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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, Mckean, 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 Assistant Program Director Meagan, MS, CGC.  The UTGCP was accredited by ABGC in 2000, 2006, 2014, and again in 2022 at which time we were granted the longest accreditation period allowed of 8 years. The UTGCP will undergo reaccreditation in 2030.

    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
    • Assistant Program Director - Meagan Choates
    • Medical Director - Laura Farach
    • Assistant Director of Fieldwork - Leslie Dunnington

    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 has three goals:

    1) Ensure graduates are prepared for the multitude of roles in the constantly evolving genetic counseling field by teaching counselor adaptability and humility throughout the curriculum and incorporating emerging trends that allow for flexibility beyond the practice-based competencies.

    2) Graduate a student body that consistently represents unique perspectives specific to the genetic counseling field by increasing the depth and breadth of the qualified applicant pool and expanding the community participating in the education of our students.

    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, Meagan Choates, and Leslie Dunnington
    • Medical Director - Laura Farach
    • Founding Director - Jacqueline Hecht
    • Administration – William Mattox
    • Prenatal - Aarti Ramdaney
    • Medical Genetics - Kathryn Leal
    • 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
    • Community Engagement and Outreach Committee Chair – Myla Ashfaq

    3. 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, Meagan Choates, 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. Students are also encouraged to request additional mentors as they feel it would benefit their sense of community.

Additional Support for Students: Students may request an additional mentor.  The Program will pair the student with GC from a similar perspective who is a UTGCP supervisor, Houston area GC, or UTGCP Alumni.  Mentor-mentee pairs are encouraged to meet once a month in the first semester and then once per semester in the remaining semesters.