Social Work & Bioethics and Medical Humanities

The MSSA/MA bioethics and medical humanities program offered by the Case Western Reserve University’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and the Department of Bioethics is unlike other programs in the United States.

As the number and complexity of ethical dilemmas in health care, aging, mental health and social work continue to increase, there is a growing need for advanced practice social workers who are knowledgeable about the principles and problem resolution techniques that are fundamental to bioethics and medical humanities. In health care settings, ethical consultations are often requested on decisions having to do with end-of-life, organ donation, or initiation or withdrawal of medical treatments. Graduates of this program will be prepared to provide counsel and support in these areas while also providing counsel health care providers, organizations and clients; participating in setting policy; and teaching others about these issues.

Student at commencement

The MSSA/MA program joins two well-known academic programs to offer students an interdisciplinary experience blending the similar values of social work and medicine. This is a “side-by-side” program composed of existing elements of ongoing programs provided by the faculty usually engaged in these efforts. These elements are supplemented by an integrative experience designed to make the interdisciplinary character of the program concrete.

The Advantage

For students with interest in ethical issues related to health or aging, the MSSA/MA bioethics and medical humanities dual degree provides a competitive advantage in obtaining employment in health care institutions. Graduates area able to sit on ethics committees, participate in ethics consultation, and contribute to all ethics services and requests more effectively. Additionally, the dual degree enriches the preparation for students pursuing careers in medical settings, hospices, child or adult protection services, and a variety of settings involving older adults.

Student walking through hall

How to Apply

Students must apply separately to the Mandel School and the Department of Bioethics for admission into each program. Admission to one program is not a guarantee that the student will gain admission to the other, and applications to both programs should be made simultaneously. A joint committee of the two programs will meet and review the dual degree applications.

Program Structure and Requirements

Students participate in both programs simultaneously and can complete the dual degree in 24 months (this includes two full-time fall and spring semesters, and one part-time summer semester of study).

Most of the work in the first year will be in social work and much of the work in the second year will be in bioethics and medical humanities. Students will pursue a directed course of study with few electives. Each student will have a faculty and a field advisor in the social work program as well as a contact faculty person in the Department of Bioethics.

A one-credit capstone course is required at the end of the program to ensure the integration of the content of social work, bioethics and medical humanities.

For more information, contact Sarah Andrews.