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Master's in Genetic Counseling

The Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling at UC Irvine is committed to providing education and professional training in counseling and medical genetics, leading to a Masters degree in Genetic Counseling.  Our vision is to train professionals who are prepared to help people understand and adapt to the implications of genetic disease, incorporating the dramatic advances in genomic technology, as the roles of genetic counselors expand to delivery of health care across the lifespan.

The program is based in the Division of Genetic and Genomic Medicine, in the Department of Pediatrics at UC Irvine Medical Center, located in Orange, about 15 miles from the main university campus in Irvine.  One of the distinguishing characteristics of this program is its integration into an active clinical genetics unit, where faculty genetic counselors and geneticists provide service to a wide variety of patients and families.  From the beginning of their graduate study, students participate in clinics where they learn to apply the skills and knowledge learned through academic coursework.

UC Irvine was one of the pioneers in genetic counselor education. Our program was started in 1973, at which time only five other institutions offered a masters degree in genetic counseling. UC Irvines first class of three students graduated in 1975, and we now have more than 100 graduates.

The program is a two-year, full-time graduate program and typically admits and graduates four to six students each year. The class size remains small so as to maximize the opportunity for trainees to see patients at UC Irvine School of Medicine and our affiliated sites, and to interact with the faculty.  Most classes, clinics and rounds in which students are involved are held at UC Irvine Medical Center, or at the nearby CHOC Childrens Hospital.  Several courses and clinics take place on the UC Irvine main campus, which is about 15 miles away. 

Throughout their training, students attend genetics clinics at Miller Childrens Hospital in Long Beach, St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, and the Cancer Genetics Program at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange.  Students also have the opportunity to individualize internships to enhance their training experience.  The graduate program is fully accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). Graduates of the program are eligible to apply for certification by the ABGC, and also may apply for a license in those states that have implemented licensure.

Admissions »

Recommended undergraduate preparation includes coursework in the biological and behavioral sciences—particularly in genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, psychology, and human development. Coursework in statistics and in human anatomy is advisable, but not required. Fluency in Spanish or a Southeast Asian language confers a considerable advantage in admissions decisions and patient care opportunities.

Extracurricular or employment experiences that provide evidence of the student's maturity, interpersonal skills and commitment to genetic counseling figure prominently in the admissions decision. Many successful applicants have had volunteer experiences that involve counseling, such as being a resident advisor or peer counselor during college, or working on a crisis telephone hotline, or with disabled individuals. Others have come to the program after being a teacher, researcher, nurse, Peace Corps volunteer, or social worker. These sorts of experiences help develop valuable skills and perspectives that enhance one’s ability as a genetic counselor.

GPA: The University of California requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 for graduate admission. In special circumstances, the GPA in the major for the last two years or the GPA for a graduate degree may be considered in lieu of the overall undergraduate GPA.

GRE General Test scores must be submitted and Subject Test scores in any area will be considered if they are available. Since there is no GRE code for the Department of Pediatrics, applicants should use the general UCI GRE code: 4859. Official GRE scores will be forwarded to the Division by Research and Graduate Studies, but to avoid delay in application review, candidates should record their scores in the appropriate place on the application or send a photocopy directly to the division as soon as they receive them. There is no specific minimum score, but the average GRE scores for admitted applicants are typically in the 75th percentile or above. 

Supporting documents:  Transcripts should be submitted from all post-secondary colleges or universities attended.  This includes transcripts from institutions at which the candidate took only one or a few courses (e.g., post-baccalaureate coursework or extension courses).  One official copies of each transcript should be sent directly to the division.

A minimum of three letters of recommendation is required. References should come from professors, employers, supervisors or others who know the candidate well and who can provide evidence of the applicant’s academic ability, interpersonal skills, maturity, and promise as a genetic counselor.  The letters may be submitted online, or may be sent directly to the division. 

More general information about genetic counseling can be obtained from the National Society of Genetic Counselors' website:   Many applicants find it helpful to get in touch with genetic counselors who practice in their area -- this can be a great way to become more familiar with the career.

Further information on applying for graduate study at UC Irvine, including the on-line application, can be found at:

For current information about tuition and fees for academic graduate programs, please go to: Please note that the tuition and fee structure at the University of California is undergoing substantial revision, and fees for professional graduate programs are subject to change.
Course of Study  »

During the six academic quarters of the program, students complete a sequence of core courses covering:

  • Genetic counseling theory
  • Medical genetics
  • Quantitative genetics
  • Screening
  • Teratology and embryology
  • Cytogenetics
  • Biochemical genetics and Inborn errors of metabolism
  • Human molecular genetics
  • Hereditary cancer counseling
  • Research methodology
  • Ethical Issues
  • Community resources

Experiential professional training occurs concurrently with formal coursework and over the summer between years one and two. Clinical settings include a variety of clinics and inpatient services at the medical center and other affiliated sites, the cytogenetics and molecular genetics laboratories, and various community agencies. Student participation in these and other divisional and departmental professional and educational activities such as lectures, seminars, journal club, grand rounds, genetics conferences, and various research, counseling and patient management conferences is expected throughout the program. Coursework and clinical experiences are designed to develop the competencies expected by the ABGC.

Degree requirements include a minimum of 75 quarter units, completion of a research thesis that should be publishable, and demonstration of appropriate professional skills in genetic counseling.  Successful completion of the program fulfills the curricular and clinical training requirements for eligibility to sit for examination by the ABGC. 


Contact Us

Pamela Flodman, MSc, MS, CGC
Associate Adjunct Professor
Director, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling
Phone: 714.456.5789 or 714.456.7570
Fax: 714.456.5330

Division of Genetic and Genomic Medicine
Department of Pediatrics, UC Irvine Medical Center
101 The City Drive S., ZOT 4482
Orange, CA 92868-3298

Address to use for courier deliveries (FedEx, UPS, etc):
Division of Genetic and Genomic Medicine
Department of Pediatrics, UC Irvine Medical Center
333 City Blvd. West, Suite 800
Orange, CA  92868