MSc in Genetic Counselling Program Application Requirements

Genetic Counselling Admissions Match:

The McGill Genetic Counselling Program participates in the Genetic Counseling Admissions Match through National Matching Services (NMS) PDF icon 2024 NMS Guidelines. The GC Admissions Match has been established to enhance the process of placing applicants into positions in masters-level genetic counseling programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC). The Match uses a process that takes into account both applicants’ and programs’ preferences. All applicants must first register for the GC Admissions Match with NMS before applying to participating genetic counseling graduate programs. NMS suggested deadline to register for the Match is December 13, 2023. At the conclusion of all program interviews, both applicants and programs will submit ranked lists of preferred placements to NMS according to deadlines posted on the NMS website. The binding GC Admissions Match results will be released to both applicants and programs simultaneously in late April. 

Please visit the NMS website to register for the GC Admissions match, review detailed information about the matching process, and view a demonstration of how the matching algorithm works. Candidates in financial need may apply for a File NMS match fee waiver

For additional information, please visit the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors (AGCPD) website.

The full details regarding the admissions process are described below. A quick overview of the steps is as follows.

  • Review admission requirements below to determine if you are eligible to apply
  • Submit online application using McGill Online Admissions System (non-refundable) - Deadline January 1; referees can upload supporting letters for upto 2 weeks after this deadline
  • Upload all supporting documents using the McGill Online Admissions System - Deadline January 1; any changes to the application will be reviewed after Jan 05 
  • Complete interview (for those applicants selected for interview) - Choice of 5 dates in March
  • Receive NMS Match result 
  • If matched, receive offer of admission on McGill Online Admissions System
  • Accept offer of admission on McGill Online Admissions System 

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Program will be based on a candidates academic record, reference letters, experience, statement of purpose and interview.  The Department of Human Genetics does not require GRE Scores.

1.     Academic Record

Applicants should be graduates of a university of recognized reputation and hold a Bachelor's degree or an MD. The applicants must present evidence of high academic achievement: a standing equivalent to a CGPA of 3.2 (75%-79%) out of a possible 4.0, or 3.4 over the last two years of full time study. High grades are expected in courses considered by the Department to be preparatory to the MSc Program.

The Program requires recent (within the last 5 years or less) completion of university level courses in:

  • molecular/cell biology

  • biochemistry

  • advanced genetics (preferably human)

  • statistics

  • psychology (a minimum of 2 courses)

  • embryology (strongly recommended but NOT a requirement - preferably human)

These courses should be completed by the time of the application. When prerequisite courses are in progress, evidence that the applicant is registered in the course should be shown in the unofficial transcript. See below for details.  Please note that "courses" are defined as 3 (or more) credit courses taken through an accredited institution of higher learning to which tuition fees are paid, a grade is assigned and a transcript is provided.  If you have taken a prerequisite course that does not appear on your transcript, please additionally upload the relevant transcript or, if currently in progress, proof of registration. That includes courses taken at CEGEP, for applicants from Quebec. Please note that MOOC courses such as those offered through Coursera cannot be counted for prerequisites.

Students enrolled in a Master's or Doctoral degree program (in progress) must finish the degree program requirements prior to starting at McGill. 

2.    Transcripts

We require an electronic copy of transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended to be uploaded to your online application. The transcript must clearly show your name and the institution attended.

Applicants who have graduated from universities outside of North America may upload scans of transcripts (with official translations) that clearly display the signature or seal attesting to the authenticity of the transcript from an official of the institution or the Ministry of Education.

If your final grades are not yet available (i.e. you will graduate in the coming months), you may still upload your unofficial electronic transcript with the grades for courses completed to date and any courses you are in the process of completing. 

Applicants are only asked to submit hard copies of final, official transcripts if accepted into the Program. At that time they will be contacted with information on how to submit their documents.

3.    Counselling Experience

Successful applicants to this program must have obtained some experience (either paid or volunteer) working in a role requiring one-on-one counselling of adults. This experience may be obtained, for example, as a worker at a drop-in or telephone distress center, as a pregnancy counsellor for Options for Sexual Health or Planned Parenthood, or as a volunteer in student services counselling. Many applicants believe that experience in a clinical genetics centre is desirable. While such exposure can enrich an already strong application, we recognize that it is not available to every applicant, and cannot replace the type of experience gained as a one-on-one crisis counsellor.

4.    Language Skills

All International students who are required to supply TOEFL scores must also request that official documents be sent by the testing agencies. International standing for a prospective student means that the country of origin and the educational institutions utilize a language other than English.

Minimum scores of 600 on the TOEFL paper-based test, 250 on the computer-based test or 100 on the Internet-based test are required. Each component or subsection score requires a minimum score of 20. On the IELTS the minimum standard for consideration is 7.

Please consider also that approximately 40% to 60% of the patients seen in the McGill-affiliated hospitals are French-speaking. Though it is not a strict requirement for admission, the committee assess applicants for their ability to speak French. 

 5.    Letters of Reference

In the application form, applicants are required to list 3 instructors or supervisors familiar with their work and preferably with their personal attributes. McGill will then contact these referees with a link to upload their letters of reference for the applicant. If at all possible, one of these letters should be from someone familiar with their work in a counselling context.

 The following criteria must be followed in order for the electronic reference letter to be considered acceptable:

  • The letter should be signed by the referee (electronic signatures are acceptable), scanned if necessary and converted to a PDF before uploading.
  • The letters must be specific as to which program the student has applied to and include information that would aid an admissions committee in making an informed decision.
  • The letter must be dated and must not be more than 12 months old.
  • The referee must indicate his/her position and full contact information at the institution. (This information allows for 3rd party verification of the referee when necessary.)

Please note that referees who do not have an e-mail address with an institution or organization and will instead use a public domain (Hotmail, Sympatico, etc.) should contact the Department of Human Genetics, Student Affairs Coordinator at grad.hg [at] in order to verify their authenticity before uploading their letter.

6.    Statement of Purpose

Applicants must write a 1.5-3 page essay, single-spaced, in 12-point font,  explaining why they are applying to the Program. Statements longer than 3 pages will not be read.  Applicants should highlight their professional and/or academic goals, how their past training and/or experiences have prepared them for the Program, and what type of role they imagine themselves taking after graduation. Rather than writing a formal, academic resumé, applicants are encouraged to use this statement of purpose to introduce themselves to the admissions committee. The statement should include an indication of the applicant’s proficiency in French.

Application Deadline

The online application form must be completed and all documentation must be received by January 01. The fall application opens to applicants on September 15th. Referee's will receive additional time to upload the reference letters. The department will be able to make edits or document changes to submitted applications during the application processing time period which is after the January 01 application deadline. So, please do not worry about having to make changes to a submitted application. 


The MSc in Genetic Counselling Program is highly competitive. Typically, upwards of 90 applications are received each year.  Enrollment is currently limited to 5 students per year. Interviews are offered approximately 20 of the applicants, who are notified in late February. Interviews occur in late March and early April, and offers of admission are made in late April.

Tuition Fees

The MSc in Genetic Counselling Program is two years (four terms) in length. For detailed information visit the Graduate and Postdoctoral Website for MSc Tuition Fees & Charges.

The University reserves the right to change fees &/or charges without notice.

For any questions regarding the application procedure for the MSc in Genetic Counselling Program, please contact the Department of Human Genetics Student Affairs Coordinator using one of the following contact options.

Contact Us

E-mail: grad.hg [at]

Telephone: 514-398-6890



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