Genetic Counseling Certificate
The Department of Genetics offers an undergraduate Genetic Counseling Certificate Program (GCCP). The GCCP program is intended for a select group of students interested in applying to the masters-level programs in genetic counseling. The goal is to provide students with guidance, coursework, and relevant clinical experience to improve their graduate school applications. This is a highly competitive option and is only open to declared genetics majors. Not all applicants will be accepted. The Certificate will be awarded only in conjunction with the awarding of a baccalaureate degree in genetics and does not replace minors. The certificate is NOT in lieu of completing the masters-level programs in genetic counseling. At the end of the program students will:
- understand genetic counseling as a profession
- understand application requirements for masters-level programs
- gain experience in talking with people who are in crisis
- gain experience in a clinical genetic counseling clinic
Students who complete the Certificate in Genetic Counseling are eligible to receive Departmental Honors.
What is Genetic Counseling? The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) defines genetic counseling as "...the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease" (NSGC website). Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals who have graduate-level training in medical genetics and counseling. They provide information and support to families and their children impacted by genetic conditions and/or traits. In addition, they serve as educators and a referral source to all health-care providers. For more information on the genetic counseling career see the NSGS website or see A Guide to Genetic Counseling 2nd edition by Uhlmann et al. Links to the various US and Canadian-based graduate programs in genetic counseling can be found here. Rutgers is one of the accredited graduate programs (http://gcmp.rutgers.edu/).
Students accepted into the certificate program will meet weekly with the GCCP director during the semester in which they take the Genetic Counseling Rotation Course (01:447:488) and at least once per semester otherwise. This course involves a rotation at a local Genetic Counseling clinic. At the clinic, students will observe counseling sessions, perform literature searches, observe weekly clinical and ultrasound meetings, and assist with chart preparation (for more information, see below). In addition, all successful applicants are expected to volunteer at a crisis hotline, such as Scarlet Listeners, or similar experience. All questions about the GCCP should be directed to Dr. Gary Heiman. SEE IMPORTANT NOTES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE.
Required Courses (15 credits) and volunteer experience
- Genetic Counseling Rotation Course (01:447:488; 3 credits)- special permission required.
- Basic Statistics for Research (01:960:401; 3 credits)
- General Psychology (01:830:101 or equivalent; 3 credits)
- Abnormal Psychology (01:830:340 or equivalent; 3 credits)
- One bioethics course (3 credits)- either:
- Crisis Volunteer Experience: Students must volunteer at an approved crisis hotline or similar experience, such as Caring Contact (Volunteer Package) or Crisis Text Line. See Forms section below for more information and approval process. This experience involves AT LEAST a one-year commitment (i.e. greater than two semesters) or equivalent and includes the training and volunteering on the hotline (i.e., ~100 hours). This requirement must be completed by the time the student graduates (both the training and volunteer components).
Prerequisites for Certificate Program:
Admittance into the GCCP is highly selective. There are a limited number of slots available each semester, including summer session. To be considered, you must:
- Be a declared Genetics Major in the Department of Genetics and have completed at least Genetic Analysis I (01:447:384) and currently in Genetic Analysis II (01:447:385)
- Have a minimum 3.2 cumulative GPA (greater than 3.4 preferred)
- Complete the application form (see below and FOLLOW DIRECTIONS!)
- Have completed the CITI Human Subjects Certification (IRB)- Click here for more information
Potential candidates are then asked to schedule an application interview with Dr. Gary Heiman (GCCP Program Director).
Other suggested courses/events:
- Clinical Embryology Course (required by Sarah Lawrence program)- you can take the online course (non-credit option) at University of Cincinnati Genetic Counseling Program
- 01:830:338 Personality Psychology
- Sarah Lawrence Career Day
- Genetic Counseling Cultural and Linguistic Competence Toolkit- Students can obtain a certificate for $50
- South Caroline Online Course - Genetic Counseling: Career for the Future
In order to be considered, students must submit the GCCP Application Form (see forms section below) to the program director: Dr. Gary Heiman. Note: there is no application deadline but you should submit ASAP to ensure there is time to complete the program (if accepted).
For more information on the career of Genetic Counseling, see these two videos:
- The certificate will be awarded only in conjunction with the awarding of a baccalaureate degree in genetics and does not replace minors.
- All requirements must be completed before the student graduates. This program is typically takes over two years to complete, usually during the junior and senior year.
- The certificate is NOT in lieu of completing the masters-level programs in genetic counseling. As stated above, the goal of this program is to provide students with guidance, coursework, and relevant clinical experience to improve their genetic counseling school applications.