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).
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).
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.
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 Pediatrics Division of Genetics & Metabolism and Obstetrics and Gynecology Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, 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.
Deborah Cragun, PhD, MS, CGC
Genetic Counseling Program Director
Dr. Cragun is the Program Director for the USF Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. She has over six years of clinical practice in pediatric, prenatal, and cancer genetic counseling at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Moffitt Cancer Center. She was involved in the University of Cincinnati’s GC Program as a clinical and research supervisor for nearly three years. After teaching genetics for two years at the University of Tampa, she began researching genetic counseling access, service delivery, and outcomes while earning a PhD in Public Health at USF and subsequently completing a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Moffitt Cancer Center. In 2015, she became an Assistant Professor in USF’s College of Public Health where she conducts research, teaches, and serves as the Program Director for the Genetic Counseling MSPH degree program. Dr. Cragun is also currently a Multiple Principal Investigator on a Cancer Moonshot U01 research study funded by the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Deborah Cragun’s CV
Kathleen Pope, MD, MS, FAAP, FACMG
Genetic Counseling Medical Director
Dr. Pope is the Medical Director for the USF Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. She has a BA in biology from Williams College, an MS in genetic counseling from Northwestern University, and her MD from Indiana University School of Medicine. She completed pediatrics residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center and genetics residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center. She is board certified in medical genetics and pediatrics, and has been a practicing clinical geneticist, caring for adult and pediatric patients as well as teaching USF students and residents, since 2012. She is currently the genetics division chief at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando. Dr. Kathleen Pope’s CV
Nevena Krstić, MS, CGC
Genetic Counseling Director of Fieldwork Training
Nevena is a board certified genetic counselor and an assistant professor at the University of South Florida (USF), the Director of Fieldwork Training for USF’s Genetic Counseling Program, and serves as the Program and Research Coordinator at MotherToBaby Florida. In addition to providing counseling as an information specialist at MTB Florida and USF Exposures Clinic, she provides prenatal and preconception genetic counseling in various clinics across the Tampa Bay area. She provides both clinical supervision and coursework instruction for students form the USF Genetic Counseling Program. Nevena earned her BS in Microbiology and Cell Science for University of Florida in 2010 and a MS in Genetic Counseling from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston in 2012. Nevena Krstić’sCV
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.
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:
b) USF Graduate Admissions
After submitting the SOPHAS application, applicants must also complete a short USF Graduate School application and pay the application fee using the link provided in an email from COPH Graduate Admissions. Do not submit application materials directly to USF, all application materials must be submitted only to SOPHAS.
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.
AGCPD Match Fee Waiver
The Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors has established a waiver for the $100 fee associated with the NMS Match. Prospective students who demonstrate financial need and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater can apply for a match fee waiver. Prospective students should apply for a fee waiver before registering for an NMS number.
Applications for the match fee waiver are due by October 5, 2022. Applicants will be notified on October 26, 2022 as to whether they have received a waiver. To apply, go to https://natmatch.com/gcadmissions/applicants/register.html.
FLAGC Minority Student Scholarship The Florida Association of Genetic Counselors is offering application and National Matching Service fee reimbursement (up to $250) for up to 10 eligible applicants to the University of South Florida Genetic Counseling Program. Applications are due January 15, 2022 and can be submitted here.
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).
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, pediatrics, and prenatal. While there are no specialty rotations at this time, many of the sites where students rotate have specialty clinics that 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.
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.
All USF Genetic Counseling students are required to take a comprehensive exam at the end of their first year and a practice boards exam at the end of their second year.
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.
The 2022 Virtual Open House was held on Thursday, October 27, 2022. The date for the next Open House will be announced in September 2023.
Previous Open Houses have been recorded and are available for viewing on web browsers here.
To learn more, please contact a Pre-Admissions Advisor at (813) 974-6505 or email@example.com
Questions about the Genetic Counseling Program and requests to be added to the USF Genetic Counseling prospective student mailing list can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow our students on Instagram at usfgcprogram.