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What is the best undergrad major for genetic counseling?

I'm currently looking at majors for an undergraduate degree before a possible master's in genetic counseling. Should undergrad students look at the related majors such as biology or straight genetics, or could students do a major in another area and still meet the pre-requisites for the genetic counseling program?
double-major majors career genetic counseling

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Tyler’s Answer

Hi! While I'm not a professional in this industry, I have reviewed the course requirements from NC State University for their Genetics Undergrad program. This program seems to have a focus in Biology and Chemistry and it appears you would not be taking any genetics specific courses until the end of your Sophomore year. I would recommend not worrying too much about which degree you're pursuing in your first year of college. If you are able to narrow down your interests to a general field (humanities, math, physics, etc) then most classes will overlap and if you decide to change your course of study, you should be able to bring those classes over with you.

In regards to pursuing a single or double major, I think you are best served pursuing whichever major that serves your interests and desired career path first. If a school offers a genetics program and you are very interested in genetics, I would pursue that. I suspect that this genetics program includes classes that closely align with other majors (such as Chem or Bio). An important thing to consider is that despite if you have a single or double major, the amount of time you have to devote to studies in a week will not change. I would begin pursuing the single major and if you decide during your studies that you would like the additional major, you can add it on later.

Your course of study can be modified after you start and will generally be the same across many degrees during your first year. Pick one and get started, that is the hardest step. Colleges will have people there to guide you through your chosen degree. Talk to them about your goals and they will guide you on how feasible double majors are across fields of study.

Thank you, that definitely helps! Alacia M.

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Brian’s Answer

If your school offers an undergraduate program in molecular biology, that would be the best major for a future genetic counselor. If a molecular biology program isn't available, an undergraduate program in biology would suffice as a foundation. It would likely include courses in chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, and other subspecialties of biology which would serve as an excellent foundation for future study in genetics.

You might also consider a minor in a social science field - particularly psychology, social work, or sociology. All three of these fields will prepare you to better relate to others and make sense of human behavior. They will also help you to develop your skills in empathy, developing helping relationships, and providing insight on human development across the lifespan.