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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

MS in Human Genetics

First Advisor

Janelle Villiers

Second Advisor

Sylvia Mann


Genetic counseling is a profession that has existed since 1971 and has flourished into the important field we see today. While our knowledge of genetics and its role in our health care is growing, racial diversity of genetic providers within the field is extremely limited. Despite years of diversity initiatives, the field does not represent the demographics in the communities it serves. In order to understand how to increase diversity in admissions, an overview of the literature on past and ongoing diversity initiatives in the field was performed. 8 initiatives were identified, Educational Outreach, Financial Support, Mentorship Programs, Pre-admission Summer Experience, Racial Diversity in Leadership/Faculty, DEIJ Collaboration, Racially Underrepresented Graduate Student Taskforce/Committee, and Interactive Web Resources. Surveys and interviews were created based on this analysis and sent to genetic counseling programs to assess the diversity initiatives being implemented and their areas of focus, as well as gains, if any, in the percentage of students with underrepresented identities being realized. 53 out of 55 genetic counseling programs responded to the surveys and 11 program representatives were interviewed. Based on our study, 53 of the 55 programs have implemented at least one initiative to increase diversity. The survey results range between 8 and 1.5 points, with 8 being implementation of all the DEIJ initiatives listed and 1 implementing only 1. The average number of initiatives currently implemented was between 3 and 4. Participation in career fairs was by far the most recorded outreach effort followed closely by undergraduate outreach.