The Master of Genetic Counselor Studies curriculum at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health is a carefully structured sequence of courses and clinical practicums scheduled over approximately 21 months.

Science courses

  • Medical Genetics
  • Clinical Genetics
  • Genetic Counseling for Inborn Errors of Metabolism
  • Human Cytogenetics and Molecular Diagnostics
  • Cancer Risk Assessment and Counseling
  • Clinical Embryology and Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Medical Genetic Counseling Research Seminar
  • Academic Methodologies

Counseling courses

  • Theory and Practice of Interviewing (lecture)
  • Interviewing and Counseling for the Genetic Counselor (lab)
  • Clinical Practicum Unit Meetings
  • Contemporary Professional Issues in Genetic Counseling

Clinical practicums (counseling experience) 

Students rotate through a variety of high quality clinical settings during their training at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, including a comprehensive cancer center, tertiary perinatal care centers and hospitals dedicated solely to the care of children. The clinic rotations are supervised by genetic counselors with American Board of Genetic Counseling certification, and by clinical geneticists with American Board of Medical Genetics certification. 

First year

The first-year clinical practicum in genetic counseling consists of four seven-week-long clinical rotations and one lab and public health rotation that spans the entire academic year. Rotations are designed to acquaint the student with the basic practice skills required, protocols used and professional issues encountered in genetic counseling.

Clinical experiences in a variety of specialty clinics provide opportunities for initial development of skills in interviewing, data collection and counseling. Experiences in laboratory and public health settings provide an opportunity for students to explore non-clinical roles and become better acquainted with career-related disciplines.

Each trainee participates in experiences at each of the following sites:

Second year

The second-year clinical practicum is an integrated program of clinical experiences consisting of three 10-week rotations, which take place during the intervening summer and each semester of the second year. The advanced practicum provides many opportunities for trainees to work toward perfecting skills in counseling, interviewing, data collection, case coordination and in ongoing care of families with genetic concerns. Clinics that students rotate through are as follows:

The Marshfield clinical experience

The Master of Genetic Counselor Studies program offers a second-year clinical internship in collaboration with the Medical Genetics Service at Marshfield Clinic Health System in Marshfield, Wisconsin. The Marshfield experience is limited to one student who will start the MGCS program in the fall of 2019 (i.e., their Marshfield experience will begin summer 2020).

Research requirement 

In keeping with our mission of training students to think critically and participate in research, all students enroll in three research credits during the second year of the program. They work under the direction of a research professor toward the goal of producing a publishable research or other project that contributes to the body of knowledge of the discipline.

Other program requirements

All students are required to take a comprehensive final examination. It is divided into a multiple-choice component (similar to the certification examination of the American Board of Genetic Counseling) and a written component.

Student handbook

The student handbook is a reference for current students about important Program details including routine information (e.g. building access), academic and clinical schedules and University policies.