The University of Washington Genetic Counseling Graduate Program (UW GCGP) gives you a strong foundation in the science of genetics and helps you develop the skills you’ll need to communicate complex genetic information clearly and compassionately to people of all backgrounds. Graduates earn a Master of Science degree in 18 months and are eligible to take the American Board of Genetic Counseling board certification exam to become a certified genetic counselor.
The UW GCGP is a full-time, accelerated, 18-month (six-quarter) program. It is fast-paced and highly rigorous. To earn your degree, you’ll complete 66 credits, including a capstone project and four quarters of fieldwork training.
The program is year-round. You’ll take classes on weekdays on the UW campus in Seattle, except during summer quarter, when you’ll complete intensive fieldwork training and work on your capstone project.
Our comprehensive curriculum is based on the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling's Practice-Based Competencies. It equips you to enter the field of genetic counseling with an in-depth knowledge of medical genetics and psychosocial counseling and a variety of relevant fieldwork experiences from which you can set the course of your career.
The curriculum is built on three pillars: coursework, fieldwork training, and a capstone project.
Didactic coursework introduces you to the essential concepts needed for your genetic counseling practice. Instruction focuses on basic science principles, medical genetics, counseling theories and skills, laboratory methods and critical thinking skills.
Courses are sequenced so that you learn the core concepts for your practice first before progressing to more advanced content that deepens your knowledge and understanding of clinical genetics. See the Courses & Requirements page for details.
Fieldwork training is a core element of our curriculum. You’ll get the opportunity to experience the practice of genetic counseling firsthand as you work with experienced genetic counselors and patients in a variety of settings.
While acquiring clinical skills takes time, our approach allows you to develop these skills at a measured pace. Initially, you’ll focus on novice-level tasks, advancing to greater responsibilities as you gain experience.
All fieldwork takes place under the supervision of experienced genetic counselors (or occasionally other health care providers), who are there to guide your learning. See the Fieldwork page for details.
As a practicing genetic counselor you’ll need to be able to understand and critique new research in genetics. During your training, you’ll become familiar with research in genetics through your capstone project. Early in your training you’ll select a project and a project mentor, who will help guide you along the way.
Drawing on the skills and knowledge you obtain in the biostatistics and research methods courses, you’ll gain firsthand experience with project design, literature review, proposal creation, and critical analysis.
Some examples of capstone projects include:
- Analysis of research data
- Creation of an educational tool for clinical use
- Creation of a patient- or provider-facing resource for clinical use
- A quality improvement project for a clinic or practice setting