This two-year, full-time program is designed to educate graduate students in the core concepts of human genetics and counseling and to provide students with the appropriate knowledge, experience, and mentoring to become competent, sensitive, and motivated genetic counselors. This is accomplished through a variety of educational experiences including course work, clinical training, research project preparation, and supplementary activities such as case conferences, grand rounds, journal clubs, and seminars.
Located in the heart of Boston, the Genetic Counseling Program at Boston University provides a dynamic and enriching environment for genetic counseling students. Boston University’s medical school and teaching hospital offer access to tremendous resources for clinical experience and laboratory genetic services, making this the first program of its kind to be located within an academic medical center in New England. This program also has the unique appeal of including courses in the Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine Program and the Medical Sciences Program. In addition, elective courses are available through several other schools and departments.
The Human Genome Project and related advancements have led to an increasing demand for genetic expertise in a variety of medical specialties. Over the past ten years, the number of genetic counselors working in New England has doubled, with over 90 genetic counselors currently working in the greater-Boston area alone. In addition to the traditional clinical settings of prenatal, pediatric, adult, and cancer genetics, many genetic counselors are entering the field through clinical laboratories, research, and industry. As the biotechnology sector continues to expand, more employers will be specifically recruiting individuals with advanced degrees in genetic counseling. Recent statistics suggest that the number of students graduating with a degree in genetic counseling is less than the number of genetic counseling positions available in the workforce, with over 90% of graduates having secured a position within three months of graduation. Therefore, the Genetic Counseling Program at Boston University was designed to help fill a nationwide gap in the provision of genetic counseling services by preparing students to enter the field in a variety of settings.
The first year of study focuses primarily on coursework in general genetics and counseling skills. Clinical observations and laboratory rotations complement the didactic curriculum. In addition, students select a Capstone Project topic and begin their research during the second semester. The second year of study focuses on fieldwork experience and research project development. In addition, the coursework covers more advanced topics in medical genetics, professional issues, and genetic counseling sub-specialties. The number of required credits is decreased during Semester 4, so as to allow students adequate time to complete their research projects, acquire a robust array of fieldwork experiences, and begin interviews for job placement.
The clinical and non-clinial rotations and observations provide students with opportunities to develop their counseling skills in a broad range of settings. These first-hand experiences familiarize students with individuals and families affected by a variety of genetic conditions and disabilities.
Each student completes their graduate training with the presentation of a Capstone Project. The purpose of the Capstone Project is to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to contribute to the field of genetic counseling. This individualized scholarly work may consist of a detailed case study and literature review, a clinical or laboratory research project, or a clinical application. Each project culminates in a formal paper and an oral presentation to the department and invited guests. The paper should be of publishable quality and may be submitted for presentation at a national genetics meeting.
Full Accreditation by the American Board of Genetic Counseling