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MA in Bioethics/MD

Why get an MA-Bioethics/MD?

The purpose of the program is to prepare students from the very onset of their medical careers to be equipped to identify, address, and assess ethical issues as they appear in clinical practice.  Students who graduate with a dual MA-Bioethics/MD degree will not only be prepared to enhance the care they provide to patients, but also will be prepared to work on issues of public policy as it relates to the provision of clinical care, to serve on or chair ethics committees, or to conduct education on the ethical foundations of clinical practice. 

MA-Bioethics/MD Curriculum

Students will complete the dual degree in 5 years, with 4 years at the School of Medicine and 1 year at the Laney Graduate School. Students would receive the MD and the MA in Bioethics concurrently upon completing the requirements for both degrees.  

A sample curriculum for the Bioethics portion follows in Table 1, although there is no difference from the full-time MA-Bioethics students’ schedule.

Table 1: Sample Student Schedule for MA-Bioethics (Full Time)


  Class (credits)


  BIOETH 501 (3)
  BIOETH 502 (3)
  BIOETH 504 (1)
  Elective (3)
  Elective (3)


  BIOETH 503 (3)
  BIOETH 504 (1)
  BIOETH 601 (4)
  Elective (3)


  Elective (3)
  BIOETH 602 (3) (to be continued/finished in the fall)

The Medical School Curriculum has 4 phases:  the Foundations Phase (18 months), the Applications Phase (12 months), the Discovery Phase (5-9 months), and the Translation Phase (9 months). For students pursuing the MA-Bioethics/MD Dual Degree Program, the first two phases remain unchanged. Students will count the MA-Bioethics as their Discovery Phase, which is designed to give students an opportunity to engage in in-depth research or to explore issues in the medical humanities, medical anthropology, medical sociology, etc. Students will then “step back in” to their medical school training to complete their final Translation Phase.

Because students in the MA-Bioethics Program must begin with BIOETH 501 which is only offered in the fall, medical students pursuing the dual degree will likely move into some of their clinical rotations for the Translation phase before stepping out in the fall semester following Year 3 to begin the MA-Bioethics. A typical student pursuing these dual degrees might follow the schedule described in Table II below; note that year 4 will become the MA-Bioethics year, and then what is listed in year 4 becomes year 5 for dual degree students.

Note that a final project is required for both the completion of the Discovery Phase and for the MA-Bioethics. Since the MA-Bioethics counts as the students’ Discovery Phase , one  final project will count for both programs. Students will begin this project in the summer of Year 4; however, some may not complete the work until the Fall of Year 5. In that eventuality, students will simply enroll in BIOETH 602 in the summer of Year 4 and receive an “In Progress” mark until they complete the project, at which point a grade will be assigned. The project must be completed  before the end of the fall semester of Year 5 in order to meet all appropriate degree deadlines.

Finally, while the Translation of Medical Sciences Phase is spread out over the entire Year 5, students will spend some of that time away on residency interviews and other preparatory requirements.

 Table 2: Sample MA-Bioethics/MD Student Schedule

MD Curriculum

Financial Implications

Since students will only be enrolled in the Laney Graduate School during Year 4, Year 4 is the only time during which they are responsible for tuition and fees to Laney. Otherwise, all tuition and fees will accrue as they normally would during enrollment at the School of Medicine. The student is free to register for the Bioethics capstone course (BIOETH 602) in the fall while enrolled at the School of Medicine, or the student may register for the course in the summer of Year 4 and register for Directed Readings in Year 5. Regardless, the student will pay tuition to Laney *only* during Year 4 of this 5 year plan.