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.

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


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 MSc Genetic Counselling 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 Program. Students training will be provided by Genetic Counsellors, Genetic Assistants and PhD Geneticists with a variety of expertise.


The objectives of this program are to provide exceptional academic, clinical and research training in genetic counselling. Our overriding mission is to optimize genetic health by bridging bench research to the bedside and beyond. Our vision is to establish a personalized medicine pipeline that promotes interdisciplinary and collaborative research, education and excellent genetic health care delivery. 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.

Courses in the Genetic Counselling Program will provide a solid genetics and counselling training background to fulfill the core competencies outlined by the Canadian Association of Genetic Counselling and the American Board of Genetic Counseling.

Clinical Rotations
The WRHA Genetics Program serves over 6,000 patients a year from the provinces of Manitoba, northwestern Ontario and Nunavut. This provides an exceptional and diverse clinical experience for clinical training rotations for both in person and telehealth consultations. Students will have the opportunity to work in multi-disciplinary clinics and with isolated, unique, or underserved populations.

Thesis Work
This is a thesis-based program. Supervision of thesis projects will be by faculty affiliated with BMG and/or Pediatrics and Child Health. The progress of individual thesis project is overseen by the BMG Graduate Student Affairs Committee.

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). Eligibility for the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors (CAGC).

Expected Program Completion Date
Students are expected to complete their coursework and clinical rotations by April of their second year in the Program. 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 Experience
Successful candidates will have a demonstrated interest in genetic counselling with practical experience in counselling (face to face, telephone etc.). Ideally, students will have had exposure to a clinical genetics setting and/or exposure to research.

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 February 1 for a Program start date of September of the same calendar year (for both Canadian/US and International Students). The application process opens October 1.

Application Package
The application package is comprised of:

  • completed Faculty of Graduae 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 (3) reference letters; one of the reference letters must be from an individual who can judge the applicant's counselling abilities as previous counselling experience is required.
  • Curriculum vitae

Applicants must submit their online application only when they have obtained all of the following by the February 1 deadline:

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

Notice of Admission
Students admitted into the program will be notified on the American Board of Genetic Counsellors accredited programs Universal Acceptance Date typically at the end of April. Three students will be accepted into the program each year.


As this is a new program, we will collect questions during the application and admissions periods and populate this page as questions arise. Stay tuned for updates.

When can we submit applications?
We will be accepting applications between October 1, 2016 to February 1, 2017.

Is there a particular format required for the Statement of Purpose?
The statement of purpose should be no longer than 2 pages, single-spaced, in 12 point font, with 1” margins.

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.

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.

What are examples of “counselling experience?”
This could include work with crisis programs, planned parenthood and peer-to-peer counselling.  Most of these experiences provide training.  This work could include both in person and phone and be paid or volunteer




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

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