Master of Science in Medical Genetics (MSc)
The UBC Department of Medical Genetics is an inspiring and productive community of scholars of genetics and genomics; an outstanding provider of knowledge, technical expertise, and compassionate care for our patients. The Department is composed of dozens of faculty members at the forefront of their fields who use cutting edge genetic, epigenetic, genomic, and bioinformatic methodologies to gain insight into diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative and neurological disorders, and other genetic diseases. Research is highly interactive and often involves local, national, and international collaborations which further enrich the research experience.
Individual labs conduct clinical and/or translational research and basic experimental research engaging a wide variety of approaches including the use of model organisms such as mice, flies (D. melanogaster), worms (C. elegans), and yeast (S. cerevisiae).
What makes the program unique?
The Mission of the UBC Department of Medical Genetics is to pursue basic and clinical research for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of genetic disease. Our goal is to be a world leader in the research, clinical practice, and teaching of Genetic Medicine. The Department is an inspiring and productive community of scholars of genetics and genomics; an outstanding provider of knowledge, technical expertise, and compassionate care for our patients. We are a respected source of information and advice to society. While focusing on key areas of genetic medicine, we view diversity of approach and techniques to be an essential strength of our Department.
Contact the program
Admission Information & Requirements
Grade Point Average (GPA) – Canadian applicants:
- GPA calculation of Canadian degrees is based on all upper-level courses taken in the most recent, full time degree.
Grade Point Average (GPA) – international degrees:
- Check your COUNTRY of education for minimum GPA and length of degree program to determine if your credentials meet UBC admission requirements. GPA calculation is based on the final, overall standing (grade) achieved in the last completed degree. Final standing is determined from your school's grading system.
1) Check Eligibility
Minimum Academic Requirements
The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:
Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.
English Language Test
Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.
Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:
TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based
Overall score requirement: 100
IELTS: International English Language Testing System
Overall score requirement: 7.5
Other Test Scores
Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:
The GRE is not required.
Prior degree, course and other requirements
Prior Degree Requirements
MSc applicants: BSc degree (focused on life sciences, biotechnology, etc.)
Mandatory advanced-level courses in Genetics and/or genomics. Strongly recommended: advanced-level courses in one or more of the following: - Biochemistry - Molecular Biology - Biostatistics (Statistics) - Bioinformatics
Relevant laboratory research experience
Excellent references with assessment of research expertise and aptitude
A complete application includes:
Letter of interest / intent (1 page)
TOEFL or IELTS test scores – if applicable (test taken within last 24 months)
Official post-secondary transcripts; and degree certificates (international students)
- Unofficial transcripts, web transcripts and poor-quality scans are not acceptable. Do not include high school transcripts.
- Each transcript must be scanned as a single PDF document and MUST include the grading key.
Successful applicants meet and often exceed the admissions and pre-requisite requirements:
- Typically have relevant, independent, multi-month (wet or dry) laboratory research experience;
- Typically have excellent, detailed reference letters with assessment of applicant's research expertise and aptitude by direct research supervisors, not just from course instructors;
- Often have won awards and/or published journal articles and/or presented posters or platform presentations and/or attended professional meetings and/or volunteered for science-related events (outreach, etc.)
2) Meet Deadlines
3) Prepare Application
All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.
Letters of Reference
A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.
Statement of Interest
Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.
Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.
Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Master of Science in Medical Genetics (MSc)
SEPTEMBER INTAKE - MSc and PhD Applicants:
Supervisor commitment is not required by the application deadline (i.e. when submitting the online application form), however applicants are encouraged to contact potential supervisors early in the application process.
Applicants who are deemed admissible will be notified, and must secure the commitment of a research supervisor to receive an offer of admission to the UBC Medical Genetics Graduate Program.
JANUARY INTAKE – PhD Applicants Only:
The Medical Genetics Graduate Program Office will open January applications only by request to PhD applicants who meet grade point average (GPA) and TOEFL/IELTS (if applicable) requirements and who have received a written commitment from a Medical Genetics Research Supervisor.
Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.
4) Apply Online
All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.
See Medical Genetics website for up-to-date articles featuring faculty research.
Research in the Department of Medical Genetics covers the study of human genetics with areas of focus in mammalian development, regulation of gene expression, genetic diseases due to single gene or complex inheritance, birth defects, reproduction, cancer, immunology, genomics, bioinformatics, ethics and population health. Research Areas of Expertise: - Cancer Genetics & Genomics - Clinical Genetics, Genetic Counselling, Ethics & Policy - Developmental Genetics & Birth Defects - DNA Repair & Genome Stability - Epigenetics, Epigenomics & Gene Regulation - Genetic Epidemiology & Population Genetics - Genomics & Bioinformatics - Immunogenetics - Neuroscience & Neurodegenerative Disease Genetics - Pharmacogenomics - Proteomics - Stem Cells & Gene Therapy
For Medical Genetics faculty research profiles, see: Faculty Research Summaries.
Medical Genetics Rotation Program
MSc and PhD applicants who have applied for the September-start, and who are highest ranked by the Medical Genetics Admissions Committee, will be offered the opportunity to join the Medical Genetics Rotation Program. The four top-ranked applicants offered these positions will also receive one-year Rotation Program Awards. Rotation Program students rotate through three different laboratories before choosing a final, thesis lab. Rotations are for nine-weeks each, from September to April. The Rotation Program is open to Canadians, Permanent Residents of Canada, and international applicants.
Medical Genetics Graduate Program students are encouraged to volunteer their leadership skills and talents to science-related departmental and community events and projects. There are many volunteer opportunities available through the University, at students’ research facilities, and in the local community. The Departmental student organization, the Medical Genetics Graduate Student Society (MGGSA), plans annual departmental events such as September Welcome and Research Day as well as on-going academic and social events.
Medical Genetics graduate student training takes place at multiple state-of-the-art facilities, representing a diverse collection of training environments. These include several centres on the UBC Point Grey Campus (e.g. Life Sciences Centre, Brain Research Centre, Michael Smith Laboratories) and off-campus (e.g Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics,Terry Fox Laboratory at the BC Cancer Agency). Available research services and facilities include: animal modeling, biobanking, bioanalyzer, bioinformatics, DNA sequencing, flow cytometry, genotyping and gene expression, histology and imaging, transgenic facility, support to perform biostatistics, clinical trials, data management and access to health research and evaluation services.
Tuition & Financial Support
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,698.56||$2,984.09|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$969.17 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $17,242.00 (check cost calculator)|
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.
Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.
Program Funding Packages
Stipend Amount and Duration
The recommended minimum yearly stipend for a full time Medical Genetics MSc thesis-based graduate student (Canadian and international) is $24,300.
The student pays tuition from their stipend (the amount of tuition depends on whether the student is domestic or international as well as time spent in their graduate program). This stipend may come from an independent studentship award and/or from the Research Supervisor's research grant. Admission to the Medical Genetics Graduate Program normally includes a commitment from the Supervisor to ensure that each student is supported to the recommended funding level. Exceptions to this policy may be granted under unusual circumstances. Financial support from personal resources is not acceptable as “funding” for incoming students in the Medical Genetics Graduate Program.
The duration of the annual stipend is normally two years for a MSc student. After the two-year MSc, continued funding is at the discretion of the Supervisor. The Supervisor should inform their student in writing (with a copy to the Medical Genetics Graduate Program office) at least six months prior to the end-date of the student's stipend.
Funding depends both on satisfactory academic and research progress, as determined by the Student’s Advisory Committee, and on the Research Supervisor's continued grant support. Termination of funding for other justifiable reasons must be approved by a majority of the Medical Genetics Graduate Advisory Committee.
University and External Awards
Medical Genetics Graduate Program students receive funding from many sources; not all students will receive the same amount. Graduate students receive a minimum stipend from their supervisor. Additionally, if a student wins an award, their supervisor will top up their stipend.
See the Medical Genetics website for more information about awards available to eligible registered students:
National Science & Engineering Council (NSERC) & Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR); UBC Affiliated Fellowships; Medical Genetics Four Year Doctoral Fellowship (4YF); International Tuition Award (ITA). Students may also qualify for building-specific and research-specific awards.
Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)
All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.
Teaching Assistantships (GTA)
Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.
Research Assistantships (GRA)
Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.
Financial aid (need-based funding)
Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.
All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.
Foreign government scholarships
Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.
Working while studying
The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.
Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats
These statistics show data for the Master of Science in Medical Genetics (MSc). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.
Completion Rates & Times
This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.
Arbour, Laura (northern and aboriginal health issues as they pertain to genetics)
Austin, Jehannine (Genetics, genomics, genetic counseling, psychiatric illness, mental illness, mental health, psychiatry, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, postpartum depression, perinatal mental health, Mood & Anxiety Disorders, Schizophrenia)
Birol, Inanc (bioinformatics, computational biology, genomics, transcriptome analysis, next generation sequencing, cancer, Bioinformatics, sequence assembly, transcriptomics, gene regulation networks, high throughput informatics for big data)
Brinkman, Ryan (Bioinformatics, flow cytometry, high throughput data analysis, data standars, GvHD biomarker identification, cluster identification)
Brooks-Wilson, Angela (Bioinformatics; Clinical oncology; Genetic medicine; Genomics; cancer families; cancer genetics; genetic susceptibility; human genetics; longevity; Super seniors)
Brown, Carolyn Janet (Bioinformatics; Clinical oncology; Genetic medicine; Genomics; Health counselling; Applied Genetics; Chromosomes: Structure / Organization; DNA methylation; Epigenetic control of gene expression; Gene Regulation and Expression; Genes escaping X-chromosome inactivation; Long non-coding RNAs; X-chromosome inactivation; XIST RNA)
Brunham, Liam (Medical, health and life sciences; Lipids; Genetics; Pharmacogenomics; Cardiovascular diseases)
Carleton, Bruce (Pharmacogenomics; Adverse drug reactions (ADRs); Drug safety and effectiveness; Clinical pharmacology; Pharmacovigilance)
Clarke, Lorne (Lysosomal storage disease, disorders or sulfate transport, mucopolysaccharidosis, phenylketonuria)
Conibear, Elizabeth (Genetic medicine; Genomics; Health counselling; Cell Signaling and Cancer; Enzymes and Proteins; Genomics and Proteomics; Membranes; Molecular Genetics; Neurodegenerative diseases; Parkinson's disease; Protein Palmitoylation; Vesicle Trafficking)
Dennis, Jessica (Bioinformatics; Genetic medicine; Administrative health data; Complex Trait Genetics; Electronic health records; Epidemiology; genetic epidemiology; Genetics of Neurological and Psychiatric Diseases; Machine Learning; Mental Health and Psychopathology in Children and Youth; Precision Health; statistical genetics)
Eaves, Constance Jean (Normal and leukemic stem cells, normal and malignant breast stem cells)
Elliott, Alison (Other health sciences; rare disease; genomics; Congenital Malformations; Skeletal and limb anomalies; Genetic Counselling; Health services implementation science)
Friedman, Jan Marshall (Bioinformatics; Genetic medicine; Genomics; Health counselling; Application of whole genome sequencing to diagnose genetic disease; Birth defects epidemiology; Clinical genomics; Developmental Genetics; Genetics and Heredity; Neurofibromatosis)
Gibson, William (Genetic medicine; Genetic Diseases; Chromosomes: Structure / Organization; Epigenetics)
Goldowitz, Daniel (Genetic basis of brain disease, neurobiology of autism, Huntingtong's gene, mouse/mice epigenetics, gene regulatory network)
Hayden, Michael (Genetic medicine; Health counselling; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Diabetes; Disease progression; Drug development; Gene Therapy; Genetic Diseases; Huntington disease; Neurodegenerative diseases; Neurodegenerative disorders)
Hieter, Philip (Molecular biology of eukaryotic chromosome transmission )
Holt, Robert (Immunogenetics, Metagenomics - Infectious agents in Cancer, Cancer Genomes, Neurobiology, DNA Sequencing)
Hoodless, Pamela (Bioinformatics; Genetic medicine; Genomics; Medical and biomedical engineering; Developmental Genetics; Embryology; Embryonic Development; Epigenetics; Heart Valve / Valvular Diseases; Heart valve formation; Liver; Liver development; Stem Cells and Organogenesis; transcriptional regulation)
Huntsman, David (Corporate Law; Contracts; Competition Law; legal history)
Jefferies, Wilfred Arthur (Iron transport molecules)
Jiang, Xiaoyan (Cancer drug development and therapeutics; Basic and translational leukemia research; Leukemic stem cell biology; Gene regulation; Drug resistance; Proteomics; Immunotherapy)
Jones, Steven J (Bioinformatics, genome science, mutations, cancer progression)
Sample Thesis Submissions
Faculty in Medical Genetics are at the forefront of their fields employing cutting edge genetic, epigenetic, genomic and bioinformatic methodologies to gain insight into diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative and neurological disorders, and other genetic diseases.
Areas of research Include:
- Cancer Genetics & Genomics
- Clinical Genetics, Genetic Counselling and Ethics & Policy
- Developmental Genetics
- DNA Repair & Genome Stability
- Epigenetics, Epigenomics & Gene Regulation
- Genetic Epidemiology & Population Genetics
- Genomics & Bioinformatics
- Neurogenetics & Neurodegenerative Disease Genetics
- Stem Cells & Gene Therapy