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Kean University

Genetic Counseling Graduate Program Receives Accreditation for 6 Years

Six new genetic counselors graduated from Kean in 2022. All have jobs.

The Kean genetic counseling program's first graduating class was in 2022. The program has a 100 percent graduation rate and employment rate.

The Kean University Genetic Counseling Graduate Program (GCGP) has received full accreditation for six years from the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC), the accrediting body for education programs in the field. 

The two-year interdisciplinary program, one of Kean’s newest graduate offerings, welcomed its first students in 2020. It has a 100% graduation rate and 100% employment rate.

“Kean University prepares students for careers in many growing and dynamic fields. One of our in-demand programs, our genetic counseling program has had great success in attracting and preparing students,” said Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. “I congratulate the program on receiving this highest level of accreditation. With our strong commitment to research as New Jersey’s urban research university and our work toward becoming an R2 research institution, we expect even greater things to come.”

The genetic counseling master’s degree program is located at North Avenue Academic Building on Kean's Union campus, within Kean’s College of Health Professions and Human Services (CHPHS). Program Director Jill M. Fischer said the accreditation is a “huge step forward and stamp of approval” for the program.

“I am thrilled,” Fischer said. “We knew we would reach this milestone, but it takes a lot of work to do so. As a new program, this was our first self-study and site visit from the accrediting body. Our program was built with a very strong foundation, so we are confident in what we offer and welcomed the outside review.”

The site visit team came to Kean in September. In its report, accreditors praised the close communication between program faculty, administrators and students; supplemental experiences offered to students; involvement with patient advocacy groups; laboratory experiences; recruitment outreach to underrepresented candidates to the field; and research. 

“The GCGP has incorporated multiple resources into the thesis process to promote student success with thesis completion,” the report said. “As a result, all students this year had their thesis work accepted for presentation at the National Society of Genetic Counselors annual conference.”

GCGP was first accredited as a new program in 2019 and has 16 students currently enrolled. Fischer said she looks forward to continued growth and evolution of the program, which graduated its first class in 2022. 

“Starting with such a strong foundation allows us to build the program with confidence,” she said. “The future of the Kean University Genetic Counseling Graduate Program is quite bright!”

James Konopack, Ph.D., dean of CHPHS, said the accreditation is “further evidence of just how strong a program Director Jill Fischer and Associate Director Laura Limone have built, and how well regarded Kean is within the genetic counseling education community. 

“It is the gold standard, an indication of the highest quality in genetic counselor graduate education, which will come as no surprise to our students,” Konopack said. “It is a signal to prospective students and our colleagues across the country of what we all know – this is a fantastic program.” 

Kean GCGP graduates are now working in New Jersey, Chicago, Nashville, California and elsewhere.

Jessica Dowling ’22  is an oncology genetic counselor at Advocate Christ Medical Center near Chicago, working with individuals who have a personal and/or family history of cancer.

She said GCGP prepared her well, including teaching her the importance of “meeting my patients where they are at in their journey.”

“I'm incredibly excited to hear Kean has received full accreditation!” Dowling said. “Though I was inspired to come to Kean when it was still considered a new program, I think full accreditation gives prospective students another positive reason to consider the Kean program.”

Amanda Rentas ’23 works at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville. The pediatric genetic counselor helps families understand the causes and implications of genetic conditions. 

“Kean did a wonderful job to prepare me for my career. Without this program, I wouldn’t be the genetic counselor or the person I am today,” she said. “The news about the accreditation truly makes my heart happy. I hope it inspires students to get their training at Kean.”