About the Profession

man gives cheek swab


Genetic counselors are master’s-trained health care providers with specialized training in both medical genetics and psychosocial counseling. Genetic counselors serve in a variety of roles within health care systems, frequently helping patients obtain the right diagnosis, understand and adapt to a genetic condition, assess familial risk to enable proactive care for at-risk relatives, and connect patients with personalized medicine including targeted therapies and clinical trials, as well as psychosocial support.

Genetic counselors are recommended or required team members in select settings (e.g., National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers) and are utilized in an increasing number of medical subspecialties as molecular causes of disease become better understood. Additionally, genetic testing is increasingly utilized in clinical care as genomic technologies rapidly advance and become more accessible, and genetic counselors play a key role in facilitating appropriate testing and interpreting results.

The Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) identifies 22 practice-based competencies (PBCs) that an entry-level provider must demonstrate to successfully practice as a genetic counselor. These PBCs fall into 4 domains: 1) Genetics Expertise & Analysis, 2) Education, 3) Interpersonal, Psychosocial & Counseling Skills, and 4) Professional Development & Practice. Accredited genetic counseling training programs build PBC skills through a combination of didactic coursework, fieldwork training, research and additional experiences such as case conferences, educational outreach, seminars and/or journal clubs.

The curriculum of the MUSC Master of Science in Genetic Counseling (MSGC) program has been carefully crafted to guide students in developing the knowledge and skills necessary to excel as a genetic counselor in the academic medical setting and beyond.

More information about genetic counselors and the genetic counseling profession can be found on the National Society of Genetic Counselors website.

Career Outlook

How to become a Genetic Counselor