Frequently Asked Questions
Is the program full-time or part-time?
The program is a 21 month, full-time program.
Is the UAB Genetic Counseling program accredited?
Yes. The Genetic Counseling Program is fully accredited by The Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC). The program received full accreditation in 2013 and will apply for re-accreditation in 2019. Fully accredited programs must complete a rigorous process to demonstrate that the program is capable of meeting the criteria for a genetic counseling training program as established by ACGC. Programs that successfully complete this process are awarded full accreditation. All students that graduate from an accredited program may apply for board certification and licensure as a genetic counselor.
Do I have to have a science background to enter the program?
No. All students must have successfully completed the pre-requisite coursework to enter the program, but many genetic counselors have undergraduate degrees in psychology, social work, or education.
How many students does the UAB program admit each Fall?
Six students each year.
When is the application deadline? When is offer day?
The deadline to receive all applications at UAB is January 15 of each year. Interviews for qualified candidates are typically scheduled in February and March. The offer day varies each year, but is usually late April or early May.
What if I have not completed the pre-requisite courses prior to the application deadline?
If you are currently enrolled in a course or plan to take a course that is a pre-requisite for admission to this program, you will need to make that clear on your application. You do not have to have completed the course prior to the application deadline, but you should ensure that we know you are enrolled or are planning to enroll in the pre-requisite course. A good place to indicate this is typically in your personal statement or your resume that is included in your application. You would need to successfully complete the course prior to enrollment in the Fall in order to be officially admitted. Some of these scenarios are on a case-by-case basis, and you are welcome to contact our program with specific questions.
Is there a supplemental application?
No, but the official application submitted through Apply Yourself with UAB’s graduate school should include a resume or CV, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation.
How can I arrange to shadow a genetic counselor or meet with a genetic counselor to get more information?
Exposure to genetic counseling (i.e., shadowing a counselor in clinic) and/or meeting with a genetic counselor to discuss the career is important prior to applying to the program. You can visit the NSGC “Find a Counselor” link (www.nsgc.org) to find a counselor in your area. The Department of Genetics at UAB welcomes students with a serious interest in the field. To request a time to shadow in a UAB clinic, please contact our training program.
I do not live near a Genetic Counselor and have not been able to interview one via telephone. Is there another way for me to get a sense for what genetic counselors do?
If you are unable to find a genetic counselor through NSGC’s website, click here to view a recorded genetic counseling session. Viewing these videos is a great way to get a glimpse into a Genetic Counseling session. Another option would be to enroll in the online course “Genetic Counseling: Career for the Future,” which is designed for prospective students to learn more about the field of genetic counseling. More information can be found here: http://geneticcounseling.med.sc.edu/onlinecourse.asp.
What makes the UAB Genetic Counseling program unique?
The UAB Genetic Counseling program has incorporated a unique curriculum designed to prepare students to be competitive and successful genetic counselors. In addition to core classes designed to teach genetic counseling skills and medical genetics, our curriculum includes unique opportunities to learn phlebotomy skills, Spanish for medical professionals, research and laboratory genetic counseling skills, clinical simulations, and much more. Our students all complete a plan II project where they are able to design and implement a project of interest and contribute to the field. Our setting is also designed with access to many facilities at UAB, including options for on-site and off-site rotation sites and laboratory experiences. Check out our student life page to see what other unique experiences genetic counseling students at UAB have. These include professional conference presentations, lay lectures in the community schools, involvement with local support groups, and enjoying the dining and recreation available in Birmingham, AL.
What is the career outlook for genetic counselors?
The genetic counseling profession is rapidly expanding and diversifying. Heightened public awareness, coupled with scientific advances in adult disorders and reproductive technologies, have increased the demand for genetic counselors in clinical, teaching, administrative, commercial, private practice, and consulting environments. This trend is expected to continue well into the 21st century ...and beyond. Click on any of the following 5 links to read about genetic counseling’s prognosis as a career.
- Exploring Health Careers
- New York Post: “Prognosis: Job-heavy demand is high for these health-care positions
- NSGC Professional Status Survey, 2016 Executive Summary - career outlook report
- US News and World Report: Genetic Counseling
What is the tuition for the UAB Genetic Counseling training program?
Click here for the current Tuition and Fees for this graduate program.
Does UAB participate in the Southeastern Academic Common Market (and what does this mean)?
Yes, UAB does participate in the Academic Common Market. If you are a student in another state in the Southeast and your state participates in this program, you may be eligible to attend our program for in-state tuition. Click on the link or talk to the program director for more information.
Are their scholarship, assistantship, or work opportunities for enrolled students?
Yes, the UAB Genetic Counseling program does offer graduate assistantships to select students to help offset tuition or provide in-state tuition. Select scholarships are also available through the School of Health Professions based on student need, for minorities, and for some otherwise qualified students. Additional information on non-UAB scholarship opportunities can be found here. Some students have had luck with the Perkins student loan forgiveness programs as well. Availability of these change yearly, and should be discussed with the program director at interviews or when gathering information about our program. UAB's Financial Aid Office may also be able to answer additional questions regarding costs.
What is the format of the curriculum?
Most of the didactic portion of the curriculum is offered in the classroom setting during the first year of training. Second year students have a few seminars in addition to clinical rotations during their second year of training. Courses are supported by online services (i.e. Canvas). A few courses during the program are offered completely online.
Do you have to travel for clinical rotations (i.e., is a car/vehicle required of students)?
Some students will do all of their clinical rotations on site at the UAB campus in Birmingham. A few students will spend one semester of clinical training in Jackson, MS and a few students will spend their second year in Nashville, TN for their clinical training. These students will be doing their clinical training offsite and will join in virtually for the seminar classes that they take during their second year. Therefore, while travel is involved to these sites for some students – students are there for an entire semester or an entire year, so regular weekly travel is not required for any students and housing for these long-term placements is much easier than doing offsite rotations for a shorter period. Placement at these clinical training sites is agreed upon at admission to the program. There are other offsite locations possible as desired for student rotations. Affiliation agreements have been established between our program and other hospitals in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Indiana, Minnesota, Georgia, Ohio, Oregon, Missouri, Maryland, Illinois, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Australia. Others are possible, and we are open to working with students and the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling to identify additional sites for student training. Summer is the easiest time for students to travel and do an off-site rotation, but off-site rotations are available during the second school year as well.
How competitive is the application process for genetic counseling?
The application process for genetic counseling is competitive due to our small class size. Most programs for genetic counseling have a small class size. There are approximately 30 training programs in the United States that offer a Master Degree in Genetic Counseling. We recommend that you contact our program with specific questions about your application. The Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors has published this helpful brochure that may help you plan for graduate school in genetic counseling. Click here to see this brochure on preparing for graduate school in genetic counseling, which contains helpful volunteer experiences to have and average GPAs/GRE scores of admitted students.
What types of work do graduates of the UAB genetic counseling program do?
Click here to access our Alumni Bios.
Where do UAB Genetic Counseling students come from?
The UAB Genetic Counseling Program welcomes students from around the country and international students. The maps highlight the diverse geographic background of our current and past students and is updated annually.
How do I become a boarded/certified genetic counselor after graduation?
Genetic Counselors have a Masters Degree in Genetic Counseling from an accredited Genetic Counseling Training Program. Coursework during training typically includes clinical genetics, population genetics, cytogenetics, and molecular genetics coupled with psychosocial theory, ethics, and counseling techniques. Clinical training in ACGC-approved medical genetics clinics is an integral part of the degree requirements during training. Graduates are then board certified via examination by the American Board of Genetic Counseling . This is a computer exam offered twice a year for eligible graduates. Depending on where graduates practice, some states also require licensure with state-dependent requirements after certification. After certification, all counselors are required to maintain Continued Education credits to renew their certification every 5 years.
How can I learn more about genetic counseling?
The genetic counseling profession is rapidly expanding and diversifying. Visit the National Society of Genetic Counselors website or click Counseling Degrees here for more career information. You may also contact us to talk with our program director or with a current student. You may also wish to shadow a genetic counselor, which is discussed above in a previous question, as is information on the future of this career.
Can I make an appointment to talk to or meet with the program director or advisor?
Yes, we welcome student contact.
Do UAB Genetic Counseling students get funding to travel to attend national conferences?
Yes, the UAB Genetic Counseling program now provides funds to cover the majority of costs related for second year students to attend a national conference related to genetics or genetic counseling.
Do UAB Genetic Counseling students get to know the Birmingham community?
Yes, our students take a service learning course (GC 600) during their second year that enables them to participate with a community partner and spend valuable time getting to know a relevant population for our field. This is a course unique to our curriculum. The current community partner in Birmingham for this course is The Exceptional Foundation (www.exceptionalfoundation.org). One of the goals of this Service Learning course is to empower students to recognize the importance of understanding the lived experiences of people with various genetic/genomic conditions, special needs, chronic illness, and/or intellectual disability. There is a clear link between the service experience and the academic objectives of the course. Students also give lay lectures at local schools, attend support groups, and volunteer at events in our community throughout their two years of training.
Do UAB Genetic Counseling students get to participate in simulations?
Yes, UAB Genetic Counseling students participate in both informal role plays in class and also have the opportunity to work with standardized patients in our professional simulation center (www.uab.edu/simulation). These experiences occur once per semester, and are valuable tools for student learning. They enable students to gain critical experiences to prepare for clinic and to guarantee experience in areas such as giving a diagnosis. By using our simulation center, we have the luxury of students gaining confidence in their role as a counselor in a safe environment where feedback is available and students are not having to do this for the first time as a new employee!
Tell me more about the UAB Genetic Counseling program.
Click on the links below to watch a 60 minute recorded presentation that gives an overview of genetic counseling, the UAB training program, and the process of applying to graduate school. This presentation has been devided into seven parts. Additional information describing our program, our students, our clinical rotation sites, the admissions process, the genetic counseling field, and more can also be found on our website with the links provided on the rest of this website.
Gentetic Counseling as a Profession (3:27)
UAB Genetic Counseling Training: Curriculm (11:53)
UAB Genetic Counseling Training: Clinical Training and Student Research (6:37)
Meet our Students and Alumni (4:29)
Application and Admission Details (13:18)
Final Thoughts (2:52)
What else does the UAB Department of Genetics do?
The UAB Department of Genetics is a partner in the Genetic Counseling program. Click on the link in the previous sentence to learn more about what else happens in the Genetics clinics and labs.
What else does the UAB School of Education do?
The UAB School of Education’s Counselor Education Program is a partner in the Genetic Counseling program. Click on the link in the previous sentence to learn more about what else happens in the School of Education.
What other degrees does the UAB School of Health Professions offer?
The UAB School of Health Professions is a partner in the Genetic Counseling program. Click on the link in the previous sentence to learn more about what else happens in the School of Health Professions.
Still have a question? Contact us at 205-975-4237 or askCDS@uab.edu.