You are here

Graduate Studies in Genetic Counseling

Providing students with the academic expertise and clinical skills essential for success in the genetic counseling profession.

"Employment of genetic counselors is projected to grow 41 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Genetic counselors should have better than average job prospects overall." - Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15

"Genetic counseling: A growing area of opportunity" - a recent article from Science Magazine (June 13, 2016)

Graphic source: The Economist, The World in 2017 issue, 2017

Program quick facts
  • Established in 1989
  • Accredited by the Accreditation Council of Genetic Counseling, awarded re-accreditation in 2014
  • Accepts 10-12 new students each year
  • Over 192 students have been admitted since inception of program
  • Offers teaching assistantships to most first-year students (includes partial tuition remission and stipend)
  • Offers collaboration with Mayo Clinic where students can choose to complete all clinical training at Mayo in Rochester, MN.
Our graduates
  • Pass the board exam (93.8% pass rate; national average is 81%)
  • First-time board pass rate for last three classes: 82.5%
  • All of our students are able to find jobs upon graduation
  • Our attrition rate for the past three years is 0.
  • Remain in the field (84% of grads work in the field in some capacity)
  • Attain leadership roles within the profession (NSGC presidents, ABGC board of directors, program directors)
  • Publish abstracts through NSGC or ASHG (31 students in the last 5 years)
  • Publish their master’s degree work in a peer-reviewed journal (21 students in the last 8 years)

Supervisor awards

Joan Steyermark (Mayo Clinic) has been awarded the 2019 Outstanding Clinical Supervisor Award for the University of Minnesota by the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors.

Mary Ahrens (Fairview, retired) was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Clinical Supervisor Award for the University of Minnesota by the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors.

Alumni News

August 2019 - Divya Ramachandra (2017) was a featured speaker for an NSGC webinar based on her thesis project about novice genetic counselors.

Winter 2019 - Associate Program Director Heather Zierhut was featured in a University of MN Alumni Association article about ancestry testing. Alum KT Curry (2017) was featured in a PBS segment of Science Trek about heredity. 

November 2018 - Clinical supervisor Mary Ahrens was awarded the AGCPD Outstanding Supervisor Award. Associate Program Director Heather Zierhut was featured in a WCCO segment about direct-to-consumer testing.

September 2017 - Clinical supervisor and alum Sarah Kreykes (1995) was featured on Kare11 in a story about genetic testing for heart conditions.

September 2017 - At this year's NSGC conference, 3 of our recent grads (Elisabeth Wurtmann, Megan Yoho, and KT Curry) will present their research in poster presentations and 4 recent grads (Katie Plamann, Mike Suguitan, John Zimmerman, and Divya Ramachandra) have been accepted for platform presentations.

January 2017 - Matt Bower (2001) received the Exceptional Contributor Award at Fairview. He was recognized for his work in developing germline genetic testing in the Molecular Diagnostics lab at M Health and saving Fairview over $1,000,000 by bring this testing in-house instead of sending it out to other labs.

Congratulations to NSGC Award Winners!
  • 2018 JEMF Full Member Award: Heather Zierhut (2006)
  • 2017 Strategic Leader Award: Heather Zierhut (2006)
  • 2017 JEMF Student Research Award: Cheyenne Dewey (2018)
  • 2017 Best Student Abstract Award: Katie Plamann (2017)
  • 2017 Prenatal SIG Award: Veronica Greve (2018)
  • 2017 Cultural Competency Award: Sara Pirzadeh-Miller (2005)
  • 2017 Conference Travel Scholarship Award: Hillary Handler (2016)
  • 2016 Cultural Competency Student Scholarship Award: Mike Suguitan (2017)
  • 2014 Outstanding Volunteer Award: Heather Zierhut (2006)
  • 2013 NSGC President: Rebecca Nagy (1996)
  • 2013 ABGC Board of Directors: Karen Powell (1994)
  • 2012 JEMF Student Research Award: Whiwon Lee (2013)
  • 2010 International Leader Award: Rawan Awwad (2006)
  • 2010 Strategic Leader Award: Angela Trepanier (1994)
  • 2009 New Leader Award: Sara Pirzadeh-Miller (2005)
  • 2009 New Leader Award: Heather Zierhut (2006)
  • 2003-2007 ABGC Board of Directors: Troy Becker (1992)
  • 2008 NSGC President: Angela Trepanier (1994)