MSc in Genetic Counselling

Thank you for your interest in our graduate program in Genetic Counselling. Below is very important information about admission requirements and processes. Prospective students may also find it helpful to read through the Frequently Asked Questions.


The practice of genetic counselling combines the expertise of genetic disease mechanisms with a sensitive appreciation of the psychological burdens and complex social and ethical issues associated with genetic disorders. Genetic counsellors are highly specialized healthcare professionals whose academic training includes a Masters in Science in Genetic Counselling. Genetic counsellors work in all domains of genetics including: Cancer, Prenatal, Pediatric and Metabolic Genetics as well as in other roles in public health and laboratory.


The GCP offers a Masters of Science Degree in Genetic Counselling. This program is a collaborative effort between the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) Program of Genetics and Metabolism and the University of Manitoba Biochemistry and Medical Genetics. Student training is provided by Medical Geneticists, Genetic Counsellors, Genetic Assistants and PhD Scientists/Geneticists with a variety of expertise.

The vision of the Genetic Counselling Program is to promote an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to genomic health, research and education and produce highly trained genetic counsellors to provide advanced and personalized genetic health care to Manitobans and beyond.  Our objectives are to provide exceptional academic, clinical and research training in genetic counselling using an interdisciplinary approach to genomic education, optimizing the genetic health of Manitobans and bridging bench research to the bedside and back. We value excellence as measured by training of highly qualified people, community based training of our youth, research and teaching awards at all levels, genetic health care delivery, research funding, publications and dissemination of our successes at scientific meetings.

Meet our current MSc Genetic Counselling Students

Class of 2019
The first MSc GCP class with Rusty the therapy dog


Ashleigh entered the GCP with a BSc in Microbiology from the University of Victoria. Her counselling experiences include volunteering as a member of the Victoria Sexual Assault Response Team at the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. She has gained exposure to genetic counselling through volunteer work with the Community Genetics Research program at the University of Victoria. Before her acceptance to the GCP, Ashleigh worked as a laboratory technician at a biotechnology company specializing in custom antibody production. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, painting and photography. Her graduate thesis topic is “Exploring Immigrants’ Perceptions of Genetic Counselling: A Case Study”.

Angela entered the GCP with an Honours BSc in Genetics and an MSc in Biochemistry and Medical Genetics at the University of Manitoba. During these programs, she conducted research that examined the associations between prenatal/perinatal factors and autism spectrum disorders. Prior to entering the GCP, Angela gained counselling experience as a volunteer at the Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg. In her spare time, she enjoys playing soccer, volunteering with an animal rescue, and participating in the Manitoba Pinball League. Angela’s graduate thesis topic is “Exploration of the Genetic Assistant Position in the Genetics Clinic”.

Rachelle entered the GCP with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree with High Distinction from University of Toronto. Rachelle’s previous exposures to genetic counselling include volunteering with the Department of Clinical Genetics at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, Ontario. She later continued on to work in their clinic as a Genetic Assistant. Her counselling and advocacy experiences include volunteering for several years as a crisis counsellor at a local distress centre and leadership roles at University of Toronto. In her spare time, Rachelle enjoys playing soccer and other intramural sports, as well as playing musical instruments. Her graduate thesis topic is “Mitigating the psychosocial impact of a false positive newborn screen for inborn errors of metabolism”.


GCP Academic Program
The GCP curriculum is designed to provide knowledge and skills in areas such as genetics, genomics, counselling, advocacy, ethics, health systems, cultural awareness and professionalism, aligning with the practice and knowledge based competencies outlines by the Canadian Association of Genetic Counselling (CAGC) and the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC). A summary of coursework and clinical requirements details the curriculum plan.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) Genetics Program is the major site for all clinical rotations. This WRHA Genetics Program serves over 6,000 patients a year from the provinces of Manitoba, northwestern Ontario and Nunavut from diverse cultural backgrounds living in urban, rural, and remote regions.  This provides an exceptional and diverse experience, providing both in person and telehealth consultations for patients with common and rare genetic diseases.  Students commence observation rotations in the first semester to gain exposures to clinic flow and counselling styles.  Clinical rotations options include prenatal, medical genetics, cancer, metabolics/newborn screening, cardiac, multi-disciplinary and subspecialty clinics with exposures to clinical and public health laboratories.  Students also have the opportunity to arrange an external summer elective between 1st and 2nd year and an internal elective in their last semester depending on their interest/availability. 

The GCP is thesis-based. Supervision of thesis projects will be by faculty affiliated with BMG and/or Pediatrics and Child Health.  Our centralized program provides the network to design projects that are interdisciplinary and/or provincial initiatives. The progress of individual thesis project is overseen by the BMG Graduate Student Affairs Committee.  A summary of thesis requirements details the milestones.

At the end of the 2-year MSc in Genetic Counselling Program, genetic counsellors will be able to undergo certification through examination with the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) or the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CAGC).

Expected Program Completion Date
Students are expected to complete GCP requirements by June of second year (completion of all three major areas of the program) and degrees will be conferred in October.  Therefore, it is recommended that the graduate student submit their written thesis to their student advisory committee in April-May for a June defense. Students are expected to successfully defend and submit their MSc Thesis by late August of their second year in the Program. MSc Degrees will be awarded at the Annual Fall Convocation held in October to those students having met these requirements.


The University of Manitoba's Master’s in Genetic Counselling program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC), located at 4400 College Blvd., Ste. 220, Overland Park, KS 66211, web address  ACGC can be reached by phone at 913.222.8668.



Application Requirements

  • Four-year Bachelor of Science degree where coursework includes genetics and psychology
  • Minimum 3.7 (4.5 scale) Grade Point Average (GPA), or equivalent in the previous 60 credit hours of university study. Prospective students are advised to review the Canadian, American, or International grade conversion scales to determine whether they meet our minimum GPA requirements.
  • Courses in Biology, Molecular Biology, Embryology or Developmental Biology, and Statistics (recommended). 

Counselling and Other Experiences
Successful candidates will have a demonstrated interest in genetic counselling.  Practical counselling experience is required. This could include work with crisis programs, planned parenthood and peer-to-peer counselling, either in person or by telephone, paid or volunteer. Most of these experiences provide training. Exposures to genetic counselling clinics, professional organizations, genetic research and patient advocacy are an asset.

Proof of English Proficiency
An acceptable score on an English Language Proficiency Test is required of all applicants unless they have received a high school diploma or a university degree from Canada or one of the countries listed on the English Language Test Exemption List prior to admission. The University of Manitoba does not accept test scores that are more than two (2) years old.


All applicants must complete a self-declaration regarding criminal records, pending criminal charges and registration on the child abuse registry as an offender; this self-declaration must be done at the time of application.

A Criminal Record Search Certificate, declaration of pending criminal charges, child abuse registry self-check and an adult abuse registry self-check are required at the time of registration and annually thereafter. Applicants will need to comply with any University policy on criminal record and abuse checks that may be in effect as of the time of registration.


Application Deadline
The deadline for all admission documents is January 15 for a Program start date of September of the same calendar year (for both Canadian/US and International Students). The application process opens November 15.

Application Package
The application package is comprised of:

  • A completed Faculty of Graduate Studies online application form.
  • A written statement of purpose of no more than two single-spaced pages outlining relevant experience and reason for pursuing genetic counselling.
  • Three letters of recommendation; one of the reference letters must be from an individual who can judge the applicant's counselling abilities.
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency
  • Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended, including in progress courses
  • Non-refundable application fee
  • Registration for the Genetic Counselling Admissions Match (see details below)

Applicants must submit their online application only when they have obtained all of the above documents by the January 15 deadline. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed:

Personal Interview
Students short-listed for potential admission into the program will be invited for a personal interview in March and April. The interview process will include an orientation session, a tour of the facilities and interviews.

Genetic Counselling Admissions Match
Three students will be accepted into the program each year. The University of Manitoba GCP participates in the Genetic Counselling Admissions Match beginning with admissions for Fall 2018 for a 2 year MSc program, track number 12710. All applicants are required to register with the match, prior to applying to participating programs. The GC Admissions Match has been established to enhance the process of placing applicants into positions in masters-level genetic counseling programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC). The Match uses a process that takes into account both applicants’ and programs’ preferences. All applicants must first register for the Match with NMS before applying to participating genetic counseling graduate programs. At the conclusion of all program interviews, both applicants and programs will submit ranked lists of preferred placements to NMS according to deadlines posted on the NMS website. The binding results of the Match will be released to both applicants and programs simultaneously in late April.

Please visit the NMS website to register for the match, review detailed information about the matching process, and to view a demonstration of how the matching algorithm works


I have previously applied in the past, is there a special process for re-applicants?
Your account will remain active for 2 years since your first applicant and certain data, such as contact and biographical and education data, will pre-populate in your application.  The Admissions office may be able to upload transcripts from the last time you applied, but otherwise a new application and documents are required (for questions email

What is the expected completion date?
Students are expected to complete GCP requirements by June of second year (completion of all three major areas of the program) and degrees will be conferred in October.

How do my referees submit their recommendations?
Applicants must add their referees' contact information to the "recommendation provider" list. Once the list is saved, the referee will be sent a link to the online form through email to upload their reference letter and complete an online form. This is automatically attached to the prospective student's application and sent directly to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics will review the recommendation letters when assessing the complete application package. 

Can you review my application and transcripts to see if I meet the application requirements?
Transcripts or other materials will not be reviewed in advance of the submission of an application.  Please review all application requirements in detail listed on our webpage.

How many credit hours are required?
Applicants are required to complete a 4 year degree or equivalent (120 credit hours)

What if I completed my previous education at multiple institutions?
Transcripts from all institutions (including those where courses are in progress) should be scanned and uploaded.  The GPA is calculated based on the most recent 60 credit hours, regardless of institution.

How do I submit my transcripts?
Transcripts from all institutions attended should be scanned and uploaded in the application package, which will include completed and in progress courses. Admission to the program will be contingent on the completion of the in-progress courses.  Degree certificates are not required.

How much coursework is required for prerequisites?
Applicants should have completed undergraduate genetics courses in principles of genetics, cell biology and molecular biology.  At least one course in psychology is required.  Courses in developmental biology, statistics and embryology are an asset but not required.

What do I do about in progress courses/prerequisites?
Courses in progress are acceptable for your application and admission is contingent on your successful completion of these courses.   Courses in progress should be either listed on your uploaded transcripts or alternatively you can provide a letter from your course coordinator indicating you are enrolled.

Can I edit my application online?
You can save changes within the application package.  Once the application is submitted, no further changes are permitted.

Do I need to have a thesis supervisor in advance of applying?
No. Thesis projects and supervisors will be determined after enrollment in the program.



About Genetic Counselling
About the Genetic Counselling Program
Admission Requirements
Application Procedure
Frequently Asked Questions



Dept. of Biochemistry & Medical Genetics
Faculty of Health Sciences,
College of Medicine
336-745 Bannatyne Avenue, BMSB
Bannatyne Campus
Winnipeg, MB R3E 0J9

Phone:   204.789.3593
Fax:       204.789.3900

Program Director:
Jessica Hartley, MS, CGC

Associate Program Director:       
Claudia Carriles, MS, CGC

Program Medical Director:       
Bernie Chodirker, MD, FCCMG, FRCPC