All graduate students in genetic counseling complete a research project as a requirement of the master's degree. Faculty aid students in the selection of a primary faculty advisor and formulation of an original research project. Students and their primary advisor then select an expert thesis committee to help guide them through the conduct of the study.
The goals of the research project are to:
- Gain a thorough understanding of the research process
- Learn to critically evaluate research studies
- Formulate an original research question to add to the body of genetic counseling knowledge
- Implement study design and data collection
- Understand research methodology and the statistical tools necessary to analyze data
- Formally defend and write a thesis paper
- Present the findings of the project at the annual Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling Student Research Colloquium
- Have the opportunity to submit work for publication and present findings at national conferences
Preparation for the research project begins in the fall quarter of the first year with a course in Research Methods. This course is designed to help the student gain a better understanding of qualitative and quantitative study design and interpretation.
It also emphasizes tools and skills needed for thesis development. By the end of this course, students are prepared to develop a research proposal under the guidance of their thesis committee and begin the process of obtaining programatic and institutional review board (IRB) approval.
During the winter quarter, students begin the implementation of their research project, with up to $1,000 in research funding available through the program. After the project is underway, students will periodically meet with their thesis committee to review the project's progress and receive guidance. The project culminates in an oral defense to the committee, a written thesis, and a presentation at the Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling Student Research Colloquium. Graduates write a formal thesis, and are strongly encouraged to submit their work for presentation at relevant national meetings, such as NSGC, ASHG, and ACMG, in preparation for publication.