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

Dual Graduate Degree Program with Genetic Counseling

Our 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. 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 with your Genetic Counseling program. The core courses (MHB 401-406) meet in the evening, 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 generally consists of 10 course units: six three-hour courses, two years of a weekly one-hour lecture series, two tutorials, and an MA thesis. However, we count your Genetic Counseling (GC) ethics training towards the program, so GC students are required to complete only nine MHB units. Below is a graphical representation of the curriculum, as it is commonly taken. You must complete each of the six core courses (in green), but it is your choice whether to omit the tutorials (two purple boxes) or a year of Special Topics (three yellow boxes). Hover over a course's title for its description.

 
First Year
Second Year
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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

 

 

 

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

Admissions

Applications to this dual degree program are handled by the Genetic Counseling program. Applicants should indicate in their application that they are interested in pursuing the dual-degree program and are required to submit two additional documents: a letter of recommendation from faculty or an employer who can address your interest in bioethics and/or the medical humanities and your ability to do graduate-level humanities work, and a one-page statement of purpose describing why you are seeking a masters of arts degree in Medical Humanities & Bioethics. Please mind the requirements and deadlines of the Genetic Counseling program. If you have any questions about the two requirements mentioned above, please contact MHB Graduate Program Coordinator Bryan Morrison. For all other application questions, please contact the Genetic Counseling program.

Tuition

The cost of pursuing the master of arts degree as a Genetic Counseling student is about one-half the cost of pursuing it as a single degree. Genetic counseling students entering in Fall 2017 will pay $31,500 total for the degree (versus approximately $63,000 as a single degree). Some need-based financial aid is also available.

Contact Us

Contact Bryan Morrison for additional information or assistance.