Best Master’s in Genetic Counseling Programs of 2022

Genetic counseling uses science and technology to find hereditary predispositions. Become a certified professional with a master's in genetic counseling.

portrait of Meg Whitenton
by Meg Whitenton

Published on July 6, 2022 · Updated on July 7, 2022

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
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Genetic counselors, or specially trained healthcare professionals who advise patients on their risk of inheriting a disease or condition, are on the rise in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a much-faster-than-average 26% increase in genetic counseling jobs from 2020-2030.

Professionals need a master's in genetic counseling to qualify for certification and licensure to practice in their state. Candidates must earn a master's degree and pass an exam to become certified. More than half of all states require subsequent licensure through the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). Genetic counselors earned more than $80,000 in 2021, according to the BLS.

Schools offer a variety of in-person and online master's in genetic counseling programs. While true program costs vary, students paid nearly $20,000 for graduate tuition on average in 2019-2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Online programs may offer significant discounts including set or in-state tuition rates and accelerated completion times.

The following represent the best master's in genetic counseling programs.

Our Top Pick

Northwestern University - Evanston, Illinois

Why It's #1: Northwestern University is the number one ranked school on our 2022 Best Genetic Counseling Programs list. Northwestern boasts the highest graduation rate on our list (94%) and one of the lowest student-teacher ratios of only six students per class. Northwestern is highly competitive, with the lowest admission rate (7%) of all of the schools on our list. While the graduate tuition is not the cheapest on our list, Northwestern offers the same tuition rate to in- and out-of-state graduate students.

Read Our Rankings Methodology

2022 Best Accredited Master's in Genetic Counseling Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

Northwestern University

School Information
Location Evanston, Illinois
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Quarter
In State | $20,020
Out of State | $20,020

Units to Graduate
20

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

Northwestern's master's in genetic counseling stresses multi-dimensional training in prenatal, cancer, adult, and pediatric healthcare environments. The curriculum covers scientific, medical, counseling, and psychosocial aspects of genetic counseling. The 18-month program culminates in a written thesis and oral defense.  

Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Prerequisites include biology, organic chemistry, human genetics, and biochemistry. Other prerequisites include psychology, statistics, and molecular or cell biology. Northwestern does not require GRE scores for admission.

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#2

Johns Hopkins University

School Information
Location Baltimore, Maryland
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Term
In State | $15,240
Out of State | $15,240

Credits to Graduate
149

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

Johns Hopkins' master's in genetic counseling emphasizes clinical genomics and precision health. The program combines coursework in topics like human genetics, health education, and genetic counseling with at least 600 supervised clinical hours. To graduate, students complete a thesis requirement.

Johns Hopkins reviews genetic counseling master's candidates holistically. Application requirements include official transcripts and prior counseling experience with distressed populations. Johns Hopkins strongly recommends prerequisites in genetics, biochemistry, statistics, and psychology. Students may opt to submit GRE scores.

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#3

Boston University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 19%
Graduation Rate 88%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Program Cost
In State | $85,000
Out of State | $85,000

Credits to Graduate
48

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

BU offers the only master's in genetic counseling of its kind in New England, delivering this academic program with a teaching hospital on campus. Students can customize their curriculum to include coursework in mental health counseling and behavioral health, and public health.   

BU graduates reported a 90% pass rate on the genetic counseling certification exam. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and complete prerequisites in genetics, psychology, biology. Other prerequisites include biochemistry, chemistry, and statistics. In addition, students must register through the Genetics Counseling Admissions Match program and sit for an admissions interview.

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#4

University of California-Irvine

School Information
Location Irvine, California
Admission Rate 27%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester
In State | $3,814
Out of State | $7,896

Quarter-Credits to Graduate
89

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

UCI offers its master's in genetic counseling through its School of Medicine and the Department of Pediatrics. The curriculum covers topics including medical and quantitative genetics, cytogenetics, and hereditary cancer counseling. UCI reports a 91% pass rate for graduates taking the genetic counseling certification exam for the first time.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree and prerequisite knowledge of subjects including genetics, molecular biology, and human anatomy. UCI prefers candidates with extracurricular or employment experience relevant to genetic counseling. In addition, candidates must sit for an entrance interview. UCI does not require GRE scores for admission.

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#5

Case Western Reserve University

School Information
Location Cleveland, Ohio
Admission Rate 27%
Graduation Rate 84%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,057
Out of State | $2,057

Credits to Graduate
40

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

CWRU's MS in genetic counseling combines didactic coursework, research, and clinical rotations, which include lab work. Students complete their practicums at Cleveland-area hospitals and healthcare facilities. The curriculum covers specializations including prenatal diagnosis and cancer genetics.

Applicants must register through the Genetics Counseling Admissions Match program and participate in a personal interview. In addition, candidates need an undergraduate 3.0 GPA and completed prerequisites, including biology, genetics, and biochemistry. CWRU prefers candidates with advocacy experience relevant to genetics.

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#6

Ohio State University-Main Campus

School Information
Location Columbus, Ohio
Admission Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 86%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,196
Out of State | $2,064

Credits to Graduate
77-79

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

Ohio State's master's in genetic counseling accepts an annual average of 10 students into its cohort. Students receive clinical training opportunities at 50 hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout Ohio and the Midwest. Clinical specializations include geriatric and pediatric genetic counseling.

Applicants must register through the Genetics Counseling Admissions Match program and participate in a personal admission interview via teleconference. They also need a bachelor's degree in biology, organic chemistry, chemistry, genetics, biochemistry, or a related major. Ohio State also requires prerequisites in statistics, genetics, psychology, and biochemistry. 

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#7

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

School Information
Location New York, New York
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Program Cost
In State | $55,000
Out of State | $55,000

Credits to Graduate
50

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

Graduates of ISMMS's MS in genetic counseling boast a 100% job placement rate and a first-time certification exam pass rate of 87%. The full-time, 21-month master's in genetic counseling offers clinical training opportunities in New York City's Mount Sinai Health System.

Specialized areas of study include reproductive, pediatric, cardiovascular, and cancer genetics. Applicants must register through the Genetic Counseling Admissions Match program and complete prerequisites including genetics, psychology, biochemistry, biology, and statistics. ISMMS maintains a GRE-optional admission policy.

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#8

University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center

School Information
Location Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $213
Out of State | $824

Credits to Graduate
48

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

OU's MS in genetic counseling prepares students for professional certification as genetic counselors. The two-year, full-time program explores topics including medical genetics, counseling techniques, and cytogenetics. Students must complete a thesis to graduate. 

OU offers clinical experience in focus areas including prenatal diagnostics counseling, cancer genetics counseling, and clinical metabolics genetics counseling. Applicants need a bachelor's in sociology, biology, psychology, or a related field. They must also have taken prerequisites, including biology, chemistry, genetics, and abnormal psychology.

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#9

Augustana University

School Information
Location Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Admission Rate 67%
Graduation Rate 71%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 11% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Academic Year
In State | $27,865
Out of State | $27,865

Credits to Graduate
62

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

Augustana's master's in genetic counseling is the only ACGC-accredited program of its kind in South Dakota. The full-time, 21-month program includes traditional coursework, experiential learning opportunities, and clinical rotations. Students may choose to complete their second-year practicum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, or San Diego, California.

Applicants must register with the Genetic Counseling Admissions Match program and Slate to submit materials to Augustana's graduate education office. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, disclosure of cumulative GPA, and GRE scores.

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#10

University of Alabama at Birmingham

School Information
Location Birmingham, Alabama
Admission Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Quarter
In State | $595
Out of State | $1,418

Credits to Graduate
57

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

UAB's master's in genetic counseling features an emphasis in genomic medicine, the only program of its kind in Alabama. The curriculum combines academic coursework and clinical experience, including through UAB's own professional simulation center. Graduates are prepared to seek professional certification as genetic counselors.

Students may complete some courses remotely in their second year. The 21-month MS In genetic counseling culminates in a final graduate project. The program includes prerequisites in biology, biochemistry, genetics, statistics, and psychology. GRE scores are not required.

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Popular Online Genetic Counseling Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Master's in Genetic Counseling ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified 10 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (60%) and affordability (40%).

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

BestColleges' Ranking Factors

Frequently Asked Questions About Genetic Counseling Programs

Is a master's in genetic counseling worth it?

Yes, a master's in genetic counseling qualifies graduates for professional certification and may lead to lucrative jobs in healthcare and research. Genetic counselors are in high demand across the United States. The BLS reported a much-faster-than-average 26% growth rate for genetic counseling occupations from 2020-2030.

New technology and testing protocols in genetic counseling continue to drive interest in this occupation. Schools increasingly offer master's degrees in genetic counseling with online learning options that students can finish in less than two years. Many programs offer specialized practicums on site at nationally recognized hospitals and in popular field specializations.

What can I do with a master's in genetic counseling?

A master's in genetic counseling can lead to professional practice in a variety of specializations. Most genetic counselors focus on cancer, pediatric, or prenatal genetics. Some choose to further specialize in a field like genomic medicine or neurogenetics.

Most genetic counselors pursue certification upon graduation. While most four-year colleges require a doctoral degree, some community colleges hire master's program graduates for teaching positions in their degree subject. Students may also go on to pursue medical school en route to pursuing a career in psychiatry or cardiovascular health.

What continuing education is available for genetic counseling graduates?

A master's in genetic counseling meets professional certification requirements and is thus widely considered a terminal degree in the field. Some continue on a path toward a second master's or medical degree in fields such as genomic medicine, cardiovascular medicine, or psychiatry, as genetic counselors commonly work in dual-specialties.

Genetic counselors often publish scholarly research, supervise clinicals, teach, or participate in medical conventions and professional networking events as approved forms of continuing education. Genetic counselors must recertify their professional standing through the ABGC every five years.

How much money can I make with a master's in genetic counseling?

Graduates of a master's in genetic counseling can become genetic counselors, who earned more than $80,000 a year in 2021, as per BLS data. Equipped with specialized skills in an increasingly high-demand sector, genetic counselors tend to draw a higher salary than most other healthcare practitioners or technical jobs.

Salaries may vary depending on a job's location and the experience and skills required. While entry-level jobs already offer generous compensation, candidates with extensive experience of more than 10 years in the field can earn annual salaries over $93,000, according to Payscale June 2022 data.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in genetic counseling?

According to the BLS, genetic counselors working in outpatient care centers earn the highest wage, followed by those employed by medical and diagnostic labs.

Geographically, California houses the largest employment of genetic counselors and also pays the highest wage, at an average of nearly $116,000 in May 2021. Connecticut and New York pay the second- and third-highest average salaries to genetic counselors, at $104,480 and $102,090, respectively.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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