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Course Descriptions

Genetic Counseling Theory &  Practice I

Credits: 3

This course introduces you to genetic counseling principles and techniques. Topics include eliciting and interpreting family history, contracting, risk communication, health literacy and facilitated decision-making. You’ll also begin to explore cultural and psychosocial issues that influence the genetic counseling process.

Credits: 3

This course introduces you to the financial, ethical, legal and social issues that have arisen as genetic or genomic knowledge and technologies are developed and made available to individuals and populations. You’ll learn to identify and anticipate potential ethical, legal, social and policy concerns that arise with emerging technologies when applied in clinical or public health contexts. We’ll also examine public health genetics issues from diverse disciplinary perspectives. This course is offered in conjunction with the Institute for Public Health Genetics.

Clinical Skills I

Credits: 2

This course familiarizes you with the typical structure of a clinical genetics visit. You’ll practice chart review, basic pedigree construction, genetic literature searches and creating a diagnostic differential. We’ll also cover basic tenets of patient privacy, professional ethics and self-care. As part of the course, you’ll attend observations in a medical genetics clinic and a clinical genetics laboratory.

Principles of Human & Medical Genetics

Credits: 5

This course reintroduces you to and reinforces your understanding of the basic concepts in genetics, such as the cell cycle, DNA synthesis and Mendelian inheritance. You’ll get instruction in the foundational principles of clinical human genetics, including genetic mechanisms of disease, genetic testing technologies, genetic variation and population genetics. You’ll also learn how to recognize cardinal features of common genetic disorders.

Genetic Counseling Theory & Practice II

Credits: 3

This course is a continuation of Genetic Counseling Theory & Practice I. Topics include communication throughout the life span, disability and chronic illness, and grief and loss. You’ll be introduced to counseling theories, models and techniques.

Reproductive Genetics

Credits: 3

This course combines case-based learning, presentations from topic experts and class discussion to prepare you for clinical practice in reproductive genetic counseling. Topics include the normal course of pregnancy; pregnancy management, including continuation, adoption and termination; prenatal screening and diagnostic testing, including ultrasound, maternal serum screening, cell-free DNA screening, carrier screening, chorionic villus sampling, amniocentesis and cordocentesis; evaluation for infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss and stillbirth; assisted reproductive technologies; pre-implantation genetic screening and testing; teratology; fetal treatment and intervention; perinatal loss and bereavement; and ethical and legal considerations in reproductive genetics.

Clinical Skills II

Credits: 2

This course continues to develop your clinical skills. You’ll work on case presentation from chart review, more advanced pedigree construction, creation of a diagnostic differential and documentation of a clinic visit. You’ll also spend part of a day observing in the Washington State Newborn Screening Laboratory.

Biostatistics in Genetic Counseling

Credits: 2

In this course, you’ll get an introduction to how to apply statistical methods to genetic data to evaluate individual and relatives’ probability of a condition or carrier status. It integrates data from patients and populations, pedigrees, genetics principles and probability. The course also empowers you to better evaluate and critique the literature relevant to genetic counseling and genotype-phenotype relationships. Specific topics include an overview of basic probability, odds ratios and recurrence risk, penetrance and expressivity, Bayes’ Theorem, kinship estimation, and genetic epidemiological approaches, including linkage analysis and association testing.

Pediatric & Biochemical Genetics

Credits: 3

Topics covered in this course include referral indications, history intake (medical, developmental and family), diagnostic testing approaches and resource identification in the context of pediatric and biochemical genetics clinics. You’ll get an introduction to dysmorphology and common genetic disorders, including inherited errors of metabolism and the biochemical systems involved.

Clinical Embryology

Credits: 2

This course will give you a basic foundation in human embryological development for the study of genetic counseling. Using a combination of pre-class lecture videos, in-class lecture, animations, class discussion and case-based learning, you’ll explore the mechanisms and clinical relevance of prenatal development from fertilization to birth. The first unit of the course focuses on embryogenesis, the embryonic development that takes place during the first month after fertilization. The second and third units focus on organogenesis, the development of the individual organ systems. Within each of the three units, we’ll explore underlying molecular mechanisms, abnormalities in development, and current applications to medicine. Knowledge of anatomy is useful for this course but is not a prerequisite.

Genetic Counseling Theory & Practice III

Credits: 3

This course is a continuation of Genetic Counseling Theory & Practice I and II. You’ll discuss and practice the application of counseling theories, models and techniques. We’ll draw cases and topics from the instructors' and students’ clinical experiences. Guest speakers will address factors that impact the counseling relationship, such as mental health issues, cultural differences and language barriers.

Cancer Genetics & Genomics

Credits: 2

This course focuses on the approach to genetic evaluation and testing, risk assessment and genetic counseling for familial and hereditary cancer syndromes. Hereditary cancer syndromes will be reviewed and considerations for somatic and germline testing will be emphasized. The course combines didactic lectures with case analysis.

Clinical Practicum I

Credits: 2

This practicum focuses on novice-level genetic counseling skills. As a first-year genetic counseling student, you’ll assume increasing responsibility during clinical genetics visits. With strong guidance from a clinical supervisor, you’ll develop basic genetic counseling skills, including contracting, patient intake, family history collection, risk assessment, patient education and psychosocial counseling.

Research Design & Methods in Genetic Counseling

Credits: 2

This course explores how genetic counselors can be active leaders and interpreters of scientific research. We’ll begin by understanding prep-to-research processes including research design ethics and Institutional Review Board research approval processes, conducting literature reviews, grantsmanship and building research teams. Through case studies and role play, we’ll practice recruiting participants to research studies, collecting quantitative and qualitative data, and communicating research results to patients, families and colleagues. Throughout the course, we’ll focus on interpretation of research and results through critical review of scientific literature.

Adult Genetics & Common Diseases

Credits: 3

This course utilizes a case-based approach to adult clinical genetics. You’ll work in small groups to research and present three cases during the quarter. In addition, content experts will be invited to speak about their areas of expertise related to some of the cases.

Applied Clinical & Laboratory Genetics

Credits: 2

This course combines case-based learning, class discussion and a “flipped classroom” approach to introduce wet-lab methods, measures of analytic and clinical validity, and results interpretation processes used in cytogenetics, molecular genetics and biochemical genetic testing. You’ll gain skills in test selection and strategy as well as communicating test results; become familiar with components of a laboratory report, including nomenclature describing cytogenetics and molecular genetics results; understand the regulatory oversight of genetics laboratories and the differences between research and clinical testing; and observe the role of the genetic counselor within the laboratory setting.

Clinical Practicum II

Credits: 4

This practicum focuses on intermediate-level genetic counseling skills. On this rotation you’ll assume increasing responsibility during clinical genetics visits. With guidance from a clinical supervisor, you’ll refine your genetic counseling skills including contracting, patient intake, family history collection, risk assessment, patient education and psychosocial counseling.

Professional Issues in Genetic Counseling

Credits: 2

Building on skills mastered in the genetic counseling theory and practice series and clinical fieldwork, this course focuses on topics in the professional practice of genetic counseling. It uses the National Society of Genetic Counselors Code of Ethics as a foundation to explore complex interfaces with conflict of interest, professional boundaries, resiliency and self-care, and social justice. We’ll review developing practice guidelines, preparing for entry into the genetic counseling workforce, leadership and continuing professional development.

Clinical Practicum III

Credits: 4

This practicum focuses on advanced-level genetic counseling skills. As a second-year genetic counseling student, you’ll rapidly assume increasing responsibility during clinical genetics visits. With minimal guidance from a clinical supervisor, you’ll demonstrate your proficiency of genetic counseling skills, including contracting, patient intake, family history collection, risk assessment, patient education and psychosocial counseling.

Capstone Project in Genetic Counseling I

Credits: 3

Each student is required to complete a capstone project to earn their master’s degree in genetic counseling. Projects may take many forms, and you’re encouraged to select a topic or area you feel strongly about. Most capstone projects will be completed individually; however, group projects will be considered if warranted by the amount of effort needed to complete it.

Advanced Concepts in Genetic Counseling

Credits: 3

This course gives you the opportunity to analyze and discuss real cases that involve difficult psychosocial issues. You’ll draw on your rotation experiences and previous coursework as you explore possible approaches to counseling situations. Discussions facilitated by the instructor and other genetic counselors with a variety of professional experiences.

Clinical Practicum IV

Credits: 4

This practicum focuses on advanced-level genetic counseling skills. As a second-year genetic counseling student, you’ll assume near-total responsibility of clinical genetics visits. With minimal guidance from a clinical supervisor, you’ll demonstrate your mastery of genetic counseling skills, including contracting, patient intake, family history collection, risk assessment, patient education and psychosocial counseling.

Capstone Project in Genetic Counseling II

Credits: 3

This course is a continuation of Capstone I. Each student is required to complete a capstone project to earn their master’s degree in genetic counseling. Projects may take many forms, and you’re encouraged to select a topic or area you feel strongly about. Most capstone projects will be completed individually; however, group projects will be considered if warranted by the amount of effort needed to complete it.