Interdisciplinary Studies: Concentration in Healthcare Ethics (MA)

Admission Requirements

  • Completed online graduate application
  • 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-level 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 your university issued 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. A capstone seminar enables students to engage in self-directed research integrating their coursework with their particular experience and expertise. 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, Gender, and Sexuality 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 682Health and Social Justice3
BETH 683Racialized Medicine3
BETH 684Clinical Ethics3
BETH 685Health Care Ethics Internship 3
or BETH 601 Independent Study in Bioethics
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 3
LAW 826Family Law2-3
LAW 905Women and the Law2-3
LAW 906Race and the Law2-3
LAW 922Legal Problems of the Poor2-3
LAW 924Sexuality and the Law2-3
LAW 944Poverty, Health and the Law2-3
LAW 978Disability Law2-3
LAW 923Elder Law2-3
PAS 615Theories of Race and Racism3
PHIL 616African-American Philosophy3
PHIL 619Topics in Philosophy of Race and Racism3
PHIL 690Fundamentals of Diversity3
PHPB 630Social Determinants of Health3
POLS 668Feminist Theory3
SOC 612Gender, Race, Work, and Welfare3
SOC 685Race and Ethnicity3
SOC 675Social Inequality & Stratification3
SW 603Diversity, Oppression, and Social Justice Practice3
SW 633Social Work and Human Sexuality3
SW 684Spirituality and Social Work3
Health Care Policy and Law Approved Electives
LAW 946Introductions to Health Law2-3
LAW 958Entrepreneurship Clinic3
LAW 959Genetics and the Law2-3
NURS 606Healthcare Systems3
NURS 608Health Care Systems and Microsystem Analysis3
NURS 613Introduction to Health Care Policy3
PSYC 656Professional and Ethical Issues in Clinical Psychology3
SW 602Social Welfare Policy I3
SW 615Mental Health3
SW 622Social Welfare Policy II3
SW 697Advanced Topical Seminar3-4
SOC 740Social Policy3
SOC 750Program Evaluation3
Other Approved Electives
LAW 977Animal Law2-3
PHPB 612Health Communications Campaigns: Theory and Practice3
POLS 668Feminist Theory3
SW 626Research Methodology and Design3
SW 636Death & Grief3

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 Health and Social Justice
Approved Elective 3
BETH 681 Current Controversies in Health Care Ethics 3
BETH 683 Racialized Medicine 3
Approved Elective 3
Year 2
Clinical Ethics
BETH 621
Ethical Theory
or Health and Social Justice
Approved Elective 3
BETH 684 Clinical Ethics 3
BETH 601 Independent Study in Bioethics 1-3
Approved Elective 3
 Minimum Total Hours31-33