Doctor of Philosophy in Genetic and Genomic Counselling (PhD)

This program is pending final approval by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.


Precision health (e.g. genome sequencing, sequencing of a person’s entire genetic code) is transforming clinical care. Genome sequencing is a powerful technology that can diagnose patients with suspected genetic disorders and can customize treatment. Precision health is advancing in many disciplines of medicine at a rapid pace. The expansion of clinical genome sequencing requires additional and innovative methods to cope with the increased demand for genomic counselling to enable access and optimize patient-centered care.

Genome sequencing generates complex and novel genomic counselling issues: results that are difficult to interpret and incidental findings that can have family-wide and health service implications. Essentially, there is a growing and urgent need for genetic counsellor-led research to address the important societal issues that intersect with the broader scale implementation of precision health.

This program, first of its kind in the world, will develop researchers who generate knowledge through empirical research that will advance and inform evidence-based practice in the genetic counselling profession, resulting in improved health outcomes.

Program Structure

Students much complete 18 credits, which include

  • MEDG 596 - Advanced Research Topics in Genetic and Genomic Counselling (6 Credits)
  • MEDG 548 – Directed Studies (6 Credits)
  • Approved Electives (6 Credits)

Tuition & Financial Support

Financial Support

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.

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.

International students enrolled as full-time students with a valid study permit can work on campus for unlimited hours and work off-campus for no more than 20 hours a week.

A good starting point to explore student jobs is the UBC Work Learn program or a Co-Op placement.

Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals

Students with taxable income in Canada may be able to claim federal or provincial tax credits.

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.

Cost Calculator

Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.

Career Outcomes

Career Options

The program will develop graduates who are thought leaders utilizing their training to advance the field of genetic counselling in academic research and education, industry, ethics and health policy.

The field and profession of genetic and genomic counselling is rapidly expanding. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasted a 29% growth rate for genetic counselling jobs between 2014 and 2024, compared to an average rate of 7% across all occupations.

Further Information

Conduct empirical research that will advance the profession and practice of genetic and genomic counselling.

Faculty Overview

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