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Master’s of Genetic Counseling degree

Hands-on learning with diverse counselors and patients.

Genetic counseling program

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Genetic counseling has grown by over 100% in the last 10 years and is expected to grow another 100% over the next 10 years. By 2030, we anticipate 10,000 certified genetic counselors practicing in the United States.
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Eight out of 10 genetic counselors report they are satisfied with their current job and 86% of genetic counselors report being satisfied with the profession.
Geisinger’s state-of-the-art MyCode program allows students to join healthcare providers in researching DNA sequences from more than 340,000 Geisinger patients and growing.
Our genetic counseling training program is currently in active candidacy status; and seeking accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling.
The program is not currently enrolling students. 

A message from Program Director Lindsay Bailey Payne, MS, CGC

Geisinger’s Master’s of Genetic Counseling immerses you in the field of genetic counseling in a healthcare system that values genetics and genomics integration into healthcare. Alongside an ever-growing team of genetic counselors and genetics professionals, you'll take part in expansive clinical and research opportunities. 

The genetic counseling workforce has been consistently expanding and as more genetic counselors enter the workforce in traditional and non-traditional roles, our goal is to provide you with an education that allows you to pursue the genetic counseling career path of your choosing. 

Lindsay Bailey Payne
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About us

The Master’s of Genetic Counseling program at Geisinger College of Health Sciences is a 21-month program in Scranton, Pa., designed to expose students to a wide breadth of experiences to foster their professional growth on the path to becoming a genetic counselor. Geisinger students receive didactic education through lectures and active learning modules. Hands-on experiences start in the first semester of training with simulated cases and fieldwork observations. Geisinger is a learning healthcare system that focuses on precision medicine with genetics at the forefront. Genetic counselor faculty have roles in clinic, research, laboratory, insurance and administration and are available for mentorship during your education. 

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Our mission

Our mission is to recruit and educate people who are passionate about the field of genetic counseling, recognize the importance of health equity, and who strive for excellence and innovation to better serve our community. As a leader in genetics, Geisinger aims to train thought leaders who can continue the integration of genetics knowledge and resources into our medical community and beyond.


Our goals

Promote the development of autonomous genetic counselors to provide leadership in the genomic era of medicine through enhanced education centered around precision medicine.

Promote the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice and their importance to healthcare providers, healthcare systems, and the communities that they serve.

Educate individuals on human and medical genetics, as well as psychosocial skills to utilize their comprehensive genetic counseling skill set to care for and educate the diverse needs and backgrounds of the communities that are served. 

Prioritize hands-on clinical experience to promote classroom-based objectives and develop critical thinking practices applied in all areas of the profession.

Hands-on research

The MyCode Genomic Screening and Counseling program analyzes patient-provided DNA samples and shares health findings with patients and genetic counselors.

Genetic counseling program overview

Year 1


Research Methods I - 1
Genetic Counseling Seminar series - 1
Foundations of Genetic Counseling I - 3
Foundations of Genetic Counseling I: Lab 
Medical Genetic I: Embryology - 2
Introduction to Clinical Genetics - 3
Human Molecular Genetics - 3
Epidemiology and Statistical Methods - 2
Genetic Counseling Fieldwork - 1


Research Methods II - 1 
Genetic Counseling Seminar series - 1
Foundations of Genetic Counseling II - 3
Medical Genetics II - 2
Genomic Testing and Variant Interpretation - 3
Advanced Clinical Genetics Specialties - 3
Genetic Counseling Fieldwork - 2 


Research Methods III - 2
Case approach to Genetic Counseling - 2
Genetic Counseling Fieldwork - 5
Year 2


Research Methods IV - 2
Genetic Counseling Seminar series - 1
Foundations of Genetic Counseling III - 3
Precision and Public Health I - 3  
Biomedical Ethics - 3
Professional Issues I -1
Genetic Counseling Fieldwork - 3


Research Methods V - 2
Genetic Counseling Seminar series - 1
Genetic Counseling Fieldwork - 4
Precision and Public Health II - 2
Professional Issues II - 1

Course descriptions

Advanced Clinical Genetics Specialties (3 credits)

This course follows Introduction to Clinical Genetics Specialties and occurs concurrently with Medical Genetics II. In the context of genetic counselor professional evidence-based practice guidelines, Advanced Clinical Genetics Specialties will further explore reproductive, cancer, and cardiovascular genetics topics as well as understand the role of genetics in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric conditions. 

Through a team-based learning approach, students will understand the role of a genetic counselor and genetic testing in facilitating the evaluation and diagnosis of genetic diseases in a multidisciplinary team. Students will describe the process for managing a case in the context of various genetic counseling specialties, as well as the medical, psychosocial, emotional and familial aspects to management of common genetic diseases.

Biomedical Ethics (3 credits)

Genetic counselors must understand the ethical, legal and social aspects of genetic counseling and testing. In order to understand these topics, a framework and background of biomedical ethics will be presented. Topics encountered may include patient privacy, medical data and the law. This course is an essential guide in understanding both current and historical examples of genetics-related abuses and how they have impacted clinical practice. Case studies highlighting history, theory and evidence-based research are used in this course to reinforce concepts related to each of these areas to provide real world scenarios that a genetic counselor may face in the clinic. 
Embryology/Medical Genetics I (2 credits)

The first half of this course will focus on embryology, providing a detailed timeline of events associated with human development. Specific attention will be paid to abnormal development and associations with congenital anomalies. At the completion of this course, students will understand the molecular and developmental processes related to human life. The second half of this course will provide students with a preliminary exposure to a variety of different syndromes encountered in medical genetics, presented by molecular genetic etiologies. Physical exam components, dysmorphology, inheritance patterns, testing strategies, standards of care and guideline-based clinical management of these syndromes will be described.    
Epidemiology and Statistical Methods (2 credits)

This course will cover basic and advanced epidemiology and statistical methods used in genetic counseling clinical practice and research. Students will evaluate published literature to incorporate into their evidence-based clinical genetic counseling practice and genetic/genomic research. A special emphasis on Bayesian and integrative methods pertaining to genomic and genetic data will be covered. There will be a focus on understanding disease frequency and distributions of disease within the population.
Foundations of Genetic Counseling I (3 credits)

This course explores the foundational tenets of genetic counseling as a career field. A historical perspective is provided along with an examination of how genetic counseling has co-evolved with medical practice. Students will begin to learn and practice the key components of a genetic counseling session. Case studies, peer observations and discussions will be incorporated to facilitate skills building.
Foundations of Genetic Counseling I Lab (1 credit)

This hands-on simulation lab provides foundational skill building of the genetic counseling practice. Case reviews focusing on clinical application of class material will be presented, then group simulation sessions will give each learner a chance to practice cases with a simulated patient in the foundational specialties of genetic counseling (prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics). This class will serve as a beginning skills lab to bridge theory to practice prior to first clinical rotations. Learners will begin to learn and practice the key components of a genetic counseling session as well as how to incorporate and receive feedback from supervisors. Each week will culminate in a group debrief scaffolding the foundational idea of reflective practice.  
Foundations of Genetic Counseling II (3 credits)

This course will continue to develop student counseling skills. Special emphasis will be on exploration of counseling theories and psychosocial development. Throughout this course, the genetic counseling student will be able to identify and discuss psychological theories utilized in the genetic counseling process. There is a focus on diversity, multicultural and disability competency in counseling. This course will continue to develop student counseling skills with emphasis on case studies, group work, clinical simulations and standardized patients.
Foundations of Genetic Counseling III (3 credits)

As a continuation of Foundations of Genetic Counseling I and II, this course will focus on advanced aspects of counseling, such as managing client factors including emotion and learning style. In addition, this course will include analysis of the emotions and reactions of the genetic counselor in context of the genetic counseling session. Students will learn grief and bereavement counseling skills as well as self-reflection techniques to master these pertinent clinical counseling skills. 
Human Molecular Genetics (3 credits)

Human Molecular Genetics will explore what a gene is in the context of a genome and how both of these genetic units participate in heredity. This course will introduce students to both classical and molecular genetics. Major topics include: DNA replication and repair, Mendelian genetics, pedigree analysis, cytogenetics, multifactorial inheritance, developmental genetics, population genetics, epigenetics, RNA biology, and the molecular biology associated with genome structure, function, and organization. The goal of this course is to explore fundamental knowledge and current concepts related to genetics and the human genome and how this influences medical approaches to disease. The overarching themes of the course will be what is a gene and how does that gene function in a genome.
Introduction to Clinical Genetics Specialties (3 credits)

Throughout Introduction to Clinical Genetics Specialties, students will explore clinical areas that involve genetic counseling, including neurology, developmental pediatrics, nephrology and lab medicine. Within each subspecialty topic, students will gain an understanding of basics as well as the nuances of practicing genetic counseling in that specialty. Content will include common genetic disorders, standard clinical features and natural history of disease, risk assessment, and genetic counseling nuances as well as recommended genetic testing and medical management. Course structure will include readings, didactic lectures (both synchronous and asynchronous), case-based learning activities and discussions with topic experts, presentations and examinations.
Medical Genetics II (2 credits)

This course follows Medical Genetics I and will further students’ understanding of genetic syndromes. The process of a medical genetics clinical evaluation will be presented by organ system. Physical exam components, dysmorphology, inheritance patterns, testing strategies, standards of care and guideline-based clinical management of these syndromes will be described.    
Professional Issues I (3 credits)

This course aims to prepare students for their post-graduation career in the genetic counseling field. The first section will explore a variety of topics related to the genetic counseling process and professional development. Students will explore internal and external factors that may impact their developing career in the genetic counseling field. They will begin to prepare for interviews through first understanding which career path is best for them and then more minute details related to development of CVs and interviewing strategies.
Professional Issues II (3 credits)

This course aims to prepare students for their post-graduation career in the genetic counseling field. This is the second part of the course and students should have taken professional issues I prior to enrollment. Students will explore more topics related to professional development and career management. Students will engage with a variety of topics that are tailored toward readiness in the workforce. Special considerations of advancement in the workforce and the responsibilities of a genetic counselor in the workforce.  
Public and Precision Health I (3 credits)

This course develops students’ awareness of common disorders in the human population that may be attributed to an underlying genetic etiology or have multifactorial inheritance. Identification and diagnosis of the diseases as well as potential clinical interventions will be discussed. Emphasis to be placed on evaluation for sporadic versus inherited etiologies and counseling techniques surrounding the conversation. Many common disorders are also being incorporated into population health screening programs focusing on genetic testing as preventative medicine. This course also covers how population health and genomics data is being used to guide interventions that benefit underserved populations.
Public and Precision Health II (3 credits)

This course follows Public and Precision Health I and will provide genetic counseling students with an understanding of precision health initiatives across medical disciplines within the institution as well as those encountered nationally and internationally. Genomic technology and its role in treatment of genomic disorders will be described. Alternative genomic service delivery models will also be explored. 
Research Methods I (3 credits)

This course will cover the basics of defining a research topic and how to develop the best possible experimental design for a hypothesis. Researchers will present on their research topics and provide guidance on selecting a research question. 

A course focused on research will be offered 5 times throughout the 2 years. This course is meant to educate and foster learning within the research environment.

Research Methods II (3 credits)

This course will cover practical skills for research success and learning how to draft a research project. Project management, study design, and sound methodology are critical to achieving successful outcomes.
Research Methods III (3 credits)

This course will involve a more in-depth discussion on qualitative research projects, reacting to a qualitative research boot camp, and prioritizing IRB protocol submissions with related supplementary materials.

A course focused on research will be offered 5 times throughout the 2 years. This short, six-week course is meant to assist students with finalizing their thesis study protocols before submission.

Research Methods IV (3 credits)

This course will be a weekly workshop for students to meet with committee members, content experts and peers to discuss data collection and analysis. These weeks will focus on interactive and discussion-based learning to provide and receive feedback from faculty and peers.
Research Methods V (3 credits)

This course will cover organization and dissemination of research findings via multiple modalities, including written text, data visualization and oral presentations, along with logistical nuances such as choosing the right journal for manuscript submission.


  • Clinical observations begin in the first semester. Students are expected to take part in observational rotations in the first semester. In the spring semester of the first year, students begin participatory rotations for a total of seven rotations. Other experiences include supplemental experiences, as students are required to take part in one supplementary experience per semester. 
  • Fieldwork rotations are offered at Geisinger, with opportunities in Forty-Fort and Danville, as well as remote rotations. Other rotation sites include surrounding hospitals in the community, including WellSpan Health, Lehigh Valley Hospital, Hershey Medical Center and UPMC.

Genetic counseling program requirements

Applicants to the Master’s of Genetic Counseling must meet the following minimum requirements:

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Coursework prerequisites

    •  Statistics (minimum 3 credits)
    •  Behavioral science (psychology preferred but other social science accepted) (minimum 6 credits)
    •  Genetics (course with significant genetics exposure, for example: developmental genetics; genomics) (minimum 3 credits)
    •  Biochemistry (minimum 3 credits)
    •  2 Additional upper-level science courses (i.e. biology, chemistry, embryology, anatomy, physiology)

Required experiences 

Students should have experience observing and/or using skills relevant to counseling. Students are not required to have one specific experience or observation but should comment in their essay about how their experiences share relevance with their desire to pursue a career in genetic counseling (e.g., camp counselor, medical assistant, genetic counseling assistant, other counseling position).

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Other relevant experiences

Related positions or volunteer work in healthcare, research, laboratory.

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Required materials

Personal statement; Minimum of 3 letters of recommendation, including 1 from undergraduate training, and 1 from a healthcare professional.

Tuition and fees

  • Year one: 43,555, plus applicable fees
  • Summer: 12,645, plus applicable fees
  • Year two: 37,935, plus applicable fees
Additional program information

  • Board exam pass rate – not yet available
  • Attrition rate – not yet available
  • Job placement rate – not yet available
  • Accreditation status – program is in currently in candidacy status, and is seeking accreditation. The program is currently not enrolling.
  • Institutional services – Student Life
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