Healthcare Genetics


Degrees Offered


This exciting new doctoral degree offers graduate students the opportunity to be mentored by interdisciplinary faculty from more than six disciplines. Core courses in Genetics, Healthcare Genetics, Psychology, Political Science and Policy will provide students with the tools necessary to develop a program of research. In addition, the curriculum offers the opportunity to learn from experts the vital elements of their discipline, which can impact the evolving knowledge of genetics and/or genomics. Three cognate areas allow students to focus on their area of interest for healthcare genetics and/or genomic research. These opportunities include translational “Bench to Bedside” research, the Interventionist focus for study on genetic issues for individuals, communities and/or populations, and finally Ethics and/or Policy.

The Future Is Now

The impact of genetics on health-care has the potential to be greater than any earlier scientific advancement. With all it promises in early prevention, detection and treatment of disease, genetics will require a much different way of providing health care and conducting research. Finding new ways to apply genetics to clinical practice, creating policies and guidelines for ethical decision-making and identifying predisposition to disease in diverse communities require scientists and health-care providers to have new skills and to work together if health-care genetics is to reach its potential. To help meet this challenge, Clemson University is offering the country’s first interdisciplinary Doctor of Philosophy in Healthcare Genetics.

With its highly collaborative research and practical-application structure, this program will prepare interdisciplinary scientists to

  • Collaborate with multiple disciplines to generate knowledge and develop theories that focus on the genomic aspects of actual and potential health problems;
  • Formulate health promotion, disease prevention and treatment strategies that translate and integrate genomic knowledge from a variety of disciplines;
  • Demonstrate leadership that facilitates interdisciplinary development and application of ethical guidelines and health policy in genetics;
  • Disseminate research outcomes to develop models of practice that incorporate the expanding knowledge of genetics.


More information can be found in this graduate handbook.


Program of Study

Interdisciplinary by Design

The Ph.D. in Healthcare Genetics will draw on Clemson programs as diverse as Nursing, Genetics, Sociology, Higher Education and Administration, Health Policy, Psychology, Microbiology, Biological Sciences, Cellular Biology and Statistics.

Program participants will choose from three tracks:

  • Interventionist
  • Translational Research
  • Ethics and Health Policy


Clemson offers unique facilities and centers for students and researchers:

  • The Genomics Institute ranks as a leading research and training center for discovering and analyzing genes important to agriculture, human health and the environment. The institute offers more than 150 genetic libraries of plants, animals and insects for use by scientists all over the world.
  • The S.C. DNA Learning Center provides outreach education in biotechnology and modern genetics to K-12 teachers, nonformal educators, students and the general public.
  • The Biosystems Research Complex is one of the University’s newest laboratory facilities and serves as a focal point for biotechnology research, which uses life sciences to create new products and processes in medicine, agriculture and industry.
  • The Electron Microscope Facility holds state-of-the-art equipment that represents an outlay in excess of $3.5 million over the past three years. With a wide range of capabilities, this multi-user facility attracts clients from automotive, pharmaceutical, textile, electronics, environmental and medical industries.
  • The Joseph F. Sullivan Nursing Center is an academic nursing center that offers clinical practice opportunities for students while providing services to the community. The center has won numerous awards including the Best Chance Network Provider Facility of the Year.
  • The Center for Research on Health Disparities provides leadership to develop and advance comprehensive, culturally sensitive, community-based research that improves health outcomes and enhances quality of life. The center links faculty, students and community members to advance research on the complex causes of health disparities and strategies to eliminate these disparities.
  • The Robert J. Rutland Institute for Ethics provides the campus and community with a forum for exploration and discussion of ethical issues. The flagship project of the center is to cultivate the Ethics-Across-the-Curriculum movement.
  • The School of Nursing Healthcare Genetics Wet Lab offers tissue-culture capabilities for students interested in translating research from bench to bedside. Cell flow cytometry and cell sorting are also available through University partners.


Clemson University offers a unique college structure that lends itself to collaborative work. This new Ph.D. program in Healthcare Genetics grew from well-established and strong Clemson research partnerships and collaborations. Research partnerships exist with Greenwood Genetic Center, St. Francis Cancer Center, Greenville Health System and the Sullivan Wellness Center. These working relationships make the program richer.

The translational research path begins with laboratory sections to develop skills and research technology in the Healthcare Genetics Web Lab which is housed on campus within Edwards Hall. 


  • Greenwood Genetic Center
  • Greenville Health System
  • Bon Secours St. Francis Health System
  • Clemson’s Department of Genetics and Biochemistry
  • Clemson’s Genomic Institute
  • Clemson’s Rutland Center for Ethics
  • Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs
  • Clemson’s Department of Psychology
  • Clemson’s Department of Political Science
  • Clemson’s Eugene T. Moore School of Education
  • Clemson’s LPN to Professor Program, including AnMed Health, Oconee Memorial Hospital, Palmetto Health Baptist Easley and Cannon Memorial Hospital
  • University of Iowa


Application Information

The primary candidates for the healthcare genetics program are those who identify themselves as leaders and who come from one of three primary areas:

  • Those who have degrees in other disciplines and have interests in health care and genetics;
  • Those who have degrees in other disciplines but who have an interest in genetics and a desire to become a nurse;
  • Those who are and nurses with a bachelor’s or master’s degree and who havea minor, double major or second degree related to genetics or who have an employment history in obstetrics, pediatrics or oncology.

Job opportunities are broad and may include these careers:

  • Genetics educator
  • Genetic disease or syndrome-specific specialties in practice or research
  • Research scientist for industry
  • Pharmaceutical clinical coordinator/educator
  • Clinical molecular geneticist
  • Clinical trials research associate
  • Medical/life science research scientist
  • Medical technical officer for hospital
  • Genetic epidemiologist
  • Genetics policy/bioethics expert
  • University professor (especially nursing)

Required Documents


The School or Program offers a number of graduate assistantships to students each year based on merit. These are offered in the form of stipends and the additional benefit of tuition remission. Students must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester to qualify for a graduate assistantship and must work a minimum of 10 hours a week as a teaching or research assistant or perform other tasks assigned by the School or Program.


Program Contact(s)

  • Ellen Chiles
  • Office: University Center Greenville
  • Phone: (864) 250-8881
  • Email:

Program Coordinator(s)

  • Ellen Chiles
  • Office: University Center Greenville
  • Phone: (864) 250-8881
  • Email: