Genetic Counseling Program Overview – School of Medicine


The Genetic Counseling Training Program, leading to a Master of Science degree in Genetic Counseling, is a two-year academic program comprised of didactic course work, laboratory exposure, research experience and extensive clinical training. The program, directed by Anne L. Matthews, R.N, Ph.D., is an integral component of the teaching and research programs in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences (G&GS) at CWRU under the leadership of Dr. Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, MD. Ph.D., chairman of G&GS. Program leadership also includes Rebecca Darrah, MA, MS, PhD, Associate Director and the program’s medical director, Shawn McCandless M.D., Associate Professor of G&GS and Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Human Genetics, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. The Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) and graduates of the program are eligible to apply for Active Candidate Status and sit for the American Board of Genetic Counseling certification examination.

The overall objective of the Genetic Counseling Program is to prepare students with the appropriate knowledge and experiences to function as genetic counselors in a wide range of settings and roles. With unprecedented advances in our understanding of the genetic and molecular control of gene expression and development, and in our ability to apply this knowledge clinically, the Program strives to train students who can interface between patients, clinicians and molecular and human geneticists. Students gain insightful and multifaceted skills that will enable them to be effective genetic counselors, aware of the many new technical advances and often-difficult ethical, legal and social issues that have surfaced in the light of the Human Genome Project. Graduates of the Program will be prepared to work in a variety of settings including both adult and pediatric genetics clinics, specialty clinics such as cancer genetics, cardiovascular genetics and metabolic clinics, and prenatal diagnosis clinics, as well as in areas of research or commercial genetics laboratories relevant to genetic counseling and human genetics.

A unique aspect of the Genetic Counseling Training Program that it is housed within Case Western Reserve’s Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences that is internationally known for both its clinical expertise and cutting edge research in molecular genetics, model organisms and human genetics. Thus, the Department of G&GS at CWRU provides an interface between human and medical genetics with basic genetics and provides an exciting atmosphere in which to learn and develop professionally. The direct access to both clinical resources and advanced technologies in human and model organisms affords students with an unparalleled environment for achievement. The Graduate Program in Genetics in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences provides an interactive and collaborative environment for both pre (genetic counseling and PhD students) – and post-doctoral trainees to come together in a collegial atmosphere. By fostering interactions between pre- and post-doctoral trainees in genetic counseling, medical genetics, and basic research at an early stage of their careers, it is anticipated that graduates will be well-rounded professionals with an understanding of the importance of both clinical and basic research endeavors. Moreover, such resources as the Department of Biomedical Ethics, the Center for Genetic Research, Ethics and Law, the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, and the Law-Medicine Center provide for an enriched learning experience for students.

The curriculum consists of 40 semester hours: 22 semester hours of didactic course work and 7 semester hours of research. Additionally, there are four 8-week clinical rotations, one 3-week laboratory rotation and one 6-week summer clinical rotation required of all students, which provide an additional 11 credit hours. Courses include material covering basic genetics concepts, embryology, medical genetics, biochemical genetics, molecular genetics, cytogenetics, genomics, cancer genetics, population genetics, genetic counseling principles, human development, psychosocial issues, interviewing techniques, and ethical and professional issues in genetic counseling.

Clinical rotations include one intensive three-week laboratory rotation in diagnostic cytogenetics and clinical molecular genetics as well as the Maternal Serum Screening program. There are four 8-week clinical rotations during year 2 during which students obtain clinical experience in General Genetics (children and adults) including Specialty Clinics such as Marfan Clinic, Prader-Willi Clinic and Craniofacial Clinic; Prenatal Diagnosis Clinic, and Cancer Genetics Clinic. These rotations take place at The Center for Human Genetics at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth Medical Center. Students also will have the opportunity to pursue an elective rotation with specialty clinics or intern with genetic counselors in such areas as commercial testing companies. Additionally, there is one off-site rotation – a 6-week clinical rotation which is held at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron Ohio during the summer. Moreover, students rotate through the Cleveland-based institutions for weekly observational experiences starting early in year 1 of the program.

Students are also required to attend and participate in a number of other activities such as weekly Clinical Patient Conferences, Genetics Grand Rounds, Departmental Seminars and Journal Club. Students also participate with the doctoral graduate students in the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences’ annual retreat and present their research projects during the poster sessions. In addition, counseling students present their research during the program’s Research Showcase. Students also have an opportunity to give educational talks to local schools, participate in DNA Day at local high schools and other groups when available.

Tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is $1,827.00 per semester hour. Currently, other fees include student health insurance ($986 per semester) and a student activity fee of $14.00 per semester.

The Department of Genetics is unable to provide financial aid or research/teaching assistantships to students; however, it does award some scholarship funding in the form of a monthly stipend to genetic counseling students. The amount of the stipend is determined yearly and will be shared with applicants at the time of their interviews. In addition, the costs of the on-line embryology course as well as the CWRU Technology fee of $852.00 per year are covered by the Department. Moreover, students receive funds to cover the costs associated with their research projects and second year students receive funds to travel to the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ annual education conference held in the fall.

Financial aid is available to graduate students. The university has extensive information regarding financial aid and scholarship opportunities to assist students in funding their education. For additional information or assistance, please contact the Office of University Financial Aid at or (216) 368-4530.

Clarice Young at (216) 368-3431 or email:


The Program Director:

Please Note: The Direct Application link will take you to the School for Graduate Studies webpage. Go to Prospective Students – Admissions Information – Graduate Program Applications. You will see a link on the right hand side of the page entitled Application Log In to begin your application.

The application includes:

Fulfillment of the requirements for admission to the School of Graduate Studies at Case Western Reserve University must be met as well as those required by the Genetic Counseling Training Program. An applicant having graduated with excellent academic credentials (minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale) from a fully accredited university or college. Complete credentials must be on file with the School of Graduate Studies.

The Genetic Counseling Training Program at Case Western Reserve University is participating in the Genetic Counseling Admissions Match through National Matching Services (NMS) beginning with admissions for Fall 2018. The GC Admissions Match has been established to enhance the process of placing applicants into positions in masters-level genetic counseling programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC). The Match uses a process that takes into account both applicants’ and programs’ preferences. All applicants must first register for the Match with NMS before applying to participating genetic counseling graduate programs. At the conclusion of all program interviews, both applicants and programs will submit ranked lists of preferred placements to NMS according to deadlines posted on the NMS website. The binding results of the Match will be released to both applicants and programs simultaneously in late April.

Please visit the NMS website at ( to register for the match, review detailed information about the matching process, and to view a demonstration of how the matching algorithm works.

Important: After you have registered with NMS, you will need to put your NMS ID number at the top of your CV/Resume and/or at the top of your personal statement.

The average GPA for matriculating students is 3.5 and GRE mean scores are approximately, 60-70th percentiles and above. However, we take a holistic view of the applicant’s complete file in determining admission, which means we look at everything the applicant has submitted. A high GPA or GRE score will not automatically lead to admission; neither will low scores automatically lead to a denial.*While the CWRU application form asks for your GRE scores, please include the percentile score as well.

The Personal Statement is extremely important and applicants need to pay specific attention to how they present themselves in their Personal Statement. Aspects to remember include: Is the applicant’s Personal Statement grammatically sound, and does it give us a clear picture as to who the applicant is? Applicants’ should emphasize those experiences which have directly assisted them in becoming aware of and knowledgeable about the genetic counseling profession. Genetic counselors are highly motivated and hardworking individuals. Thus, the Admissions Committee looks for applicants who demonstrate initiative, self-direction, excellent communication skills and who have “gone the extra mile” to show their passion for becoming a genetic counselor.

Letters of recommendation should be written by individuals who can provide an accurate picture of your academic capabilities, your communication skills (both written and spoken) and your potential to successfully complete graduate education. At least two referees should be faculty from your past institutions. Other excellent referee sources include genetic counselors you have shadowed or supervisors of internships or advocacy experiences which you have had. Recommendation letters from friends or family members are discouraged. Please note, while CWRU provides an on-line recommendation form for referees to complete, your referee should also provide a personal letter to accompany the form.

While the number of applications received by the Program varies from year to year, in general we receive approximately 60 – 70+ applications each year. At this time, the Program is able to accept 8 students per year.

December 15th of each year is the application deadline. It is important that all required materials such as GRE scores (including their percentiles), transcripts from all institutions in which you have completed coursework and letters of reference be submitted by the application deadline if you wish to have your application reviewed by the Admissions Committee. If you will be taking a prerequisite course or courses in the upcoming semester that will not be reflected on your current transcripts, please let us know in your personal statement (or Resume) which course or courses you will be taking to meet the pre-requisites. Also, please submit a current CV or resume along with your personal statement. The Program only admits one class per year — in fall semester. Because of the intensive nature of the Program, all students must be full time, we are unable to accommodate part-time students.

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Genetic Counseling Program Overview – School of Medicine

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