Genetic counseling is the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. This process integrates:

  • Interpretation of family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence.
  • Education about inheritance, testing, management, prevention, resources and research.
  • Counseling to promote informed choices and adaptation to the risk or condition.

Source: NSGC.

On average, the program receives 120 - 130 applications each year.

We accept 6 students each year.

The application committee reviews all complete applications received by the deadline. Once the review process has been completed, 25 to 30 applicants are invited for individual virtual interviews, which usually occur during the first two weeks of March. After the interviews have been completed, the committee determines the ranking order of applicants and submits this list to the NMS Match. This is usually completed by mid-March. Applicants who successfully match to UBC will be offered a seat for the following September start date. Applicants who wish to tour the physical facilities will be able to do so after the program has submitted their ranking order to the NMS Match.

The projected interview notification date is early- to mid-February. While we do our best to respond to all applicants in a timely fashion, if you have not been contacted by the end of February, it is unlikely you are being offered an interview.

Please refer to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies' website for a list of minimum requirements. Students who are accepted into the program generally have at least a B+ to A- average in their 3rd and 4th year courses. They all have a bachelor's degree with a strong genetics background.

Applicants who have a four-year degree or its academic equivalent, and who have not meet the minimum academic requirements, yet have had significant formal training and relevant professional experience may be granted admission on the recommendation of the Genetic Counselling Program and on approval of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

If you have failed a course in basic genetics or biology, it is suggested that the course be repeated.

Yes, we require marks in genetics courses within the past five years. If you completed your degree more than five years ago, but you have taken genetics courses within the past five years, especially courses in molecular genetics, you do not need to upgrade your degree. Consideration is given if you have recent experience working in the field of molecular genetics. Please contact us for clarification if you feel you meet this requirement.

English language requirements, including TOEFL exam score requirements, are listed on our information page for new applicants.

No, our program does not require this.

Pregnancy option clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, as well as a crisis line, rape relief shelter, hospice centre, or peer counselling are all acceptable examples of counselling experience. Your experience can be paid or volunteer. However, to be considered, your experience must include a formal training process prior to beginning your counselling experience.

Please see our section titled "Exposure to the profession of genetic counselling" on our Admissions page.

Students begin their studies the week before Labour Day. Labour Day is the first Monday in September.

Given the course load and clinical requirements, the program is currently offered on a full-time basis only.

While the MSc in Genetic Counselling is not a thesis program, all students conduct an independent research project. Students are offered close mentorship and encouraged to work towards contributing to the published literature in genetic counselling outcomes. Visit the Courses webpage for more information on the directed studies course.

Since 2013, 100% of UBC graduates who sat for the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) and/or Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellor (CAGC) board examinations passed on their first attempt.

Our graduates have gone on to pursue stimulating careers in genomic research, private industry, public and private clinical services, as well as policy development. Of our 2018 graduates, all six have been employed in the field, with one starting a PhD in the field in 2021. Of our graduates since 2019, all have been employed in the field. Our graduates have gone on to pursue stimulating careers in genomic research, private industry, public and private clinical services, as well as policy development. The majority of students find jobs before or shortly after graduation. Explore where some of our alumni are now.

More information about genetic counselling is available from the following organizations:
Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors
National Society of Genetic Counselors
American Board of Genetic Counseling
Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling
National Society of Genetic Counselors Prospective Student Task Force Newletter
Become a Genetic Counselor

Still have a question? Contact Vannessa Bulteel, Graduate Program Assistant, at medgeneducation@cw.bc.ca