The Genetic Counseling Program
The Master of Science in Genetic Counseling program offers a degree in a recognized specialty in medical genetics. The two-year, full-time graduate program is designed to provide students with the proficiencies and knowledge base required of a successful practitioner. The program includes scientific, medical, psychological and clinical courses combined with practical experience.
Students will be trained to understand the complex environment in which the genetic counselor must operate and learn to apply knowledge from the life sciences and psychology in order to address the needs of patients, community lay groups, and health and human services professionals. A research project/thesis during the second year is required for graduation.
The program meets the requirements of the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) for curriculum content, clinical experience and overall program design and has been granted full accreditation status. Therefore, students who graduate from the Arcadia University Genetic Counseling program are qualified to sit for the certification examination offered by the ABGC.
A Growing Profession
Genetic Counseling is a growing profession that combines expertise in scientific knowledge and finely developed counseling abilities. The majority of graduates work in major medical centers but an increasing number are employed by genetic testing laboratories. The range of positions open to genetic counselors continues to expand and now includes general genetics services (pediatric and adult), clinical services devoted to one diagnosis (a specialty clinic), community support organizations, public health departments and services, administration, research, commercial laboratories, and private practice. The continuing growth in genomic testing predicts expansion for the profession.
Recent data suggest that there are sufficient numbers of positions available for new graduates in the field. US News & World Report named “genetic counselor” as a 2009 top 10 best career in terms of job satisfaction (90%!) and job market outlook, with the national median pay at $71,000.
A strong professional organization, the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), provides ongoing education and communication for genetic counselors through annual conferences, a newsletter and a journal. The NSGC 2012 Professional Status Survey reports an average salary for clinical genetic counselors as $68,000. It also revealed that the majority of respondents to the 2012 PSS were in the age group of 29 to 39 years, which demonstrates that the field of genetic counseling is emerging as an increasingly attractive career choice for young professionals.
Potential applicants are urged to contact the NSGC for information about careers in genetics at www.nsgc.org.
Academic and Clinical Facilities
Arcadia's typical class size is 12-14 students per year. Arcadia’s Genetic Counseling program has its very own house, located just across the street from Arcadia’s main campus. The Genetic Counseling house is a comfortable central location for all members of the program. Students spend a great deal of time here, especially during the first year. The house has its own classroom equipped with a SMART Board projector, a common area with several computers and plenty of comfortable seating, a kitchen, a library, and a dedicated reading room. Job opportunities, conference information and other resources are posted in the common area. The Genetic Counseling program faculty are within easy reach as well; their offices are just upstairs. Students have access to the building 24/7, and many choose to study here after class or on the weekends.
Courses are also taught at Fox Chase Cancer Center and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, offering students access to the incredible range of expertise available at those hospitals.
US News & World Report named “genetic counselor as a 2009 top 10 best career in terms of job satisfaction and job market outlook, with the national median pay at $71.000. The NSGC 2010 Professional Status Survey reports an average salary for clinical genetic counselors as $62,000.
The wealth of genetics services in the Philadelphia area provides students with a broad range of clinical experiences in settings that include community hospitals and university-based medical centers. All clinically oriented courses are taught by experienced members of the genetics community.
Practica and Clinical Internships
Students typically complete 2 practica and four clinical internships as part of the program. The first-year practica are based at any of 24 different sites throughout the Philadelphia area. In the second year, a total of 58 clinical internship sites are available. These sites include 20 prenatal, seven pediatric, 14 cancer, and numerous specialty clinics in the areas of reproductive genetics, neurogenetics, metabolic genetics, cardiovascular genetics and others. The clinical internships are supervised by board-certified genetic counselors and/or board-certified clinical geneticists.
The location of these internship sites extends from Trenton, N.J., to Newark, Del., and from Camden, N.J., to Harrisburg, Pa. This broad geographical range accommodates the commuting needs of students who live outside of Philadelphia. Within the city, many of the sites are accessible by public transportation, so owning a car is not a necessity.
Philadelphia is home to an impressive network of hospitals, universities, research centers, laboratories, advocacy centers, and health-related nonprofit organizations. As the Arcadia University Genetic Counseling master’s program is the only one in the area, our students have exclusive access to these incredible resources. With so many different options available, our faculty can help students tailor their clinical experiences to match their specific interests. None of the 170 Arcadia Genetic Counseling graduates to date have followed identical clinical paths, a fact that makes our program quite unique.
Recent alumni surveys rank the clinical experience very highly. “I think the most important aspect to my training was the clinical training,” said one, “and this was done wonderfully through Arcadia.” Graduates consistently praise the diversity of the clinical sites, and reveal that the number and variety of patients they were able to see prepared them well for their jobs: “The clinical rotations allowed me to see more cases than any other new-grad coming into this GC office.” Fully 100% of the alumni would recommend this program to a prospective Genetic Counselor.
Employment and Achievement
The Arcadia University Genetic Counseling program has graduated more than 170 students employed in more than 29 states around the country. Arcadia graduates have achieved professional recognition in various areas. Many students have had thesis projects presented as abstracts or published in professional journals.
100 Percent of Alumni Recommend Arcadia's Program
Results of the 2007 Alumni Survey found that 100 percent of those who completed the survey would recommend Arcadia's Genetic Counseling program to prospective students. Ninety-eight percent also felt that their Arcadia training had prepared them well for work in the field. Employment rates were high, with 72 percent finding work within three months of graduation and 94 percent hired within 12 months. All twelve of Arcadia’s 2012 graduates found employment in the field within four months of graduation.