Genetic Counseling Program Standards and Milestones

Year 1 Milestones

Semester 1:

Introductory Meeting with Major Advisor

Each student in a graduate degree program must have a major advisor. A major advisor must be appointed to the Graduate Faculty at the appropriate level by the Dean of The Graduate School, by authorization of the President of the University, to advise students at that level in a particular field of study or area of concentration. Since consistency of direction is important, a durable relationship between the student and the major advisor should be formed as early as possible. Occasionally, it may be desirable or appropriate for a student’s degree program to be directed by co-major advisors (not more than two). Each co-major advisor must hold an appropriate Graduate Faculty appointment in the student’s field of study and area of concentration (if applicable). Your major advisor should be your first stop for questions and guidance about academics and programmatic questions.

Review and Attestation of UConn Genetic Counseling Student Handbook in HuskyCT

The Master of Science degree in Genetic Counseling students are provided with an online student handbook containing programmatic information about academic regulations, standards, trainings, resources, and more.

Program Registration

Students must complete university and programmatic orientation training within specified deadlines. Graduate students must register by the tenth day of the semester. Failure to do so will result in termination of status. Students who wish to continue the following termination will be required to pay a substantial reinstatement fee and a late registration fee.

Completion of Fieldwork Training Orientation

Completion of an online module will be documented to provide student with fieldwork training expectation, policies and procedures.

Completion of CITI Training: Human Subjects Research

Genetic Counseling students are required to complete the research-appropriate courses on the CITI Program website and complete certification as a component of the Program's professional development. The CITI Basic Course certification is good for three (3) years at which time, the CITI Refresher Course must be taken to maintain certification. For information about completing the CITI Refresher Course: CITI Refresher Course.

There are two basic CITI Courses for Human Subjects.  Group 1 is the basic Biomedical Research course and it consists of the following [modules] and Group 2 is the basic Social and Behavioral Science course and consists of the following [modules]. For more information about these requirements: CITI Training.

Establishment of Advisory Committee

The advisory committee membership will be reviewed after consultation between the major advisor and the student at the conclusion of semester 1.   Two members must be established prior to the start of semester 2.  The full advisory committee must be established by the end of semester 2.

Semester 2:

Completion of Capstone Preparation Training

Review of expectations, documentation (IRB) and deliverables

Completion of RCR Training

Responsible conduct of research training is required prior to commencing research with faculty


Completion of Practice Comprehensive Exam

Students will complete an examination with Board style questions. Exam performance will  be reviewed with the student's academic advisor.

Capstone Project (Summer)

Each student will implement an individual, original graduate-level investigation that has been approved by the program’s Capstone Research Committee. Projects will naturally range in topic, design, and outcomes, but each student will be required to provide the advisory committee with a specific research question or illustrate an innovative approach to an identified need. Publication and/or professional presentations at regional and national conferences will strongly be encouraged, but not mandatory for the dissemination of student work.

Year 2 Milestones

Semester 1:

Capstone Project Learning Agreement 

Plan of Study 

Semester 2:

Capstone Project 

Capstone Exam

The capstone requirement will involve 2 parts. It will require a public professional presentation of ~40-50 minutes followed by an open question/answer session by the public and then a closed question/answer session with the advisory committee.  The content of the presentation will be finalized with input from the student, advisory committee members, or others as appropriate with the final decision from the student's major advisor.

Part 1 is the student presentation of the completed research/capstone project to the student’s advisory committee and invited public audience. Part 2 is an advisory committee question/answer session with the candidate. This portion of the capstone allows students to expand on their knowledge base of human and medical genetics and genetic counseling. The student's advisory committee is composed of the Program Director and two or three additional faculty. Students may be given genetic counseling scenarios to discuss, asked general knowledge questions in any area of the curriculum or to clarify answers related to their capstone project.

Students must pass both portions of the capstone requirement in order to meet graduation requirements. The decision as to whether a student has passed or failed the capstone requirement rests solely with the advisory committee, which shall take into account the opinions of other participating faculty members. The vote of the advisory committee must be unanimous. Following the examination, the major advisor shall communicate the results to the student and send a report on the official form to the Office of the Registrar. If the student has failed the examination or if the advisory committee considers the result of the examination inconclusive, the committee has the option of requiring the student to retake it. In such cases, the recommendation must reach The Graduate School promptly, and any re-examination must take place within 12 months from the date of the original examination. If the advisory committee consists of three members, decisions must be unanimous. If the advisory committee consists of four or more members, decisions are considered adopted if there is no more than one negative vote, although according to University the major advisor must always vote in the affirmative for a student to pass.

If a student fails the capstone requirement, the examination committee will provide avenues for the student to rectify the deficiency, such as having the student participate in remediation of specific content areas as arranged by program leadership. Committee members may also decide that additional course or clinical work is necessary in order to meet the requirements of the Program. If a student is unable to pass the capstone requirement following remediation, the student will be asked to withdraw from the Program.

Comprehensive Exam

There is a practice comprehensive examination in the summer semester. The comprehensive examination will be given at the beginning of the spring semester (January) of the second year for all students. It is a multiple-choice examination that covers the didactic courses and clinical genetic counseling material covered during the genetic counseling program and is taken by all second-year students who have performed satisfactorily in all aspects of the program. Portions of the examination are patterned after the certification examination given by the American Board of Genetic Counseling, but there is no intent to “teach to the board exam”.

Students must pass the examination in order to meet graduation requirements by the Program. Students are expected to pass the examination at an 80th percentile. If a student fails to meet the requirement for passing, then additional course or clinical work may be necessary for remediation and to meet the requirements of the Program. If a student is unable to pass the comprehensive examination following remediation, the student will be asked to withdraw from the Program.

Overview of Program Requirements

By accepting admission, the genetic counseling graduate student assumes responsibility for knowing and complying with the program requirements and standards as posted in the Student Handbook for Year and Semester of program matriculation.

  1. Sustain an overall 3.0 GPA in the required credit hours following the curriculum guidelines
  2. Complete a Capstone Project, including a public presentation of the project and a question/answer session with the student advisory committee
  3. Submit an accurate and complete online Professional Portfolio of activities related to professional development
  4. Complete a minimum of 50 ABGC approved core cases
  5. Pass all course-specific requirements as specified in respective syllabi
  6. Pass a comprehensive ABGC board-style exam

Transfer Credits, Course Exemptions, and Remediation

A graduate student may transfer only the specific University of Connecticut courses listed on the genetic counseling program curriculum. The student must have earned a grade of B or better for transferred courses to be applied toward the genetic counseling program plan of study. A maximum of 12-credits from the University of Connecticut Institute for System Genomics Graduate Certificate Programs in Clinical Genetics and Genomics or Clinical Communication and Counseling may transfer and provided those credits have not been applied to another degree at UConn or elsewhere. Similarly, up to 6-credits of the same UConn graduate certificate courses taken on a non-degree basis may be applied to a graduate degree. Credits taken several years prior should normally not be transferred, since it may affect the time limit allowed for the degree (see "Time Limits" below).

Time Limits

Graduate students are expected to make regular and continuous progress toward the completion of their program of study and should be familiar with recent developments in their field. Therefore the Graduate School has set time limits for the completion of degrees. For master's students, the time limit is six years. The time allowed is measured from the date of the earliest course listed on the Plan of Study. Therefore any credits you may wish to transfer from prior work should be considered carefully, because they may significantly shorten the time allotted for you to complete the degree. Students who fail to complete all requirements for their program within the time allowed will have their status and their progress reevaluated, and they may be terminated. Extensions of the terminal date are considered only for students who have made regular and consistent progress toward completion of degree requirements. The Graduate School will consider an extension only if it is requested in writing by the student's major advisor.

Grade Requirements

Students must earn a grade of B or better for graded courses and an S (Satisfactory) for S/U graded courses throughout the Program. Each course in the Program has specific requirements and evaluation processes. If any course grade is below a B, the student will be required to demonstrate his or her mastery of the material (for example, retaking the course and earning at least a B). Decisions for remediation are made on a case-by-case basis with input from the student, the course instructor, and program faculty with the final decision of the program director. Additionally, each student must demonstrate appropriate development of clinical skills and competencies during rotations as reflected by passing scores on formative and summative assessments distributed throughout the duration of each internship (ISG 5091).

Professional Development Portfolio

Portfolium is an online platform to curate student achievement sets, projects, and competencies for the development of a professional portfolio. Students will build an online portfolio throughout the program culminating in a final showcase to be submitted for evaluation by their advisory committee as evidence of purposeful engagement throughout the program.

Core Cases in Clinical Rotations

Students must complete a minimum of 50 ABGC-approved core cases.

Maximum Time Allowed

All the requirements for the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive calendar years.