Online Master's Programs in Genetic Counseling

A master's degree in this field can prepare students for a career in genetic counseling. This career path allows students to work with families to better understand their risks of inherited genetic conditions or birth defects. Find out more about online program admission requirements and typical courses. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Degree Information for Online Master's Programs in Genetic Counseling

An online or hybrid master of science (MS) in genetic counseling program may be somewhat rare but offers distance coursework while providing learning opportunities for students to enhance their clinical and academic expertise in genetic counseling. The online MS degree program for genetic counseling can include the following types of courses and often takes about 2 years to complete.

Introduction to Genetic Counseling

This type of course provides students foundational information about the discipline of genetic counseling. Students often take a series of courses related to genetic counseling that build the skills for researching cases, contacting families to determine goals, and for dealing with letters of medical necessity needed to practice genetic counseling. Theories, principles and ethics related to genetic counseling are often introduced in these classes through case studies and practical activities.

Clinical Genetics

A course in clinical genetics typically covers the topics of cytogenetics, cancer genetics and pharmacogenetics. General principles of genetics are also covered as well terms used in the genetics field and how this impacts genetic counseling. Further, laboratory and diagnostic techniques are often reviewed in this course.

Research Methods

This kind of class commonly addresses the research design methods used by developmental psychologists. The course often focuses on evidence-based medicine, epidemiology, biostatistics and the ethical underpinnings of research. Finally, the course might offer a review of literature related to genetics and genetic counseling.

Reproductive Genetics

Reproductive genetics often provides students with a better understanding of this topic while building the skills needed for clinical practice. The course typically uses sample case studies and teaches students how to interpret findings that can then be applied to clinical practice. Additionally, the topics of reproductive genetic counseling are reviewed, including maternal and carrier screening, ultrasound interpretation, teratogen exposures, prenatal testing, pregnancy loss and termination.

Principles in Human Genetics

Principles in genetics often covers a number of topics related to genetics and genomics including cellular and molecular genetics, cytogenetics, DNA and RNA and epigenetics. Students typically explore population-based concepts such as Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance. Finally, risk calculation and Bayesian statistics are typically taught.


This type of class often focuses on the pathophysiology that is critical to understanding genetic conditions and diseases that can impact individuals throughout their lives. Students may learn how to describe these conditions from a physiological standpoint. Finally, students will commonly learn the signs and symptoms of these conditions.

Developmental Anatomy & Embryology

A class in developmental anatomy and embryology often provides an overview of anatomical development and focuses on normal and abnormal embryo development and the etiologies that underpin human development. Further, the course typically provides information about human reproduction, infertility and reproductive techniques. Additional diagnosis topics related to anatomy and embryology will also be covered in the course.

Fieldwork in Genetic Counseling

Fieldwork is a key part of the genetic counseling master's degree and allow students the opportunity to apply what they have learned through guided clinical practice. Various clinical sites are often available, although students may need to change their location for a period of time. Additional readings and reflection of the student experience are also required as a part of this multi-class experience.

Capstone Project

The capstone project gives students the opportunity to delve into a particular project in their discipline. This project typically spans multiple courses and often focuses on data collection and analysis of the selected topic. The course allows students to hone their research, project management and presentation skills.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's Programs in Genetic Counseling

Admissions requirements for the online master's program in genetic counseling include a baccalaureate degree, transcripts with a minimum 3.0 grade point average (GPA), prerequisite coursework in the sciences, including biology, chemistry, biochemistry, statistics, genetics and general psychology. In addition, programs require registration in the National Matching System which ranks and places students in these programs, a resume, personal statement, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and personal experiences relevant to genetic counseling.

There are several online or hybrid programs available in the growing field of genetic counseling. Completion time for these master's programs is typically 2 years. The courses listed in this article cover just a few of the requirements to complete this degree program.

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:

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