Student Handbook

The Student Handbook is the official source of guidelines for graduate study in the Department of Human Genetics. Requirements of the master of science program and duties of MS students are described in detail. Note that policies may change from year to year. Each MS student will be governed by the requirements and policies stated in the edition of the student handbook in effect at the time of matriculation.

A history of student handbook editions is maintained for reference on the human genetics department Web site. Current | Past Years


The goal of the master of science program is to prepare students for careers as contributing members of genetics and genomics research teams in academia or industry. Toward this end, students will gain proficiency in the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to begin a career as a scientist. These educational goals are organized into six MS program competencies. After successful completion of the master of science program, students will be able to...

  • Describe the basic genetic principles through which they affect proteins, chromosomes, cells, individuals and populations in states of health and disease
  • Describe mechanisms by which genes and the environment interact to affect the distribution of health and disease in human populations
  • Use conceptual and methodological knowledge to interpret research results
  • Describe the importance of ethical principles, diversity and inclusion in genetics research
  • Query biotechnology and bioinformatics resources to facilitate clinical decision-making and/or interpret research results


Coursework for MS students is typically undertaken during the first year in the program, although advanced courses may be taken in the second year. All MS students will complete the core Human Genetics courses as well as the core public health curriculum. Advanced courses offered through human genetics and other departments will provide students instruction in their chosen area of concentration. Examples of courses offered through other departments that may help a student specialize their studies can be found in the general list of suggestions for elective courses. Certificate programs offered through the Graduate School of Public Health can be pursued to further customize the education of MS students.

MS Program Curriculum

MS Program Curriculum

Research Areas

The MS program offers two areas in which to perform research, laboratory genetics and genetic data analysis, although these need not be mutually exclusive. MS students receive credits for research activities leading to the development of thesis project. Research interests may be complemented by elective coursework and outside-of-the-classroom training and experiences. For example, during the second year, MS students will choose elective courses in human genetics or across the schools of the health sciences pertaining to their area of research. Across both years, students may participate in workshops, laboratory meetings, and scientific conferences, and attend seminars offered to the University community, that enhance knowledge and skills in their chosen area of research. Research experiences including thesis research will provide in-depth, hands-on training in the chosen area.

Genetic Data Analysis PosterLaboratory Genetics Poster

Graduation Checklist

The graduation checklist enumerates the master of science degree requirements.

Planning for Success

An individualized development plan provides an organizational structure for deliberate career planning. Given the competitive job market and diverse career opportunities for scientists, career planning is an essential component of the master of science program. Therefore, MS students will maintain an individualized development plan in which to organize their career goals and document progress toward their professional development. By setting goals, developing and implementing strategies to pursue these goals, and monitoring progress, new MS graduates will achieve greater success in their careers.