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University of Pittsburgh    
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Feb 27, 2021
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Bioethics, MD/MA

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Students enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine may elect to earn the Master of Arts in Bioethics in conjunction with their medical degree.  This allows the 30 credit MA degree to be earned in an accelerated program, taking a year away from the MD program, usually between the second and third years of medical school.  During this one year, the student will follow the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences calendar for the fall and spring terms, pay tuition at the in-state tuition rate set for Dietrich School graduate students, and must adhere to the rules, regulations, policies, and procedures of the Dietrich School.  Applicants must complete the on-line application and provide official transcripts from their undergraduate and graduate studies, 3 letters of recommendation, a personal statement, writing sample, and official MCAT or GRE scores.  Additional information about the MD/MA program may be found here

Clinical Practica

The following courses are required for the major:

Thesis Research

Students must complete a research project and write a thesis under the supervision of and advisor, and defend it before a committee. Students may register for up to 6 course credits related to their thesis research.

Restrictive Electives

Students choose one elective from a list of “restricted elective” courses. Courses placed on this pursue ethical issues related to a particular area in greater depth than the Bioethics core course, or employ a particular disciplinary perspective to explore issues in medicine and research. In recent years, restricted electives have included:

  • Bioethics and Health Law
  • Ethical Issues in Medical Genetics
  • Gender, Ethics, and the Body
  • Historical and Sociological Perspectives in Public Health
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Medical Sociology


The remaining credits may be taken in electives approved by the program director. Students work with the program director and their thesis advisor to ensure that their particular needs are met. Students may take a Special Topics in Bioethics or Directed Reading in Bioethics course, or may identify relevant elective courses from various departments and schools of the University, including:

  • Anthropology
  • Communication
  • Cultural Studies
  • English
  • Film Studies
  • Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Law
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Sociology
  • Women’s Studies
  • Graduate Course Offerings

In addition, through the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education, full-time students may take courses at ten consortium-affiliated colleges and universities, including Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, and the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

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