Human Genetics Courses and Schools

Earning a degree in human genetics could lead to work as a genetics counselor, researcher or teacher. Learn about degree options and common job duties as well as get tips on selecting a program. Schools offering Sequence Analysis and Genomics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Bachelor's programs in genetics are rare; many schools offer introductory genetics courses to undergraduate students. If you're looking for a degree program in the field, you might consider pursuing a Master of Science in Genetic Counseling. Prerequisites for a master's program include a bachelor's degree with coursework in biochemistry, biology, genetics and statistics.

Courses Statistical methods, research methods, human population genetics, medical physiology and embryology; clinical and reserach rotations; human physiology, histology and pathology
Degrees Bachelor's degrees; master's degrees; doctor of medicine, doctor of philosophy
Programs Should be accredited by the American Board of Medical Genetics (ABMG) or the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC)

What Other Degrees Are There?

There are two potential paths for studying human genetics at the doctoral level. If you're a medical student who has earned a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), you could pursue a residency in medical genetics. If you've completed a bachelor's or master's program, you might apply to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Medical Genetics program.

Which Careers Will I Be Prepared For?

Genetic counselors identify genetic disorders or defects in humans; they assess the risk of inheriting certain genetic traits and may provide patients with techniques for disorder management. Genetics programs may prepare you for direct work with clients or for work in a clinical or research laboratory setting.

As a researcher, you might work in a pharmacogenomics laboratory where you tailor medicines to an individual's needs based on their genes. As a clinician, you might work in reproductive counseling or cancer genetics; you may perform genetic tests as well. Some graduates of Ph.D. programs go on to become university professors.

What Will I Study?

At the master's degree level, you might explore topics like statistical methods, research methods, human population genetics, medical physiology and embryology. You may also learn how to counsel individuals, couples or families regarding genetic disorders or preventative measures. Many master's programs will expect you to complete 2-4 clinical research rotations as well as a thesis paper. Research rotations may take place in sub-specialties like prenatal genetics, molecular genetics or biochemical genetics.

As a doctoral student, you might take courses in human physiology, histology and pathology. You may decide to specialize in a particular area of the genetics field, including biochemical genetics, gene instability, gene mapping, infectious disease genetics, complex disease genomics or cancer cytogenetics. You'll need to complete research rotations as well as a dissertation in order to earn a doctoral degree.

Medical genetics residencies focus primarily on clinical training. As a resident, you might evaluate and counsel patients in a genetics clinic. You'll learn how to identify genetic diseases or risk factors by analyzing lab test results; you'll also learn how to explain those results to patients. Many residency programs require completion of a research project.

How Should I Choose a Program?

When choosing a school with a genetic counseling or medical genetics program, consider whether the American Board of Medical Genetics (ABMG) or the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) accredits that school's program. The ABMG accredits programs in medical genetics; The ABGC accredits graduate programs in genetic counseling. You can also look for human genetics programs with faculty whose research interests are similar to your own; look for programs that teach the most current genetic research methods.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • The George Washington University

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  • Johns Hopkins University

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  • Kaplan University

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  • Grand Canyon University

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  • Capella University

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  • Penn Foster Career School

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  • Colorado Technical University

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  • Indiana Wesleyan University

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  • Penn Foster High School

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  • South University

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