MGCS Application Process

Thank you for your interest in applying to the Master of Genetic Counselor Studies (MGCS) program.

Key Dates

  • September 1 – Application portal opens
  • December 15 – Application portal closes

Application Process

Register for the Match

The MGCS program at UW–Madison participates in the Genetic Counseling Admissions Match through National Matching Services (NMS).

All applicants must register for the Match with NMS before applying to participating genetic counseling graduate programs. The MGCS program will honor any match fee waivers awarded to applicants from NMS. Please see NMS website for details about how to apply.

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.

Register for the Match with NMS

Review the Requirements

Qualified applicants have a robust and balanced set of experiences, clear communication skills and strong letters of recommendation, as well as high academic achievement. Strong applicants demonstrate a thoughtful approach to their career development and a high level of maturity.

Admissions requirements

Apply for the Program

You must apply online through our admissions website. The application cycle opens on September 1 at 8 a.m. and closes December 15 at 11:59 p.m.


After Applying

The Admissions Committee reviews all application materials and invites the most promising applicants to a mandatory, pre-admission virtual interview in early spring. 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 spring. Accepted students begin classes at the end of August.


Make sure you meet the requirements before applying for the program.

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor’s degree (in any major) is required. Most applicants have a degree in a biological science (e.g., biology, genetics, biochemistry), but this is not required so long as specific pre-requisite courses have been successfully completed.

Academic Coursework

Applicants must have completed courses in statistics, biochemistry, and advanced genetics.

A statistics course designed for math or life science majors will provide a strong foundation for graduate studies in genetic counseling. A comparable statistics course at UW–Madison would be Stat 371 – Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences or Stat 301 – Introduction to Statistical Methods.

Biochemistry courses generally require prerequisites that include at least one semester of chemistry and organic chemistry. A comparable course at UW–Madison would include Biochem 501 – Introduction to Biochemistry.

Advanced genetic courses are typically designed for life science majors (e.g., biology, genetics, or molecular and cell biology majors). Comparable advanced genetic courses at UW–Madison includes Genetics 467 – General Genetics 1 and Genetics 468 General Genetics 2. In general, having only one introductory genetics course intended for non-science majors is not sufficient.

Take as many relevant genetics and biology courses as possible to strengthen your application. All required courses should be taken prior to applying. Please list required courses and grades on your resume.

Since many colleges now use pass/fail grading, the MGCS program began accepting pass/fail grades for courses taken in spring 2020 and later.


The University of Wisconsin–Madison MGCS program requires that applicants have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher on a traditional 4.00 scale. The overall cumulative GPA is calculated from all courses taken at the collegiate level, no matter when the courses were completed.  Applicants with a cumulative GPA < 3.0 will be reviewed by the admissions committee for further evidence of potential academic success.


The GRE is no longer required. Please do not submit GRE scores with your application.

English Proficiency

Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. We accept the TOEFL or IELTS.

Since genetic counseling requires excellent communication skills, applicants must have a high degree of fluency in verbal and written communication. Strong candidates have TOEFL scores approaching 110 (iBT). TOEFL scores less than 100 (iBT) will not be considered for admission.

Genetic Counselor Observation and Exposure

Observing a genetic counselor is a good way to learn more about the profession and decide if genetic counseling is a good fit for you. Recognizing that in-person clinical experience is not always possible, we will consider several other reasonable options. Simulated genetic counseling sessions are available on the National Society of Genetic Counselors website, as are virtual webinars and conferences addressing genetic counseling topics. You may also want to interview genetic counselors from a wide range of specialties, take online classes dedicated to learning more about the profession or explore websites and literature from support organizations to learn more about genetic conditions and the impact on the person and family. Please list such experiences on your resume or CV.

Advocacy or Counseling Experience

Experience in advocacy or counseling helps you appreciate and develop interpersonal communication skills, develop an understanding of the person’s experience and gain perspective on the healthcare system or other public service systems. Applicants typically have experiences from many different settings, including: domestic abuse shelters, crisis hotlines, peer counseling, homeless shelters, hospice care, or working with individuals with physical disabilities or intellectual impairment.

Personal Statement

The UW–Madison MGCS program does not use specific prompts or questions to guide the personal statement. The personal statement is an opportunity for applicants to help the admissions committee better understand how various experiences have shaped their career goals. Statements often include content that demonstrates a broad understanding of the profession as well as their reasons for selecting this field of study. Personal insight into related experiences and how they have influenced the applicant’s decision to pursue the profession is critical. The admissions committee evaluates the statement for an understanding of the profession, maturity in reflection and insight, as well as readiness for graduate study. Please share any experiences with individuals with exceptional healthcare needs as related to the profession. This should not be a restatement of your CV. The essay should be no more than three pages, double spaced, 12 pt font.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation, demonstrating academic, professional and advocacy strengths, are required. The MGCS program only allows for three letters of recommendation.

Other Experiences

Applicants often engage in various types of experiences outside of the typical classroom. Experiences typically help clarify their decision to pursue a career in healthcare, and specifically genetic counseling. Most applicants have held various types of jobs, completed research or laboratory work, or volunteered with organizations such as Special Olympics or Facing Hereditary Cancer Empowered (FORCE).

Non-Discrimination Policy

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is committed to providing equal opportunity and equal access, and to complying with all applicable federal and state laws, regulations and Universities of Wisconsin and UW–Madison non-discrimination policies and procedures.

Transfer Students

Summary of our policy: The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health offers innovative and highly integrated courses of study that are not conducive to accepting transfer students. Therefore, it is the School of Medicine and Public Health’s policy that transfer students generally are not accepted.

View the complete health professions student transfer policy.

International Students

We do not consider applicants who have student or other temporary visas. All international and domestic applicants who are not currently United States citizens must provide evidence of:

  • Permanent residency status in the United States
  • Adequate financial resources to cover all tuition, fees, housing and other living expenses for the duration of the program

Visit International Student Services for more information.