The Medical Humanities Study Program offers a multidisciplinary opportunity for students to explore topics in medical history, ethics, theology, and other fields within the medical humanities. Students design their own research projects under the guidance of medical humanities mentors, and tailor their third year experience around the completion of this project. While some students may participate in their mentor’s ongoing research, others can pursue projects independent of (but related to) their mentor’s primary areas of interest. The Master of Arts in Bioethics and Science Policy dual degree is housed within this track.


Research:  The principal component of the Medical Humanities Study Program is an in-depth research experience within the medical humanities. The location of this research will vary with the mentor and project chosen. Some projects may be appropriately pursued in libraries and archives. Others may include interviews with or experimentation upon human subjects in the clinical or other academic setting. Like their peers in the more traditional science track, medical humanities students will explore a research question, find data to support or refute it, and write a thesis that communicates their results.

Proposal:  All students are expected to prepare a 3-5 page proposal by the end of spring of the second year outlining the aims of the proposed research in consultation with their chosen mentor. This proposal will state the problem to be studied, the rationale and relevance of the problem, and include a bibliography of relevant literature and sources.

Courses:  Students are expected to take two courses in the medical humanities during their third year. Working with their mentor, students will identify courses within the university relevant to their research question. Courses may be chosen from the Medical School, Divinity School, or Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Individual readings courses with the mentor or other faculty may be included in the courses chosen. The student must complete two semesters devoted fully to the medical humanities field of study. The student may include relevant courses from prior study to reduce the course expectation at the discretion of the study program director, but this does not minimize the two-semester requirement of dedicated humanities study.

Lecture series:  Students will attend the regular humanities lecture series offered through the Center for the Study of Medical Ethics and Humanities.

Posters:  Students are expected to submit abstracts to present results in poster or oral format at the annual Alpha Omega Alpha research day.

Final Thesis:  Students will prepare a thesis that fulfills the usual thesis requirements (traditional, manuscript submission or grant submission format) and that represents the product of their research. This is due on the thesis deadline date set by the Registrar’s Office.

Publication:  Students are encouraged to produce work that is of sufficient originality, importance, and quality that it will be accepted for publication by a relevant medical humanities journal. Authors of historical theses will be encouraged to submit their work for the William Osler Prize awarded by the American Association of the History of Medicine for the best essay by a medical student. The winning essay of this prize contest is traditionally published in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.

Dual Degree Option: MD/MALS (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies) Graduate Level program for exploring diverse areas of study (social sciences, history, policy, ethics, etc.) as they relate to medicine.  Students design an individual course of study that brings together their intellectual interests and professional goals. Please contact Donna Zapf, Ph.D., or Margaret Humphreys, M.D., Ph.D., for further information.


MedHum Faculty Mentors        Director: Margaret Humphreys, M.D., Ph.D.