Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities

Combined MA/MD

Our Master of Arts in Medical Humanities and Bioethic program emphasizes the interdisciplinary study of bioethics through the humanities and the values-oriented social sciences. The goal of the program is a rigorous master's level education in the legal, historical, philosophical, and cultural contexts of medicine. When combined with the Feinberg medical degree, graduates will be able to use their multidisciplinary understanding of medicine in their teaching, advising, and ethical decision making.

Logistics

This program is designed to fit around Feinberg's medical curriculum. There are two options for completing the MA coursework (illustrated below). Both options allow time to study for the boards and to complete your clinical rotations. The core courses (MHB 401-406) meet from 6 to 9 p.m. once weekly. The Special Topics lectures meet every Thursday from noon to 12:45 p.m., and the lectures are typically recorded and made available for download for those unable to attend. All classes meet on Northwestern University's Chicago campus.

Curriculum

Our curriculum consists of eight courses, two tutorials, and a master's thesis. The two most common ways to complete curriculum are illustrated below. Courses can be completed in any order. Hover over a course's title for its description.

Four-year, Part-time Plan (Typical)

 
M1
M2
M3
M4
Fall

MHB 401: Foundations of Bioethics

This course will explore the major theories in contemporary bioethics. Participants will learn the history and the application of principlism, casuistry, care ethics, virtue ethics, narrative ethics, pragmatism, and communitarianism.

MHB 410: Special Topics in Medical Humanities & Bioethics

This course is a weekly series of hour-long lectures on topics in bioethics and the medical humanities not covered by other courses in the curriculum. These lectures are delivered by MHB faculty and outside guests. They are presented throughout the Fall, Winter, & Spring quarters and are typically taken throughout the first and second years.

MHB 405: Social Science & Medicine

This course examines the ethnography of moral issues in Western medicine, the social science critique of American bioethics, and the manner in which the social sciences can contribute to the understanding of ethical problems in the clinical setting.

MHB 410: Special Topics in Medical Humanities & Bioethics

This course is a weekly series of hour-long lectures on topics in bioethics and the medical humanities not covered by other courses in the curriculum. These lectures are delivered by MHB faculty and outside guests. They are presented throughout the Fall, Winter, & Spring quarters and are typically taken throughout the first and second years.

 

MHB 499: Tutorial in MH&B

The tutorial is a chance to study with faculty on a topic that they are currently examining for their own research. Multiple faculty members will offer tutorials each quarter; students choose the ones that interest them most. The bulk of the work is reading outside of class; only five one-hour meetings are required for one tutorial. Students will be graded primarily on their level of discussion at these meetings.
Winter

MHB 404: Literature & Medicine

This course surveys the uses of literature and literary theory in understanding the culture(s) of medicine and bioethics. The first half focuses on literature and ethics and interpretation as an ethical act; the second focuses on narratives as a way of knowing in medicine and in bioethics.

MHB 410: Special Topics in Medical Humanities & Bioethics

This course is a weekly series of hour-long lectures on topics in bioethics and the medical humanities not covered by other courses in the curriculum. These lectures are delivered by MHB faculty and outside guests. They are presented throughout the Fall, Winter, & Spring quarters and are typically taken throughout the first and second years.

MHB 406: The Practice of Bioethics

This course will provide an introduction to the practices of bioethics consultation and bioethics mediation. The central focus of the course will be the practical application of bioethical theory in the clinical context.

MHB 410: Special Topics in Medical Humanities & Bioethics

This course is a weekly series of hour-long lectures on topics in bioethics and the medical humanities not covered by other courses in the curriculum. These lectures are delivered by MHB faculty and outside guests. They are presented throughout the Fall, Winter, & Spring quarters and are typically taken throughout the first and second years.

 

MHB 499: Tutorial in MH&B

The tutorial is a chance to study with faculty on a topic that they are currently examining for their own research. Multiple faculty members will offer tutorials each quarter; students choose the ones that interest them most. The bulk of the work is reading outside of class; only five one-hour meetings are required for one tutorial. Students will be graded primarily on their level of discussion at these meetings.
Spring

MHB 402: Medicine & Law

Using judicial opinions as our primary text, this course analyzes how the U.S. legal system mediates conflicts between individuals and the State, parents and children, and doctors and patients in areas like abortion, termination of life support, physician assisted suicide, human experimentation and cross-cultural conflict in medicine.

MHB 410: Special Topics in Medical Humanities & Bioethics

This course is a weekly series of hour-long lectures on topics in bioethics and the medical humanities not covered by other courses in the curriculum. These lectures are delivered by MHB faculty and outside guests. They are presented throughout the Fall, Winter, & Spring quarters and are typically taken throughout the first and second years.

 

MHB 410: Special Topics in Medical Humanities & Bioethics

This course is a weekly series of hour-long lectures on topics in bioethics and the medical humanities not covered by other courses in the curriculum. These lectures are delivered by MHB faculty and outside guests. They are presented throughout the Fall, Winter, & Spring quarters and are typically taken throughout the first and second years.

 

MHB 599: MHB Capstone

MHB Capstone is the final requirement and is designed to demonstrate a student’s competency at employing multiple disciplines to analyze ethics questions within medicine. Two capstone options are offered: a comprehensive exam and a master’s thesis. The comprehensive exam has the advantage that it can be completed in a much shorter timeframe than the thesis, which typically requires multiple drafts and revisions. However, the thesis is an opportunity for students to explore a single topic that interests them and to engage with faculty members in academic scholarship and writing.
Summer

MHB 403: History of Medicine

This course will explore major events and trends in the history of European and American health care and medical ethics. Participants will investigate primary and secondary literature and will learn to contextualize current-day medical events through critical historical thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

Key:   1 unit, 30 hours   1/2 unit, 15 hours   1/3 unit, 10 hours   no coursework

Five-year, Full-time Plan (Secondary Option)

 
M1 - M3
One-year absence from Feinberg
M4
Fall

 

MHB 401: Foundations of Bioethics

This course will explore the major theories in contemporary bioethics. Participants will learn the history and the application of principlism, casuistry, care ethics, virtue ethics, narrative ethics, pragmatism, and communitarianism.

MHB 405: Social Science & Medicine

This course examines the ethnography of moral issues in Western medicine, the social science critique of American bioethics, and the manner in which the social sciences can contribute to the understanding of ethical problems in the clinical setting.

MHB 410: Special Topics in Medical Humanities & Bioethics

This course is a weekly series of hour-long lectures on topics in bioethics and the medical humanities not covered by other courses in the curriculum. These lectures are delivered by MHB faculty and outside guests. They are presented throughout the Fall, Winter, & Spring quarters and are typically taken throughout the first and second years.

MHB 499: Tutorial in MH&B

The tutorial is a chance to study with faculty on a topic that they are currently examining for their own research. Multiple faculty members will offer tutorials each quarter; students choose the ones that interest them most. The bulk of the work is reading outside of class; only five one-hour meetings are required for one tutorial. Students will be graded primarily on their level of discussion at these meetings.
Winter

 

MHB 404: Literature & Medicine

This course surveys the uses of literature and literary theory in understanding the culture(s) of medicine and bioethics. The first half focuses on literature and ethics and interpretation as an ethical act; the second focuses on narratives as a way of knowing in medicine and in bioethics.

MHB 406: The Practice of Bioethics

This course will provide an introduction to the practices of bioethics consultation and bioethics mediation. The central focus of the course will be the practical application of bioethical theory in the clinical context.

MHB 410: Special Topics in Medical Humanities & Bioethics

This course is a weekly series of hour-long lectures on topics in bioethics and the medical humanities not covered by other courses in the curriculum. These lectures are delivered by MHB faculty and outside guests. They are presented throughout the Fall, Winter, & Spring quarters and are typically taken throughout the first and second years.

MHB 499: Tutorial in MH&B

The tutorial is a chance to study with faculty on a topic that they are currently examining for their own research. Multiple faculty members will offer tutorials each quarter; students choose the ones that interest them most. The bulk of the work is reading outside of class; only five one-hour meetings are required for one tutorial. Students will be graded primarily on their level of discussion at these meetings.
Spring

 

MHB 402: Medicine & Law

Using judicial opinions as our primary text, this course analyzes how the U.S. legal system mediates conflicts between individuals and the State, parents and children, and doctors and patients in areas like abortion, termination of life support, physician assisted suicide, human experimentation and cross-cultural conflict in medicine.

MHB 499: Tutorial in MH&B

The tutorial is a chance to study with faculty on a topic that they are currently examining for their own research. Multiple faculty members will offer tutorials each quarter; students choose the ones that interest them most. The bulk of the work is reading outside of class; only five one-hour meetings are required for one tutorial. Students will be graded primarily on their level of discussion at these meetings.

MHB 410: Special Topics in Medical Humanities & Bioethics

This course is a weekly series of hour-long lectures on topics in bioethics and the medical humanities not covered by other courses in the curriculum. These lectures are delivered by MHB faculty and outside guests. They are presented throughout the Fall, Winter, & Spring quarters and are typically taken throughout the first and second years.

MHB 599: MHB Capstone

MHB Capstone is the final requirement and is designed to demonstrate a student’s competency at employing multiple disciplines to analyze ethics questions within medicine. Two capstone options are offered: a comprehensive exam and a master’s thesis. The comprehensive exam has the advantage that it can be completed in a much shorter timeframe than the thesis, which typically requires multiple drafts and revisions. However, the thesis is an opportunity for students to explore a single topic that interests them and to engage with faculty members in academic scholarship and writing.
Summer

 

MHB 403: History of Medicine

This course will explore major events and trends in the history of European and American health care and medical ethics. Participants will investigate primary and secondary literature and will learn to contextualize current-day medical events through critical historical thinking.

MHB 499: Tutorial in MH&B

The tutorial is a chance to study with faculty on a topic that they are currently examining for their own research. Multiple faculty members will offer tutorials each quarter; students choose the ones that interest them most. The bulk of the work is reading outside of class; only five one-hour meetings are required for one tutorial. Students will be graded primarily on their level of discussion at these meetings.

 

 

Key:   1 unit, 30 hours   1/2 unit, 15 hours   1/3 unit, 10 hours   no coursework

Admissions

Applications to the combined medical and master of arts program (combined MD/MA program) begin with an application for admission to Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine. There is a separate application for the master's degree portion of the program, because this degree is provided by the Graduate School. Since our application deadline is much later than the medical school's, we recommend that you wait to hear that you have been accepted into the MD program before completing the second application.

In addition to the application and an application fee of $95, you must provide a one-page statement of purpose describing why you are seeking a combined-degree program, as well as a writing sample. We require two letters of recommendation from a faculty member or employer. You may reuse one letter that was written for your medical school application, but at least one letter must address your interest in bioethics or the medical humanities and your ability to do graduate-level work. MCAT scores will be accepted in place of GRE scores. Uploading unofficial transcripts is sufficient for the application.

If English is not your native language, you must provide official scores from the TOEFL or IELTS standardized test that fulfill the requirements defined by The Graduate School. You are exempt from this requirement if you have previously completed a degree from an accredited institution where the primary language of instruction is English.

APPLY HERE. (via The Graduate School Admissions page)

Applications and all supplemental materials must be received by the application deadline—see below.

Entering quarterApplication deadline
Fall 2017Monday, June 26, 2017
Winter 2018Monday, November 6, 2017
Fall 2018Monday, June 18, 2018
 

Tuition

The tuition for the MA portion of the combined MD/MA program is approximately $36,000 (versus approximately $63,000 for the MA as a freestanding student). Your MA tuition follows the same billing cycle as the medical tuition, with the first half of each year's tuition in the summer and the second in the winter. The annual cost for the 2017-2018 academic year is $8,595. This amount is set by the medical school and increases should be expected in each new academic year.

Substantial financial aid is available. Medical students with high financial need can expect over half of their MA tuition to be covered by financial aid provided by the MHB graduate program.

Contact Us

Please email Bryan Morrison for additional information or assistance.