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.
On average, the program receives approximately 100 applications each year.
We accept 8 students each year.
The application committee reviews all complete applications received by the deadline. Once the review process has been completed, approximately 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 for both the Vancouver and the Victoria remote placement option 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 in either the Vancouver or the Victoria remote placement option 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.
For first-time test takers in 2019 - 2022, the pass rate for the CBGC board exam was 100%. The cumulative board examination pass rate for first-time ABGC test takers for the Classes of 2020 – 2022 was 94%. Overall ABGC board examination pass rate for test takers from 2020 – 2022 was 100%.
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 graduates from 2020 - 2022, 100% are working in the field, with the majority securing employment within months of graduation. 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.
You may be interested in UBC's Medical Genetics Residency Program.
Clinical/human embryology, the study of normal and abnormal human development from gametes to birth, is an essential body of knowledge required by genetic counsellors as part of their professional training. This is reflected in the Accreditation Council of Genetic Counseling (ACGC) standards which identifies normal and abnormal human development as a required content area in the curriculum of all accredited genetic counselling programs, and in the Canadian Board of Genetic Counselling Core Knowledge Competencies, which identifies human embryology as a required content area. All students in the UBC Genetic Counselling Program (GCP) complete a rotation in the Embryofetopathology Laboratory at BC Women’s and Children’s Health Centre, which requires prior knowledge of human embryology. The GCP does not offer an introductory human embryology course, and so all applicants to the GCP must have a clinical/ human embryology course as a prerequisite.
The prerequisite course must cover:
- Human embryology from fertilization to the end of the fetal period
- Concepts in mammalian morphogenesis applied to the development of human organ systems
- Etiologies and pathogenesis of some of the more common human congenital abnormalities.
Developmental biology or mammalian embryology are courses relevant to the area of student, but are not accepted for the clinical/ human embryology prerequisite requirement.
The program is no longer reviewing courses for eligibility to meet the embryology course pre-requisite. For those who cannot locate a course that meets the requirements, the following online course is currently accepted by our program:
Cincinnati Genetic Counseling Graduate Program Online Course: “Embryology”
“Prerequisite/Letter of Completion” Option
Equivalent to University of Cincinnati MEDS 4021
Cost: Approximately $495
Genetic counsellors need an advanced understanding of molecular genetics as part of their professional training. Molecular genetics is the study of the molecular structure of DNA, its cellular activities, including its replication, and its influence in determining the overall makeup of an organism. The importance of having this knowledge is reflected in the Accreditation Council of Genetic Counseling (ACGC) standards which require all accredited genetic counselling programs to have a strong foundation in the core areas of genetics/genomics in the curriculum. The UBC Genetic Counselling Program (GCP) includes the course MEDG 520 - Advanced Human Molecular Genetics, scheduled in term 1 of year 1, and MEDG 530 - Human Genetics, scheduled in term 2 of year 1, as part of the molecular genetics coursework. The prerequisite for both of these courses is BIOL 335 (UBC). The GCP recognizes the importance for all students to start the program with strong foundational knowledge in molecular genetics to support their success and confidence in the program. Therefore, all applicants to the GCP must have the UBC course BIOL 335, or an equivalent to be accepted into the program.
The program is no longer reviewing courses for eligibility to meet the molecular genetics course pre-requisite, but have provided the following benchmark for candidates to review.
UBC BIOL 335 Molecular Genetics course description: Isolation and identification of genes, analysis of gene structure; gene expression and its regulation in prokaryotes and in eukaryotes; developmental genetics.
Additionally, for those who cannot locate a course that meets the requirements, the following online courses are currently accepted by our program:
The Michener Institute of Education: MGCE 110 "Molecular Genetics"
Cost: Approx. $825 for Canadian students, or $1,075 for international students
Doane University: BIOL 363 “Molecular Biology”
Cost: Approx. $1,800
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
Still have a question? Contact our Educational Coordinator at email@example.com