Planning Your Pre-Genetic Counseling Curriculum

The following serves only as a guide for most genetic counseling program prerequisites; if you have concerns or questions, you may contact Dr. Reagan.

In principle one can choose from a variety of majors, such as Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Social work, or Nursing, and enter a genetic counseling program. Whatever the major, you must be sure to complete the recommended coursework for genetic counseling programs.

The requirements for Genetic Counseling programs are not as standard as the requirements for medical or dental school, so students thinking of applying to these programs should investigate the requirements for schools to which they may likely apply. Most genetic counseling programs require:

  • Chemistry
    • The chemistry requirement is one in which there can be considerable variability from school to school.  To have the widest possible selection of schools, two years of chemistry should be taken.  At most schools this would be one year of general chemistry and one year of organic chemistry.  At CSB/SJU it would be Chem 125, 250, 251, 255 and labs 201, 202, 203, and 205.  (Some programs do not require Chemistry labs, although upper level Biology courses such as Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics have some Chemistry labs as prerequisites.)
  • One year of General Biology (Biol 101, 201)
  • Biochemistry (Biol 317)
  • Genetics (Biol 316 or 318)
  • Statistics (Math 124). In addition, many schools will accept Psych 221 or Sociology 201 for their statistics requirement.
  • Psychology (Psych 111)
  • Advocacy experience or crisis counseling. This might be volunteer work or paid internships/jobs but will definitely include working with people in stressful situations.

Other courses that may be required or recommended often include

  • Developmental Biology (Biol 322)
  • Physiology (Biol 323, or Biol 325-326)
  • Philosophy, especially biomedical ethics (Phil 245)

Most schools have eliminated the requirement for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or made it optional. Refer to specific programs for their policies.