Top 10 Most Affordable Genetics Graduate Degrees 2022

Genetics is both an old and young science. Humans have been manipulating genetics for millennia. Ever since agriculture was established, we have bred and crossbred both plants and animals into forms which better serve us. However, it wasn’t until the last 100 years or so that we started to understand what it was that we had been manipulating. The discovery of genes is one of the most significant discoveries in human history. The more we study them, the more we develop methods for manipulating genetics directly.

As technology has advanced, we have developed ways to identify specific genes and the functions they serve. While the potential applications were theorized almost immediately, we are still just on the cusp of working out more advanced methods for genetic engineering. Of course this new science is also fraught with ethical quandaries tied to questions of exactly what it means to be human. It’s an exciting field that has the potential to revolutionize the world in ways we’re only just beginning to imagine. A graduate degree in genetics can be expensive. The study of the subject involves a lot of labs, experimentation, and expensive equipment. There are many different ways into the field.

This article focuses on the most affordable master’s and Ph.D. programs in genetics currently available. The Ph.D. programs featured here are all programs that admit those with an undergraduate degree; they therefore serve as both a master’s degree and Ph.D. rolled into one. This is because the bulk of foundational study in the field is available at the undergraduate level, and advanced study is almost entirely research based. This is why many universities have seen fit to simply combine their master’s programs into their Ph.D. programs.

You will notice that even the master’s degrees featured in this article are largely research-based degrees. None of the universities included in this ranking feature online master’s degrees in genetics. Not many colleges offer online master’s in genetics degrees because of how integral access to labs and expensive equipment is to the study of genetics. You can find out more about what you can do with a graduate degree in genetics from the FAQ section at the end of the article.

#1. Kansas State University

Kansas State University-Top 10 Most Affordable Master of Genetics Degrees 2022

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The master’s of genetics program at Kansas State University is an interdisciplinary program combining areas of study from departments like agronomy, animal science, biochemistry, entomology, horticulture, forestry, plant pathology, veterinary medicine, and biology. Kansas State’s master’s degree is designed to allow students to seamlessly transition to the school’s Ph.D. program if they decide to take their studies even further.

Tuition: $23,050

#2. University of Wisconsin-Madison

University of Wisconsin-Top 10 Most Affordable Master of Genetics Degrees 2022

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Students interested in studying genetics at the University of Wisconsin can choose either to earn a master’s degree in medical genetics with a specialization in genetic counseling or to enter the more research-focused Ph.D. program. The University of Wisconsin’s laboratory of genetics is respected worldwide for its contribution to research in disease genetics, cell biology, neurogenetics, developmental genetics, gene expression, genomics, evolutionary and population genetics, and computational biology.

Tuition: $24,054

#3. Iowa State University

Iowa State-Top 10 Most Affordable Master of Genetics Degrees 2022

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Iowa State University offers an interdisciplinary Master of Science in genetics and genomics that integrates faculty from 14 different departments within the school. The program starts with a foundation of fundamental studies, moving through the molecular, cellular, organismal, and population levels. Students will then have a chance to be involved in cutting-edge, practical genetics research. Ongoing research projects at Iowa State include gene regulation, gene mapping, transposable element studies, developmental genetics, quantitative and mathematical genetics, evolutionary genetics, and population genetics.

Tuition: $24,720

#4. The University of Georgia

University of Georgia-Top 10 Most Affordable Master of Genetics Degrees 2022

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Currently, the University of Georgia is only accepting applicants to their MS in genetics degree from students in a special program at the university called the Double/Dawgs program. However, this seems to be because they are phasing out their MS program with the intent to accept students with bachelor’s degrees straight into their Ph.D. program, which does not require a master’s degree. Students in the master’s or Ph.D. program will have access to on-campus facilities like a DNA and protein sequence and synthesis facility, molecular marker analysis facility, complete electron and confocal microscopy laboratory, and other equipment and facilities.

Tuition: $25,186

#5. University of Missouri-Columbia

Mizzou-Top 10 Most Affordable Master of Genetics Degrees 2022

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The University of Missouri offers a Ph.D. in genetics that can be directly entered by students with a bachelor’s degree. Students must have taken one or more courses on the subjects of organic chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics (calculus and statistics), physics, or introductory genetics in order to qualify. Students with research experience and a broad background in biology are the best fit for the program. The university does note that students lacking courses in some of the subjects listed can remedy that after entering the program.

Tuition: $25,946

#6. West Virginia University

WVU-Top 10 Most Affordable Master of Genetics Degrees 2022

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West Virginia University offers a master’s in genetics and developmental biology. Students in this interdisciplinary program can choose between areas of emphasis in biochemical and molecular genetics, cytogenetics, immunogenetics, mutagenetics, toxicology, human genetics, plant genetics, experimental morphogenesis, and eight other areas of emphasis. Applicants must have a 2.75 undergraduate GPA minimum, and they must submit three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and their GRE scores.

Tuition: $26,154

#7. North Carolina State University-Raleigh

NC State-Top 10 Most Affordable Master of Genetics Degrees 2022

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The genetics program at North Carolina State University was founded in the early 1950s and is one of the oldest and best established genetics programs in the United States. NC State offers both thesis and non-thesis options for the master’s of genetics program. Students will take courses like molecular genetics, cellular and developmental genetics, principles of biochemistry, professionalism and ethics, and experimental statistics for biologists.

Tuition: $26,421

#8. University of California-Davis

UC Davis-Top 10 Most Affordable Master of Genetics Degrees 2022

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The master’s in genetics program at UC Davis features studies of genomic, molecular, and classical genetic approaches to the study of model organisms, native and agricultural species, humans, and companion animals. Students can choose between emphases in biotechnology and translational research. The biotech emphasis features a three- to six-month internship at a biotech company or research laboratory in another college, or in a national laboratory. The translational research emphasis is for students who plan to earn their doctorate, and it is a new model for training Ph.D. biologists who intend to pursue careers in clinically relevant basic research.

Tuition: $26,544

#9. University of Florida

University of Florida-Top 10 Most Affordable Master of Genetics Degrees 2022

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The University of Florida offers a master’s in medical science specializing in genetics. The program is based in research, and students will have the opportunity to select their research area from the areas of molecular genetics, gene therapy, bacterial or viral pathogenesis, protein structure, toxicology, and mammalian genetics, among others. The degree requirements can be completed in as little as 18 months, with the final semester being devoted to writing a thesis.

Tuition: $27,355

#10. University of New Hampshire-Main Campus

University of New Hampshire

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Students earning their master’s in genetics from the University of New Hampshire will have the opportunity to engage in research in areas like genomics and bioinformatics, evolutionary genomics, microbial ecology and genomics, plant genomics, biodiversity and molecular ecology, and cancer genetics. Careers available to graduates include those of a biochemist, biotech consultant, epidemiologist, genetic counselor, health educator, lab manager, and research scientist.

Tuition: $27,810

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with a graduate degree in genetics?

There are several options, both applied and experimental. For applied options, you might look at careers like those of an epidemiologist or genetic counselor.

While there are genetic counseling master’s degrees, we did not include these in the ranking because they are too different from a master’s in genetics and are more deserving of their own article. However, those holding a master’s in genetics are qualified to work as genetic counselors. Genetic counselors help educate people about genetic disorders. They counsel people about family planning, while factoring in genetic conditions that may have a major impact on your decisions once you are fully informed of their implications. It’s one of the fastest-growing professions, and the BLS predicted a 26% increase in jobs in this area between 2020 and 2030. Median pay for a genetic counselor is $85,700 per year.

Epidemiologists investigate the patterns and causes of disease and work to reduce their spread by identifying and recommending preventative measures. Epidemiologists are the reason we know how many diseases operate and the best ways to prevent them. They usually work in health departments for state and local governments, universities, and laboratories. Projected job growth between 2020 and 2030 is 30%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, making it one of the fastest-growing careers in the United States.

Those who work on the experimental side of things will find that a graduate degree in genetics qualifies them for positions overseeing research operations, conducting advanced research, and teaching. There are also plenty of opportunities to do research outside of academia with biotech companies and some pharmaceutical companies. Natural science managers, those who manage and direct research operations, earn a median salary of around $137,000 per year, according to the BLS. Although job growth isn’t as fast for this occupation as it is for the above two options, it’s still average, and the raw number of jobs expected to be added to the economy between 2020 and 2030 is actually more than it is for the above professions.

How do I pay for my graduate degree in genetics?

Well, if you enter a research-based program, then you may be able to get grants to fund your research and cover some or all of the costs of your tuition. It’s not uncommon for Ph.D. students who teach or work on important research to receive a stipend, and sometimes full tuition reimbursement on top of that. If you work for a company or lab doing genetics work, they may offer programs for professional development or tuition reimbursement.

You can also get financial aid from FAFSA, especially if you are in a master’s program. It’s generally not as robust as what is offered to undergraduate students, but it can take the edge off the cost of an expensive degree. There are also third-party scholarships, research fellowships, and other opportunities for Ph.D. students that can cover some or all of your tuition, and sometimes pay you on top of it!

Is it better to specialize in one area of genetics or to study the subject more broadly?

Specialization is going to be your main option when it comes to studying genetics at the graduate and post-graduate levels. The advancement of the science is built around many highly specialized people working together in interdisciplinary settings to combine and harness their collective knowledge to push the science forward. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for those with a broad knowledge of the field. Such individuals tend to serve in positions that help the experts communicate and work together, and they can identify potential areas of research that combine applications from multiple disciplines. These positions are rare and generally reserved for people who are prominent in the field, those who have a broad general knowledge that comes from the experience they have developed. So, picking a specialty and focusing on that at the start of your career is definitely the way to go.

GCD Staff
January 2022

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This concludes our article on the top master’s and doctoral programs in genetics.