Online Degree Programs in Genetics

Have you ever wondered why someone’s facial features, the build of their body, or their eye or hair color resembles that of their grandparents, parents, or other close relatives? What are the factors that are responsible for generating the variety of shapes and colors of trees, flowers, and different types of animals? If you have such questions in mind, then you probably have been thinking about genetics, which is known as the science of heredity.

Genetics is studied at the genome/gene/DNA level ( biotechnology, molecular genetics, bioinformatics, and genomics), the level of organisms (Mendelian or classical genetics), and among or within populations of individuals (quantitative and population genetics).

Recently, one of the most noteworthy scientific accomplishments has been the use of genomic technologies to identify human genes and genes for various other plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi. Geneticists are now able to use biochemical, mathematical, molecular, and computer science-based approaches to examine how these genes determine observable traits.

A degree program in genetics can prepare students for careers in technical support and academic research, agriculture, teaching, medicine and health sciences, the biotechnology industry, forensic science, sales or marketing, and technical writing. This degree is also ideal for students who wish to enter a graduate program, veterinary school, or medical school.

Several career options are available in genetics with diverse opportunities. While some roles require an advanced degree, many options are available for those who only have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in genetics or a related field. A few examples include:

  • Genetic Counselors: These professionals communicate and assess the risk of inherited conditions to families or individuals. A master’s degree in genetic counseling is typically required for this career.
  • Geneticists: These professionals study heredity, genes, and genetic variation. They work in universities, clinical settings, or research laboratories. A PhD or medical degree is typically required for this career.
  • Clinical Geneticists: These professionals manage and diagnose genetic disorders in patients. They usually work in clinics or hospitals and require a medical degree along with specialized training in clinical genetics.
  • Genetic Technologists: These professionals perform laboratory procedures and tests to analyze chromosomes, DNA, and other genetic materials. A bachelor’s degree in genetics or a related field is usually required for this career.
  • Biotechnology Researchers: These professionals work on developing new therapies, drugs, and genetically modified organisms. They work in pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, or academia. An advanced degree such as a PhD is generally required for this position.
  • Genetic Engineers: These professionals modify and manipulate genes for various purposes, such as developing new therapies or improving crops. A bachelor’s degree in genetics or a related field is typically required for this role.

Keep reading to learn more about on-campus, hybrid, and online genetics programs in the United States.

On-Campus Programs in Genetics

There is no specific legal requirement to pursue this career, but obtaining a degree at the undergraduate level, at minimum, is highly recommended to have access to the widest variety of job opportunities.

Bachelor’s Degrees

University of Georgia

The Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia’s Franklin College of Arts & Sciences offers a bachelor of science program in genetics. Students in this department are provided with a unique and supportive environment to understand the full spectrum of evolutionary, population, and molecular genetics. The major prepares graduates for careers in biomedical fields, academic research, teaching, and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry.

Made up of 120 credits, the program includes courses such as introductory biochemistry and molecular biology; cell biology; evolutionary biology; genetics; introduction to statistics for life sciences; introduction to probability for life sciences; advanced genetics; and experimental genetics.

In addition to courses, students in this major can choose from several laboratory courses, which focus on evolutionary genetics, genomics, or molecular genetics. Undergraduates are strongly encouraged by the department to pursue independent research with one of their faculty members.

Graduates will be prepared for positions such as biotechnologists, clinical geneticists, embryologists, genetics counselors, geneticists, nuclear medicine specialists, toxicologists, and field study coordinators, among many other such roles.

  • Location: Athens, GA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years
  • Estimated Tuition: Georgia resident ($28,142 per academic year); non-resident ($48,538 per academic year)

University of Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin at Madison offers a bachelor of science program in genetics and genomics. Exploring how genetic material shapes life, this program prepares graduates for solving some of society’s most pressing challenges in the fields of biotechnology, medicine, agriculture, and biomedical research.

Students majoring in this genetics and genomics program take courses in introductory genetics, chemistry, biology, statistics, and physics, and then delve into specialized genetics topics focused on plants, humans, cancer, populations, neurology, epigenetics, and biological development. Moreover, graduates in this program gain laboratory research experiences by conducting independent research projects and taking laboratory courses in faculty labs.

This major provides students with a strong foundation for careers in public health, medicine, life sciences, research, biotechnology, agriculture, law, education, and science communication. Graduates choose to pursue professional and graduate studies, including veterinary school, medical school, law school, and research-focused PhD programs. They go on to become medical directors, physicians, epidemiologists, genetic counselors, data analysts, research scientists, veterinarians, plant breeders, teachers, professors, science writers, and attorneys.

  • Location: Madison, WI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years
  • Estimated Tuition: WI resident ($5,542.56 for 20 credits); MN reciprocity ($8,456 for 20 credits); non-resident ($22,524.22 for 20 credits); non-resident: international ($23,107.60 for 20 credits)

Master’s Degrees

University of New Hampshire

Recent innovations in the fields of genomics and genetics are leading to new discoveries, and with a master of science program in genetics offered by the University of New Hampshire’s College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, students can contribute to the advancement of human and public health practice,  policy, and research.

This interdisciplinary program covers areas from cellular and molecular biology to evolutionary and environmental genetics and genomics in plant, microbial, and animal systems. Graduates will be equipped for successful careers with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, government and academic research laboratories, or agricultural organizations. They will also be prepared for medical school, doctoral studies, or health-related professional programs.

Students in this program can participate in cutting-edge research in bioinformatics and genomics, disease and cancer genetics, molecular and biodiversity ecology, and translational and transcriptional regulation. Students in this 30-credit program must take at least three genetics courses, attend a seminar each semester, present one seminar per year, and write and defend a six to ten-credit thesis.

Courses include genetics of prokaryotic microbes; population genetics; human genetics; genomics and bioinformatics; programming for bioinformatics; microbial ecology and evolution; molecular evolution; comparative genomics; molecular genetics; techniques in plant genetic engineering and biotechnology.

  • Location: Durham, NH
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: NH resident ($7,085 per semester); out-of-state ($13,905 per semester)

Stanford University

Stanford Medicine offers a master of science program in human genetics and genetic counseling that is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC). The US News & World Report ranked this program as the third best in the nation among best genetic programs. Taught by exceptional faculty members, the program utilizes research facilities, genomics resources, and state-of-the-art testing laboratories to train students to work with clients and patients in various settings and from multicultural backgrounds.

The program’s curriculum balances solid psychosocial counseling techniques and research training with cutting-edge genomics technology. The program emphasizes critical thinking knowledge and skills needed as genomics and genetics are translated into new professional settings.

Applicants to the program must hold, or expect to hold, a bachelor’s degree from a US college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association.

The 84-credit curriculum includes courses such as clinical embryology; responsible conduct of research; human molecular genetics; introduction to molecular genetics; introduction to clinical genetic testing; genetic counseling; metabolic genetic counseling; cancer genetics; prenatal genetics; and neurogenetics.

  • Location: Palo Alto, CA
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Six academic quarters
  • Estimated Tuition: $96,906 total cost of the program

Hybrid & Online Programs in Genetics

Several genetics degree programs are offered as online or hybrid – a blend of on-campus and online programs. These programs allow working professionals to pursue an advanced degree to further their careers without leaving their current position or relocating to take classes. The programs featured here will prepare students to take on careers in genetics just as thoroughly as classroom-based programs.

Bachelor’s Degrees

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers an online bachelor of science program in biological sciences with a concentration in genetics, cell, and developmental biology combining the study of three essential areas of life science. This combined study gives students a better understanding of regeneration, aging, and diseases and prepares graduates for graduate and professional degrees in medicine, genomes, and genetics.

Students can also complete this bachelor’s degree as part of an accelerated master’s program where they can earn a master’s degree in as little as one year after completing their undergraduate degree.

Made up of 120 credits, the program includes courses such as animal physiology; functional genomics; immunology: molecular and cellular foundations; cell biology; advanced principles of biochemistry; general genetics; and evolution.

Graduates will be ready to take on roles such as biological sciences professors, clinical trial managers, epidemiologists, genetic counselors, geneticists, high school teachers, and medical scientists.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years
  • Estimated Tuition: $654 per credit

Master’s Degrees

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University offers an online master of science program in individualized genomics and health, an emerging field filled with career opportunities in education, biotech, healthcare, and industry. This field offers incredible potential for preventative health, making possible tailored treatment plans and more accurate diagnoses for each patient. This could also help prevent disease, leading to earlier detection, or even slowing progression.

Careers in individualized genomics and healthcare can take students to innovative biotech start-ups, educational institutions, leading research centers, pharmaceutical companies, big data firms, healthcare organizations, and medical device manufacturers. This program can also serve as a foundation for nursing school, medical school, or advanced studies in public health or the life sciences.

Moreover, students in this program can align their course of study with their interests, future career goals, and past experiences. The three specialization options include regulatory, laboratory diagnostics, and genomics.

This 40-credit program includes courses such as epigenetics, gene organization & expression; human molecular genetics; genes & disease; introduction to bioinformatics; ethical, legal & regulatory aspects of the biotechnology enterprise; and genomic and personalized medicine.

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: One to two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $5,210 per course

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati’s masters of pharmaceutical sciences: pharmacogenomics and personalized healthcare program offers students a unique opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge and skills about pharmacogenomics and understand the effects of environment, genomics, and patient-specific factors on drug response, allowing for optimal clinical outcomes and individualized therapy.

The program empowers graduates to integrate genomics into patient care and opens up ample opportunities for employment in the pharmaceutical industry, direct clinical care, and academia. It also provides knowledge of innovative precision medicine approaches, implementation of genomic medicine, and state-of-art genomics research.

Applicants to the program must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (preferably in chemistry, biology, or any other science-related field) with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

The curriculum of this 30-credit program is customizable and students can either focus entirely on pharmacogenomics or follow a pharmacy leadership or drug development track. Courses include ethics in scientific research- pharmacy; metabolism, molecular biology, and pharmacogenomics; human genetics; cancer genomics; advanced pharmacogenomics; nutrition and exercise genomics; implementation science; biostatistics & research methods; and clinical application of pharmacogenetics.

Graduates will be ready for positions such as clinical research coordinators; data scientists; genetic counselors; geneticists; bioinformatics scientists; bioinformatics technicians; medical scientists, except epidemiologists; and biochemists and biophysicists.

  • Location: Cincinnati, OH
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($783 per credit); non-resident ($798 per credit)

Southern California University of Health Sciences

The Southern California University Health Sciences offers an online master of science program in human genetics and genomics which is ideal for those who wish to gain a deep and broad understanding of genomics and human genetics. Delivered entirely online, this program is intended for busy professionals in biotechnology industries, academia, or clinical fields.

Upon successful completion, graduates will be able to critically apply, translate, and analyze genomics in research, practice, and education. They will understand epigenetics and the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of applied genomics.

Notably, the university also offers an online bachelor of science program in health sciences with a concentration in human genetics and genomics. Students who graduate with this bachelor’s degree can reduce the program length from three to two terms. Moreover, students can also choose to add an additional term of study and earn a concentration in pre-genetics counseling.

The curriculum includes courses such as introduction to human genome; embryology and human development; population genetics and ancestry analysis; structure and function of the human genome; human microbiome and infectious disease; heritable syndromes and diseases; genomics technologies and diagnostics; and bioethics and research ethics.

  • Location: Whittier, CA
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Full-time (one year); part-time (two years)
  • Estimated Tuition: $39,600 total tuition

Core & Elective Courses in Genetics

The curriculum for a genetics degree is not strictly prescribed. However, many courses are standard across most programs as core requirements, including:

  • Introductory biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Introduction to statistics for life sciences
  • Advanced genetics
  • Experimental genetics
  • Introduction to the human genome
  • Population genetics and ancestry analysis
  • Human genetics
  • Genomics and bioinformatics
  • Comparative genomics
  • Molecular genetics
  • Genetic counseling
  • Cancer genetics
  • Prenatal genetics
  • Neurogenetics

It is essential to note that though most of these courses will be required as part of a genetics education, they may go by different course titles as decided by the faculty of an individual institution.

Accreditation of Genetics Programs

There are two types of accreditation: programmatic and institutional.

Institutional Accreditation

Every institution should have general accreditation from a national organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education CHEA. The school overall should hold accreditation from one of the following regional accreditation agencies:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Programmatic Accreditation

The Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC) is the specialized program accreditation board for educational training programs granting master’s degrees or higher in genetic counseling.

Career Outlook

As already mentioned in the introduction, there are several career options available for professionals with genetics degrees. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023) does not collect information on all those career fields, one of the closest categories, “Genetic Counselors,” projects 16 percent growth nationally in openings for this field between 2022 and 2032.

According to the BLS, “Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers,” a related category, can expect a rate of growth of 5 percent over the same decade and a median annual salary of $99,550.

Another closely related career “Biochemists and Biophysicists,” can expect a rate of growth of 7 percent over the same decade, and a median annual salary of $103,810.

Licensing & Certification

To become Certified Genetic Counselors (CGC), professionals must pass the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) certification examination. This credential indicates that genetic counselors have met the standards to provide competent genetic counseling.

While not required everywhere, this certification demonstrates that individuals have met the standards necessary to provide competent genetic counseling. To become certified, counselors must first obtain a master’s degree in genetic counseling from one of the ACGC-accredited programs in the United States and Canada and then take and pass a rigorous certification exam.

To become a medical or clinical geneticist, a physician’s license is required since they are trained to diagnose and treat genetic disorders. To be certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomes (ABMGG), you must complete an accredited clinical residency program and an accredited laboratory fellowship. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is another board certification organization that specializes in medical certification and continuing education.


The BLS reports the average annual salary for genetic counselors is $93,120 (BLS May 2022). Salaries vary based on experience, education, and location. The salary percentiles are as follows:

  • 10th percentile: $64,360
  • 25th percentile: $79,940
  • 50th percentile (median): $89,990
  • 75th percentile: $104,610
  • 90th percentile: $128,380

According to the BLS (May 2022) bioengineers and biomedical engineers, a related category, earned an annual average salary of $108,060. They had the following percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $63,420
  • 25th percentile: $78,500
  • 50th percentile (median): $99,550
  • 75th percentile: $129,230
  • 90th percentile: $159,130

Another closely related career, biochemists and biophysicists, earned an annual average salary of $114,740 (BLS May 2022). This career had the following percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $61,540
  • 25th percentile: $78,700
  • 50th percentile (median): $103,810
  • 75th percentile: $133,150
  • 90th percentile: $171,010
Farheen Gani
Farheen Gani Writer

Farheen Gani has immense knowledge about medical technology schools, having researched topics such as medical billing and coding, health information management, nursing informatics, and biotechnology degree programs since 2018. She is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about healthcare, technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).