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Pre-Genetic Counseling: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology with a Concentration in Health Sciences

The genetic counseling program at Marian University is an undergraduate track that prepares you to be a competitive candidate for admission to genetic counseling graduate school programs after completing your bachelor's degree.

Genetic counselors are specially trained to help patients and families make important decisions about their genetic health, including inherited medical conditions and diseases.

  • According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), what makes them unique is having knowledge of medicine, human genetics, and counseling. 
  • They advise patients about how inherited conditions might affect them, how genetic testing may or may not be right for them, and how to make fully informed healthcare choices.
  • Most are employed by hospitals and clinics, where they partner with prenatal, pediatric. oncology, cardiology, neurology, and other types of doctors and healthcare specialists.

Becoming a genetic counselor is academically rigorous and generally requires an additional two years of training to earn a master’s degree. The benefits include:

  • Having a career that's in demand. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the employment outlook for genetic counselors through 2026 is expected to grow by 29 percent, which is much faster than average compared to other occupations.
  • A salary that is lucrative. In 2018, the BLS reports the median pay for genetic counselors was $80,370 per year.

Common undergraduate majors for genetic counseling students include biology, chemistry, psychology, and statistics.

Why choose the genetic counseling track at Marian?

According to the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC), there are 45 genetic counseling programs in the U.S. Two of them are located in Indiana: (1) Indiana University School of Medicine and (2) Indiana State University.

Marian's genetic counseling program takes the guesswork out of preparing for admission to a program of your choosing. You'll get expert academic advising, one-on-one mentoring, customized plans of study, and personal attention that can be hard to find at larger universities.

Some universities weigh their admission decisions on certain areas of your application and academic preparation more heavily than others. These strengths, listed in decreasing order of importance, are among those typically ranked highly.

NOTE: Every college and university has its own admission criteria, however, so be sure that you understand the eligibility criteria at each school to which you plan to apply. There is a Genetic Counseling Admissions Match (GCAM) program to help you gain admission to accredited programs. Register for the program with National Matching Services (NMS) before applying for admission.

1. Completion of prerequisite coursework

  • Most genetic counseling programs will not accept you for admission if you haven't completed all prerequisite courses in subjects like biology, genetic, psychology, organic chemistry, and/or biochemistry.
  • With Marian's program, you will complete all prerequisite courses by the end of your junior year, before most students begin applying for admission to their preferred genetic counseling program(s).
  • This will give you more time during your senior year to pursue counseling, clinical, research, and/or internship experiences that you can list on your resume.

2. Grade point average (GPA)

  • According to the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors (AGCPD), the average GPA of admitted genetic counseling in 2016 was 3.5.
  • Our curriculum is specifically sequenced to gradually challenge you at increasing levels of difficulty. Faculty and peer tutors will support and help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to successfully master your courses.

3. Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

  • Many schools offering genetic counseling graduate programs require applicants to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and submit test scores.
  • According to the AGCPD, the average (mean) GRE score of admitted students.

4. Counseling/clinical experience

  • Having experience in helping others manage life’s challenges is valuable. As an undergraduate student at Marian you’ll have many opportunities to volunteer and serve others both locally and globally. Examples might include domestic abuse shelters, crisis hotlines, homeless shelters, hospice care, and helping those with physical or developmental challenges.
  • If you have an opportunity to job shadow, observe, interview, or participate in simulated genetic counseling sessions in hospital, clinic, and other healthcare settings, we recommend that you take advantage of them.
  • Be sure to include any counseling or clinical experiences you have as an undergraduate student on your resume and in your application materials. Talk with your faculty advisor for ideas and suggestions about how you can gain these types of experiences, whether by volunteering or through internships.

5. Letters of recommendation

  • As a student at Marian University, you will work closely with teaching and research faculty, building the personal relationships needed for strong letters of recommendation for admission to the genetic counseling program(s) of your choice.

Relationships that you build through volunteering or internships with practicing genetic counselors and other types of healthcare providers are also valuable for obtaining strong letters of recommendation.

Internship Opportunities

Many of our pre-genetic counseling students gain clinical experience through internships with local hospitals, healthcare practices and groups, and shadowing healthcare professionals (both locally and through study-abroad opportunities). For information, talk with one of our faculty advisors and staff at The Exchange.

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Notice of Nondiscrimination
Marian University does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age or disabilities in the selection of administrative personnel, faculty and staff, and students.
*Placement rates are gathered from data collected from graduates within six months of graduation.

Students may make a complaint to the Indiana Commission of Higher Education.

Marian University is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana.

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