Skip to Content

nav = Genetic Counseling

Genetic Counseling Program

Founded in 1989, The University of Texas Genetic Counseling Program (UTGCP) offers a challenging and unique program in genetic counseling administered through the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in association with the Division of Medical Genetics in the Department of Pediatrics at the McGovern Medical School.

Genetic Counseling Program Overview

Genetic Counseling Thesis Shelf in GSBS Library

“The quality and cost of the program was a huge decision factor for me! I knew I was getting a fantastic education and the lower price meant that I could focus more on my education.” – Alexa Bream, MS, CGC, UTGCP Class of 2019

“I would attend the UTGCP again because the program provided me with the skills to be a genetic counselor who advocates for my patients. Just as importantly, the program provided me with the skills to be a professional who advocates for myself in the workplace. What I enjoyed most about the UTGCP was the sense of connection that it brought me with my classmates, mentors in the program, and program leadership. Although I am now practicing in the Midwest, I know I will always have a home with the UTGCP.” - Jessica O’Shea, MS, CGC, UTGCP Class of 2018

“I most enjoyed my clinical rotations at the UTGCP, because I learn best by being coached. The quantity of clinical rotations offered through this program allow for countless opportunities of 1-on-1 coaching from supervisors with each session. Training becomes personalized and nuanced in this way - and helped me implement head-knowledge in real-time patient care. I would recommend the program to others because of the depth and breadth of relational support. The UTGCP family extends beyond fellow classmates, and includes faculty, physicians, supervisors, mentors, and alumni who willingly and graciously offer support to students in the ways their roles allow. In moments of need, I was overwhelmed by unexpected kindness and care from the UTGCP family.” - Kaitlyn Amos, MS, CGC, UTGCP Class of 2020


  • History of Genetic Counseling and the UTGCP

    The field of genetic counseling has a rich, although young, history. Sarah Lawrence College began the first professional Master’s Degree genetic counseling training program in 1969. Programs were initially accredited by the American Board of Medical Genetics, and later were accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). In 2013, the ABGC split into two groups, with ABGC retaining the board certification exam for genetic counselors and the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) acquiring the accreditation of genetic counseling programs. The ACGC is located at 7918 Jones Branch Drive, Suite 300, Mcean, VA 22102 and can be reached by phone at 703-506-7667.

    The UTGCP was founded by Jacqueline Hecht, MS, PhD and admitted its first class, that consisted of one student, in 1989. Since that time the Program has grown to a class size of 10 students per year under the direction of Program Director Claire N. Singletary MS, CGC and Associate Program Director Jennifer Czerwinski, MS, CGC.  The UTGCP was accredited by ABGC in 2000, 2006, and again in 2014 at which time we were granted the longest accreditation period allowed of 8 years. The UTGCP will undergo reaccreditation in 2022.

    The many roles of genetic counselors have grown since the founding of the field to meet the needs of the ever-changing medical community. While prenatal, cancer, and medical genetics remain common areas of focus for genetic counselors, the opportunities outside of these realms continue to expand. Many genetic counselors now work in diagnostic laboratories, industry, private practice, and other specialty areas such as cardiovascular and neurogenetics. The UTGCP utilizes the many resources of the Texas Medical Center to make its students well-rounded genetic counselors, ready to take whatever career path lies ahead of them.

  • Governance

    1. UTGCP Leadership Team

    The UTGCP leadership team is dedicated to overseeing the Program with its mission, vision, and strategic plan as guiding principles.

    • Program Director - Claire Singletary
    • Associate Program Director - Jennifer Czerwinski
    • Medical Director - Laura Farach
    • Assistant Director of External Rotations - Malorie Jones
    • Assistant Director of Research; Coordinator of Recruitment and Outreach - Meagan Choates 

    The UTGCP is the leader in the education of genetic counseling students who support and advance genetics in healthcare. Our mission is to excel in the training of versatile genetic counselors by facilitating competency-based learning, supporting personalized growth, and immersing students in the depth and breadth of genetic counseling practice. Our 2021-2026 Strategic Plan entails three goals: 1) Ensure graduates are prepared for the multitude of roles int he constantly evolving genetic counseling field by developing a framework for teaching counselor adaptability that incorporates emerging trends and allows for flexibility beyond the practice-based competencies; 2) Graduate a student body that consistently includes underrepresented minorities specific to the genetic counseling field by increasing the diversity of the qualified applicant pool, minimizing admission bias, and expanding the community participating in the education of our students; and 3) Evaluate opportunities for acquiring new sources of revenue to support faculty and students, and develop a plan for pursuing selected funding sources.

    2. UTGCP Advisory Board

    Mission:  To ensure the relevance of the UTGCP by proposing changes to meet the evolving needs of the genetic counseling profession; by promoting the UTGCP in the greater community and by providing a forum for discussion of UTGCP Faculty concerns.

    Members:  Core planning committee and representative from major areas of GC growth

    • Program Directors - Claire Singletary, Jennifer Czerwinski
    • Medical Director - Laura Farach
    • Founding Director - Jacqueline Hecht
    • Administration – William Mattox
    • Prenatal - Aarti Ramdaney
    • Medical Genetics - Leslie Dunnington
    • Cancer – Maureen Mork
    • Industry/Management - Kaylene Ready
    • Industry/Laboratory - Michelle Jackson
    • Recent Alumni – Ellie Gould
    • Industry/Alternative Service Delivery – Sarah Bannon
    • Non-Fieldwork Member – Jennifer Hoskovec
    • JEDI Committee Chair – Aranza Gonzalez Cendejas


    3. UTGCP JEDI (Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion) Committee

    Mission:  UTGCP’s JEDI mission is to graduate a student body that consistently includes underrepresented groups, to nurture and grow an inclusive environment for underrepresented genetic counselors, to actively make the profession of genetic counseling accessible and equitable to all interested students, and to continue learning from our mistakes to ensure this commitment. 

    Members:  UTGCP Faculty, fieldwork supervisors, and alumni who are passionate about JEDI in GC: Aranza Gonzalez Cendejas (Chair), Myla Asfaq, Rebecca Carter, Carla McGruder, Brittanie Morris, Aarti Ramdaney, Grace Tran, Sarah Khan, Sara Wofford, Dr. Cherilynn Shadding (ad hoc, Dean’s office)

    4. Core Genetic Counselor Group

    Mission: To assess the effectiveness and improve the UTGCP by evaluating curriculum, rotations, students, and interviews; by setting goals and writing objectives; by providing feedback and education for thesis committee members, supervisors, and lecturers

    Members: Program directors and at least one member from each major area of specialization; Claire Singletary, Jennifer Czerwinski, Myla Ashfaq, Molly Daniels, Blair Stevens

    5. UTGCP Faculty Meetings

    Mission: To provide a forum for open communication between UTGCP leadership and faculty by disseminating information, performing core competency evaluations of students, and eliciting feedback.

    Members: All individuals associated with UTGCP student supervision

  • Accreditation and Board Certification

    Accreditation and Board Certification

    The UT Genetic Counseling Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling, most recently in 2022 for the maximum period of 8 years. Upon completion of the program, graduates are expected to be proficient in the Practice Based Competencies set forth by the ACGC.  By graduating from an accredited genetic counseling program, alumni are eligible to sit for the board certification examination from the American Board of Genetic Counseling.

    Graduates of the UTGCP pass the board exam on the first sitting over 95% of the time, well above the national average. In the preceding 3 years, the cumulative board pass rate was 90%.  

    American Board of Genetic Counseling

    Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling

  • Attrition and Job Placement

    Graduates of the UTGCP are successful in obtaining positions in their desired practice areas and geographic locations. In the previous 3 years, 97% (29/30) of graduates have become practicing genetic counselors and all (29/29) were able to obtain positions prior to or within one month of graduation.  No students have left the UTGCP in the most recent 3 cohorts (100% retention, 0% attrition). 

  • Student Portal - Office of Academic Affairs and Student Success

    This page will serve as a guide to help connect you with the most sought after resources on campus.

  • Policies and Procedures

Student Support

Mentorship Program: The mentoring program provides a support network for the first year genetic counseling students. Each first year student is paired with a second year student, and they are encouraged to meet regularly throughout the first semester and to continue the relationship throughout the year. The second year students provide peer insights into how to successfully traverse the challenges that new graduate students. Their unique first-hand experiences are invaluable to the first year students.

Academic Advisor Program: In order to optimize the communication between graduate students and faculty, students in the UTGCP are matched with an academic advisor who will aid them throughout their time in the program. The academic advisors are members of the genetic counseling program faculty. The objectives of this program are to open lines of communication between students and supervisors, provide the student with a person with whom they can discuss problems, supervisory concerns, academic questions etc., aid in professional development, guide students with decision making.  While the Program Directors have an open door policy and regularly meet with students, the Academic Advisor provides another faculty touch point for students.

Support for Underrepresented Minority Students: In recognition of the unique needs of students who identify with an underrepresented group in genetic counseling, the UTGCP piloted a program in 2020 to match URM students with an additional faculty mentor who identifies as being from a similar underrepresented background.  The UTGCP plans to expand and enhance this program moving forward.

Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

UTGCP’s JEDI mission is to graduate a student body that consistently includes underrepresented groups in genetic counseling, to nurture and grow an inclusive environment for all genetic counselors, to actively make the profession of genetic counseling accessible and equitable to all interested students and to continue learning from our mistakes to ensure this commitment.

Below are sites to learn more about JEDI at our school and in the field of genetic counseling: