Boise State University will begin offering the nation’s only fully online master of science degree program in genetic counseling beginning fall 2019.
The State Board of Education approved the program Thursday.
Genetic counselors help people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. To become a genetic counselor requires a master’s degree in genetic counseling from an accredited program.
Since 2006, the profession of genetic counseling has increased by 85 percent, and nationally there are four jobs for every graduate. Locally, the number of unique job openings for genetic counselors has doubled since 2012. However, these newly created jobs have remained unfilled for longer periods of time.
There is also substantial need for more capacity in training genetic counselors because of strong competition for extremely limited space in existing programs. Nationally, about 330 applicants out of 1,300 are accepted to genetic counseling programs each year. The only program serving students in the Northwest is a face-to-face program at the University of Utah. Similar programs are offered by California State University, Stanislaus; Stanford University; University of California, Irvine; University of Colorado, Denver, but all are in-person programs.
Boise State’s program will be available to nurses, health care professionals and others in the rural areas of Idaho and surrounding states, and to students who are otherwise unable to attend a face-to-face program in Boise. It will produce genetic counseling professionals with leadership, business and inter-professional skills who will be desirable additions to a healthcare team.
“The vision of the MS in Genetic Counseling program is to encourage and support diverse populations to pursue a career in genetic counseling and create lifelong learners who are motivated critical thinkers and dedicated healthcare professionals prepared to advance and shape the profession of genetic counseling into the next era of genetics and genomics in mainstream healthcare,” said Jennifer Eichmeyer, a clinical faculty member in the School of Allied Health Sciences at Boise State who will direct the program.
Boise State is seeking accreditation for the program through the Accreditation Council of Genetic Counselors and expects provisional, new program accreditation next year. The program foundation is based on the rigorous accreditation standards regulated by the American Board of Genetic Counselors.
“This new program is one of many that Boise State recently committed to making available online,” said Mark Wheeler, dean of Extended Studies at Boise State. “We’ve already launched several online bachelor degrees to provide Idaho’s working adults with greater access to a college diploma, as well master’s degrees, like accounting and social work, so professionals can take classes anytime and anywhere.”
Learn more about the new program and more than 30 additional online degrees and certificates at online.boisestate.edu.