize and attend to the needs of their clients, effectively communicate complex genetic information, and advance genomics research.

Team-based learning (TBL) is at the heart of our program. Throughout your course of study, you'll work with a team of students with diverse skills and backgrounds. Rather than sitting in lecture all day, class time is spent with your team under expert faculty guidance working through real-life clinical problems and scenarios. This TBL approach:

  • Promotes lifelong learning and critical-thinking skills
  • Integrates the basic sciences, medicine, and clinical skills
  • Aims to foster compassion and improve patient care by incorporating the humanities, ethics, mindfulness and personal resilience
  • Prepares you for collaborative practice as a Genetics Counselor.

As part of Mass General Brigham, New England’s largest health care organization, the MGH Institute offers you unparalleled access to leading academic medical centers and health care sites across New England and beyond.

The M.S. Genetic Counseling Program at the MGH IHP is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC), Inc.

Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling, Inc.
7918 Jones Branch Drive, Suite 300, McLean, VA 22102
Telephone: (703) 506-7667

Program Curriculum

The program is five semesters in length, with the first year primarily focused on didactic and team-based education, observational fieldwork, simulated patient sessions, and initiation of the Capstone research process. The second year includes didactic work with a focus on clinical and non-clinical fieldwork experiences and completion of the Capstone project. Interprofessional training is infused throughout the curriculum. The curriculum consists of 66 credits of didactic, team-based learning, clinical, and research coursework. 

Review MS-GC Curriculum

Diverse Fieldwork Experiences

Fieldwork experiences are one day per week the first and second semesters and build to longer placements during the summer and second year. Students each have a unique fieldwork plan that can be tailored to their interests.  

Clinical placement opportunities for our students within Mass General Brigham include:

  • Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Newton-Wellesley Hospital
  • Massachusetts Eye and Ear
  • Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

These institutions are regularly ranked as the best hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

In addition to prenatal, pediatric, adult, oncology, and various specialty clinical fieldwork placements at some of the top hospitals in the country, IHP knows the value of training for non-clinical roles and learning from genetic counselors who have both clinical and non-clinical responsibilities.  First and second year research, laboratory, industry, advocacy, and public health experiences are integrated into the curriculum and fieldwork training.

IHP is dedicated to training genetic counselors for the future of genetics and genomics. Fieldwork opportunities exist within the MGH Center for Genomic Medicine, BWH Genomes2People (G2P) Research in Translational Genomics and Health Outcomes, and Mass General Brigham Personalized Medicine (which includes the Laboratory for Molecular Medicine and Translational Genomics Core). 

Program Objectives

IHP genetic counseling graduate students will:

  • Demonstrate competency and effective communication in the delivery of evidence-based genetic counseling services to patients/clients throughout the lifespan.
  • Adhere to the Code of Ethics of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.
  • Establish strong interprofessional relationships to support the provision of client-centered, team-based care.
  • Demonstrate social responsibility, serve as an advocate, and develop skills to influence public policy to improve genetic counseling services and quality healthcare.
  • Serve a diverse society and address the healthcare needs of communities and individuals of various backgrounds with cultural humility and sensitivity.
  • Participate in scholarship that contributes to the body of knowledge in genetics and genomics.
  • Commit to lifelong learning and leadership in the field through participation in professional development activities.

Application Process

Step 1:  Submit the application with the payment of application fee

Step 2: Upload Required Supplemental Documents

After submitting your application and making the payment, you will receive an email with your log-in information and a link to upload all the required supplemental documents. You can view your application status and pending supplemental documents as well.

Application Fee

All applicants are required to submit a completed online application form along with the non-refundable $100 application fee. If you received a Pell Grant during your undergraduate studies or are a McNair Scholar, you may qualify for an application fee waiver. Please contact the Genetic Counseling Program to confirm eligibility for this waiver. 

Important Application Dates

For Program Starting: Fall 2023

  • Application opens on September 7, 2022
  • Application closes on December 15, 2022

Apply Now

Application Requirements

The MGH Institute is participating in the Genetic Counseling Admissions Match through National Matching Services (NMS). The Admissions Match has been established to enhance the process of placing applicants into positions in masters-level genetic counseling programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC).

The Match uses a process that takes into account both applicants’ and programs’ preferences.  All applicants must first register for the Match with NMS before applying to participating genetic counseling graduate programs. At the conclusion of all program interviews, both applicants and programs will submit ranked lists of preferred placements to NMS according to deadlines posted on the NMS website. The binding results of the Match will be released to both applicants and programs simultaneously in late April.

Please visit the NMS website to register for the match, review detailed information about the matching process, and to view a demonstration of how the matching algorithm works.

The Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors has established a waiver for the $100 fee associated with the NMS Match. Prospective students who demonstrate financial need AND have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater can apply for a match fee waiver. Prospective students should apply for a fee waiver BEFORE registering for an NMS number.

Applications for the match fee waiver are due by October 5, 2022. Applicants will be notified on October 26, 2022 as to whether they have received a waiver. There are a limited number of waivers, so not all applicants will receive a waiver. Instructions for how to register for the NMS match will be provided to those who receive a waiver.

Waivers are non-transferable to future match cycles or other prospective students. Prospective students who are applying for a match fee waiver will be required to write a short essay and to upload at least one of the following documents demonstrating financial need:

  1. A copy of a letter verifying unemployment benefits received within the past two years.
  2. A copy of a letter on official letterhead from a government agency verifying that you or your family have qualified for public assistance based on low income criteria anytime within the past 5 years
  3. A copy of your financial aid offer letter from another / previous institution dated within 5 the past years
  4. A copy of your approved GRE fee waiver (for tests taken within 5 years of the application deadline)
  5. A copy of your federal Student Aid Report (SAR) that verifies you qualified for financial aid within the past 5 years based on a family contribution* of: 
    • Not more than $1,500 if the student is a dependent student
    • Not more than $1,900 if the student is an independent student

Please visit the NMS website to apply.

Degree

Bachelor's degree (BS or BA) from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university or recognized international equivalent.

Prerequisite Coursework

 Applicants must successfully complete the following courses at a fully accredited institution.

Most of these courses are offered online by the MGH Institute. Learn more about our online prereqs.

  • Two Biology courses
  • Two Chemistry courses, not including Biochemistry
  • One Biochemistry course
  • One Statistics course
  • One Psychology course
  • One Genetics course

Additional considerations:

  • A general genetics course meets the genetics course requirement; however, additional coursework in human and molecular genetics is suggested.
  • Additional coursework in psychology, statistics, embryology, anatomy/physiology, molecular biology, and related fields (e.g. public health, epidemiology, maternal and child health, anthropology, sociology, computer science, bioinformatics, and neuroscience) will strengthen your application.
  • Advanced Placement ("AP") credit may only be applied to one Biology or Chemistry course.
  • All prerequisite courses must be satisfactorily completed prior to the start of the program; please list on your CV plans to complete any pending prerequisite courses. 
  • Applicants may be asked to submit mid-term reports for pending prerequisite courses.
  • Prerequisite credit cannot be given for courses with a grade of Pass/Fail, with the exception of the COVID-19 Temporary Policies.

Applicants with questions about prerequisite course equivalency and/or acceptability should complete and submit the MS in GC Prerequisite Inquiry Form. Upon submission of the form, replies can be expected by email in 7-10 business days.

All prerequisite courses must be taken at an institution that is accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies. Please refer to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website for additional information.

Applicants are required to submit a transcript from each college and/or university attended, even if a degree was not received from that institution. Unofficial transcripts will be accepted throughout the application process, and official transcripts will only be required prior to enrolling in the program. 

The Office of Admissions strongly encourages the use of online electronic transcript ordering which can be sent directly via email to admissions [at] mghihp.edu. If this is not an option and your institution does not participate in electronic transcript delivery, please request official transcripts to be sent to the mailing address listed below.  For transcripts to be considered official they must be in their original signed and sealed envelopes when received.    

Admission Office
MGH Institute of Health Professions
36 First Avenue
Boston, MA 02129

Applicants that have earned a degree from a non-US institution are required to submit a course-by-course credential evaluation from one of the following NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) members: Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc., SpanTran: The Evaluation Company, World Education Services (WES), or the Center for Educational Documentation. If you earned your bachelor's degree outside of the U.S. this credential evaluation must document minimum equivalency of a US baccalaureate degree or higher.

GRE

The general test (GRE) is not required for this program.  GRE scores will not be reviewed. 

TOEFL/ IELTS

The language of instruction and clinical education at the MGH Institute is English and a high level of proficiency in both written and spoken English is required.  Applicants who have not completed either an undergraduate or graduate program where English is the language of instruction must demonstrate English Language proficiency as part of your application to the MGH Institute of Health Professions.  If you have questions about the language requirements, please contact the Office of Admissions.

  • Applicants who are citizens of Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Guyana, an Anglophone country of Africa, or an English-speaking country of the Caribbean are not required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.
  • Applicants who are candidates for graduation from an accredited degree-granting program in the United States or at an English-speaking school in one of the countries listed above are also not required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Acceptance to the IHP will be contingent upon successful completion of this degree prior to matriculation.

Please note that in some circumstances, demonstrating English language proficiency may be required by the academic program even if you are a citizen of a country in which the (or one of the) national language(s) is English. Decisions about the need for TOEFL or IELTS scores are at the discretion of the academic program to which you are applying in coordination with the department of OES.

The IHP accepts either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The test must have been taken within two years of the application deadline and official score reports are required. The minimum TOEFL (internet-based) score accepted is 89 and the minimum IELTS score accepted is 6.5.  

  • To forward your TOEFL score please contact the Educational Testing Service (ETS).  The MGH Institute of Health Professions code is 3513.
  • For IELTS, a Test Report Form may be mailed to MGH Institute of Health Professions and score information will be verified by the IHP directly. You may designate up to 5 schools to receive Test Report Forms at the time you register for the test.  To request additional Test Report Forms, contact your test center.

Please contact the Office of Admissions if you have any questions about the MGH Institute’s English Language requirements. 

Recommendation Letters

All applicants are required to submit three (3) letters of recommendation. Letters should address your potential for graduate education and your experiences and strengths as they relate to the field of genetic counseling.  Please consider requesting recommendations from individuals who know you from different contexts and settings, when possible. 

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Please minimally include:

  • Your National Matching Services (NMS) match code number

  • Undergraduate and any graduate institutions, degree(s), major, minor/concentration (if applicable), and cumulative GPA (on a 4.0 scale)  

  • A list of course titles, numbers, and grades received for prerequisite courses

  • A list of any pending courses (prerequisite or other)

Please include any of the following experiences. Include location, supervisor(s), and length of time, as applicable.

  • Genetic counseling observations and/or internships

  • Attendance (in-person or virtual) at genetic counseling career fairs, regional meetings, or national meetings, etc.

  • Media viewed related to genetic counseling

  • Formal meetings (including virtual) with genetic counselors

  • Advocacy related to genetics, disabilities, support groups, and/or healthcare

  • Peer or crisis counseling

  • Clinical research, bench research, other laboratory roles

  • Industry roles

  • Formal teaching

  • Authored publications or abstracts

  • Other experiences related to the field of genetic counseling

Personal Statement

The personal statement should be no longer than 3 pages (double-spaced).

Inclusivity Statement

The Inclusivity Statement should be no longer than 2 pages (double spaced).

The MGH Institute is committed to advancing equity and anti-oppressive practice in healthcare higher education. To learn more, see our JEDI Office Welcome page.

Applicants invited for an interview will be contacted by email in mid-February. Interviews dates will be in early March-early April. These half-day interviews give applicants an opportunity to meet current students and faculty and get an in-depth view of the IHP Genetic Counseling Program. All interviews will be conducted virtually for Spring 2023. Please note that invitations to interview might not all be sent on one day. 

We encourage candidates to check out the latest information offered by Admissions on Live Virtual Campus Tours and chats with Admissions Ambassadors.

The MGH Institute, as mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, requires completion of the hepatitis B vaccination series prior to matriculation. For applicants who have not been vaccinated, the three-dose hepatitis B series must be initiated prior to February 1st preceding the intended September matriculation.

Upcoming Admissions Events

4:1

faculty-to-student ratio

21

months to earn your degree

29%

job growth projected over next 10 years

Expert Faculty

You will be mentored by faculty who are scholars and leaders in the field, across a wide range of specialties. Our faculty are recognized nationally and internationally and are practicing clinicians.

Meet the Genetic Counseling Faculty
Gayun Chan Smutko

Associate Professor Associate Chair Genetic Counseling

Associate Professor Associate Chair Genetic Counseling

Maureen Flynn, MS, CGC, MPH

Chair, Associate Professor Genetic Counseling

Chair, Associate Professor Genetic Counseling