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University of Pittsburgh    
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 15, 2024
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Genetic Counseling and Public Health Genetics Dual-Degree Program, MS/MPH

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The University of Pittsburgh established the MPH in Public Health Genetics and MS in Genetic Counseling dual degree program in 2004, which was the first program of its kind to be offered to students pursuing a genetic counseling degree. The dual degree program enables students to build upon the clinical skills that they acquire through the Genetic Counseling Program to understand the importance of genetics, genomics, and genetic counseling in the field of public health. 

Given the rapid expansion of available genetic and genomic testing, the current focus on precision medicine, and the increasing interest of national organizations, state public health offices, and hospitals in the application of genomics to public health, there is a growing need for professionals with skills in both disciplines. Graduates of the dual degree program are well-prepared to integrate public health genetics into clinical, research, public health, and industry settings. The dual degree program also benefits students by broadening their areas of expertise and career qualifications in other areas of public health including program development, evaluation, and policy.

There are a variety of options for completing the dual degree, which depend in part on the timing of the student entering the program. However, most students are able to complete the dual degree program in 22 months, which is one additional summer session beyond the typical completion time for the MS in Genetic Counseling degree program.

More information regarding the program can be found on the Pitt Public Health website, Department of Human Genetics, under the Dual MPH/MS Genetic Counseling program designation.

Dual-Degree Course Requirements

Students interested in both genetic counseling and public health genetics can pursue both degrees in a combined 62-credits (2.5 to 3 year) program. All requirements for each individual program must be completed.

All required courses for both degrees must be taken by dual degree students, with the exception of PUBHLT 2011, Essentials of Public Health. Given that some of the curriculum overlaps, the dual degree requires the completion of 62 credits.  In addition to completing all of the requirements for the MS in Genetic Counseling degree, students enrolled in the dual degree will take an additional seven courses and fulfill the MPH practicum and MPH essay requirements.

The schedule below illustrates one possible schedule that would allow students to complete the Dual Degree Program in 22 months. Schedules are discussed on an individual basis with the Program Directors of the MPH in Public Health Genetics and MS in Genetic Counseling Programs.


Thesis and Essay

Students in the dual degree program will complete both the thesis requirement for the MS in Genetic Counseling degree and the Essay requirement for the MPH in Public Health Genetics degree. Depending on the thesis and essay topics, sometimes these documents can be combined into one document comprising the student’s thesis project with additional background on public health genetics relevance and, at least, one additional, extensive chapter focusing on an application of public health genetics. The student’s thesis committee and the Program Director for the MPH in Public Health Genetics will work with the student to identify the additional components or topics that are needed to satisfy the MPH Essay requirement.

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