Nov 24, 2020  
Graduate Record 2008-2009 
Graduate Record 2008-2009 [ARCHIVED RECORD]


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General Information

The M.A. in Bioethics is a duel degree of the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). Faculty are drawn primarily from Philosophy, Religious Studies, Law, Medicine, Nursing, and Business. Each student will have a core faculty advisor to guide program planning and course selection.

M.A. Core Faculty

John D. Arras (Philosophy), Ruth Gaare Bernheim (Public Health Sciences), Richard J. Bonnie (Law), James F. Childress (Religious Studies), Claire Cronmiller (Biology), Walt Davis (Medicine), Ann Hamric (Nursing), Margaret E. Mohrmann (Medicine, Religious Studies), Mimi Foster Riley (Law) , Margaret Mohrmann, Kornfeld Professor and Director of Programs in Biomedical Ethics for the School of Medicine, is director of the M.A. program.

Intended Audience

The M.A. in Bioethics is not, in and of itself, adequate preparation for a career in bioethics. Therefore, admission preference will be given to those for whom this program is related to their concurrent or subsequent pursuit of a terminal degree (e.g., M.D., M.S.N., J.D., or Ph.D.), or those who intend to return to an established position. Exceptions may be made for highly qualified applicants.

Application Procedure

 This program uses the standard GSAS application form for graduate study, which can be found at Along with that application, all applicants should submit: (a) a 500-word personal statement about their reasons for pursuing this degree and plans for future use of the knowledge and skills acquired through this course of study; and (b) a writing sample, either a previously written paper for a course in bioethics or applied ethics or an original 500-word essay on the relationship between autonomy and beneficence in contemporary bioethics.

Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (taken within five years of application) must be submitted with the application. Applicants wishing to substitute scores from another national test (e.g., LSAT, MCAT) may petition the program director for permission to do so; substitute tests must also have been taken within five years of application.

Students enrolled in the University of Virginia Schools of Medicine, Nursing (graduate programs), Law, or the GSAS may apply to pursue the MA in Bioethics concurrent with their primary degree program. In addition to utilizing the GSAS application procedure as detailed above, such applicants must also submit a copy of their application to their primary school or have their primary school send a copy to the GSAS Admissions Office.

Fellowship Support

A limited amount of fellowship support may be available, distributed at the discretion of the Steering Committee. This support generally involves modest service to the program, to be arranged in consultation with the program director.

Degree Requirements

30 credits of coursework, or 24 credits plus a thesis (6 credits) of publishable quality.

Required Courses

15 credits must be from the two required Group I courses, Foundations of Bioethics and Clinical Ethics (which should be taken in the fall-spring sequence), and from three Group II courses. For students lacking clinical experience, a clinical practicum (3 credits) may be required. For students intending to pursue clinical consultative work, a consultation practicum (3 credits) may be required.

Group I courses:

BIOE 510/810: Foundations of Bioethics All students must take Foundations of Bioethics, which introduces the central problems and issues addressed by the field and the major concepts, methods, and ethical perspectives that bioethics brings to bear on these problems and issues.

BIOE 511/811: Clinical Ethics All students must take Clinical Ethics, which introduces the central ethical problems and issues that arise in the clinical setting.

Group II courses:

All students must take at least 3 Group II courses, offered by various Schools and Departments, on specific problems and issues addressed by the field of bioethics. Selection will be guided by the student’s area of concentration and discipline, in consultation with the student’s adviser. The list of available Group II courses varies from year to year. The list of available Group II courses varies from year to year, and will be made available by the program director each year.

Biology requirement

Students needing more background in human biology and medicine must pass BIOL 121 (non-credit) and/or pass a required study course and examination in basic pathophysiology and anatomy. Decisions about meeting this requirement will be made in the admission and advising process.


The remainder of credits for the M.A. in Bioethics may be taken from any of the remaining Group II courses, or from other courses offered at the university with the approval of the program director.

Program Location

The program is located in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities in the School of Medicine, Barringer 5366. The program administrator is Carrie Gumm (; please contact her for additional information.

The Steering Committee reports to the Deans of the Schools of Medicine, Law, and Nursing and to the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Course Descriptions

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