The Master of Arts in Bioethics is obtained under the School of Graduate Studies’ graduate study Plan B. Beginning with the fall 2018 class, the degree will be completed with 30 credit hours. It can be earned full-time in one year or part-time in a maximum of three years. According to Graduate Studies, full-time status requires registration for a minimum of nine credit hours per semester.

Foundations in Bioethics I and II

In the first year of study, all graduate students in the MA in Bioethics and Medical Humanities program are required to complete the interdisciplinary core of 12 credit hours (the equivalent of four courses), extending over two semesters. This core seminar, “BETH 401: Foundations in Bioethics I” (six credits), and “BETH 402: Foundations in Bioethics II” (six credits), is taught by faculty in the Department of Bioethics. The course covers ten basic topic areas in bioethics: methods and theories of bioethics and medical humanities, reproductive ethics, pediatric ethics, death and dying, organ transplantation, research ethics, neuroethics, public health ethics, and novel biotechnologies and genetics. The class meets twice per week in the evenings for seminar sessions (two hours per session.)

Clinical Ethics Rotation

All students must complete a 3-credit-hour core Clinical Ethics Rotation. Students are exposed to clinical cases as they arise, hospital ethics committees and ethics consultation programs, institutional review boards (IRBs), and hospital policies covering “do not resuscitate” orders (DNR), advance directives, withdrawal of artificial feeding, organ procurement and transplantation, and medical futility. They will become familiar with the clinical, psychological, social, professional, and institutional contexts in which ethical problems arise.

While there will be some didactic and seminar sessions, students will spend most of their time observing rounds in relevant services (e.g., intensive care units, pediatrics, geriatrics, etc.) with leading clinicians. Schedules will need to be somewhat individualized to meet student needs, allowing for a minimum of 8 hours of clinical experience per week during two 10-week rotations. The current locations for this course are MetroHealth System, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and Louis Stokes Cleveland Veteran Affairs Medical Center. Students complete rotations at all sites and also spend thirty percent of each rotation at the Hospice for the Western Reserve. A preceptor will be available and responsible for each hospital. The rotation has the following objectives:

  • Students will be able to identify, analyze, and understand ethical issues as they develop.
  • Students will gain an understanding of methods of health care delivery in the hospital setting.

In addition to spending 8 hours per week in clinical settings during two 10-week rotations, students must fulfill hospital core rotation requirements, attend preceptor meetings, maintain a clinical “log” of rotation experiences, and attend five didactic seminars.


Beginning in the Fall of 2018, students must complete 15 credit hours of electives chosen from courses offered across the University.