Get started on your career in genetic counseling



To be eligible for admission to any UCSF graduate program, applicants must:

  • Hold a minimum of a bachelors degree (BA/BS) or the equivalent from an accredited institution
  • Hold a grade point average of at least 3.0 (B) out of a possible 4.0
  • International Applicants, or those completing their education outside of the United States or Canada, must demonstrate English proficiency and academic equivalency of prerequisites (see below)

Applicants for the Genetic Counseling Program must also have successful completion of the following college-level courses (minimum of one quarter or semester) or their equivalents. Courses should be graded (not pass/fail) unless completed spring 2020 through spring 2021 during the COVID-19 quarantine.

  • Introductory Genetics (for science majors)
  • Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry
    Must include content on structure and function of biomolecules (ex. nucleic and ribonucleic acids, proteins, lipids)
  • Biology (2 quarters/semesters)
  • Introductory Statistics or Biostatistics
  • Introductory Psychology or Counseling

Highly recommended courses include:

  • Cellular and/or Molecular Biology
  • Anatomy and/or physiology
  • Biochemistry

AP credit is acceptable to meet the general biology, introductory psychology and introductory statistics courses. Documentation of AP course completion, including GPA, must be present on your undergraduate transcript.

Supplementary Activities

A specific type, or duration, of supplementary activity or experience is NOT required for admission to our program. Successful applicants will be able to demonstrate a good beginning knowledge of the genetic counseling profession and can clearly articulate how this career path aligns with their personal and professional goals. This type of knowledge is often obtained from direct experience(s) with the genetic counseling profession, experiences in fields that complement genetic counseling and/or research about the field. Examples of ways applicants often achieve a real-life understanding of the profession include, but are not limited to:

  • Advocacy or education experience in a volunteer or paid position involving counseling or social services, such as working in a crisis intervention center, student health center, family planning clinic, disability services organization, or serving as a resident advisor or peer counselor.
  • Direct contact with genetic counselors: interviewing or shadowing working genetic counselors. Opportunities for direct patient observation may be limited by HIPPA (patient confidentiality) regulations. Participating or observing in genetic counseling related activities (case conferences, professional conferences).
  • Employment, internship or volunteer work in a genetic counseling or genetics setting such as a clinic, laboratory, public health organization, non-profit advocacy group.
  • Attendance at genetic counseling interest events or workshops. Viewing the NSGC Master Genetic Counselor series.

International Applicants

Applicants that have received their education outside of the United States or Canada, must meet the same admission requirements as domestic students. 

  • Transcripts: Applicants that received their undergraduate degree, or fulfilled prerequisite coursework from a country other than Canada, must have their transcripts evaluated for academic equivalency by a NACES accredited service.  World Education Services (WES) using the Course-by-Course Evaluation is our preferred service. Applicants undergoing WES evaluation must make a request to WES to have their results electronically sent to UCSF. Please add UCSF as a recipient in the drop down menu, then Graduate Division.  The evaluation result will automatically be incorporated into your application. Additionally, please make a note of your WES reference number. We ask that you include this in your UCSF application so that we an ensure the correct evaluation is associated with your application.
  • English Proficiency: Applicants from non-English speaking countries must demonstrate English language proficiency. English proficiency may be demonstrated in one of three ways: completing one year of study with a minimum GPA of 3.00 at an accredited college or university in the United States, OR obtain minimum scores the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam, OR have had the curriculum at their institution delivered in English. 
    • IELTS Academic and TOEFL scores are valid only if dated within two years of application submission. Applicants undergoing TOEFL evaluation must make a request to have their results electronically sent to UCSF. UCSF’s institutional code is 4840 and the evaluation result will automatically be incorporated into your application. Applicant’s taking the IELTS exam will self-report their scores and these will be verified by the Genetic Counseling Program.
  • Fees: Applicants are responsible for the fees associated with WES and TOEFL/IELTS evaluations. WES evaluations may be In Progress at the application deadline, but must be received at UCSF by January 1.  Applications are considered incomplete without this documentation and are subject to administrative rejection. See the Graduate Division Application Requirements and Application Process website for minimum TOEFL scores and additional details.
  • Financial Support Verification. International students who are accepted for admission must provide evidence of sufficient financial resources to cover tuition for their entire degree program and living expenses for one year.  Admitted international students will receive a link to complete the "Confidential Financial Statement" to ensure adequate financial support.  If the financial statement indicates sufficient resources to attend UCSF, the certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant student status will be mailed to the applicant. Further information may be found on the International Students and Scholars Office website. 

Commitment to Diversity

The UCSF Genetic Counseling Program and Graduate Division advocates for diversity – in all the varied senses of that word – and recognizes that the inclusion of students with a broad range of perspectives improves both the practice of science and the educational experience for everyone. We are dedicated to increasing diversity in the genetic counseling profession so that it truly represents the people we serve.

UCSF welcomes applications for admission from undocumented individuals, such as those who qualify under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and/or AB540. Please visit the website of the UC Office of the President (UCOP) for more information.

Read about the Graduate Division's diversity and outreach programs.


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