MS in Genetic Counseling Courses

Typical Course of Study

First Year

Fall Semester

  • Embryology (online course - summer prior to 1st year)
  • Advanced Medical Genetics: Molecular & Cytogenetics (GENE 524) (2 credits)
  • Principles and Practices of Genetic Counseling (GENE 528) (3 credits)
  • Advanced Medical Genetics: Quantitative Genetics & Genomics (GENE 526) or Advanced Medical
  • Genetics: Biochemical Genetics (GENE 527) (2 credits)
  • Research in Genetics (GENE 601) (2 credits)
  • Preparing for Genetic Counseling Practice (GENE 534) (1 credit)
  • Collaborative Practice I

Spring Semester

  • Psychosocial Issues in Genetic Counseling (GENE 529) (3 credits)
  • Advanced Medical Genetics: Clinical Genetics (GENE 525) (2 credits)
  • Cancer Genetics (GENE 531) (2 credits)
  • Research in Genetics (GENE 601) (1 credit)
  • Preparing for Genetic Counseling Practice (GENE 534) (1 credit)
  • Collaborative Practice I

Summer Semester

  • Clinical Practicum in Genetic Counseling (GENE 532) (3 Credits)

Second Year

Fall Semester

  • Advanced Medical Genetics: Biochemical Genetics (GENE 527) or Advanced Medical Genetics: Quantitative Genetics & Genomics (GENE 526) (2 Credits)
  • Clinical Practicum in Genetic Counseling (GENE 532) (4 Credits)
  • Research in Genetics (GENE 601) (3 Credits)

Spring Semester

  • Ethical Issues in Genetics/Genomics (BETH 412) (3 Credits)
  • Clinical Practicum in Genetic Counseling (GENE 532) (4 Credits)
  • Research in Genetics (GENE 601) (2 Credits)

Course List

GENE 524 Advanced Medical Genetics

Molecular and Cytogenetics An in-depth forum for discussion of fundamental principles regarding clinical cytogenetics and molecular genetics and their relevance to medical genetics, genomics and genetic counseling. Following a historical overview, topics include a discussion of numerical and structural aberrations, sex chromosome abnormalities, issues regarding population cytogenetics, clinical relevance of such findings as marker chromosomes, mosaicism, contiguous gene deletions and uniparental disomy. The course will cover principles of molecular genetics including structure, function and regulations of genes (DNA, RNA, proteins), genetic variation, inheritance patterns and both cytogenetic and molecular laboratory techniques (fluorescence in situ hybridization, micro-array, SNP analyses, exome and genome sequencing) in the clinical laboratory.

GENE 525 Advanced Medical Genetics: Clinical Genetics

Fundamental principles regarding congenital malformations, dysmorphology and syndromes. Discussion of a number of genetic disorders from a systems approach: CNS malformations, neurodegenerative disorders, craniofacial disorders, connective tissue disorders, skeletal dysplasias, hereditary deafness, cardiovascular genetics, etc. Discussions include diagnosis, etiology, genetics, prognosis and management.

GENE 526 Advanced Medical Genetics: Quantitative Genetics and Genomics

This course provides a foundation in quantitative genetics as well as genomic approaches and technologies which have greatly expanded our understanding of not only rare genetic disorders but common ones as well. Concepts related to risk assessment and calculation and its application to medical genetics including principles and application of Hardy Weinberg equilibrium and applying Bayes' Theorem as a mechanism to refine risk assessment based on patient-specific data are covered. The clinical implications of interpreting next-generation sequencing results, identifying limitations of genomic technologies, and practicing annotation and interpretation of genomic testing results are also covered. In addition, resources and bioinformatics tools including national databases and clinical labs to aid in the interpretation of genomic test results including variants of uncertain significance are discussed.

GENE 527 Advanced Medical Genetics: Metabolic Disorders

Fundamental principles of metabolic testing; amino acid disorders; organic acid disorders; carbohydrate disorders; peroxisomal disorders; mitochondrial disorders; etc. Discussion of screening principles and newborn screening as well as therapy for metabolic diseases.

GENE 528 Principles and Practices of Genetic Counseling

Fundamental principles needed for the practicing genetic counselor. Topics include skills in obtaining histories (prenatal, perinatal, medical, developmental, psychosocial and family); pedigree construction and analysis, physical growth and development; the genetic evaluation; the physical examination and laboratory analyses; prenatal issues, prenatal screening and diagnosis; and teratogenicity.

GENE 529 Psychosocial Aspects of Genetic Counseling

Fundamental principles regarding the psychosocial aspect of birth defects and genetic disease, its psychological and social impact on the individual and family. Topics include the genetic counseling interview process, issues regarding pregnancy, chronicity, death and loss, as well as the impact of cultural issues. Resources for families are also explored. Basic interviewing skills are addressed. Students will have an opportunity for practice of skills through role play and actual interviewing situations.

GENE 531 Clinical Cancer Genetics

This seminar discusses basic concepts in cancer epidemiology, principles of cancer genetics, inherited cancer syndromes, cytogenetics of cancers, pedigree analysis for familial cancer risk and approaches to the differential diagnosis of inherited and familial cancers. Additionally, topics of risk assessment, genetic testing, screening, management and psychosocial issues in providing genetic counseling to patients with familial and inherited cancers will be discussed.

GENE 534 Preparing for Genetic Counseling Practice

This course is designed to provide students with a practical foundation in preparing for clinical participation in various practice areas. This hands-on course will build on didactic content learned from Gene 528: Principles of Genetic Counseling and Gene 529: Psychosocial Genetic Counseling and will serve as an applied course. Students will have the opportunity to practice empathy and listening skills, patient education, and counseling techniques through patient role plays. In addition, students will attempt practical skills such as chart review, interpretation of screening and testing reports, pedigree risk assessments, online risk models, simulated coordination of testing, application of practice guidelines in a clinical context, completion of requisition forms, and identification of genetic testing options based on insurance considerations. This practice-based exploration of clinical genetic counseling will be a safe space to practice counseling skills and will equip students to participate in patient care on clinical rotations.

BETH 412 Ethical Issues in Genetics and Genomics

This course is designed to familiarize graduate students with the major controversies regarding the generation and use of new human genetic information. Topics will include the growth of susceptibility and predictive genetic testing, prenatal diagnosis, genetic discrimination, human genetic variation research, eugenics, genetic counseling, and the limits of human gene therapy. The course will be conducted as a seminar, involving discussions of readings, guest speakers, and student presentations.

GENE 601 Genetic Counseling Research Seminar

This required research seminar is held during the first-year, with the goal of providing guidance regarding the development of a research proposal. Discussion involves quantitative, qualitative and mixed research approaches. Students will identify their specific research question and specific aims, discuss issues regarding review of the literature, develop the appropriate research design (study population, data collection, data analysis) to answer the research question, discuss the required format of the proposal, human subjects' protection (IRBs) issues and the proposal defense. The end product of the seminar will be a written research project proposal.

Collaborative Practice I

This year-long course will include curriculum that focuses on community-based projects and includes classroom instruction and simulation which supports the students’ work. This course will include entry-level health professions students and other interested students. Students will learn how to work in interprofessional teams by completing community-based projects, with didactic coursework and leadership mentoring throughout. Genetic counseling students will participate in this course alongside students from dental medicine, nursing, medicine, psychology, physician assistance and social work, among other disciplines.

Online Clinical Embryology

This online course, developed by the faculties of the Genetic Counseling Program and Department of Anatomy at the University of Cincinnati, provides students with an in-depth review of normal human development and provides a basis for explaining the process of developmental anomalies. Moreover, the course provides an introduction to the treatment of patients with congenital anomalies as well as counseling options for families of affected individuals. Students are given access to the course prior to being classes of the first year. They are required to have completed the course by the end of September of the first year.

GENE 532 Clinical Rotations

There are six rotations; five in the clinical areas and one in the laboratory. These begin over the summer semester with a six-week General Genetics/Prenatal Diagnosis/Cancer Genetics/Specialty Clinic Rotation at Akron Children's Medical Center Hospital and a two -week Clinical Cytogenetics/Molecular Genetics Laboratory rotation. Rotations continue through the second year of the program with four 8-week rotations including General Genetics and Specialty Clinics rotation (includes children and adults); Prenatal Diagnosis Rotation; and Clinical Cancer Genetics. In addition, there is one 8-week rotation that consists of two 4-week electives. There are several potential areas for elective rotations including rotations with genetic counselors in commercial labs, the opportunity for “advanced” rotations in areas such as prenatal genetics or cancer genetics, and specialty rotations such as ophthalmology or cardiomyopathies. Students rotate at the Center for Human Genetics in University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and at MetroHealth Medical Center. In addition, students start observational experiences at these institutions beginning early in the first year.

GENE 601 Research Requirement

The Program requires a research project to be carried out for the completion of the program. This scholarly project may be a clinical or counseling project, or laboratory-based project and must relate to some aspect of genetic counseling. At the completion of the project there is a committee oral defense. The final research project is submitted to the research committee in manuscript format suitable to submit for consideration of publication. All students present their research to the department faculty, staff and students at the annual Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences poster sessions.

Additional seminars:

Journal club:

Students and faculty review and discuss recent journal articles relevant to genetic counseling. Students will have an opportunity to learn to critically review and critique the literature. Each student will be assigned a specific date on which to present an article or articles of their choosing for the group to discuss. Feedback will be given to the student regarding their ability to facilitate the discussion.

Professional issues seminar:

The second-year professional issues seminar is an opportunity for students to discuss professional issues as they prepare to graduate at the end of their 2nd year. The intent of the seminar is to a forum to discuss pertinent and timely topics regarding professional practice. The seminar covers such topics as an overview of the professional societies (NSGC, ABGC, ACGC, AGCPD, ABMG, ACMG, ASHG), billing & reimbursement for genetic services, credentialing, writing effective resumes, tips on interviewing and negotiating for genetic counseling positions, developing effective talks & slide presentations, examining non-traditional roles in genetic counseling, aspects of clinical supervision, preparing for their first genetic counseling position, including a discussion on financial planning.

DEIJ discussion series:

The program facilitates both faculty and student-led quarterly discussion sessions on various topics important for exploring and understanding topics related to diversity and inclusion. Topics covered include privilege, disability, racism, critical race theory, religion, implicit bias, empathy, gender, as well as several others. We also have a summer reading book club. In the summer of 2022, our students and faculty will be reading “Disability Visibility: First-person stories from the twenty-first century” by Alice Wong, and we will meet to discuss over lunch early in the fall semester.