​Application Requirements


Minimum Degree Requirements

  • Baccalaureate (Bachelor's) degree
    • At least three full academic years at a regionally accredited college in the US or Canada (or a graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution in the US or Canada)
    • Must be completed prior to enrollment into the program

Minimum Course Requirements

  • One year biology
  • One year chemistry
  • One semester biochemistry
  • One semester genetics (human or molecular)
  • One semester psychology
  • One semester writing-intensive course
    • Courses designated 'writing-intensive' by the undergraduate institution will be accepted if they meet the following criteria:
      • at least 70% of the course grade is based on the student's essays (as opposed to exams or other forms of assessment)
      • students are required to hand in at least four essays as part of the course requirements
      • the course fulfills a writing requirement at the undergraduate institution
  • One semester statistics (must include probability, business and economic statistics do not typically fulfill this requirement)
  • Three additional courses covering a broad range of humanities/social science subjects
    • Courses may include but are not limited to: anthropology, communications, english, history, law, political science, economics, government, psychology, sociology, classics, literature, philosophy, religion, and art history

Our admission committee looks for applicants who have received As and Bs (more As than Bs) but recognizes such grades are not possible under all circumstances. A final grade lower than C- in any required course is regarded by the committee as an unsatisfactory completion of our requirements. For consideration into the program, these required courses must be retaken or have acceptable substitutes with higher grades. Applicants may apply to the program if they lack one or two of the above prerequisites, but completion of those courses is a requirement for enrollment. All prerequisites must be taken for credit.

  • High school advanced placement (AP) credit: AP credit cannot be used as a substitute for prerequisite coursework, you still must have completed college-level courses to fulfill the above requirements. For example, if you received AP credit for general biology, any other biological science course, such as microbiology, could be used toward the biology prerequisite. 
  • Online courses: online courses taken from a regionally accredited institution in the US or Canada are not evaluated differently in the admission process than those taken in person.
  • Grading: due to the COVID19 pandemic, courses graded as pass/fail (P/F) in the spring and summer of 2020 can be used to fulfill prerequisites. Courses taken in the fall of 2020 and beyond should be taken for a letter grade if this is an option at your institution. All prerequisite courses completed prior to the spring of 2020 must have been taken for a letter grade. 

Standardized Tests

English Language Proficiency Testing

Required for applicants for whom English is not their first language, unless baccalaureate studies were completed in English at a regionally accredited institution in the US or Canada. We accept both the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). TOEFL minimum score of 600 on the paper-based test or 100 on the internet-based test or a 7.5 for the IELTS is required. Scores must be no more than two years old. Our TOEFL code for score submission is C460.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) 

We do not accept scores from the GRE as part of an application to the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. 

Work and Volunteer Experience


A current résumé provides the admission committee with a better sense of who you are as an individual. We look at what you have done and how you have incorporated those experiences and grown as a result. Not all students have had the opportunity to test their motivation by working in the fields of medicine or genetics. The admission committee recognizes that some students may lack experience in these fields but at the same time may exhibit and possess other attributes demonstrating their skills, persistence, interest, and qualifications.

Counseling Skill-Building Experience

Previous experience interacting with clients around emotionally-charged topics is important preparation for graduate level learning and helps to ensure that the profession of genetic counseling is right for you. Please note that shadowing a genetic counselor does not qualify as counseling skill-building experience.

A minimum of 40 hours of interactive client experience is required, and these hours may be completed at one organization or a combination of practice environments. This experience can be obtained through either volunteer or paid work. Some examples include: 

  • Crisis counseling 
  • Work with children or adults with disabilities
  • Domestic abuse shelters/organizations
  • Hospice, elder care, long-term health facilities
  • Community health (e.g., Planned Parenthood)
  • Resident assistants, peer health mentoring
  • Youth mentoring, life coaching

Exposure to the Profession of Genetic Counseling

Some examples include shadowing or interviewing genetic counselors, working as a genetic counseling assistant, engaging with online/remote learning modules about genetic counseling, or attending genetic counseling interest events/workshops. Please be sure these experiences are listed in your résumé. For events offered through Columbia, visit here.

Letters of Recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation. If you have received your undergraduate degree in the past five years, at least one letter must be from a faculty member at that institution (i.e., professor, research mentor). If you are not a recent student, letters from mentors, advisors, or supervisors who can speak directly to your commitment, interest in genetic counseling, capacity for human service work, and/or work ethic will be accepted. Keep in mind that letters from people who do not know you personally will not be given serious consideration.


A personal interview is required when an applicant is found to be competitive for admission consideration. Interviews are arranged by invitation after all materials have been reviewed.