Consider the most common types of genetic counselor programs online: Bachelor's holders can prepare to become licensed professional counselors online. With no GRE scores required to apply, the 24-month online MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University, for example, can help advance your career.
About Online Genetic Counseling Programs
Genetic counseling is a growing field, offering relevant support services to people of all ages. For students interested in this area of study, several colleges in the United States offer accredited online genetic counseling programs. These may help you pursue your goals in an accessible virtual setting. Online genetic counseling programs also offer flexible hours for adults who work, have busy lives or families.
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What Does a Genetic Counselor Do?
Genetic counselors can provide expert guidance and emotional support to patients who are diagnosed with genetic disorders. As a genetic counselor, you may have the opportunity to work with pregnant women whose babies have been diagnosed with diseases, children and adults recently diagnosed with hereditary diseases, or in a research setting studying DNA and genetic disorders.
Genetic counselors fill different roles on a day-to-day basis depending on their job settings and client base. A typical work day could include counseling and supporting patients and clients with genetic disorders, working with families that have a history of hereditary diseases, advising patients on lab and testing procedures and results, or care planning for pregnant women. Genetic counseling combines elements of medicine and counseling and can be a good fit for those interested in both fields of study.
Degree Levels Available in Genetic Counseling
The field of genetic counseling is an expanding one, which means you may have more higher education opportunities to choose from. Interested students must first earn an undergraduate degree, and then enter a master’s in genetic counseling online program, earning the minimum requirements for licensure in this field.
A graduate degree in genetic counseling and an internship or fieldwork can help prepare you for licensure. The information below outlines some of the genetic counselor programs online. Students should consider what program best works for their schedule and future professional plans.
- Certificate Programs: After earning a bachelor’s degree, but before pursuing a master’s or doctorate, students can pursue certifications that prepare them to apply to graduate school and obtain the experience to advance their degree. Certificate programs do not replace master’s degrees, but they may better prepare students to continue their education in the field.
- Master’s Programs: A master’s is the required degree for potential genetic counselors to be eligible for licensure. Higher education programs specializing in genetic counseling sometimes require 2-3 years of graduate school after completing a bachelor’s degree. Upon completion of your program, some colleges require you to complete fieldwork or an internship to gain hands-on experience in your career field.
- Doctoral Programs: Upon completion of a master’s in genetic counseling or a closely related field, students have the option to enroll in an online or in-person doctoral program. Pursuing a doctoral program can help professionals who want to focus on research and development in genetic counseling, advance their careers, and deepen their knowledge in specified subjects.
Master’s in Genetic Counseling Online Programs
Many colleges offer a master’s-level genetic counseling degree online. Below are some featured online programs that are currently accepting applications for new students.
- Boise State University – Online Master of Genetic Counseling: Boise State’s online Master of Genetic Counseling program is a flexible option for students interested in a specialized program that can prepare them for licensure. This 56-credit-hour program can train you to begin working with clients in a hospital setting, prepare you for counseling roles in a doctor’s office, or help you enter the research field in a lab setting.
- Bay Path University – Online Master of Science in Genetic Counseling: Bay Path University currently offers an interactive online Master of Science in Genetic Counseling program that can provide educational training on the latest trends in this specialized field. This 59-credit-hour program can typically be completed in 21 months for students attending full time.
Sample Courses for the Genetic Counseling Programs Online
Students who are interested in genetic counseling programs online can look at the list below to get a sample of the available coursework. The courses offered in these degree programs were developed to prepare and inform students about genetics, hereditary diseases, and counseling methods to assist patients and clients. While completing a bachelor’s degree can give you baseline knowledge of genetic disorders, graduate courses may better prepare you for more involved professional roles.
This list features some of the graduate-level courses offering specific knowledge that you may be able to take during a genetic counselor program online.
- Foundations of Genetics: This course teaches a knowledge of molecular and cellular genetics; epigenetics; and the difference in DNA, RNA, and protein. It will deliver contextual education by examining real-life case studies. Human variations and disease susceptibility will be studied as well as how to calculate risk probability using the latest methods in the field.
- Pathophysiology: This course covers how genetic disorders are identified and how to teach patients to cope with them. It will also offer information on the latest techniques for identifying signs and symptoms of hereditary diseases. Diagnosis and treatments, the lifespan of diseases, and how they affect body systems are some areas that may be covered in this course.
- Developmental Anatomy and Embryology: Students enrolled in this course will be offered information on human embryology. The focus will concentrate on pre/postnatal diagnoses as well as the differences in normal versus abnormal human development. In this course, you may learn more about the origins of genetic diseases and how to diagnose them.
Path to a Career in Genetic Counseling
If you already have a bachelor's degree, there are numerous master’s in genetic counseling online programs you may be able to choose from. If you have not started a bachelor's degree and are interested in genetic counseling, many undergraduate degrees can prepare you for graduate school, such as a bachelor's in psychology, sociology, genetics, and biology. Upon earning a master's degree in genetic counseling, you can take the licensure exam to practice as a genetic counselor.
To work directly with clients in the field, The American Board of Genetic Counseling (AGBC) requires licensure in your practicing state. To apply for licensure, most states require that you hold at least a master's degree in genetic counseling. Passing a licensing examination ensures you have the knowledge to safely practice in a public health capacity.
Genetic Counseling Organizations to Know
The AGBC provides guidance regarding each state’s licensure exam for students who have completed their genetic counseling degree online. Professionals can also stay up to date on the latest techniques by joining organizations that specialize in their field of expertise. The National Society of Genetic Counseling also offers support to genetic counseling professionals as well as opportunities to interact with other professionals in the field and learn more about the latest developments in genetic counseling.
Careers to Consider
Genetic counseling can be a highly rewarding field. It is also rapidly growing in the U.S. due to many factors, including innovative studies in genetics. With a joint emphasis on both medicine and mental health, careers in genetic counseling can be varied. Below are a few of the settings in which genetic counselors may work.
Genetic Counselor Career Information
As you consider a career in genetic counseling, it is only natural to wonder about salary and job outlook. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for genetic counselors is $85,700. The field is growing at a pace of 21% annually, representing very high job growth. (The average rate for all professions is between 3% and 4%.)
Explore Genetic Counselor Programs Online
As you explore your career options, keep in mind that the right education could provide you with the skills and core competencies to build distinctive professional success. Learn more about genetic counselor programs online to discover which one is the best fit for you.
American Board of Genetic Counseling, Home Page
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Genetic Counseling
National Society for Genetic Counselors, “Becoming a Genetic Counselor”
National Society for Genetic Counselors, Home Page