Best Master’s in Genetics Programs

Want a career in a field at the forefront of new discoveries and medical breakthroughs? Explore some of the nation's best master's in genetics programs.

portrait of N. Susan Emeagwali
by N. Susan Emeagwali

Published on July 11, 2022 · Updated on July 12, 2022

Edited by Desiree Cunningham
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Genetics is the study of genes and how they play a role in health, disease, and other conditions. The genetics field has exploded in recent years because of discoveries like genome sequencing and genome editing. The need for genetic specialists continues to grow as people look to genetic information and treatments to lead healthy lives.

Graduates with a master's in genetics find work in genetics counseling, research, and other areas with additional education. Some schools on this ranking offer master's degrees focused on specializations like genetics counseling, genetics and genomics, and molecular cellular and developmental genetics.

All ranked schools offer an on-campus master's in genetics. Students typically complete the degree in two years of full-time enrollment. Tuition rates vary depending on the school.

For instance, the cheapest master's in genetics on this ranking costs between $248-$431 per credit for in-state residents. The cheapest out-of-state tuition costs between $656-$1,194 per credit.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of jobs for genetic counselors will grow 26% between 2020 and 2030. This is much higher than the 8% growth-rate average for all occupations.

According to the BLS, the entry-level requirement for genetic counselors is a master's degree. The median pay for this occupation was $80,150 per year, as of May 2021.

Finishing graduate school is a requirement to advance in the genetics field. Explore our ranking of the nation's top 10 master's in genetics programs and some exciting career opportunities.

Our Top Pick

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Why It's #1: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) is the No. 1-ranked school on our Best Master's in Genetics Programs list. This institution has a 91% graduation rate, the highest on this ranking. UNC-Chapel Hill also has a stellar reputation for academics while maintaining affordability. On average, graduate students pay a net price of $10,085 a year after aid, the most affordable tuition of the 10 schools. About 65% of enrollees receive financial aid and only 25% take out loans. UNC-Chapel Hill accepts about 23% of applicants, making it a selective school.

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Best Accredited Master's in Genetics Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Information
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Admission Rate 23%
Graduation Rate 91%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $432
Out of State | $1,194

Credits to Graduate
58

Program Information
Program Accreditation |  Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill partners with The University of North Carolina at Greensboro to deliver the master's in genetic counseling program. The program is designed to train genetic counselors in 21 months. Graduates are eligible to qualify for American Board of Genetic Counseling certification.

The curriculum blends coursework, laboratory experience, and clinical rotations at various facilities. The first year introduces students to concepts like molecular diagnostics and genetics counseling in the community.

Advanced studies include clinical genomics coursework. Enrollees culminate the master's in genetics program with a research capstone project. Students can qualify for in-state tuition in the second year. All accepted students receive some funding. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, prerequisite courses, and a recommended 3.0 GPA.

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#2

University of Georgia

School Information
Location Athens, Georgia
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 87%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $370
Out of State | $1,050

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Georgia's master's in genetics program is part of the school's Double/Dawgs program, a dual bachelor's/master's pathway. Enrollees earn a BS and MS in genetics in just five years. Students can choose a thesis or non-thesis degree plan for the MS.

Enrollees accelerate degree completion by taking MS courses during the final year of the BS. Students apply to the master's in genetics in year four of the bachelor's degree. Admission to the master's program requires 90 undergraduate credits and a minimum 3.2 GPA.

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#3

University of Wisconsin-Madison

School Information
Location Madison, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 88%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $811
Out of State | $1,644

Credits to Graduate
32

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

University of Wisconsin Madison (UW) offers a master's in genetics. Enrollees have access to one of the nation's oldest genetics labs, specializing in research areas such as disease genetics and cell biology. 

The curriculum explores topics such as the genetics of development and advanced genetics. A master's in genetics course focuses on ethics in science. UW also offers a 21-month master of genetic counselor studies program. Admission to the program requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. 

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#4

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

School Information
Location Raleigh, North Carolina
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 82%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $505
Out of State | $1,572

Credits to Graduate
31

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

North Carolina State University (NC State) manages one of the nation's oldest genetics programs and administers the master of genetics on campus in Raleigh. The non-thesis degree prioritizes coursework over research. The program attracts scientists looking to enhance their professional credentials. 

The curriculum's core explores topics such as molecular genetics and experimental statistics for biologists. Enrollees choose elective courses focused on subfields such as forest genetics or prokaryotic molecular genetics.

NC State also offers a research-based master's in genetics. Admission to the master of genetics program requires a bachelor's degree in agricultural, biological, mathematical, or physical science.

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#5

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

School Information
Location Houston, Texas
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $248
Out of State | $656

Credits to Graduate
45

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston prepares genetic counselors on campus in Houston. The two-year master's in genetic counseling program provides training in areas such as human, prenatal, and cancer genetics.

The second year focuses on clinical rotations that begin in the spring of the first year. First-year genetic counseling students pair with second-year peers who serve as mentors. Students culminate the master's in genetics with a thesis. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and college transcripts.

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#6

University of Connecticut

School Information
Location Storrs, Connecticut
Admission Rate 49%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,010
Out of State | $2,227

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

The master's in genetics and genomics program at the University of Connecticut (UConn) offers thesis and non-thesis degree plans. The 30-credit curriculum requires core coursework such as problems in genetics of eukaryotes. A notable course explores genetic engineering and functional genomics. 

Enrollees culminate the non-thesis master's in genetics program with a comprehensive exam. UConn also offers a professional master’s in applied genomics to prepare students for employment in fields such as biotechnology and pharmaceutical. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, minimum 3.0 GPA, and school transcripts.

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#7

Kansas State University

School Information
Location Manhattan, Kansas
Admission Rate 95%
Graduation Rate 65%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $429
Out of State | $959

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

Kansas State University offers the master's in genetics program on the school's main campus in Manhattan. The genetics program prepares enrollees for careers in academia, research, and industry. Students complete required coursework in statistics and biochemistry. 

All enrollees explore population genetics and the genetics of microorganisms. Students in the master's in genetics program must produce original research and have access to research labs such as the sequencing and genotyping facility. Admission requires an accredited bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and school transcripts.

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#8

University of New Hampshire-Main Campus

School Information
Location Durham, New Hampshire
Admission Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 76%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 16% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $785
Out of State | $1,370

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

The master's in genetics program at the University of New Hampshire is an interdisciplinary research program. Students begin to explore various research labs once admitted into the program. Research areas of emphasis include genomics and bioinformatics, evolutionary genomics, and plant genomics. 

Enrollees culminate the master's in genetics with a research thesis. Students can get teaching experience in their roles as teaching assistants (TAs). 

Participants receive financial support through TA positions and research assistantships. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and prerequisite coursework in subjects such as biology and chemistry.

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#9

University of Arizona

School Information
Location Tucson, Arizona
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 65%
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 | $882
Out of State | $1,794

Credits to Graduate
32

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

The University of Arizona (UofA) prepares the next generation of geneticists with a customizable master's in genetics program. The 32-credit curriculum requires coursework exploring fundamental genetic mechanisms and recent advances in genetics. 

Students use elective credits to tailor the degree to their specific areas of interest.

UofA also offers a master's in genetic counseling program on campus in Tucson. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in a major such as biochemistry or biology and competitive GPA scores.

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#10

West Virginia University

School Information
Location Morgantown, West Virginia
Admission Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 61%
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 | $513
Out of State | $1,449

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A

West Virginia University offers an interdisciplinary master's in genetics and developmental biology program. The degree is highly customizable, allowing students to choose one of many areas of interest. The emphasis areas include cytogenetics, human genetics, and plant genetics. 

All students complete research leading to a thesis, report, dissertation, or scholarly project. Students take courses on campus in Morgantown. Admission to the master's in genetics program requires a bachelor's degree, minimum 2.75 GPA, and GRE scores.

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Popular Online Genetics 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 Genetics 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 68 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 Genetics Programs

Is a master's in genetics worth it?

Yes. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of choosing a career path that can weather various economic challenges. According to the BLS, the number of jobs in healthcare is projected to grow 16% between 2020 and 2030.

A master's in genetics provides a high level of training for careers in this growing healthcare field. Most occupations in genetics and genomics will require at least a master's degree, which students can complete on campus or online.

What can I do with a master's in genetics?

The great thing about the genetics field is a diversity of job opportunities and employers. Graduates can work in labs, at governmental agencies, and in medical centers. They can even focus on a specialization such as crop/animal genetics, food manufacturing, or bio-pharmaceutical.

Graduates with a master's in genetics can pursue career opportunities such as genetic counselor. These practitioners inform individuals and families about their genomic health and medical risks. A master's is also sufficient for some applied research jobs depending on the employer. Some graduates interested in high-level careers in clinical and lab research will go on to pursue a doctorate.

Are genetics graduates in demand?

Yes. The genetics field offers many in-demand career opportunities. For instance, the BLS projects the number of jobs for genetic counselors, which typically require a master's degree for entry-level positions, will grow 26% between 2020 and 2030. This is faster than the average for all occupations.

Genetics graduates can also pursue a doctorate to assume positions such as medical scientist. Medical scientists conduct healthcare research in labs and other facilities. The BLS projects 17% job growth between 2020 and 2030 for these professionals.

This is just a sampling of job opportunities for genetics graduates.

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

The amount of money a graduate with a master's in genetics can earn depends on several factors. Something to consider is which career you want to pursue among the many job opportunities for genetic graduates. Another factor is your employer and where you live.

For instance, genetic counselors make an average annual salary of $104,460, as of May 2021, working for outpatient care centers, according to the BLS. Those employed in scientific research and development services make an average annual salary of $86,790.

The top-paying states for genetic counselors are California, Connecticut, and New York.

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

As of April 2022, Payscale reported that graduates with a master's in genetics made an average base pay of $72,000 a year. Some of the highest-paying jobs include genetic counselors with an average pay of $83,950, and $74,020 for an early career counselor with 1-4 years of experience. An early career senior research associate with 1-4 years of experience makes $71,550, as of June 2022.

Graduates may want to explore a job like project manager at a company specializing in genetics products. Early career project managers with 1-4 years of experience make an average of $67,000, as of June 2022.

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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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