Master's in Genetic Counselling (MGC)


Program Description

Master's in Genetic Counselling (MGC)

Program Overview

After the release of the complete version of the human genome in 2003, the field of medical genetics experienced a revolution in the speed of discoveries which positively affected human health. The clinical and genomic breakthrough of the medical genetics field has aided the translation and integration of genomics into healthcare and the introduction of personalized medicine improving the level of service offered to patients. The high incidence of various genetic disorders in KSA and in the Arab world, the implementation of national programs of newborn and premarital screening have significantly increased the demand for properly trained Genetic Counselors to work with patients and their families. Genetic counseling training programs have been around in North America since the late sixties. These training programs have proven to be highly successful in graduating well trained genetic counselors, where currently there are thousands of them practicing worldwide.

The Department of Medical Genetics at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in affiliation with Alfaisal University in Riyadh have recognized the importance of such an essential specialty and are committed to establishing the first Master's training program in genetic counseling located at Alfaisal University.

The goal of this program is to meet the current and future demand of healthcare system for highly qualified, competent and culturally sensitive genetic counselors in Saudi Arabia and in the region. Students graduating from the program will be recognized by the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCHS) as Specialist in Genetic Counseling then after 2 years of clinical service in genetic counseling under a consultant medical geneticist, according to the SCHS regulations, will be granted the title of Senior Specialist in Genetic Counseling, or as stated by the SCHS registration or classification at the time of graduation.

What is Genetic Counseling?

According to the National Society of Genetic Counseling (NSGC) in USA genetic counseling is defined as "the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. This integrates interpretation of family and medical histories to assess disease occurrence and recurrence, education about inheritance, testing, management, prevention, resources, and research. It also integrates counseling to promote informed choices and adaptation to the risk or condition".

Where do Genetic Counselors work?

Genetic counselors work in almost all fields of healthcare. Below are some of the areas where genetic counselors work:

  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies/Infertility
  • Cardiovascular Genetics
  • Familial Cancer Risk Counseling
  • Fetal Intervention & Therapy
  • Newborn and premarital screening
  • Hematology
  • Metabolic Genetics
  • Neurogenetics
  • Pediatric Counseling
  • Prenatal Counseling/Ultrasound Anomalies
  • Research
  • Diagnostic laboratories
  • Educational and medical websites
  • Pharmaceutical industry

Program schedule & content

It is designed to provide students with a solid foundation in medical & scientific knowledge on the one hand and with counseling skills on the other hand. The program will provide in-depth theoretical courses in scientific and psychosocial aspects of genetic diseases. The theory will be supported by practical and clinical rotations in various genetics and relevant clinics and genetic laboratories at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and selected neighboring hospitals.

The theoretical coursework will include areas of Human & Medical Genetics, Anatomy & Physiology, Research Methodology, Topics in Genetic Counseling, Cancer Genetics, Islam & Genetic Counseling, and Psychosocial Aspects of Genetic Counseling. The practical part will include clinical rotations in Medical Genetics, Prenatal Clinic, OB/GYN and ultrasound clinic, and other specialty clinics. Lab practicum rotations will include Cytogenetics laboratory, Molecular Laboratory, Biochemistry & Newborn Laboratory.

Students: Male and Female, Saudi and non-Saudi

Subject courses:

  • Introduction to Anatomy & Physiology
  • Research Methodology
  • Genetic Counseling & Islam
  • Introduction to Medical & Population Genetics
  • Topics in Genetic Counseling I
  • Topics in Genetic Counseling II
  • Psychosocial Aspects of Genetic Counseling
  • The Genetic Basis of Inherited Disease
  • Cancer Genetic Counseling

Practicums & clinical rotation

  • Biochemical & Newborn Screening Laboratory Practicum
  • Cytogenetics Laboratory Practicum
  • Molecular Genetics Practicum
  • Observational Clinic Rotation
  • Medical Genetics Clinic Practicum
  • Prenatal Clinic Practicum
  • Ultrasound Clinic Practicum
  • Advanced Medical Genetics Clinic Practicum

Duration: Two years (47 credits)

  • Subject courses 21 credits
  • Practicums & clinical rotation 20 credits
  • Project 6 credits
  • Clinical Internship 0 credits

Admission criteria

1. A bachelor's degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution accepted by MOE in biomedical sciences, nursing, health education, biochemistry, microbiology or related fields.

2. A satisfactory scholastic average; usually for a master's a minimum grade average of «very good» in the Bachelor degree.

3. The graduate study application must be accompanied by a nonrefundable application fee payable to Alfaisal University.

4. Official transcripts of all college-level work must be submitted as issued by the school.

5. If an applicant is non-Saudi, then they should have an official residence (Iqama).

6.Applicant should be of good behavior, fair reputation and medically fit.

7. Applicant should submit two letters of recommendations from professors who taught him/her.

8. If the applicant comes from a country or political entity where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 500 on the paper-and-pencil test or an IELTS Band score of at least 5.5 - 6.5.

9. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or an equivalent exam held by Qias center with above average score.

10. Provide a statement of purpose describing your academic interests and reasons for applying.

11. Successfully completion of an in-person interview with the director of the program.

12. No Student shall be allowed enrolment in two graduate programs at the same time.

Tuition Fees

  • Application Fee S.R 500.
  • Annual Tuition (due at the beginning of each academic year) S.R 100,000.
  • Estimated books and materials for each year SR 6,000.
Last updated Mar 2020

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About the School

Alfaisal University was founded by the highly reputed King Faisal Foundation in 2002 as one of the first Private Non-Profit, research and teaching universities in the Kingdom committed to achieving in ... Read More

Alfaisal University was founded by the highly reputed King Faisal Foundation in 2002 as one of the first Private Non-Profit, research and teaching universities in the Kingdom committed to achieving international standards of excellence. Read less