Genetic Counselling

Degree Offered: M.Sc.



L. Arbour, J. Austin, C. J. Brown, E. Conibear, J. M. Friedman, M. R. Hayden, S. F. Langlois, M. A. Marra, W.P. Robinson, A. D. Sadovnick, M. I. Van Allen.

Associate Professors

A. Elliott, L. Lefebvre, G. Morin, S. Taubert, C. Van Raamsdonk.

Assistant Professor

C. Vilarino-Guell.

Program Overview

The Department of Medical Genetics, through the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers a two-year graduate program leading to an M.Sc. degree in Genetic Counselling. The Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counselling. Graduates of the program will be eligible to apply for "Active Candidate" status for both the American Board of Genetic Counselling (ABGC) and the Canadian Board of Genetic Counselling (CBGC) certification exams.

The Master of Science in Genetic Counselling offers a distributed program of study where selected students will spend a portion of their degree in geographically separate sites outside of the Vancouver area. Students will be selected for the Vancouver cohort and distributed cohort program options through the Genetic Counseling Admissions Match through National Matching Services (NMS).

Detailed program information is provided on the program website.

Master of Science

Admission Requirements

Candidates must meet minimum entry requirements established by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

The Selection Committee evaluates applicants' life experiences, communication skills, and academic transcripts.

    The following are required for admission:

  • confirmed registration for the Genetic Counseling Admissions Match through National Matching Services (NMS)
  • a minimum of a B.Sc. or equivalent degree
  • previous coursework that included a strong genetics component, including at least one course in molecular genetics
  • previous coursework that included biochemistry and basic statistics
  • previous coursework in clinical embryology. The University of Cincinnati offers an excellent online clinical embryology course and provides a grade and certificate of completion that would need to be submitted in the application process
  • a minimum of 3 months of one-on-one counselling experience prior to entering the program (either paid or volunteer) in a setting such as a distress line, peer counselling, hospice, rape relief centre, etc. This experience must include a formal training process prior to beginning the counselling experience.
  • Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must present evidence of English language proficiency. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application. Required minimum English language proficiency scores for admission to the program can be found here.
  • personal interview with the Selection Committee. The Selection Committee evaluates all applications and offers interviews based on merit. Consideration is given to transcripts, knowledge of profession, communication and relevant experience. Fulfillment of the minimum requirements does not guarantee an interview.
    The following are recommended for admission:

  • coursework in developmental biology, human anatomy/physiology, and psychology/counselling
  • knowledge of the profession and, if possible, experience in a clinical genetics unit (which may be obtained through volunteer work, a work study position or a directed study project)

Program Requirements

The M.Sc. is a non-thesis program. Students are required to complete 34 credits of graduate coursework in human, molecular, and clinical genetics, counselling techniques, and bioethics. The required courses also encompass practical experience through clinical and laboratory rotations. Graduation requirements include successful completion of a comprehensive examination. Students attend and participate in educational sessions offered by the Department of Medical Genetics and other departments within the hospital and University. All applicants who accept an offer are required to consent to a Criminal Record Check.

Students are expected to follow the screening expectations and recommended immunizations of Health Care Organization workers as set out in Health Care Organization policy, including complying with all applicable Provincial Health Orders pertaining to mandatory vaccines.

Contact Information

M.Sc. Genetic Counselling Program
Department of Medical Genetics
University of British Columbia
BC Children's and Women's Hospital
4500 Oak Street, Room C234
Vancouver, BC V6H 3N1
Tel: 604.875.3486
Fax: 604.875.3490
Tracey Oh, MS, CGC, Program Co-Director, Clinical Training
Jenna Scott, MS, CGC, Program Co-Director, Curriculum Development and Directed Studies
Dr. Linlea Armstrong, MD, FRCPC, Medical Director
Dr. Jehannine Austin, PhD, CCGC, CGC, Graduate Advisor

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