G = Objectives
Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling
The Master's Degree Program
in Genetic Counseling is a two-year course of study integrating
course work with clinical experience in an environment that encourages
close student/faculty interaction. The program places a strong
emphasis on human molecular genetics while providing in-depth
coursework in counseling theory and technique as well as extensive
clinical training. Graduates of the program are expected to have
a clear understanding of human and medical genetics, recombinant
DNA technology, gene mapping, and developmental biology; a familiarity
with many genetic diseases and birth defects and the various techniques
used to detect and/or treat them; an understanding of how genetic
counselors function in a variety of work settings and their roles
and responsibilities within a medical team; the ability to present
relevant genetic information to individuals and families from
diverse cultural backgrounds in an informed, compassionate manner
and to help families obtain the medical and social services they
may need; a sensitivity to the needs and options of children and
adults (including parents and potential parents) with mental retardation,
developmental disabilities, and other genetic disorders; an awareness
of the legal, ethical, and public policy issues raised as a result
of new DNA and reproductive technologies and the Human Genome
Project; an understanding of research methodology, experience
in the design and execution of research projects, and in the preparation
of completed projects for professional publication and presentation;
and finally a familiarity with the relevant scientific literature
and computer-based tools.
The program is accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and prepares graduates for the certification examination in genetic counseling and employment as genetic counselors.
G = How to Be Admitted to the Graduate Program
The general requirements for
admission to the Graduate School, given in an earlier section
of this Bulletin, apply to candidates for admission to
this area of study. The specific requirements for admission to
this program are: one year of general chemistry, one year of biology,
and one semester each of genetics (course should include both
Mendelian and molecular genetics), organic chemistry, biochemistry,
psychology, and statistics. Applicants lacking one or more of
these courses are invited to consult the program's director on
how to fulfill these requirements. Volunteer or work experience
in an area related to counseling, developmental disabilities,
or genetics is recommended.
Applications should include
three letters of reference, the results of the General Graduate
Record Examination, and a personal statement describing your interest
in the field of genetic counseling. After initial review of applications,
potential candidates will be invited to Brandeis for a personal
Partial scholarship assistance is available for a limited number of exceptional applicants.
S = Faculty Advisory Committee
Judith Tsipis, Chair and Graduate Advising Head
Annette Lovelace Kennedy
Kathryn Spitzer Kim
Marty Wyngaarden Krauss
G = Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science
Program of Study
The academic component of the
curriculum consists of the following: graduate-level courses in
molecular biology, human genetics, medical genetics, human reproductive
biology, counseling skills, research methodology, and biomedical
law and ethics; two seminars in genetic counseling; and two to
four electives chosen from the biological sciences, medical sociology,
psychology, and health policy. Student participation in a proseminar
and journal club are required as well.
Fieldwork and clinical internships
are an important, integral part of the program. First-year students
carry out a clinical genetics laboratory rotation during one semester
and a community-based rotation during the other semester. Starting
in the summer following the first year and continuing through
the second year, students participate in three intensive clinical
internships at prenatal, pediatric, general, or specialty genetics
clinics. Satisfactory completion of the three clinical internships
is required for graduation from the program.
The residence requirement for
this program is two years of full-time study.
There is no foreign language
requirement for the master's degree.
A master's project is required. Students may work with a genetic counselor to design and evaluate an innovative educational tool or counseling strategy relevant to their clinical work, or should their interest lean toward basic research, they may pursue either a laboratory-based project, or a qualitative or quantitative study in the field.
S = Courses of Instruction
G = (100-199) For Both Undergraduate and Graduate Students
BIOL 128a Human Genetics
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Prerequisites: BIBC 22a and BIOL 22b. Enrollment limited to 50.
Survey of classical and non-classical patterns of inheritance; cytogenetics; applications of molecular genetics techniques in human genetics, analysis of variation, gene mapping, identification of candidate genes and genetic disease diagnoses; single gene vs. complex gene inheritance; issues in human population genetics; and, hands on use of computer tools in human genetics. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 160b Human Reproductive Biology
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Prerequisites: BIBC 22a and BIOL 22b. Signature of the instructor required.
This course deals with hormonal, cellular, and molecular aspects of gametogenesis, fertilization, pregnancy, and birth. We will also discuss pathological and abnormal variations that occur and the available medical technologies for intervention, correction, and facilitation of these processes. Usually offered every year.
G = (200 and above) Primarily for Graduate Students
BIOL 202a Introduction to Genetic Counseling
Provides the historical and theoretical foundations for the practice of genetic counseling and the role of genetic services within the healthcare delivery system. Introduces students to some of the practical aspects of genetic counseling, including case preparation, pedigree construction/interpretation, and medical documentation. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 203a Proseminar in Genetic Counseling
Introduction to the scientific literature in the fields of human genetics and genetic counseling. Students will gain experience in reading papers and presenting them to the class for discussion. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 204b Introduction to Clinical Genetics
Introduction to basic concepts of biochemical genetics, cytogenetics, and clinical molecular genetics. Makes use of clinical cases ranging from single gene disorders to multifactorially determined conditions and includes problems in dysmorphology, inborn errors of metabolism, and cancer genetics. A problem-solving approach is emphasized. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 205b Counseling Theory and Technique
A comprehensive overview of counseling theory and practice. Includes such topics as listening, observation, and interview skills and strategies; family dynamics and development; coping and adaptation processes; referral and consultation procedures; and ethical principles. Students are provided an opportunity to integrate clinical experiences with the coverage of topics. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 206d Genetic Counseling Journal Club
Informal biweekly meeting of students and faculty at which recent papers are discussed. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 207a Genetic Counseling: Case Conferences and Family Counseling
Taught by a team of health care professionals. Case studies provide the basis for discussion of a variety of genetic disorders and the application of counseling modalities. Students have an opportunity to share experiences gained during clinical internships. Discussions emphasize the interplay of medical, psychological, ethical, legal, social, and cultural factors in genetic counseling. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Kim and Ms. Kennedy
BIOL 211d Genetic Counseling Fieldwork Placement
Students work eight to 10 hours per week in a clinical genetics laboratory, a community-based health service organization, or a public health agency. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 212a Genetic Counseling Internship I
Starting in the summer and continuing through the fall semester, students work two days a week under the supervision of a genetic counselor or clinical geneticist in a prenatal, pediatric, general, or specialty genetics clinic. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 212e Genetic Counseling Internship II
Students work two days a week under the supervision of a genetic counselor or clinical geneticist in a prenatal, pediatric, general, or specialty genetics clinic and meet once a week to discuss cases and develop counseling protocols for some common genetic disorders. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 213d Genetic Counseling Research Project
Students are introduced to the basic techniques of social science research and their grounding principles in a series of seminars. In consultation with the programís research coordinator, each student designs and carries out a project under the supervision of a research committee. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 214c Genetic Counseling Process Group
In this small group setting, students can share and learn from their collective experiences in their field placements, courses and individual lives and have the opportunity to process and integrate the experience of becoming a genetic counselor. Usually offered every semester.
BIOL 215b Readings in Molecular Biology
A combination of readings and clinical laboratory work to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the molecular biology of several human genetic diseases and the techniques used for their diagnosis. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 220a Advanced Topics in Human Genetics
Prerequisites: Completion of BIOL 128a or permission of the instructor.
A discussion of recent advances in human molecular and medical genetics, focusing on: non-Mendelian inheritance; immunogenetics; behavioral genetics; and the genetics of common diseases. New diagnostic tests and methodologies are described when appropriate. Usually offered every year.
BIOL 236b Genetics, Law, and Social Policy
Explores advances in human genetics, the clinical and economic benefits promised by new tests, problems generated by our new ability to manipulate our biological future. We analyze the role of government in regulating technological development and the legal doctrines of privacy, informed consent, and professional liability. Usually offered in even years.
Philip Reilly, M.D., J.D.
S = Cross-Listed Courses