The following questions about the JHU/NIH Genetic Counseling Training Program (GCTP) below cover everything from the application process to finding employment after graduation.
How many applications are typically received for the program? How many students are admitted?
We generally receive 100 -150 applications per year for the program. Currently, six students are admitted each year.
Do all students entering the program have a strong background in biology or genetics?
No. Many successful applicants have backgrounds in other areas, including psychology, sociology or education. But all qualified applicants have successfully completed courses in genetics and biochemistry prior to enrolling. Many successful applicants have had some work or research experience beyond college that has helped to focus their interest in genetic counseling.
May I request an interview if I am applying to the program?
We do not normally schedule formal interviews at the applicant's request, but we are available for answering questions by phone and by email. You may schedule a tour of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health through the Admissions Office (410-955-3543).
Do you pay any of the travel costs for an interview?
We are unable to pay for expenses associated with interviewing. In years past, candidates have been hosted by current students who may be able to provide transportation to and from the airport as well as between JHU and NIH. Some meals are provided by the hosting students and by the program.
Which application form do I use to apply to the program? Where do I send my application materials?
Please find the online application and instructions on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health website. Applications are processed through SOPHAS, the centralized application service for CEPH-accredited public health programs. Please note that all supporting materials shall be submitted online and/or directly to the SOPHAS processing center.
Is it necessary to have completed the required courses in biochemistry and genetics in order to apply?
We require that students entering the program have completed at least one course in biochemistry and one in genetics. Occasionally, a student may be enrolled in one of these required courses at the time of applying to the program, or may even be planning to take a course over the summer, before matriculating in the Genetic Counseling Training Program. If one of the required courses does not appear on a transcript that accompanies the application, an explanation of the plan for completing the required prerequisite should be appended to the application.
What type of counseling experience fulfills the pre-requisite of "one-on-one counseling?"
Many of our successful applicants have worked in a paid or voluntary capacity for a rape crisis center, Planned Parenthood, or a crisis intervention hotline. Classroom teaching and work as a camp counselor are useful experiences but do not generally fulfill this requirement. A distinguishing characteristic of an experience that fulfills this requirement is that the applicant received counseling training as part of his or her experience.
May I enroll in the program as a part-time student? May I transfer credits from another school or program if I am accepted into the Genetic Counseling Training Program?
The JHU/NIH Genetic Counseling Training Program requires 2 and 1/2 years of full-time study. Due to the complexity of scheduling clinical rotations and sequences of required courses, we cannot accept part-time students at this time. Occasionally, a course required as a part of the program might be waived if the student has taken a comparable graduate-level course elsewhere. Even when this occurs, the degree program would not be likely to be shortened to less than 2 and 1/2 years.
Is shadowing a genetic counselor required for admission?
We do not require that applicants have experience observing genetic counseling. However, some applicants who have had this experience have a better understanding of the profession and its requirements.
How successful are your graduates in finding jobs after graduation?
Virtually all of our graduates are employed in the field of genetic counseling. In general, there continue to be more genetic counseling job openings than there are qualified counselors to fill them.
How do I get more information about a career in genetic counseling?
The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) has prepared a career information packet that can be obtained by calling the NSGC at 312-321-6834. Additional information is available through the NSGC website.
How do graduates do on the ABGC Certification Exam?
The vast majority of our alumni choose to take the ABGC Board Certification exam. Historically, our alumni have performed extremely well on the certification exam. Because of the small nature of our program, a single individual’s performance has a large effect on our pass rates from year to year. Nonetheless, we provide information below that we hope will be helpful to prospective students.
First time pass rate for graduates in the last 3 years (2020-2022): 86%
Overall pass rate for graduates in the last 3 years (2020-2022): 100%
First time pass rate for graduates in the previous 3 year period (2017-2019): 86%
Overall pass rate for graduates in the previous 3 year period (2017-2019): 100%
Do matriculating students typically complete the program?
We are committed to helping all admitted students achieve the goal of becoming a genetic counselor, and the vast majority of students have graduated. When students have left, it has almost always been because they ultimately chose a different career path. All matriculating students from the three most recent graduating cohorts have completed the program.
Do graduates of the program go on to work in genetic counseling?
Most of our 100 graduates are still working in the field of genetic counseling. In the most recent three graduating classes, all graduates are currently employed as genetic counselors or enrolled in an additional (related) PhD program. Of interest, almost a third of our graduates have a research component to their position.
Can you provide feedback on my application outside of the application review cycle?
While we can’t provide specific analyses of every applicant’s, please note the following points. Given the competitive nature of the program, there isn’t anything that can guarantee admission in a subsequent cycle, but we do offer some general recommendations.
- Continue to seek relevant experiences. Our program places a strong emphasis on having had previous counseling experiences (and the meaning of those experiences to the applicant). We also have a stringent research process and value applicants that have demonstrated some propensity for research (both by examining past research experiences and how applicants talk about those experiences in their application). While social science research experience is a plus because it more closely matches the kinds of research our students are asked to conduct, most applicants don’t have that kind of experience, and ANY involvement or interest in research can strengthen an application.
- Review your application materials to be sure that you clearly state both the relevance and meaning of your past experiences to your future graduate training. You should also be sure to articulate how you envision your graduate training will help you to reach your ultimate career goals (i.e., what do you want to get out of your training experience)?
- Continue to explore/get exposure to genetic counseling to show continued interest. While we encourage shadowing experiences when possible, we recognize that those experiences can be difficult to obtain and no longer requiring them. However, there are many ways to continue to explore the field, including attending relevant webinars and/or in-person meetings, talking to genetic counselors, and taking genetic counseling-relevant courses.
Last updated: March 29, 2023