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

Single-Degree Program

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 around a typical work schedule. The core courses (MHB 401-406) meet in the evening, from 6 to 9pm, once weekly. The Special Topics lectures meet every Thursday from noon to 12:45 p.m., and the lectures are typically recorded for those unable to attend. All classes meet on Northwestern's Chicago campus.

Curriculum

Our curriculum consists of ten courses, including an MA thesis. Below is a graphical representation of the curriculum, as it is commonly taken. Each course consists of one-unit, but some are divided across multiple quarters. Hover over a course's title for its description. It is possible to compress the curriculum into five quarters.

 
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.

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 590: MA Thesis

 

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

Admissions

This program was designed for students who already have a professional degree, for example an MD, an RN, or a JD. A Master of Arts degree is not considered a terminal degree in this field and will likely not provide many opportunities for those with no further education. However, we do not require that applicants have a degree beyond a bachelor's degree. If you plan to continue your education or otherwise think that the program fits your interests and goals, we would welcome your application.

In addition to the online application and application fee (currently $95), applicants must provide original transcripts of post-secondary schools coursework, letters of recommendation from two faculty members or employers who can address the applicant's interest in medical humanities and bioethics and ability to do graduate level work, and a one-page statement of purpose describing why the applicant seeks an MA in Medical Humanities and Bioethics. You may also submit a writing sample; this is optional. The GRE is not required but may bolster your 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. This will be verified by your transcripts.

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

Entering quarterApplication deadline
Summer 2017Monday, April 24, 2017
Fall 2017Monday, June 26, 2017


Apply to our program via The Graduate School Admissions page.

Tuition

Tuition is set anually by The Graduate School. The 2015-2016 tuition is $5,766 per course. Annual increases should be expected. Our program provides some financial aid depending on need as determined by the FAFSA. You must submit a FAFSA to receive aid through the program. Financial aid in the form of loans is available to part-time students who enroll in at least two courses per quarter (more about loans). Some students receive tuition reimbursement through their employers; employed students should check with their employers about the availability of tuition benefits. Faculty and staff at Northwestern University may be eligible for tuition assistance.

Contact Us

Contact Bryan Morrison for additional information or assistance.