Curriculum and Degree Requirements
In KU's master's degree program in genetic counseling, students will receive a well-rounded education focused on the major components of genetic counseling. This includes genomic sciences, psychosocial counseling skills and clinical research.
Offered on a full-time basis, coursework will require 21 months (five semesters) of study at the KU Medical Center campus in Kansas City, Kansas.
To complete the program and obtain the master's degree, a student must successfully complete a minimum 56 hours of didactic coursework, ten clinical rotations and a graduate research project. Students must also complete eight supplemental fieldwork activities, 27 supplemental curricular activities and pass a comprehensive exam.
Students must achieve a minimum "B" grade in all courses, with an overall GPA of at least 3.0.
Courses specific to the genetic counseling program are typically taken only by genetic counseling students, while courses in various topics of human genetics and psychology may be taken with other students.
Year One: Fall Semester
- Fundamentals of Genetic Counseling (2 credit hours)
- Human Genetics (3)
- Cytogenetic and Molecular Basis of Disease (2)
- Embryology^ (2)
- Counseling and Interview Skills (3)
- Introduction to Clinical Research (1)
Year One: Spring Semester
- Psychosocial Genetic Counseling (4)
- Prenatal Genetics and Teratology (2)
- Medical Genetics I* (2)
- Biochemical Genetic Counseling (2)
- Cancer Genetic Counseling (2)
- Research in Genetic Counseling (1)
- Clinical Fieldwork I (1)
Year One: Summer Semester
- Laboratory/Industry Genetic Counseling (2)
- Clinical Fieldwork II (3)
Year Two: Fall Semester
- Advanced Psychosocial Genetic Counseling (2)
- Professional Development for Genetic Counselors I (2)
- Medical Genetics II* (2)
- Social, Ethical and Legal Issues in Genetics (2)
- Research Project - Independent Study (3)
- Clinical Fieldwork III (3)
Year Two: Spring Semester
- Professional Development for Genetic Counselors II (2)
- Medical Genetics III* (2)
- Research Project - Independent Study (3)
- Clinical Fieldwork IV (3)
^ Offered online through the University of Cincinnati.
* The order in which courses are taken may vary from student to student. Some courses are taught every other year and taken by both first- and second-year students at the same time.
Clinical Fieldwork Requirements
Beginning in the first semester of the program, students will have the opportunity to observe in pediatrics, prenatal and cancer genetic counseling settings.
Students will participate in ten total rotations. These clinical rotations will provide students with supervised experience in many areas of clinical genetics including prenatal, pediatric, cancer, adult, laboratory, industry and numerous specialty clinics including inpatient consults, biochemical genetics, cardiology, preconception, research, bone metabolism and genetic counseling only.
Clinical rotation blocks begin in the spring semester of year one and continue throughout the remainder of the program. Every block is comprised of three rotations, each lasting five weeks, except for the summer rotation which lasts seven weeks. The tenth rotation is an elective rotation allowing the student to select a specialty area of interest.
Here is an example of a clinical fieldwork schedule:
In addition to coursework and clinical fieldwork, students must complete a research project prior to graduation. Completion of a research project will allow students to learn how to identify research opportunities, critically evaluate relevant primary literature and understand the value of research in genetic counseling.
Through this project, students will be able to apply their knowledge of research methodology to a specific genetics-related topic they are passionate about.
Thesis and Capstone Options
We recognize that students have a wide variety of interests and allow for student selection of a thesis or capstone option to best suit their professional goals.
- Thesis projects will involve the identification of a research question, the generation of new data or a review of an existing data set, and the analysis and interpretation of the data.
- Capstone projects will be more flexible and can include systematic literature reviews, case reports, the creation of a resource for a specific group of patients or clinicians including educational tools/materials/websites, evaluation/creation of a clinical protocol (disease-specific, care flow, patient access) or in-depth outreach projects.
The choice between a thesis or capstone project depends primarily on the student’s interest and topic selection. Students will work with program leadership during the introduction to research course to foster ideas, conduct a literature review and determine if a thesis or capstone project will be more appropriate.
The selection of thesis or capstone will be made by the end of the first semester. During the second semester, the research in genetic counseling course will allow for outlining the selected project including developing their specific aims or hypothesis, a formal proposal with a timeline/budget and the development of an IRB protocol, if applicable.
The requirements for both the thesis and capstone project are the same:
- Research committee including at least three members (one of which must be from program leadership).
- Written and oral project proposal.
- Final report on their work.
- Poster presentation.
- Oral defense-like presentation.
Applicable projects will be submitted to a genetics conference such as the National Society of Genetic Counselors annual education conference, the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting or the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics annual clinical genetics meeting. Students will be encouraged to submit their projects for publication in a relevant journal, when appropriate.
Additional Training Opportunities
Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND)
LEND training provides graduate- and postgraduate-level professionals from a variety of disciplines the necessary preparation for becoming future leaders in the field of developmental disabilities for the improvement of the health of infants, children and adolescents with disabilities.
Second-year genetic counseling students who apply and are accepted may participate in the interdisciplinary curriculum which includes graduate students from several other KU academic programs (occupational therapy, audiology, psychology, speech-language pathology, physical therapy) as well as current health care professionals and family members of children with disabilities. Learn more.