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MSPH with a Concentration in Genetic Counseling

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The University of South Florida (USF) is proud to offer the first Genetic Counseling Graduate Program in the State of Florida. Our program includes a unique combination of training in medical genetics/genomics, public health, and communication and counseling skills. Students of this program will gain the technical knowledge and clinical experience needed to compete in the rapidly growing field of genetic counseling and the emerging field of precision medicine.   

In October 2016, our program received accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC). The Genetic Counseling degree is a comprehensive, 21-month, full-time program that consists of didactic and skill-based courses, multiple clinical rotations and field experiences beginning in the first semester, independent learning opportunities, and a thesis research requirement. Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive a Master’s of Science in Public Health with a concentration in Genetic Counseling (MSPH-GC) and will be eligible to sit for the national board certification exam that is administered by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC)

Multiple Professional Opportunities

Genetic Counseling is a growing profession with a wide array of employment opportunities. Genetic counselors work in a variety of clinical, laboratory, industry, and research settings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of genetic counselors is expected to grow 29%, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. You can learn more about the genetic counseling profession by visiting the website of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC).

Our Mission

The mission of the USF Health Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling is to train genetic counselors to evaluate, understand, and meet the evolving needs of genomic health care service delivery. Our goal is to prepare program graduates to provide compassionate clinical care to individuals and families and to engage in educational, research, and policy efforts to ensure that genomic technologies and genetic counseling positively and equitably benefit individuals, families, institutions, communities, and diverse populations. 


  • Our Team

    Leadership from the USF College of Public Health have teamed up with faculty across the University and beyond to create the Genetic Counseling Program. USF’s Division of Genetics & Metabolism, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, Orlando Health, Integrated Genetics and other community partners will provide students with the hands-on counseling experience required for graduation.

    Leadership

    Concentration Faculty

    • Deborah Cragun, PhD,  Assistant Professor and USF Genetic Counseling Program Director
    • Kathleen Pope, MD, Assistant Professor and USF Genetic Counseling Medical Director
    • Christine Steele, MS, Adjunct Faculty Instructor and Genetic Counselor at Moffitt Cancer Center

    Clinical Supervisors, Additional Course Faculty, and Research Mentors

    • Emily Anderson, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health
    • Laura V. Barton, MS, CGC – Course Instructor and Clinical Supervisor, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center
    • Stephanie Benedict, MS – Clinical Supervisor, Integrated Genetics
    • Darcy Berry, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center
    • Ryan Bisson, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health
    • Jennifer Brzosowicz, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center
    • Linda Cheng, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, Quest Diagnostics
    • Jennifer Claus, MS – Clinical Supervisor, Integrated Genetics
    • Carrie Crain, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, Winnie Palmer Hospital
    • Kathleen Gewandter, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center 
    • Christopher Griffith, MD  – Course Lecturer and Clinical Supervisor, USF Department of Pediatrics
    • Carolyn Haskins, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center
    • Marcia Jodah MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, ARUP Labs
    • Nevena Krstic, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, USF Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine
    • Cheryl Kubas, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, Nemours Children's Hospital and Lakeland Regional Health Care
    • Marleah Dean Kruzel, PhD – Course Director and Research Mentor, USF Department of Communication
    • Lauren Loffredo, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, Winnie Palmer Hospital
    • Meredith Masiello, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, Quest Diagnostics
    • Jennifer Morrison, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, Arnold Palmer Hospital
    • Kristan Moxley, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, Winnie Palmer Hospital
    • Reka Muller, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, USF Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine
    • Patricia Newkirk, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, USF Department of Pediatrics
    • Tuya Pal, MD – Research mentor, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
    • Kathleen Pope, MD – Clinical Supervisor, Nemours Children's Hospital
    • Melissa Racobaldo, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, USF Department of Pediatrics
    • Judith Ranells, MD – Course Lecturer and Clinical Supervisor, USF Department of Pediatrics
    • Amarillis Sanchez-Valle, MD  –Course Lecturer and Clinical Supervisor, USF Department of Pediatrics
    • Katie Schwarting, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health
    • Kimberly Skellington, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, Winnie Palmer Hospital
    • Darrow Speyer, MGC, CGC – Course Lecturer,Invitae
    • Christine Steele, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center
    • Katie Sullivan, MS, CGC – Winnie Palmer Hospital
    • Diana Tully, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, Quest Diagnostics
    • Susan Vadaparampil, PhD – Research mentor, Moffitt Cancer Center
    • Deena Wahba, MS, CGC – Clinical Supervisor, BayCare Health Systems
    • Xia Wang, MD – Clinical Supervisor, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center

    Genetic Counseling Program Advisory Board

    • Dr. Deborah Cragun, PhD, Assistant Professor and USF Genetic Counseling Program Director, College of Public Health
    • Ms. Nevena Krstic, MS, CGC, Director of Fieldwork Training, USF Genetic Counseling Program, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Morsani College of Medicine
    • Dr. Sarah Obican, MD, Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Morsani College of Medicine
    • Dr. Tuya Pal, MD, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center 
    • Dr. Kathleen Pope, MD, Assistant Professor and Medical Director, USF Genetic Counseling Program, College of Public Health
    • Dr. Judith Ranells, MD, Chief, Division of Genetics and Metabolism, Department of Pediatrics, Morsani College of Medicine
    • Ms. Darrow Speyer, MS, CGC, Vice President Florida Association of Genetic Counselors/Invitae
    • Dr. Thomas Unnasch, PhD, Distinguished University Professor, College of Public Health
    • Dr. Jerome Yankowitz, MD, Interim Chair & Professor Emeritus, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Morsani College of Medicine
    • Dr. Heather Zierhut, PhD, University of Minnesota Genetic Counseling Program Director
  • Admissions Requirements

    The Genetic Counseling MSPH program admissions requirements can be found at USF Graduate Admissions or College of Public Health Graduate Admissions.

    Given the competitive nature of the Genetic Counseling MSPH program, we suggest that you review the recommendations for strengthening your application in the FAQ section below.The GRE is required for MSPH applications. However, applicants for MSPH programs, except for the Genetic Counseling concentration, are strongly recommended to apply for a GRE waiver. 

    Application Process and Deadline
    Interested individuals who meet the minimum requirements must complete and pay fees that are associated with each of the following three tasks that are described in more detail below.

    a)    Submit an application through SOPHAS
    b)    Submit an application to USF’s Graduate Admissions
    c)    Register for the Genetic Counseling Admissions Match

    a)     SOPHAS application - http://sophas.org/
    Application materials to be submitted to SOPHAS include:
    • All original transcripts from all colleges/universities attended (even if the credit was transferred to or is reflected on another transcript)
    • Official GRE scores
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
    • Statement of purpose or objectives (approximately 2 pages double spaced)
    • 3 Letters of recommendation from academic and/or professional sources
    • TOEFL scores (if applicable)
    • WES evaluation (www.wes.org) for applicants with degrees earned from outside of US.
    b)     USF Graduate Admissions - http://www.usf.edu/admissions/graduate/index.aspx
    Applicants must also complete a short graduate school application using the above link.

    c)     Genetic Counseling Match Registration -  https://natmatch.com/gcadmissions/
    All applicants must register and pay a fee online to participate in the Genetic Counseling Admissions Match that will be administered by National Matching Services. Only applicants registered for the match can have their applications reviewed. Please visit the website above for more information about the matching process and to register with this service.

    Please note that applicants to the MSPH who are interested in the Genetic Counseling Concentration must submit all application materials by December 15 to be competitive for admission in the following fall semester. This is based on the admission timeline as determined by the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you submit your application in November or Early December and check with SOPHAS often to ensure that the application has been verified.
  • Program Cost

    According to a 2017 national report (http://www.bestmedicaldegrees.com/most-affordable-genetic-counseling-programs/), our program was listed as the 5th most affordable Master’s Degree in Genetic counseling.

    Please visit https://www.usf.edu/business-finance/controller/student-services/tuition-rates.aspx to view current graduate tuition rates. The USF Genetic Counseling Program requires a total of 42 credit hours (21 per year). 

  • Degree Requirements

    Required Coursework 

    2020/2021 Genetic Counseling MSPH Program of Study

    Course Descriptions

    Rotation Requirements

    Rotations are routinely held at several different locations throughout the Tampa Bay area and Orlando. Students will complete two 7-week Preparatory rotations in the spring semester of their first year, a 6-week full-time summer rotation (can be within or outside of Florida), and four 7-week core rotations during their second year (two rotations per semester). These rotations will be in the areas of cancer, peds, and prenatal. While there are no specialty rotations at this time, many of the sites where students rotate have specialty clinics which are included in the overall rotation. Students are also required to complete two 1-week rotations with each a Laboratory GC and an Industry GC.

    MSPH Thesis

    All USF Genetic Counseling students are required to complete a formal Master’s thesis. Although most genetic counselors do not go into research, the objective of conducting research is to help students develop skills in succinctly summarizing existing literature, problem-solving, data analysis, writing, evaluation, and critical thinking, which are useful skills in any setting they may practice.

    Each student will work with guidance from their Committee Chair and Supervisory Committee members to create a defined research project for which the student is the principal investigator. During their first semester as part of PHC 6756 Population Assessment I, students will conduct a literature review. Then in the second semester students begin a 3-part clinical research course series, where they will refine or develop the research question and hypothesis, write the specific aims and research plan, and complete IRB forms (in some cases these may be amendments to existing studies). After this the student will collect data, analyze data, and write a manuscript that is suitable to submit to a peer-reviewed journal. This step-by-step process over the course of their two years will help facilitate the publishing of student research.

    Board Examination Practice Test

    All USF Genetic Counseling students are required to complete a practice boards exam. To do this students must have 1) No “I” incomplete or “M” missing grades, 2) Completed all or is currently enrolled in required concentration area courses, 3) Attained a 3.0+ GPA and be in good academic standing, and 4) Met with their advisor to determine eligibility. The exam will either be developed by the Program Leadership or COPH will purchase an ABGC practice examination for each student.

  • Open House

    USF's Genetic Counseling Program hosts an open house each Fall semester. The Open House is an opportunity for anyone who is interested in learning more about the field of genetic counseling and our program. Prospective students will have the opportunity to hear from our program director and other leadership, current students, and many of our clinical supervisors. Registration is required.  

    The Fall 2020 Virtual Open House will on Wednesday, October 21 from 5:00-8:00 pm, and this year the event is co-hosted with the Florida Association of Genetic Counselors (FLAGC). The event will be live-streamed and registration is required. 

    From 5:00-7:00 will be the FLAGC Prospective Student event, which will discuss the field of genetic counseling. Genetic counselors working in Florida in a variety of settings will provide an overview of the profession, their career tracks, and tips for obtaining relevant volunteer experience. From 7:00-8:00 will be the USF GC Program Open House, which will serve as an introduction to USF's MSPH degree program in genetic counseling. Current students, program leadership, and clinical supervisors will be available to answer questions and talk about their experiences with the program.

    Click here to register for the Fall 2020 Open House

    The 2019 Open House was on Wednesday, September 25 from 6:00-8:00 pm. The Open House was recorded and can be viewed here.

  • Contact Us

    To learn more about USF graduate programs or general admissions information, please contact an academic advisor at (813) 974-6505 or email at preadmissions@usf.edu.

    Questions about the Genetic Counseling Program and requests to be added to the USF Genetic Counseling prospective student mailing list can be sent to geneticcounseling@usf.edu.

    Follow our students on Instagram at usfgcprogram.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the pre-requisites for admission to USF's GC Program? 
    • See the "Admissions Requierments" Tab above. 
    Have requirements for admission changed since COVID-19?
    • Admissions requirements have not changed due to COVID-19, however the admissions committee understands that we are in a unique situation and students may need to be creative in how they seek out relevant experiences.
    • The GRE is required for MSPH applications. However, applicants for MSPH programs, except for the Genetic Counseling concentration, are strongly recommended to apply for a GRE waiver. Please contact the College of Public Health Graduate Admissions Office with questions regarding the GRE waiver.
    How can I strengthen my application?
    • Have a familiarity with genetics and biology are necessary because they provide a science foundation upon which the program builds. Courses in Biology, Genetics, Psychology/Counseling, and Statistics/Probabilities would strengthen an application. There is no 'expiration date' on coursework, but if a course was taken a long time ago applicants will want to demonstrate they have kept up with or brushed up on new information in the field and that they have a sufficient science background to succeed in the program. 
    • Prior counseling or advocacy experience is highly encouraged. Examples include: peer counseling, crisis hotlines, a pregnancy counseling center, or working with individuals who have genetic conditions or disabilities.
    • Applicants should have a good understanding of the Genetic Counseling profession. Many applicants have accomplished this by shadowing or interviewing genetic counselors and by attending one of USF's annual genetic counseling open houses or similar events at other institutions. A clear understanding of the genetic counseling profession can be convayed through a well-written statement of purpose. 
    Do I have to take an Embryology course in order to apply to USF's GC Program?
    • No, you do not need this to apply. However, students who are accepted into the program and have not yet taken an approved Embryology course or an equivalent will be required to complete one (in person or online) the summer before classes begin as it is required for full matriculation into the GC program.
    What are the most important parts of the application?
    • The personal statement/essay, resume, and letters of recommendation.
    • The application must be complete and verified in the SOPHAS system to be considered.
    Are there specific things USF's GC Program looks for in an application?
    • There is no single formula for success and we value a variety of experiences. USF’s GC admissions committee takes a holistic look at the students’ work/volunteer/life experiences, understanding of and passion for both genetic counseling and public health in the personal essay, letters of recommendation, and grades.
    • Applicants who demonstrate familiarity with the genetic counseling profession and those with an interest in public health tend to stand out.
    • The overall undergraduate average GPA of students admitted to our program is 3.45.
    • To get an idea of the varied work and volunteer experiences students had before coming to our program you can look at the student bios on our Instagram page (usfgcprogram). For shadowing opportunities in Tampa and Orlando, see the information provided in the 2019 Open House recording.
    What is the student selection process for entrance into USF's GC Program?
    • We follow the same general admissions timeline as other genetic counseling training programs across North America and participate in the NMS GC-match. See https://natmatch.com/gcadmissions/index.html for the specific dates of the next admission cycle.
    • Typically 90 applications are verified through SOPHAS each year for USF’s GC program. USF interviews approximately 25 students in late March and early April and accepts 5 students through the NMS GC-match (results released in late April). 
    • The number of students we can accept is based on the number of clinical rotation sites and supervisors in the Tampa Bay area. More positions may be available as we grow the genetic counseling workforce in our area.
    Do students see diverse populations during their clinical rotations?
    • In Tampa and Orlando we have diverse populations (including Spanish-speakers). Miami has an even larger Spanish-speaking population, and we had a Spanish-speaking student rotate in Miami where she was able to work with a bilingual genetic counselor.
    Is it possible to complete the USF GC Program with a full-time job or online?
    • Unfortunately, there is little flexibility in the program. The clinical rotations occur during the day (and the days of the week vary depending on the rotation). Courses are generally in the afternoon and evening. We have not yet worked out a way for students to attend part-time because the order of the courses is set and offered on a full-time schedule. 
    • At this time there is no online option for USF’s program, students must attend courses at USF’s Tampa campus and complete rotations in the Tampa Bay area.

     

    To view more FAQs, click here

  • Quick Facts

    • USF is home to the first and only ACGC accredited Genetic Counseling Program in the state of Florida.
    • USF is the only Genetic Counseling Program to award a MSPH degree (Master of Science in Public Health).
    • USF admitted its first class of students in 2017 and this class graduated in May 2019.
    • 100% of USF's GC graduates are employed in a genetic counseling or related position.
    • The USF GC Program has a 0% attrition rate since it first admitted students.
    • The first-time board pass rate will be posted after the third class of GC students graduate in 2021.

The Genetic Counseling MSPH Program at the University of South Florida is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling, Inc. 7918 Jones Branch Drive, Ste. 300, McLean, VA 22102, Telephone: (703) 506-7667