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.