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

  • Introduction to Clinical Genetics
  • Advanced Clinical Genetics Concepts
  • Clinical Biochemical Genetics for Genetic Counselors
  • Laboratory Genetics and Genomics for the Genetic Counselor
  • Cancer Genetics Risk Assessment and Counseling
  • Clinical Embryology and Prenatal Diagnosis
  • Medical Genetic Counseling Research Seminar
  • Research Strategies and Analysis in Clinical Genetics

Counseling courses

  • Clinical Communication Skills for Genetic Counselors
  • Interviewing and Counseling for Genetic Counselors
  • Contemporary Professional Issues in Genetic Counseling
  • Clinical Practicum and Advanced Practicum in Genetic Counseling (Unit Meetings

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.

While Wisconsin may not be typically considered as racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse, UW faculty and our clinical training sites serve the needs of many culturally distinct communities, including African Americans, Latinxs, Amish and conservative Mennonites, Hmong, and Native Americans. The Master of Genetic Counselor Studies Program is committed to providing our students with experience that represents the broad expanse of the communities we serve.

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.

Trainees can participate 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. That student will start the MGCS program in the fall and remain in Madison for the first year of graduate school and then begin their Marshfield experience beginning the summer of their second year.

Diversity

While Wisconsin may not be typically considered as racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse, UW School of Medicine and Public Health faculty and our clinical training sites serve the needs of many culturally distinct communities, including African Americans, Latinxs, Amish and conservative Mennonites, Hmong, and Native Americans. MGCS is committed to providing our students with experience that represents the broad expanse of the communities we serve.

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 mentor toward the goal of producing a publishable research or other project that contributes to the body of knowledge of the discipline. View examples below.

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.