Master of Bioethics

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The Master of Bioethics (MBE) degree is a new collaborative program of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. An innovative, interdisciplinary, and cross-divisional graduate program, the goal the MBE program is to prepare students from diverse individual and professional backgrounds for the bioethics challenges of professional and civic life.


Deering Hall at night

The rigorous pursuit of human well-being through health care and research has resulted in tremendous gains, locally and globally, for the benefit of individuals and populations. From the first ventilator to the first vaccine, such scientific and technological discoveries have been used to prolong life and alleviate human suffering while advancing health-related knowledge. These advancements, however, often present challenging ethical questions — for individuals and society — about appropriate use, access, safety, and rights and obligations, among many others.

Graduates of the MBE program will be equipped to drive the responsible pursuit of new knowledge, new approaches to considering society’s thorniest issues, and new ways of improving health to further progress in science and technology, the humanities and arts, and public health and medicine.

Program Contacts


Travis Rieder, PhD
Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
Assistant Director of Education Initiatives & Research Scholar

EGB SquareElice García-Baca
Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
Senior Academic Program Coordinator

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Upon successful completion of the program, students will have mastered the following competencies:

  1. Understand the essential theories and methods that underpin the ethics of public health, clinical care, science, and research;
  1. Recognize ethics issues and questions that arise in public health, clinical care, science, and research;
  1. Articulate and critique policy and scholarly arguments to engage with long-standing and emerging debates in bioethics; and
  1. Understand approaches to fulfilling ethics advisory functions in practice settings.

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The program requires successful completion of a minimum of 64 term credits including a practicum. Full-time students typically complete the degree over six 8-week academic terms. If enrolled part-time, the degree must be completed within a maximum of four years.

Though not required, students have the option of focusing their studies in one of five concentration areas: 1) clinical ethics; 2) ethics, policy and emerging biotechnologies; 3) global bioethics; 4) public health ethics; and 5) research ethics.

Upon matriculation, each student will chart a program of study. Sample required and elective courses (subject to change) are listed here.

In addition to the formal coursework, practicum and thesis, all students will participate in a variety of supplemental seminars in bioethics, such as the Berman Institute Noontime Seminar Series, Robert H. Levi Symposium, Shallenberger Lecture in Ethics, and the Sheila Hutzler-Rives Memorial Lecture in Palliative Care. These events allow students to interact with a broad network of national and international leaders in bioethics.

Current courses available here.

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Program faculty are the core and affiliated faculty of the Berman Institute, with most also having appointments in the Johns Hopkins University’s schools of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing, and Arts and Sciences. Berman Institute faculty are involved in teaching and mentoring MBE students.


Faculty have produced leading empirical research in bioethics while continuing to generate path breaking conceptual and normative scholarship, educating the next generation of leaders in bioethics, and contributing in ongoing ways to public policy development.

Program faculty have served on multiple presidential bioethics commissions as well as committees of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and for state and local health departments.

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Admissions Requirements

Qualified professionals who work in fields related to bioethics, including medicine, public health, nursing, social work, health research, law, public policy, philosophy, history and others will be considered for admission to the master’s degree program.

Recent graduates of related undergraduate programs will also be considered for admission.


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Application Deadlines & Procedures

Applications are reviewed and offers of admission are made on a rolling basis. Applications for full-time enrollment for Fall 2016 must be received by July 15, 2016. Early submission of application materials is strongly advised.

Please contact the program for part-time program enrollment deadlines.

A complete application consists of the following:

  • A completed online application
  • Application fee
  • GRE, LSAT or MCAT scores
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts from ALL educational institutions attended
  • CV or resume
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores (for international applicants as required)

International Applicants: Earlier application and official document submission is highly encouraged. For more information, please contact the Office of International Services


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Tuition, Fees & Financial Aid

Tuition information

Please note that tuition and fees are the same for US and international students.

Estimated cost of attendance information: living in Baltimore generally costs less than living in other major cities in the United States.

Qualifying students may be offered a wide array of loans including federal Perkins loans, Federal Direct Student loans (subsidized and unsubsidized), Federal Work Study, and/or Graduate PLUS loans. The Financial Aid Office does not offer need-based grant assistance.

To apply for financial aid, please visit the Financial Aid Office.

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Who is the program designed for?

Early- and mid-career professionals in medicine, public health, nursing, social work, health research, law, public policy, philosophy, history, and related fields who wish to become ethics resource persons or who seek to establish active scholarly portfolios in bioethics.

Recent undergraduates who are interested in bioethics issues and plan to work or pursue further studies in the above professions.

Diverse student cohorts are anticipated.

Can I enroll part-time or switch to part-time status during the program?

Yes. You may enroll part-time or switch to part-time status during any term. Due to course sequencing, students who enroll part-time are advised to enter the program during term 1. Please contact the program to discuss the curricular implications of enrolling part-time in any term other than term 1.

Can I take bioethics courses without enrolling in the degree program?

Yes. Non-degree seeking students may register for classes for academic credit as a ‘Special Student Limited’.

Special students can take up to 16 units of graduate level credit without enrolling in a degree program. Credits can be transferred for students who are accepted into the full-time or part-time MBE program. Johns Hopkins employees may be eligible for tuition remission.

Follow this link for application information as a for-credit student (left-hand purple box).

And follow this link for a current list of bioethics courses.

During which term can I start the program?

Full-time student must start the program in term 1.

Due to course sequencing, part-time students are also strongly encouraged to start the program in term 1. Please contact us to discuss the curricular implications of enrolling part-time in any term other than term 1.

The academic calendar is available online.

How long does it take to complete the program?

It is expected that most full-time students will complete all program requirements in 6 academic terms, with the majority of coursework completed in the first 4 terms. The minimum time to complete the degree is 1 year. Part-time students must complete the degree within 4 years.

Can I take courses online?

Yes. Students may elect to complete up to 9 credits online. Online courses must be pre-approved.

Can I work while enrolled in the program?

Typically, yes. Many courses are offered late in the day or in early evening to accommodate the schedules of working professionals.

Will I have an advisor?

With guidance from the Program Director, once enrolled, each student develops an initial plan for his or her program of study. Students are then paired with faculty advisors who participate in refining study plans and guiding students during their studies.

What is the practicum requirement?

The program practicum requirement (6 credits) pairs students with faculty and affiliated mentors who supervise applied ethics learning experiences in highly active clinical, global, public policy, or research/research oversight practice environments. The practicum requires 48 direct contact hours with the placement site. Faculty advisors guide each student in the identification and selection of a practicum site in one of the four practice environments. Students will write observational practicum “cases,” participate in weekly discussions, and deliver a practicum presentation during the placement.

An advanced clinical practicum elective (6 credits) is also available for students seeking to concentrate their studies in the area of clinical ethics. These students are placed with particular clinical unit(s) of interest and are expected to use the observational experience to advance their professional and thesis-related goals.

How can I satisfy the thesis requirement?

For the program thesis requirement (6 credits), students independently write a multi-part thesis on a specific topic in bioethics. Students must demonstrate an understanding of relevant theoretical, policy and practical considerations in constructing a well-organized critical examination of the topic. Students work closely with advisors to propose and select a thesis topic, identify thesis committee members, draft thesis sections, and prepare for a final thesis defense. All students participate in a two-term thesis seminar that supports the development and timely completion of the thesis.

Tell me more about the concentration options.

Students may elect to focus their studies in one of five concentration areas (Clinical Ethics; Ethics, Policy and Emerging Biotechnologies; Global Bioethics; Public Health Ethics; and Research Ethics). In order to satisfy requirements of a concentration, at least 18 of the 64 required term credits must be in a particular area of concentration. Concentration eligible courses (CECs) are listed for each area of concentration.

What careers are available in bioethics?

Learn more about careers in bioethics.

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