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    • Rady Faculty of Health Sciences
    • Faculty of Graduate Studies

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    • Master of Science

  • icon graduate

    Expected duration

    • 2 years

Program details

The Faculty of Graduate Studies and the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences offer a two-year program of study leading to a Genetic Counselling (MSc).

Expected duration: 2 years

Tuition and fees: two years tuition, then continuing fees in subsequent years (refer to Graduate tuition and fees). Students are expected to complete the genetic counselling program requirements by June of the second year.

In addition to the minimum course requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, found in the Graduate Studies Regulations Section, students must:

  • Complete 30 credit hours of coursework
  • Submit an acceptable thesis and pass an oral examination
  • Meet the essential skills and abilities for admission, promotion and graduation from the genetic counselling program listed in the bona fide academic requirements (PDF).

At the end of the program, our graduates will be eligible to undergo certification with the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) and the Canadian Board of Genetic Counselling (CBGC).

Clinical education details

The Shared Health Genetics and Metabolism Program serves as the primary location for all rotations.

Our students gain invaluable and varied experience by offering consultations to patients from diverse cultural backgrounds across urban, rural, and remote areas.

In the first semester, students begin with early exposure to understand clinic flow and counseling techniques. Rotation choices encompass prenatal, medical genetics, cancer, metabolics/newborn screening, cardiac, multi-disciplinary and subspecialty clinics, as well as laboratory work. Additionally, students organize an external summer elective between their first and second years.

Sample course offerings

  • BGEN 7142: Clinical Genetics 1
  • BGEN 7090: Principles and Practice of Human Genetics
  • BGEN 7144: Clinical Genetics 2
  • BGEN 7130: Genetic Epidemiology of Human Populations
  • BGEN 7160: Theory and Practice of Genetic Counselling 
  • BGEN 7040: Seminars in Human Genetics
  • BGEN 7000: Research Seminar
  • BGEN 7270: Introduction to Genetic Counselling Clinical Rotation
  • BGEN 7280: Advanced Genetic Counselling Clinical Rotation
  • Courses in the Applied Counselling Program
  • Research Elective

For full course descriptions, please visit the Academic Calendar.

Milestones & recommended deadlines for MSc-GC Thesis

The progress of each student's individual thesis in the Genetic Counselling Program (GCP) is overseen by the program director, the BMG Graduate Student Affairs Committee (GSAC), and the Student Advisory Committee (SAC). Below are the recommended milestones and deadlines.

Year 1

Year 1 Deadlines
November 30 Program director advisor meeting (Fall Review)
October 1 - December 1 Identify advisor, complete preliminary study design
December 1 Letter of intent to GSAC chair
December 21 Advisor student guidelines through JUMP
December 15 - January 30 Identify and "Meet and Greet" with advisory committee members
January 31 Report advisory committee members to GSAC chair
December 31 CORE (Modules 1-10) and UM Researcher PHIA course
January 1 - February 1 Public/community consultation in study design (if required)
February 1 Data measures and protocol developed
February 15 Thesis proposal examined & approved
April 15 Data measures finalized and pilot tested as necessary
May 1 Submission to REB +/- HSC Impact (check deadlines)
Prior to May 30 Annual FGS review
SUMMER 10 weeks full-time research activities
June 15 REB/Impact revisions submitted/project approved
June 15 - July 1 Engage individuals involved in recruitment
July 1 Data collection/recruitment begins
August 1 Literature review: quantitative projects: complete review submitted to advisor. Qualitative projects: drafts to be submitted periodically - ongoing until data collection complete.

Year 2

Month Activity
September Data collection continues.
November 1 Materials/methods draft to advisor.
November 15 Updated literature review to advisor.
Prior to Dec 1 BMG fall review.
December 15 Data collection complete.
Dec 15 - Feb 15 Data analysis.
March 1 Results/discussion draft, introduction to advisor.
March - April Full thesis to advisor for approval.
May 1 - 30 Submit thesis to SAC and schedule potential thesis defense.
June 1 - 30 Thesis defense and revisions.
May - June Submit abstract to national meeting.
End of August Last date to submit thesis paperwork to graduate studies for October convocation.

Additional notes

Each GCP student must meet with at least two potential advisors, with guidance from the Program Director.

The "Letter of Intent" should include specific details as outlined and be reviewed by a working group.

Check REB and Hospital Impact Committee submission deadlines early.

Familiarize yourself with FGS Graduate Thesis Guidelines and BMG Supplementary Regulations for the defense process.

Admission requirements

The following are minimum requirements to be considered for entry into the Genetic Counselling (MSc) program. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

  • There are a high number of qualified applicants every year for the Genetic Counselling (MSc) program. Successful candidates demonstrate a focused interest in and understanding of genetic counselling in their applications and generally exceed minimum application requirements. To be considered for admission to the Genetic Counselling (MSc) program, you must have:

    • A four-year year bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) that includes undergraduate courses in genetics (at least 3 credits) and psychology (at least 3 credits)
    • Minimum 3.7 GPA or equivalent in the last 60 credit hours of university study.
    • Practical counselling training and experience. This includes applying counselling skills and techniques to support individuals with personal, social or psychological problem and/or difficulties.
      • Candidate may have paid or volunteer experiences with social service agencies such as planned parenthood, crisis programs or peer-to-peer counselling. In person/video/telephone experiences preferred, but text/chat accepted.

    In addition to the admission requirements described here, all applicants must meet the minimum admission and English language proficiency requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Tips for applicants

In addition to minimum requirements, the following experiences are recommended to support a successful application:

Coursework such as statistics, human embryology or developmental biology, human genetics and molecular biology

Research experience such as graduate, undergraduate, work or volunteer experiences which provide exposure to the research process, study design and scientific inquiry.

Exposures to the field of genetic counselling such as shadowing of live or simulated genetic counselling sessions, interviews, courses/webinars, social media/blogs/podcasts, volunteer/work, etc.

Advocacy experiences such as those with advocacy/support groups, community outreach/foundations, professional organizations, etc.

Common mistakes to avoid

Preparing Your CV

The admissions committee relies on your CV to delve into the details of your experiences mentioned elsewhere in your application. Think of your CV as an opportunity to present a comprehensive profile of your experiences thus far. While there isn't a prescribed template or format, there are resources available, such as the CV resource from University of Manitoba Career Services, to guide you in crafting effective demonstration statements.

Counselling Experiences

Reserve the "counselling experiences" section for activities that meet the criteria of practicing counselling skills. Shadowing or volunteering with genetic counsellors doesn't qualify unless you're actively engaged in counselling. However, ensure all experiences are documented in your CV.


When soliciting references:

  1. Make sure they understand the program you're applying to, emphasizing that genetic counselling is a clinical graduate program.
  2. Provide guidance on the values/topics you'd like them to address, aligning with your genetic counselling application.
  3. Request your counselling reference to focus on your counselling skills and abilities.
  4. Ask for a comparative ranking relative to others in your cohort (e.g., top 10% of volunteers).

Calculate Your GPA

Each year, some candidates fail to progress to the interview stage due to a GPA below the minimum threshold. Utilize a GPA calculator to assess your grades in each course individually over the last 60 credits. Begin with your most recent university-level course (for credit) and work backward until you accumulate 60 credits in total.


Q: Can you review my application and transcripts to see if I meet the application requirements? A: We'll review your application and transcripts, but not before you submit your application. Check our webpage for detailed application requirements.

Q: Do I need to have a thesis supervisor in advance of applying? A: No, thesis projects and supervisors are determined after enrollment in the program.

Q: Do all placements take place in Winnipeg or are there other locations as well? A: All clinical placements (rotations) happen in Winnipeg during the academic year. Summer rotations can be arranged at centers with certified genetic counselors outside of Manitoba.

Q: Are GRE scores required? A: No.

Q: Are there scholarships available? A: Yes, there are scholarships available to our students locally and nationally after enrollment. This includes the Canadian Graduate Scholarships-Masters and the University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship, among others.

Q: I met the requirements, why did I not get an interview? A: Meeting the minimum program requirements doesn't guarantee an interview or admission. The applicant pool for an MSc in Genetic Counselling is highly competitive. If you'd like feedback on your application, we're happy to provide it.

Q: I have previously applied, is there a special process for re-applicants? A: Your account remains active for 2 years since your first application. Certain data will pre-populate, and the Admissions office may upload transcripts from your last application. Otherwise, you'll need to submit a new application and documents.

Q: I have courses/prerequisites in progress, what do I do? A: Courses in progress are acceptable, and admission depends on successful completion. List them on your transcripts or provide a letter from your course coordinator.

Q: I did not receive a grade for a required course due to COVID-19. Can this course still be used to meet requirements? A: Due to COVID-19, we accept a "pass" or "complete" grade in required/recommended courses for the Spring 2020 term, with an explanation on the transcript. These grades won't be included in GPA calculations.

Q: How many credit hours are required? A: Applicants need to complete a 4-year degree or equivalent (120 credit hours).

Q: What if I completed my previous education at multiple institutions? A: Upload transcripts from all institutions attended, including those with courses in progress. For a BSc, GPA is calculated based on the most recent 60 credit hours taken at a degree-granting institution.

Q: How do I submit my transcripts? A: Scan and upload transcripts from all institutions attended in the application package, including completed and in-progress courses. Admission depends on completing in-progress courses. Degree certificates aren't required initially, but may be requested later.

Q: How much coursework is required for prerequisites? A: Applicants should have completed undergraduate genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology courses. At least one course in psychology is required. Courses in developmental biology, statistics, and embryology are beneficial but not mandatory.

Q: What are examples of the required "counseling experience"? A: Examples include supportive counseling (e.g., mental health, bereavement, elder, cancer, victim, distress, cultural support), crisis intervention/response (e.g., suicide, trauma support, campus resident advisor), options counseling (e.g., contraceptive, pregnancy care, STI support), and support group facilitating. Most experiences provide training, can be in-person or over the phone, and can be paid or volunteer. Successful applicants typically have part-time experience in this capacity for over a year.

How to apply

The Genetic Counselling (MSc) program accepts three students for Fall entry only. The application process includes an online application and personal interview for select applicants in March and April. Depending on the evolving public health and travel recommendations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interviews may occur remotely. Applications must include the following:

  • $100 application fee (non-refundable)
  • CV/resumé
  • Unofficial copies of transcripts and degree certificates (For non-credit courses, a letter from the instructor is permitted)
  • Registration in the Genetic Admission Counselling Match. The genetic counselling program offers three spots under track 12710
  • Three letters of recommendation
    • Noting your skills and suitability for the program. One must be a ‘Counselling Reference’ where the individual describes the applicant's counselling abilities and experiences.
  • Statement of purpose
    • Demonstrating a focused interest and relevant experiences as they relate to your preparedness to enter the genetic counselling profession (maximum two single-spaced pages). Applicants are encouraged to consider their unique experiences, values and attributes to express how they are personally suited for providing genetic counselling to a diverse population

Please read the Faculty of Graduate Studies online application instructions before beginning your application.

Application deadlines

Applications are reviewed on a committee basis. Students selected for in-person interview will be notified in February.

Canadian, US and International applicants

Term Applications open Annual application deadline
Fall (September) November 15  January 11

Applicants must submit their online application with supporting documentation and application fee by the deadline date indicated.

Start or continue your application

Admission fee waivers and bursaries

The following bursary and match fee waivers are available to applicants who identify as First Nations, Metis and Inuit or applicants with demonstrated financial need:

Program leaders, the admissions committee, and interviewers have received education in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion supporting a fair review process for each applicant. In selection for in-person interviews, the Genetic Counselling Program Admissions Committee gives first priority to Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents.

Learn more

Contact us

Admission and application inquiries

Faculty of Graduate Studies
Room 500 UMSU University Centre
65 Chancellors Circle
University of Manitoba (Fort Garry campus)
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2 Canada
Phone: 204-474-9377

Monday to Friday
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Genetic Counselling Program inquiries

The Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics
Room 336 Basic Medical Sciences Building
745 Bannatyne Avenue
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3E 0J9 Canada