​Application Requirements


Minimum Degree Requirements:

  • 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)
  • Baccalaureate degree must be completed prior to matriculation 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 (through an english, literature, or journalism department)
  • One semester statistics (business and economic statistics do not fulfill this requirement)
  • Three additional courses covering a broad range of humanities/social science subjects that most institutions require as partial fulfillment of the baccalaureate degree. Courses may include but are not limited to: anthropology, communications, 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 (approximately June). It is strongly recommended that all behavioral, social, and biological science courses be completed by the December application deadline date. All prerequisites must be taken for credit and a letter grade. High school advanced placement (AP) credit cannot be used as a substitute to fulfill prerequisite coursework. If you received college credit for AP courses, you still must have completed upper-level courses at an accredited institution to fulfill the above requirements. For example, if you received AP credit for general biology, any advanced biological science course, such as microbiology, would fulfill the general biology prerequisite. Applicants wishing to complete prerequisite courses online must have approval by the program's admission committee prior to enrollment.

Standardized Tests

Graduate Record Examination (GRE):

General Aptitude portion, which includes verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. All applicants are required to submit GRE scores that are no more than five years old. Our GRE code for score submission is 4516.

Applicants who took the GRE more than five years ago and have subsequently received a graduate-level degree at an institution in the US or Canada may contact us to learn more about applying for a GRE waiver. Applicants who took a different post-baccalaureate standardized test (such as the MCAT, GMAT, LSAT) and have subsequently completed the related degree program at an institution in the US or Canada may contact us to learn more about applying for a GRE waiver.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS):

Required for students for whom English is not their first language. 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. Our TOEFL code for score submission is C460.

Work and Volunteer Experience


A current résumé provides the admissions 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 persistence, interest, and qualifications.

Counseling Experience:

A minimum of 40 hours (beyond training) of interactive client counseling experience in a health care or related advocacy organization is required. We strongly encourage applicants to accrue these hours in person or by phone, and these hours may be completed at one facility or a combination of practice environments, including crisis counseling hotlines, domestic abuse, community health (e.g., Planned Parenthood), or other human service settings. Experience gained from a Genetic Counseling Assistant position does not typically fulfill this requirement. 

Exposure to the Profession of Genetic Counseling:

Some examples include shadowing or interviewing genetic counselors, working as a genetic counseling assistant, completing an internship with a genetic counselor, or attending genetic counseling interest events/workshops. Please be sure these experiences are described in your application. 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. We encourage one letter to be from a practicing Certified Genetic Counselor when possible. 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.