Where Do I Apply?
Sifting through the 34 accredited genetic counseling programs in North America can be daunting, especially if many programs seem similar. In getting to know each program more, you might find that there are some small and sometimes big differences! Some things that distinguish programs from one another can include:
- Location: Is it nearby health centers or other places where genetic counselors work? Is it easy to commute to? Will you enjoy living in the area for two years or more?
- Rotations: When do rotations begin (i.e. some program rotations begin the first week of class)? How many hours of clinical experience will you receive? Are there a variety of rotation sites to choose from? What specialties are they in?
- Program Length: How long is the program (generally 2 years)? Is there a part time option?
- Instructors: Who will be your instructors? Do the instructors stay the same for most classes? How many classes have guest speakers? How experienced are the instructors?
- Campus: What is the culture of the school this program belongs to? Is it part of a medical school? Is it a large campus or small one?
- Cost: Program costs can vary drastically. If a program requires you to move, how much is the cost of living in that city?
- What housing options are available? Don't forget to factor in costs for applications and flights to interviews.
- Your Interests: Critically think about what you are looking for in your training. Are you committed to a specific specialty? If so, does the program offer a rotation in it?
- Research: How much emphasis does the program put on research and completing a thesis/capstone, and how does that align with your interests in research?
Some of this information can be found online but not always. Check to see if the schools host information sessions - some may even allow you to sit in on a class to observe! You can get invaluable information by reaching out to the admins, faculty and current students.
Most students can’t – and don’t want to – apply to every school in country, so creating a list of spreadsheet of the positives and negatives of each program can be helpful in deciding which program you will choose to apply to. You can also use this to rank your favorite programs. A spreadsheet can also be useful to you throughout the interview process in tracking deadlines, whether application materials have been received, tracking interview dates, and making notes about interviews. You can find an example of one of these spreadsheets here, to give you some ideas of what to include.