Maya St. Clair 5 min read Academic Tips and Info, College Lists

List of All U.S. Colleges with a Genetics Major

The genetics major is a broad, expansive plan of study that trains students to unravel the mysterious organic codes that shape our world. Almost all genetics programs offer a high degree of flexibility: students can customize their classes towards a certain concentration, like medicine, agriculture, biotechnology, and paleogenetics. As the importance of genetic science grows in a variety of industries, genetics majors are becoming some of the most in-demand candidates for medical schools and science careers.

 

Please note: lots of fantastic schools, while they may not have a genetics major, have a rigorous genetics concentration as part of their Biological Sciences major. These include the Ivies and many top-tier state universities. Although you won’t get the big “GENETICS” on your degree, these programs are also worth checking out. 

 

If you’re still figuring out your STEM path, CollegeVine has a lot of materials on the biological sciences in American colleges. You may be interested in our writeups about how to become a biomedical engineer and schools with bioengineering majors

 

Overview of the Genetics Major

 

Course requirements

 

First, you’ll have to take the bread-and-butter science classes, like Gen Chem, Organic Chemistry, introductions to data and research, and physics/calculus. While each college’s Genetics program will have its own required suite of classes, typical classes include biochemistry, genetics research, and population genetics. 

 

After you complete your foundational classes, you’ll probably need to take a certain number of advanced and specialized classes (ex. “Microbial genomics,” “speciation,” etc). Your college may require that you take a certain number of classes at a graduate (400) level. 

 

You’ll also probably have a certain number of lab hours required, and possibly a capstone class or research that you complete your senior year. 

 

You can look at the curricula at Rutgers, UC Davis, and UW Madison for examples of how your 4 years as a genetics major might look. 

 

What sort of student will succeed? 

 

Like any STEM major, the genetics major rewards students who put in substantial time towards memorization, note-taking, and studying. You need to be organized, determined, and able to work through periods of tedium. 

 

Given the size of scientific lecture classes (often over 100 students), it really pays off to be self-motivated and get to know your professors personally. Attending lectures, sitting close, asking questions, attending office hours, and asking profs out to coffee are all great ways to stand out from the pack. You can reap huge benefits from this, including having your questions answered, gaining a mentor, and being able to ask for letters of recommendation.

 

Many genetics programs also emphasize hands-on research, so you need to be ambitious and motivated to seek out labs or assistantships. That means asking older students, snooping around bulletin boards, and catching up with your professors. 

 

The hardest thing for any STEM major is the stress – STEM programs can contain some of the most competitive students, high-stakes exams, and difficult problems (“You mean 50% is good?”). It can be harder and feel isolating for students who are perfectionists, overcommitted to too many activities, or prefer to work alone. 

 

Do many students go on to grad school?

 

Yes! If you want to work in genetics specifically, it can be hard to get a job with just a Bachelor’s, so most aspiring geneticists pursue a Master’s or PhD. In addition to schooling, medical professionals also need a flurry of certifications, residencies, and more. 

 

Additionally, the genetics major is often the springboard into other graduate paths, like med school and veterinary school.

 

Career paths and job prospects

 

Genetics has fantastic job prospects, with the number of careers expected to grow rapidly. Particularly, the demand for genetic counselors is growing, and these experts make good money, with a median salary of $82k and projected growth of 21% from 2019-2029 (much faster than average!).

 

Careers include working in the agricultural sector (GMOs are ever-important to feeding the world), in medical research (developing gene therapies and predicting risk), nursing, education (becoming a prof yourself), and even science writing, for the more humanities-inclined. 

 

What to Look for in a College as a Genetics Major

 

Research opportunities: Browse the websites of departments of interest and see what research projects are active during the school year and during summer. You want a school with a strong research culture and a wealth of opportunities to get involved. Peep course listings for classes or study abroads with a research component, too! 

 

Internship opportunities: Seek out Genetics programs that have ties to nearby companies. This will make it so much easier to attain higher-profile and more enriching internships (for example, my alma mater, WashU, has an incredible crossover with Monsanto, so there were tons of Monsanto-affiliated labs to work in). Consider what companies and hospitals have labs nearby and how accessible they are. 

 

Resources, labs, equipment: Research how many labs operate on your campuses of interest and check out any recent endowments – these will tell you how strong and modernized the research is. It may be worth signing up to department newsletters – from these, you can get a good sense of 1) what technology is helping aid campus discoveries, and 2) how prominent is this school in scientific discourse? 

 

Concentration-specific resources: If you have a firm idea of what niche of genetics you’ll pursue (paleogenetics, Alzheimers, bioinformatics), make sure you check which schools will best serve that interest. Sometimes it’s not the largest or most name-brand school that can best help you thrive. For example, someone interested in agricultural genetics is probably going to want to check out Texas A&M, while someone interested in epigenetics might be more interested in the advancements coming out of Harvard

 

Field opportunities: Is your college somewhere where you can pursue genetics outside of a classroom setting? What museums and hospitals are nearby? What natural ecosystems? Do faculty go out into those ecosystems? Importantly, are there study abroad programs you’d find useful? 

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

List of All U.S. Colleges with a Genetics Major

 

We’ve done our best to make sure this list is complete, but if you notice that a school is missing, email us and let us know. We’ve gotta catch ‘em all! 

 

School

City

State

University of California, Irvine | UC Irvine

Irvine

California

University of California, Davis | UC Davis

Davis

California

University of California Berkeley | UC Berkeley

Berkeley

California

Florida Institute of Technology

Melbourne

Florida

University of Georgia

Athens

Georgia

Purdue University

West Lafayette

Indiana

Iowa State University

Ames

Iowa

Michigan State University

East Lansing

Michigan

University of New Hampshire | UNH

Durham

New Hampshire

Rutgers University

Rutgers

New Jersey

New Mexico State University | NMSU

Las Cruces

New Mexico

SUNY Fredonia

Fredonia

New York

North Carolina State University | NC State

Raleigh

North Carolina

Ohio Wesleyan University

Delaware

Ohio

Ohio State University

Columbus

Ohio

Clemson University

Clemson

South Carolina

Washington State University | WSU

Pullman

Washington

University of Wisconsin-Madison | Wisconsin

Madison

Wisconsin

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

Applications readers are going to be looking at a few key features when admitting genetics majors:

 

  • Science-based testing: We recommend taking the ACT (for its science portion), and probably an SAT subject test or two to indicate your aptitude and commitment to the sciences.
  • APs: Similarly, we recommend taking science-based AP classes like Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science, Research, or Human Geography. 
  • Extracurriculars: Start early in seeking out high school research opportunities or mentorship programs in nearby museums and hospitals. See if your school offers any clubs, like horticulture or Science Olympiad, that will allow you to pursue genetics with a hands-on focus. Consider starting your own club, too! 
  • Enthusiastic writing: So many applicants take science coursework, but what sets an outstanding candidate apart is passionate, sparkling writing about one’s scientific interests. If you can talk about genetics with poetry and personal connection, admissions will take interest. 

 

If you’re burning to know more concrete odds right now, we recommend using our Chancing Engine (it’s free). Unlike other calculators, it takes into account a large portion of your individual profile, including academic stats and more qualitative factors like extracurriculars.

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Maya St. Clair
Writer at CollegeVine
Short bio
Maya St. Clair is a freelance writer and Renaissance historian from Illinois. She loves "writing about writing" and helping others achieve the best results with their own prose. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis.