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MS in Bioethics and Medical Humanities

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Learn more about our MS program below.

We are excited to announce the collaboration between the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the MS in Bioethics and Medical Humanities! See more in Electives.

Interested in enrolling for a single Course?

If you would like to enroll in a single course, please go to https://sopa.tulane.edu/admissions/graduate-non-degree.

Please see also the explanation below:

Application Materials:
Go to https://sopa.tulane.edu/apply in order to begin or continue an application to the School of Professional Advancement. When prompted, choose “Non-Degree seeking Graduate” as your field of study that you are applying for.

You are required to upload official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended. Applicants who were not in good standing at previous institutions will be reviewed.
Statement of purpose will be reviewed by program director.
Application Fee (of $50) will be required. You will also need a clear photo of a government-issued ID ready to upload.

Admission Process:
Students will receive acceptance letter indicating they need to contact their Program Director to get approval to register for courses.
Upon clarifying what course you are taking with DGS/Academic Advisor (Prof. Stephen Hanson) the advising hold will be lifted.
Student is free to register for classes, at https://classschedule.tulane.edu/Search.aspx.

MS Overview

The Master of Science in Bioethics and Medical Humanities is a special track within the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program at Tulane School of Medicine. This master’s degree program assists learners in understanding and navigating the ever-evolving technological and social complexities of healthcare by examining them from the perspective of ethics and the humanities. It is an ideal program for any student who envisions pursuing these issues in their future career.

Our M.S. is a two-year, 33 credit hour program leading to a Master of Science in Bioethics and Medical Humanities, consisting of seven required core courses and four electives. This program accommodates Dual Degree MD-MS students (see below) and those students interested in pursuing the M.S. degree independently from Tulane’s M.D. program. It is well-suited for both post-baccalaureate students progressing toward a terminal degree (e.g., an MD, JD, etc.) and mid-career professionals who wish to expand their potential in medical ethics and humanities. This program is conducted by both in-person and live synchronous teleconferencing by our students for all courses offered by our program, allowing participation from virtually anywhere.

Students select either the Bioethics Track or the Medical Humanities Track. This Bioethics and Medical Humanities M.S. at the Tulane University School of Medicine is the only Bioethics and Medical Humanities master’s-level program in Louisiana (as well as the entire central Gulf Coast). Tulane is positioned uniquely to provide the student a bioethics and medical humanities education with an interdisciplinary faculty that has been brought together in the Program in Medical Ethics and Human Values (PMEHV). The Executive Director of the M.S. Program is David John Doukas, M.D., James A. Knight Chair in Humanities and Ethics and Medicine, Director of PMEHV, Tulane School of Medicine. Core program faculty are drawn from Philosophy, English, Medical Humanities, Public Health, and Clinical Ethics and boast a distinguished publication record in Bioethics and Medical Humanities.

Limited scholarships are available for highly qualified students.


The core courses provide essential grounding in ethical theory and the foundations of bioethics, current controversies in health care ethics, and the social and ethical contexts of health care decision-making; participation in hospital rounds emphasizes the practical realities of clinical ethics, and a capstone seminar integrates program courses with one another and with students’ experience in the health care professions. The ten core courses are offerings created specifically for the program, and consist of the following:

  • Foundations of Bioethics
  • Current Controversies in Bioethics
  • Fundamentals of Medical Humanities
  • Capstone Course

Plus One of The Two Tracks Below:


  • Ethical Theory
  • Introduction to Clinical Ethics
  • Research Ethics


  • Literature and Film in Medicine
  • History of Medicine
  • Narrative in Medicine


Term Bioethics Track Medical Humanities Track
Year 1, Semester 1 Foundations of Bioethics (3)
Medical Humanities (3)
Elective 1 (3)
Foundations of Bioethics (3)
Medical Humanities (3)
Elective 1 (3)
Year 1, Semester 2 Current Controversies in Healthcare (3)
Ethical Theory (3)
Elective 2 (3)
Current Controversies in Healthcare (3)
History of Medicine (3)
Elective 2 (3)
Year 2, Semester 1 Clinical Ethics (3)
Research Ethics (3)
Elective 3 (3)
Narrative Medicine (3)
Medicine in Literature and Film (3)
Elective 3 (3)
Year 2, Semester 2 Capstone Project (3)
Elective 4 (3)
Optional Elective (3)
Capstone Project (3)
Elective 4 (3)
Optional Elective (3)
Total Hours: 21 hours Required courses
12 hours Elective courses
TOTAL = 33 hours

We allow non-Tulane students to take our courses (such as, Master and PhD students in bioethics and medical humanities elsewhere, and Mid-career students) locally or by live videoconferencing

Core Courses

Foundations of Bioethics

This course surveys the variety of bioethical theories that ground contemporary arguments within the bioethics literature and in healthcare. Attention will be paid to methodologies of decision-making within the context of sound ethical argument utilizing principles, casuistry, care, narrative, and virtues.

Current Controversies in Bioethics

This course will examine contemporaneous topics in healthcare ethics. Issues to be covered will include those that are of notoriety as well as many that are ethically important but not widely recognized by the public. Theoretical knowledge of ethics will then be drawn upon to facilitate discussion of dilemmas that are intrinsic within these topics.

Fundamentals in Medical Humanities

This course is an examination of how the humanities and social sciences bring contextual fullness to understanding the healing profession. A particular emphasis will be placed on how the arts can bring humanism to the sciences.

Capstone Project

This capstone seminar for Bioethics graduate students will be a collaborative project. In this project, students will focus their energies on a major issue facing the Tulane-New Orleans community, with an end product that is either policy-based or education-based to help facilitate discussion and/or resolution of the issue at hand.

Plus, One of The Two Tracks Below:


Ethical Theory

This course provides an in-depth treatment of the theoretical foundations of ethics. It introduces students to foundational problems and theories in metaethics, moral psychology, and normative theory.

Clinical Ethics

This course is a comprehensive seminar on the theory and practice of clinical ethics consultation. This course will familiarize learners with the basic modes and styles of ethics consultation in clinical settings. Learners will also study policy development and educational aspects of hospital ethics committees. Participants will apply philosophical and sociological concepts to cases and policy in clinical settings and will consider methods of mediation, as well as the arguments regarding certification in clinical consultation.

Prerequisite: Foundations of Bioethics, or permission of the instructor.

Research Ethics

This course is a comprehensive seminar on the theory, history, and practical application of ethics to the conduct of research with humans. This course will examine ethics in research in light of scientific, moral, and political considerations. These include autonomy, individual rights, coercion, justice, community and the common good, the norms of research and the community of researchers, and multi-cultural values. The learner will acquire a working knowledge of the professional life of the clinical researcher and the application of ethics to their practice.



Literature and Film in Medicine

This course examines representations of medicine, sickness, and death in literature and film. The focus of the course will be on discussing and analyzing these representations to gain a richer understanding of lived experiences of health and illness.

History of Medicine

This course explores health maintenance, disease, and therapeutics from antiquity until the mid-20th century. This course will relate care of the sick and methods of treatment to the patients’ and healers’ social, political, religious, and cultural contexts, with special topics discussion on the history of women’s reproductive health; military medicine; native American, Meso-American, Pacific Island, and Afro-Caribbean medical practices; the history of mental healthcare; and the formalization of medical education and the rise of the medical marketplace.

Narrative in Medicine

This course is a comprehensive seminar on the importance of narrative in the practice of medicine. Students will familiarize themselves with the uses of narrative in the culture of medicine and of medical education, clinical ethics, public health policy, and, especially, clinical reasoning and everyday practice.


Below are some electives offered by the program. New electives are being added all the time. Students in the MS in Bioethics and Medical Humanities may also enroll in elective coursework at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (https://sph.tulane.edu/masters-programs).
The Doctor as Author

This course explores some of the many doctor-writers who have reflected on the practice of medicine and the qualities of a good doctor. Beginning with a discussion of the merged scientific and humanistic sensibilities of these writers, it will examine the work of prominent figures like Atul Gawande, Anton Chekhov, Mona Hanna-Attisha, Paul Kalanithi, and Damon Tweedy. Then, with a focus on their pleas that we attend to the patient’s illness and life-world as well as to the patient’s ailing body, it will consider how their work helps us to think about what it means to practice purposefully.

The End of Life in Film and Literature

This course examines representations of dying and death in literature and film. The focus of the course will be on discussing and analyzing these representations for the purpose of gaining a richer understanding of lived experiences of health, illness, and death. Topics to be discussed include the following: illness and suffering, definitions of health, politics of suffering and death, definitions of death, narratives of death and dying.

Environmental Ethics

This course examines the theoretical foundations, assumptions, and practical implications of environmental ethics. It begins by considering foundational questions regarding the moral value of nature. It then turns to discussion of the various frameworks within which theorists and activists have analyzed and evaluated humanity’s obligation to the environment. Finally, it closes by considering the significance of the environment to issues of social justice.

Medicine and Identity

This course explores three identities: race, gender, and ability.  Through the study of history, literature, and contemporary media, students will develop an understanding of the ways in which these identities have been shaped and how they intersect with medicine.


Neuroethics, as an area of study, can be divided into two sub-fields: the neuroscience of ethics and the ethics of neuroscience (Roskies 2002). In this course we will explore fundamental topics in both branches of Neuroethics. Drawing from a variety of fields—neuroscience, philosophy, social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and evolutionary theory—we will investigate and discuss questions like: What are the evolutionary origins of moral judgment? Does evolutionary theory shed light on normative moral questions? Do our moral motivations derive from reason or pre-reflective intuition? Do psychopaths have moral responsibility? Do we have free will? Should we enhance our mental functioning?

Philosophy of Medicine

This course provides an in-depth treatment of the philosophical foundations of medicine. It considers problems relating to the nature of health and illness, the basis of medical knowledge, the nature of the physician/patient relationship, and more.

Ethics in Times of Pandemic

This course is split into three Units. Unit I discusses issues relating to the duty of physicians to care for patients during times of pandemic. Are physicians obligated to care for patients with highly infectious disease? How much personal risks are physicians morally required to take on? In Unit II students will consider questions relating to the just distribution of scarce resources in the context of pandemic medicine. How can we ethically decide which patients will receive life-sustaining resources and which will not? Should younger patients receive higher priority than older patients? How should we go about distributing vaccines or other preventive measures throughout the general population? Finally, Unit III focuses on problems relating to social justice in times of pandemic. How do we ensure that the burdens of a pandemic are equitably distributed between social groups? How far may the government go in constraining individual rights for the sake of public health? How should we understand the obligations of the average citizen to promote the public good? The overall goal of the course will be to help students think carefully and constructively about the ethical issues raised by the current public health crisis.

Pro-Natalism, Anti-Natalism, and the Ethics of Human Reproduction

This course explores in-depth the ethical and philosophical issues arising from views that encourage procreation and those that claim that procreation is morally bad, and the practice of artificial reproductive services and technologies. We will investigate and discuss questions such as: Is there a duty to have children? Do we cause harm by having children? Can it be wrong to reproduce?  Is it better never to have come into existence? Is abortion morally permissible? Do pregnant women have a duty to aid the fetus by allowing it the use of their body? Is there a moral difference between killing someone and letting her die? Is it wrong to reproduce through cloning? With the assistance of surrogate mothers and donated eggs? Should we avoid having children with disabilities?  Should we use genetic screening or genetic engineering to have the “best” kids we possibly can? Is it wrong to have a child if there are known genetic risk factors?  Should parents be permitted to select for disability? How much autonomy are children entitled


Admission Requirements

Required Application Materials:

  • Official undergraduate transcript(s) sealed and mailed to the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Programs office.
  • A personal statement and writing sample.
  • A Verified GRE score report is optional, but not required.
  • A Verified MCAT score report for those who have taken the MCAT and anticipate subsequent application to medical school.
  • Resumé or CV.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • International applicants are also required to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score report.
How to Apply

Applications may be submitted through our online portal:

  1. Click on the button below and register to create an account
  2. Select Biomedical Sciences
  3. Select the Masters in Bioethics

Apply Now

Application Deadline

Applications for the Fall semester are due July 15 of the year you intend to start taking classes. We also have rolling admission for MS applicants.

We allow non-Tulane students to take our courses (such as, Master and PhD students in bioethics and medical humanities elsewhere, and Mid-career students) locally or by live videoconferencing.