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Thesis Project

All graduate students in genetic counseling complete a research project as a requirement of the master's degree. Faculty assist students in the selection of a primary faculty adviser and formulation of an original research project. Students and their primary adviser 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 programmatic and institutional review board approval.

Conducting Research

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.

Past Thesis Topics

 Class of 2023

  • Cancer Genetic Counselors' Perceptions of Self-Competence and Resource Utilization when Counseling Adults with Intellectual Disabilities
  • Examining How Newborn Screening Information is Used in the Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID) and Sudden Death in the Young (SDY) Case Registry
  • Physician preparedness for Genetic Counseling in a Pediatric Cancer Center in Egypt
  • Make it Better: Perspectives on Mental Health Support in Genetic Counseling Graduate Programs Among Recent Graduates
  • Parental Experiences and Attitudes of False Positives from Lysosomal Storage Disorders Newborn Screening: Qualitative Study
  • Measuring Historical Variant Reclassification in Inherited Retinal Dystrophy and its Impact on Clinical Genetic Testing
  • Exploring the Expanding Roles of General Pediatric Genetic Counselors with Progressively Limited Collaboration from Medical Geneticists
  • Knowledge of Inherited Cancer Risk in Individuals with Prostate Cancer and Implications for Genetic Counseling and Testing
  • Genetic Counselors' Perspectives on Working with Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHCs) to Increase Genetic Counseling Visits for Hereditary Cancers
  • Exploring Gastroenterology Clinicians' Perspectives on Genetic Counseling and Genetic Testing for Hereditary Polyposis Syndromes
  • Genetic Counseling Program Directors' Perspectives on their Role in Supporting Students' Mental Health
  • "If I Knew More…I Would Feel Less Worried" – Filipino Americans' Attitudes and Knowledge of Genetic Disease, Testing, and Counseling
  • Minority Genetic Professionals Network (MGPN) and its Contribution to a Sense of Belonging in the Field of Genetic Counseling
  • What's My Risk?: Experiences and Risk Perceptions of East Asian Americans with a Family History of Breast Cancer
  • Transition Readiness in Adolescent & Young Adult Patients with Phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • Assessing Genetic Counselors' Perspectives on Acceptability, Feasibility, and Readiness of Chatbots in Genetic Counseling
  • Exploring the Perspectives and Experiences of Genetic Counseling Students and Graduates Who Identify as First-Generation Students
  • Characterizing Genetic Counseling Trends for Hereditary Melanoma: Consensus and Disagreement in Current Practice
  • What do the Female Partners Think? Exploration of Perceived Male Partner Roles by Asian American Female Partners in the Context of Prenatal Testing
  • Assessing Prenatal Genetic Counselors’ Perceived Mental Wellbeing and Abortion Stigma Face in a Post Roe v. Wade United States

 Class of 2022

  • The Post-Diagnostic Odyssey of Families With Ultra-Rare Genetic Syndromes: The Bohring-Optiz Syndrome (BOS) Perspective
  • Function, genotype and neurodevelopmental phenotype relationships in KCNQ2-related epileptic encephalopathy
  • The biogenetic decision-making processes and perceived utility of genetic counseling amongst LGBTQ+ couples pursuing assisted reproductive technology
  • Examination of Dialogues Between Females Identified as Carriers Through Carrier Screening and the Male Pattern Who Did Not Follow-Through
  • Genetic counselors’ perceived preparedness for roles in the assisted reproductive technology specialty
  • Healthcare decision makers’ perspectives on the creation of new genetic counselor positions in North America: Making the case for psychiatric genetic counseling
  • Exploring primary care physicians integration of genetic counselors in the primary care setting
  • Exploring the utilization of sponsored genetic testing panels in pediatric epilepsy
  • Retrospective-Matched Analysis of Disease Progression in the Treatment of Early Onset Niemann Pick Disease Type C With Intrathecal Adrabetadex
  • Exploring Genetic Counselor Perspectives on Commercial Financial Assistance Programs for Hereditary Cancer Testing
  • Caregivers’ perspective on newborn screening for late-onset Fabry disease
  • A retrospective data analysis for estimation of genetic anticipation in families with Lynch syndrome due to mutations in MLH1
  • Exploration of Experiences and Factors Influencing East Asians to Choose a Career in Genetic Counseling
  • "Hope at a better chance": Perspectives on genetic counseling and testing among African Americans with prostate cancer.
  • "Prepare to Work Twice as Hard to be Treated Half as Well": Exploring the Impact of Microaggressions on the Genetic Counseling Supervisory Working Alliance
  • Racial and Ethnic Minority Student Perceptions of Cultural Competency, Cultural Humility and Anti-Racist Curriculum in Genetic Counseling Programs
  • Experiences of Parents With Children Diagnosed With Familial Hypercholesterolemia
  • The Impact of Second Sign: Investigating the Effect of a Hard Stop Genetic Testing Laboratory Utilization Management Tool

 Class of 2021

  • Exploring Genetic Counselor and Healthcare Interpreter Perspectives: Allocation of Roles within the Genetic Counseling Encounter
  • Exploring the Experiences of South Asian Americans with a Personal or Family History of Cancer
  • Caregivers' Perspective on Abnormal Newborn Screening for Late Onset Pompe Disease
  • Assessing Knowledge, Use, and Perceptions of 2019 United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) BRCA-Related Cancer Risk Assessment Recommendations among Health Care Providers
  • Exploring the Use of Expanded Sequencing Technology by Pediatric and Adult Cancer Genetic Counselors
  • Strategies Used by Genetic Counselors for Moderate Risk Result Disclosure and Relationship to Participants’ Risk Perception
  • An Assessment of Mental Wellbeing in Genetic Counseling Graduate Students and Recent Graduates
  • Not Just Carriers: Experiences of X-Linked Female Heterozygotes
  • Utility and Outcomes of ACMG-ClinGen’s 2019 Guidelines for CNVs with Unclear Classifications
  • Genetic Counselors’ Perspectives of Various Medical Specialties and Referrals to Genetic Counseling due to Abnormal Colorectal Tumor Screening for Lynch Syndrome
  • Genotype-Phenotype Correlations in Persons with Incidentally Discovered KCNQ1 Variants
  • An Exploration of Naturopathic Physicians' Current Practices for Ordering MTHFR Genetic Testing
  • Assessment of Clinical Genetic Knowledge and Desired Topics for Practitioner Education in Cardiovascular Genetics and Sudden Cardiac Death
  • No Longer 'Non-Traditional': The Evolution of Genetic Counseling Perceptions towards Laboratory and Industry Roles
  • Cytogenetic Testing for Gonadoblastoma Risk in Patients With Turner Syndrome: An Investigation of Laboratory Analysis Practices
  • Perspectives of Thought Leaders on the Future of Reproductive Genetic Medicine
  • Exploring the Challenges and Solutions to Implementing Somatic Tumor Sequencing in Medical Institutions
  • Exploring the Accuracy of Breast Cancer Risk Perception and Its Impact on Surveillance

 Class of 2020

  • Exploring the Integration of Adverse Childhood Experiences in Genetic Counseling Practice
  • An Exploration of Genetic Counselors’ Use and Application of Family Health History Tools
  • Adopted Individuals’ Interest in Elective Genomic Testing
  • Exploring the Communication of Cardiac-Related Risk to First-Degree Relatives After the Sudden Death of a Young Family Member
  • Experiences and Factors Influencing Hispanics/Latinos to Choose a Career in Genetic Counseling
  • Examining Genetic Counselors’ Perspectives Regarding Communication with Prostate Cancer Patients
  • Implementation of Germline Genetic Testing for Patients with a Personal History of Breast Cancer: Perspectives of Key Healthcare Professionals
  • Site-Specific Analysis vs. Multi-Gene Panel Testing for Familial Cancer Variants: Current Practices of Genetic Counselors
  • Assessing Oncologist Preference for Results Communication in Somatic Tumor Next Generation Sequence Testing
  • Impact of Phenotypic Data on Reclassifying Variants of Uncertain Significance in Pediatric Patients with Epilepsy
  • Measuring ACMG Variant Interpretation Criteria Application in Incidental Findings in White and Non-White Individuals
  • Charting the Laboratory Utilization Management (LUM) Landscape: Genetic Counselor Perspectives on the Structure and Efficacy of LUM Programs
  • Thought-Leaders’ Perspectives on the Potential Impact of At-Home Genetic Testing on Access and Disparities in Genomic Medicine
  • Assessing Oncologist Preference for Results Communication in Somatic Tumor Next Generation Sequence Testing
  • The Emotional Impact of Restrictive Abortion Laws on Prenatal Genetic Counselors
  • Offering Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Monogenic Disorders (PGT-M) for Conditions or Variants of Uncertain Significance: Ethical Insight from Genetic Counselors
  • An Exploration of Cancer Genetic Counselors’ Approach to Pathogenic TP53 Variants
  • What Women Want: General Population Perspectives and Access to Expanded Carrier Screening Preconception
  • Exploring Currend Practices and Perspectives of Genetic Counselors on DNA Biobanking in Oncology
  • How Genetic Counselors Remain Informed of Practice Guidelines

 Class of 2019

  • Phenotype-Karyotype Relationships in Pediatric Turner Syndrome
  • Exploring Factors that Influences Patient Language Surrounding Pregnancy
  • The Effect of a Video Intervention on Research Participant Understanding and Perceived Value of Negative Gentic Test Results
  • Exploring IRB Attitudes regarding Direct Contact of Relatives in Genetic Studies
  • Assessing Obstetrician-Gynecologists’ Use of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing
  • Clinical Laboratory Genetic Counselors’ Opinions on Implementing a Standardized Quantitative Framework for Variant Classification
  • Identification of Successes, Challenges, and Proposed Improvements to Familial Risk Communication after Sudden Cardiac Death of a Young Family Member
  • Exploration of Formal Training for Genetic Counseling Assistants
  • Exploring the Impact of Negative Genetic Test Results on Personal Utility and Percieved Value: Does Having a Personal or Family History of a Condition Make a Difference?
  • What is the Clinical Utility of Testing for Cancer Genes with No Published Medical Management Guidelines?
  • Pharmaceutical Industry Perspectives on Genetic Counselors
  • Use of BRCA-related Familial Risk Stratification Tools among Physician Assistants
  • Pediatric Specialty Genetic Counselors: Clinical Activities and Position Structure
  • Cultural Competency 101: Inerpreters’ Views in the Genetic Counseling Setting
  • Parental Perceptions of Potential Drug Therapise (BMN 111) for Achondroplasia
  • The Impact of First Trimester Ultrasound on Pregnancy Management Recommendations
  • Facilitators and Barriers to Utilization of Peer to Peer Support among Cancer Caregivers
  • Exploring the Impact of Insurance on Pediatric Genetic Counseling Testing Practices
  • An International Exploration of Facilitating Decision Making and Nondirectiveness in Genetic Counseling Graduate Programs

 Class of 2018

  • The Impact of Radiation Dose and Type on Reproductive Tumor and Non-Tumor Morbidities in Mice
  • Genetic Counselors’ Perspectives on Population-Based Screening for BRCA-Related Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer and Lynch Syndrome
  • Quantitative Analysis of the Overlap in Clinical Roles between Genetic Counselors and Social Workers
  • Combined CYP2C9 and VKORC1 Genotype is Associated with INR Variability during a Long-Term Warfarin Use
  • Pediatricians Experience Ordering Genetic Testing
  • Prenatal Genetic Counselors’ Perceptions of the Impact of Abortion Legislation on Counseling and Access in the United States
  • Adult Onset Neurologic Disease Risks in Carriers of Recessive Conditions: Current Knowledge, Practices, and Attitudes of Genetic Counselors Providing Carrier Screening
  • OB/Gyn Residents’ Experiences with Genetics: Assessment of Training, Attitudes, and Comfort
  • An Investigation of the Association between Primary Ovarioan Insufficiency and Autoimmune Disease
  • Behind the Scenes: Genetic Counseling Support Staff and Their Roles
  • Patient Comprehension and Percieved Value of Negative Results from Non-Diagnostic Genetic Testing
  • Utilization of Statistical Breast Cancer Risk Prediction Models by Genetic Counselors in Clinical Practice
  • Exploring the Use of Implementation Outcomes in the Evaluation of Pharmacogenomic Testing Programs
  • Exploring a Brief Medical Improvisational Performing Arts Intervention for Genetic Counseling Graduate Students
  • Impact of Functional Evaluation on Reclassifying Varriants of Uncertain Significance in KCNQ1
  • The Evolution of Language Referencing Congenital Conditions Marked by Atypical Sexual Development in Scientific Literature
  • Parental Attitudes Regarding the Need for Genetic Services in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivorship Program

 Class of 2017

  • Exploring the Status of Non-Directiveness in Genetic Counseling Training Programs
  • Genetics Professionals’ Attitudes towards the Clinical Implementation of Prenatal Exome Sequencing
  • The Impact of Tricare’s Policies concerning Prenatal Genetic Testing and Termination on the Genetic Counseling Process
  • Association of INR Variability during Warfarin Therapy with CYP2C9 and VKORC1 Genotypes
  • Attitudes and Perceptions towards Fertility Preservation among Cancer Survivor Partners
  • Exploring Providers’ Perceptions of Cognitive Difference among FAP patients
  • Exploring Prenatal Genetic Counselors’ Perceptions of Abortion Laws in their State
  • The Impact of Family History on Prodromal Huntington Disease
  • Attitudes towards Nomenclature of Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) among Physicians, Genetic Counselors, and Mental Health Providers
  • Clinical Predictors for Identifying Variants on Cancer Genetic Testing Panels
  • Transition Readiness and Quality of Life in Adolescents and Young Adults with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome
  • Prenatal Genetic Counselors’ Practices and Confidence Level When Counseling Patients on Cancer Risk Identified on Expanded Carrier Screening
  • Exploring Non-Genetics Providers’ Perceived Barriers to Genetic Services at an Accountable Care Organization
  • Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques: Reactions and Opinions of Genetic Counselors

 Class of 2016

  • Impact of FDA Approval of PARP Inhibitor Treatment on Genetic Counseling and Testing Practices for Ovarian Cancer Patients
  • Prenatal Exome Sequencing: Issues of Clinical Utility and Beyond
  • Classification of SCN2A variants in SCN2A Encephalopathy
  • The Impact of a Long QT Syndrome Diagnosis on Competitive Athletes’ Psychological Processes
  • Survey of Genetic Counselors’ Practice, Perceptions, and Engagement With Genetic Information and Electronic Health Record Implementation
  • Patient Expectations for Non-Diagnostic Whole Exome Sequencing
  • Evaluation of an Online Educational Tool for Carrier Screening
  • Genetic Counselors’ Approach of the Postmortem Genetic Testing Process After Sudden Cardiac Death
  • Women’s Experiences with Receiving The News of an Abnormal Prenatal Ultrasound
  • Developmental Pediatricians’ Current Practices in Utilizing Genetic Services for Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Perceived Barriers to Incorporating Genetic Services into their Practice
  • Pregnant Women’s Perspectives on Expanded Carrier Screening
  • Examining Changes to NBS Protocol After the NCAA Sickle Cell Trait Screening Mandate
  • Laboratory Directors Opinions Regarding the FDA’s Proposed Regulatory Oversight of Laboratory-Developed Tests (LDTs)

 Class of 2015

  • Assessing Reproductive Interest and Options for Women With Turner Syndrome and Their Parents
  • Exploring the Issues Surrounding Clinical Whole Exome Sequencing in a Prenatal Setting
  • Interpreting for Genetic Counselors: Identifying Common Pitfalls and Solutions
  • Exploring Attitudes of Adopted Individuals on the Utility and Value of Universal Carrier Screening
  • Athletic Trainers’ Perceptions and Assessment of Family History in Detection of Athletes at Risk for Sudden Cardiac Death in Preparticipation Evaluation Screening
  • Comparing Pharmacy and Genetic Counseling: Education Related to Pharmacogenomics and Attitudes About Roles and Collaboration in Clinical Pharmacogenomics
  • Implementation of Newborn Screening for Lysosomal Storage Disorders: A Clinician Perspective
  • Public Decision-Making About Newborn Screening in Contexts of Treatment, Intervention, and Benefit
  • Parental Disclosure of Familial ALS Diagnosis and Mutation Status to Children: Perceptions of Young-Adult Offspring
  • Risk Assessment and Medical Management Recommendations for Patients with Mutations in Moderate Penetrance Cancer Susceptibility Genes: Current Practices of Genetic Counselors
  • Urologists’ Knowledge, Practice, and Attitudes Regarding Individuals with a Family History of Prostate Cancer
  • Assessing Attitudes of Psychiatric Providers Towards Pharmacogenomic Data and Practice Implications
  • Evaluating the Nature and Distribution of Pathogenic/Potentially Pathogenic Genetic Variants Associated with Mature Onset Diabetes in the Young (MODY)

 Class of 2014

  • Exploring Patient Reactions About Genetic Testing for Treatment Responses to Bariatric Surgery
  • Exploring Genetic Counselors’ Perspectives on the Clinical and Personal Utility of Genetic Testing
  • Parental Experiences Discussing Disease Progression in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)
  • Reproductive Endocrinologists’ Practices and Attitudes Regarding BRCA1/2 Gene Mutation Positive Oncofertility Patients
  • Assessing Patient Comprehension Using a Modified Consent Document in a Pharmacogenomics Study
  • Pediatric Neurologists’ Attitudes and Practices Regarding Next-Generation Sequencing for Genetic Evaluations
  • Physician Educational Preferences and Current Practices Regarding Ashkenazi Jewish Carrier Screening
  • Public Attitudes and Perceptions of Prenatal Testing for Cognitive and Psychiatric Disorders with Varying Levels of Risk
  • Insights into the Collective Experience of Institutions Implementing Genomic Medicine Programs
  • Attitudes, Perspectives, and Factors Associated with Prenatal Testing and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis In Families Affected by Hemophilia
  • Evaluation of Laboratory Perspectives on Multiplex Genetic Testing for Hereditary Cancer Susceptibility by Next-Generation Sequencing

 Class of 2013

  • Assessing the Addition of Critical Congenital Heart Disease to Newborn Screening: An Evaluation of the Process and Program in Each State of the United States
  • Athletes’ Attitudes Towards and Experiences with the NCAA’s Mandatory Sickle Cell Trait Testing
  • Preimplantation Genetic Diagonosis for Adult-Onset and Susceptibility Diseases: Perspectives of Reproductive Endocrinologists
  • Parent Attitudes on Disclosure Procedures of Uncertain Chromosomal Microarray Analysis Results
  • Preliminary Assessment of the Use, Attitudes, and Beliefs towards Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing among Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists
  • Disease Progression and Inheritance to the Children with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)
  • Perspectives of Obstetricians & Gynecologists on Universal Genetic Carrier Screening
  • Community Primary Care Provider’s Knowledge, Attitudes, and Experience with Clinical Use of Personalized Genomic Risk Information
  • Cardiologists’ Practices and Attitudes About Genetic Testing for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
  • Genetics Professionals’ Opinions of Whole-Genome Sequencing in the Newborn Period
  • Familial Pancreatic Cancer – Genetic Counselor Practices
  • Practice Patterns of Endocrine Surgeons Regarding Genetic Testing in Apparently Sporadic Pheochromocytomas and Paragangliomas
  • Evaluating the Impact of Brochure Literature Provided to Patients in a Low-Income Prenatal Clinic

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