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FAQ

Genetic Counseling Program Frequently Asked Questions

GRE Scores and GPA

My GRE scores are not at or above the 70th percentile, can I still apply?

Yes. Application materials are reviewed as a whole, so allowances can be made for otherwise strong candidates who do not quite meet these criteria. Although we look for GREs to be at the 70th percentile or higher, the Admissions Committee for the Genetic Counseling Program evaluates the entire application and does not only consider the GRE scores when making offers of interviews. Successful applicants will demonstrate how any deficiencies in one area are counterbalanced by superb qualifications in other areas. Other areas such as academic performance, experience related to genetic counseling, the personal statement and letters of recommendation are important elements of the application.

How recently must I have taken the GRE for the scores to be accepted?

GRE scores should be no more than 5 years old.

Does a prior graduate degree constitute a GRE waiver?

Individuals who have a graduate degree from an accredited university in the United States do not need to submit GRE scores.  An official GRE waiver is not required in this situation.  International applicants who have earned graduate degrees outside of the US need to submit GRE scores.

How do I submit my official GRE scores to the University of Pittsburgh?

Submit your official GRE scores to the University of Pittsburgh, code 2927, with no department code.

My GPA is below 3.0, can I still apply?

Yes. Application materials are reviewed as a whole, so allowances can be made for otherwise strong candidates who do not quite meet this criteria. Although we look for GPA to be 3.0 or higher, the Admissions Committee for the Genetic Counseling Program evaluates the entire application and does not only consider the GPA when making offers of interviews. Successful applicants will demonstrate how any deficiencies in one area are counterbalanced by superb qualifications in other areas. Other areas such as experience related to genetic counseling, the personal statement and letters of recommendation are important elements of the application. For applicants who have a lower GPA, we often recommend that the applicant consider taking additional courses at the graduate level to demonstrate their ability to successfully complete graduate work.

 

Personal Statement

What topic should I address in the personal statement?

Applicants should use the personal statement to discuss their interest in becoming a genetic counselor. The personal statement should highlight an applicant's strengths, previous experiences related to genetic counseling, and an understanding of the field.

How long should my personal statement be?

Personal statements should be approximately 1-2 pages in length.

How should the personal statement be formatted?

Formatting for the personal statement is outlined on SOPHAS Express. The accepted file formats are MSWord (.doc, .docx), JPEG (.jpeg, .jpg), PNG (.png), Rich Text Format (.rtf), Portable Document Format (.pdf), and ASCII Text file (.txt). The size limit for each file upload is 5MB and the character limit is 5000.

 

PreRequisite Courses

I have not met the prerequisite course requirements, can I still apply?

An applicant does not necessarily need to complete all prerequisites by the time they submit their application. However, if accepted to the program, a student must complete all prerequisites prior to enrollment with an official transcript sent to the Student Affairs Office. Applicants may wish to include in their application their plans for completing prerequisite courses.

I received AP credits for one of the prerequisite courses.  Does this count as meeting the prerequisite?

For certain prerequisites, credit for AP courses are accepted as long as official documentation is available (typically on a transcript).

What counts as a social/behavioral science course?

There are number of courses that can be counted towards the social/behavioral science prerequisite course requirement. These include, but are not limited to, courses in psychology, sociology, anthropology, family studies, social work, public health, economics, and political science. Applicants with questions about whether a course counts for this prerequisite should contact program leadership.

Are online courses acceptable for prerequisites?

Yes, an online course from an accredited university for which you receive a grade and official transcript can be accepted for a prerequisite. We recommend that an applicant sends the course syllabus to the program leadership for review so that it can be determined that the course does in fact meet the prerequisite.

Is a lab component required for the organic chemistry, biochemistry, or genetics courses?

A lecture-based course is sufficient to meet the prerequisite requirement for these courses.  A lab component is not required.

 

International Applicants

I attended a university outside of the US. Do I need to submit a WES evaluation?

Please see the following website for information about when a WES evaluation is required.  Of note, a WES evaluation is not required when a person has attended an English-speaking institution in Canada.  Applicants who are required to submit a WES evaluation should begin this process as early as possible, as it can take a significant amount of time for the WES evaluation process to be completed.  If the WES evaluation is not completed by the application deadline, the application will not be reviewed.
http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu/home/admissions-aid/how-to-apply/international-applicants

 

interview process

How does the interview process work?

Applicants will be notified by the Genetic Counseling Program about an offer for an interview. In general, notifications of interviews take place on a rolling basis from late January through early March, and interviews take place from the end of February through April.

  

Financial Information

Does the program offer any graduate teaching assistantships or research assistantships for students?

The Graduate School of Public Health does not offer traditional teaching or research assistantships that would include a stipend and tuition remission to any master's level students (these are reserved for our doctoral level students).  However, many students are able to secure hourly work positions where they can work up to 20 hours a week with a faculty member or clinical team for an hourly wage. The program is often notified of these positions, and passes the information on to students.  Many positions are also posted on Pitt Source.  Students are often able to use their hourly work positions to develop and carry out their thesis projects.

 

general Admissions Questions

Can I apply after the admissions deadline?

Given the structure of the admissions process for programs that are members of the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors, we cannot accept applications after the admissions deadline. At times, there are applicants who are missing a specific piece of their application. Applicants will be contacted by the Student Affairs Office regarding their incomplete application and should work with the Student Affairs Office to complete their application as soon as possible.

 

Student Life

Do genetic counseling students take classes with students in other programs?

There are classes specific to the genetic counseling students, and there are classes that are comprised of genetic counseling students and other graduate students from the Department of Human Genetics, the Graduate School of Public Health, and others.  We have found this to be a particularly successful approach as some content is delivered most effectively when the class is made up of only the genetic counseling students.  However, we feel it would be limiting to have all the classes solely comprised of the genetic counseling students since we want the students to be a part of the broader Pitt community.  Moreover, genetic counselors often work in multidisciplinary settings, and we want the students to start learning from other disciplines while in training.

Are students assigned advisers and/or mentors?

Yes, students are assigned mentors at the beginning of the program.  More specifically, academic mentors, which are Dr. Grubs and Dr. Durst, and a second year genetic counseling student mentor.  Students will also identify a research mentor for their thesis projects.  We have found that providing students with several mentors allows them to develop a strong mentoring/support network in training.

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