Application Requirements

Application period September 11 to May 15.

The single-degree bioethics application due date has been extended until May 15, 2024. The 4+1 bioethics dual-degree application due date has been extended unil May 15, 2024. 

All successful applicants must have a degree from an accredited four year college or university before beginning the program. Many entering students will also have earned an advanced degree in a related discipline, such as medicine, nursing, law, public health, or theology. Others may combine graduate work in bioethics with other graduate or professional education, resulting in dual degrees. 

MA-Bioethics applications are due May 15 for fall enrollment, although we welcome early applications. Applications for the 4+1 dual-degree are due May 15. Prospective students who submit all required material before January 1 will be considered for early decision. Applications submitted after January 1 will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the application period is closed May 15. The application fee is $75.

Important note: Once you have paid the application fee, you will no longer be able to make any changes or additions to your application. Therefore, please be sure that you have uploaded all of the relevant material before submitting the fee. Further information about the application process and the online application is available through the Laney Graduate School website.

All applicants must attend to the following items for their application

  1. Letters of Recommendation: Emory requires 3 letters of recommendation from people familiar with your work or academic performance. The letter writers should address the skills students have that will make them successful in a program that is humanities focused; specifically in a program that emphasizes clear verbal and written communication, that requires independent critical analysis skills, and that requires participation in discourse with faculty and other students.
  2. GRE Scores: GRE scores are optional. Students who do not submit GRE scores are required to respond to TWO of the three essay prompts listed in #5. Career professionals (physicians, attorneys, etc.) who are seeking the MA in Bioethics as career enhancement, a sample of scholarly writing or ethics-related op-ed may replace this requirement. However, such a replacement must be done with the approval of the Director of the MA Program. Please contact the Program Director ( for more information.
  3. TOEFL Scores: Applicants for whom English is not the primary language must submit scores from the TOEFL no greater than 5 years old.
  4. Personal Statement: Applicants are encouraged to pay careful attention to their personal statement. This statement should include:
    1. A brief intellectual autobiography describing the formation of your academic interests and present concerns.
    2. A description of your goals in obtaining an MA in Bioethics: what do you hope to achieve with this degree: personal fulfillment? Insight into clinical care? A job as a clinical bioethicist? Etc.
    3. An explanation of how your past experience, academic training or research experience has prepared you to pursue graduate work in bioethics.
    4. If applicable, the special area of interest or particular problems, theories, movements, periods, etc., upon which your study would focus.
    5. A description of tentative plans for research, either specific problems or general areas in which you hope to work.
    6. A description of relevant research or practice experience, including your role and the extent to which you were independently involved in the projects you mention.
  5. Sample analytical essay: You can choose to respond to either the case OR the prompt. Preferred length of 800-1200 words. 
  6. Video Response (Optional): Students have the option to record a short video response to supplement their application materials. The video response is completely optional and affords students the opportunity to add a different dimension to their application. 

Analytical Essay Case Studies and Prompts

Your essay response will aid the admissions committee in evaluating your application. You can choose to respond to either one of the case studies OR one of the essay prompts. Preferred length of 800-1200 words. Please contact if you have any questions.

You are the bioethicist called by the treatment team. Consider the following:

Mrs. A is a forty-nine-year-old woman with terminal breast cancer that has metastasized to the brain. Over the past four months, Mrs. A's decision-making capacity has gradually waned, until finally she is no longer able to make decisions for herself. Recently, Mrs. A has also stopped taking adequate hydration and nutrition. She left no living will, and she assigned no healthcare proxy. Her sister (Beth) has been acting as her surrogate decision maker. Beth is confused and distraught over what she views as a "sudden change" in her sister's condition. Beth believes that her sister should be fed, but she does not want to cause her unnecessary suffering. The attending physician tells Beth that her sister could have tube feedings as a supplement. However, the consulting surgeon disagrees. He tells Beth that the fact that her sister has stopped eating is a natural part of the dying process. He also tells Beth that he would not want a tube feeding for himself in this situation. The attending physician is irate. He believes that the decision to use tube feedings in the case of Mrs. A is "Beth's call." An ethics consultation is called.

*Case taken verbatim from Lynn A. Jansen (2008), Ethics Consultation at the End of Life. In Ethics by Committee, edited by D. Micah Hester (New York: Rowman and Littlefield), 168.

"We want to ask you to consider letting Mattie be an organ donor,” Barbara Zepple said. She was the nurse assigned by the Transplant Service to talk with the families of patients who had been declared dead, but were good candidates for organ donation. “Would they cut her up more?” Mattie’s mother Lilly Warder asked. “It’s like an ordinary operation,” Barbara said. “Once they remove the organs, they’ll sew her up again. You won’t be able to tell that her organs have been donated. “I don’t know.” Lilly Warder shook her head. “It’s like stealing from somebody’s body. I don’t like the idea.” “Do you know what Mattie would have wanted?” Barbara asked. “Did she like helping other people?” “That’s what she lived for.” Mrs Warder put her hand over her eyes for a moment. “Could you make sure they go to black people?” “That’s not something we can promise.” Barbara shook her head. “Organs go to people who are most in need, no matter what race or gender or religion.” “Then I’m not sure I ought to give them away.” Mrs Warder shook her head. “Doctors took advantage of black folks in the past, and I’d like to try to make up for that.”

Can Mrs Warder’s attempts to designate organ donation by race be defended on moral grounds? 

Case sourced from Ronald Munson, Intervention and Reflection.

Provide what you take to be the single best justification of the ethical permissibility of gene-editing 'designer' babies whose traits are selected by their parents.  Present the best counter argument to this justification. In your answer to both parts of this prompt be explicit in your reasoning.

You are a nurse working in the emergency department in a hospital that is part of a large hospital  chain.  You have been working there for 3 months. During that time you observed that the emergency physicians were gradually increasing the number of inpatient admissions from the emergency department – even when, in your judgment that admissions were medically unnecessary. It later came to your attention that the hospitals rate their emergency physicians on whether or not they admit at least half of their patients over 65 years to their hospitals. Physicians who hit the target get a green flag; those who don’t get a red one and scores are updated daily. Effective and ethical institutional care is very important to you. Discuss your ethical obligations, and how you would specifically respond to this situation, taking into account the larger healthcare issues associated with this case.