Interdisciplinary Studies: Concentration in Healthcare Ethics (MA)

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, concentration in Healthcare Ethics 
Unit: Arts & Sciences
Department: Philosophy/Interdisciplinary Studies
Program Website 
Academic Plan Code(s): IS_ _MA_BMH, IS_ _MA_BMA

Program Information

The Healthcare Ethics concentration is a special track within the University of Louisville interdisciplinary master's program. It is overseen by the Department of Philosophy/Interdisciplinary Studies and the Graduate School.

Healthcare ethics is an inherently interdisciplinary field, located principally at the intersection of philosophy, the law, and the healthcare professions, such as clinical medicine and nursing, but drawing as well from social science disciplines as diverse as sociology, clinical psychology, and social work. The aim of the program is to provide students with the skills necessary to work in their chosen field from an enriched ethical knowledge base. Students will be exposed to the philosophical underpinnings of healthcare ethics as well as real-time clinical moral decision-making. This program examines concepts of race, gender, and culture as well to incorporate an ethically sound appreciation of difference and diversity.

The master's degree concentration in Healthcare Ethics provides professional enhancement and resources for the following groups of students:

  • Current healthcare and bioscience practitioners or faculty
  • Current or future members of ethics committees
  • Seminary faculty or students with an interest in healthcare chaplaincy
  • Dual-Degree students who wish to distinguish themselves with expertise in healthcare ethics for their future professional, educational, and scholarly pursuits in medicine, dentistry, law, nursing, social work, or other fields
  • Post-baccalaureate students during their transition from undergraduate to professional or PhD programs

 Note: Prior to 2019-2020, this concentration was titled "Bioethics and Medical Humanities."

Admission Requirements

  • Application (online version preferred since it allows students to upload all other required materials)
  • Application fee
  • Transcripts from all previous academic work
  • Standardized test scores: GRE, MCAT or LSAT preferred. Other scores may be accepted with prior approval. Applicants who have completed master's- or doctoral-level degrees are exempt from this requirement.
  • Two recent letters of recommendation.  The letters should come from those familiar with the applicant's academic work or life long learning and speak to your ability to complete graduate level education. Discursive letters preferred.
  • Curriculum vitae (CV) or resume
  • Personal statement
  • Your personal statement should address the question: "Why have you decided to pursue a concentration in Healthcare Ethics?" and should be between 2–4 double-spaced pages (500 - 1000 words).

Additionally, we reserve the right to request additional materials as required. For example, current employees of the university are expected to provide a letter of support from their direct supervisor.

Individuals who can't use the online application or need to send supplemental materials can email Graduate Admissions or mail materials (marked with applicant name, date of birth and either your university issued ID number or your social security ID number) to:

Graduate School
Graduate Admissions
Houchens Building, Suite 105
University of Louisville
Louisville KY 40292

Program Requirements

The Healthcare Ethics concentration is a 33 credit hour MA program, consisting of seven required core courses and four electives. The core courses provide essential grounding in ethical theory and the foundations of bioethics, current controversies in healthcare ethics, and the social and political context of healthcare decision-making; participation in hospital rounds emphasizes the practical realities of clinical ethics, and a capstone seminar integrates program courses with each other and with students' experience in the healthcare professions. Electives from the Schools of Law, Medicine, Public Health, and Social Work, as well as from the Arts and Sciences departments of History, Pan-African Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Sociology, and Women's and Gender Studies diversify and allow customization of the program.

For more details about courses or electives please refer to the posted curriculum at


The degree requires 21 credit hours (seven classes) of core courses and 12 credit hours (four classes) of electives:

Core Courses
BETH 621Ethical Theory3
BETH 680Foundations of Bioethics3
BETH 681Current Controversies in Health Care Ethics3
BETH 682Gender, Race and Culture in Health Care3
BETH 683Health Care, Justice, and Community3
BETH 684Clinical Ethics3
BETH 685Integrative Bioethics: Self and Other in Theory and Practice3
Electives (see lists below)12
Minimum Total Hours33

Elective Courses

In addition to the core classes, 12 credit hours of electives (typically, four classes) are required for the MA. Courses must be at the 500- or 600-level. Of these four electives, one must address Social Context, one Healthcare Policy and Law and the remaining two must be relevant to the degree but are not otherwise restricted. Students are encouraged to browse the entire university catalog for elective courses relevant to the degree and their interests.

All electives with prerequisites require permission of instructor to enroll. Other courses may be allowed on a case-by-case basis. Students are encouraged to find interesting electives and submit the class information for approval.

Social Context Approved Electives
ANTH 608Social and Cultural Theory3
ECPY 663Multicultural and Diversity Issues3
HIST 589/WGST 532History of American Sexualities - WR3
HIST 611/WGST 691Studies in American History3
HUM 562/PHIL 605Selected Topics3
HUM 635Seminar in Humanities3
HUM 663Global Perspectives on Arts & Culture3
LAW 826Family Law2-3
LAW 842Domestic Violence1-3
LAW 905Women and the Law2-3
LAW 906Race and the Law2-3
LAW 922Legal Problems of the Poor2-3
LAW 944Poverty, Health and the Law2-3
LAW 978Disability Law2-3
LAW 923Elder Law2-3
PAS 510Advanced Topics in Afro-American and African Studies3
PAS 615Theories of Race and Racism3
PHIL 616African-American Philosophy3
PHIL 619Topics in Philosophy of Race and Racism3
PHIL 690Fundamentals of Diversity3
POLS 668Feminist Theory3
SOC 612Gender, Race, Work, and Welfare3
SOC 685Race and Ethnicity3
SW 603Diversity, Oppression, and Social Justice Practice3
SW 633Social Work and Human Sexuality3
SW 684Spirituality and Social Work3
SW 697Advanced Topical Seminar3-4
Health Care Policy and Law Approved Electives
LAW 946Introductions to Health Law2-3
LAW 958Entrepreneurship Clinic3
LAW 959Genetics and the Law2-3
LAW 999Special Topic ( Two )4
NURS 613Introduction to Health Care Policy3
PHPB 705Policy to Advance Health Equity3
PSYC 656Legal, Professional, and Ethical Issues in Clinical Psychology3
PHMS 603Legal and Bioethical Aspects of Public Health3
SW 602Social Welfare Institutions, Policies and Services3
SW 615Mental Health3
SW 622Issues in Policy and Service Delivery3
SW 697Advanced Topical Seminar3-4
Other Approved Electives
COMM 690Special Topics3
HIST 651Studies in Medieval History3
HUM 635Seminar in Humanities3
LAW 977Animal Law2-3
PHIL 605Special Topics3
PHIL 605Special Topics3
PHPB 612Health Communications Campaigns: Theory and Practice3
POLS 668Feminist Theory3
SW 626Research Methodology and Design3
SW 636Death & Grief3
SW 697Advanced Topical Seminar3-4
SW 697Advanced Topical Seminar3-4

Other courses may be allowed on a case-by-case basis. We encourage our students to find interesting electives and submit the class information for approval.

Most students will complete the degree requirements after two years of full-time coursework, though motivated students are welcome to complete the hours in four consecutive semesters instead. Additionally, the program has the flexibility to allow for part-time students to take up to six years to complete the degree. 

For sample schedules please refer to our curriculum plans at

Two-Year Schedule

Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
BETH 680 Foundations of Bioethics 3
BETH 621
Ethical Theory
or Gender, Race and Culture in Health Care
Approved Elective 3
BETH 681 Current Controversies in Health Care Ethics 3
BETH 683 Health Care, Justice, and Community 3
Approved Elective 3
Year 2
Clinical Ethics  
BETH 621
Ethical Theory
or Gender, Race and Culture in Health Care
Approved Elective 3
BETH 684 Clinical Ethics 3
BETH 685 Integrative Bioethics: Self and Other in Theory and Practice 3
Approved Elective 3
 Minimum Total Hours33