Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities

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Medical College of Wisconsin
Executive-Style Master of Arts in Bioethics Program

Program Objectives
Program Description
Requirements for the Executive-Style MA Degree
Sample Curriculum
Sample of Distance Learning Course Offerings
Technical Requirements for the Executive-Style MA Program
Applying to the Executive-Style MA Program
Frequently Asked Questions


Program Objectives

The executive-style Master of Arts program in bioethics at the Medical College of Wisconsin, which was the first online bioethics program, provides advanced training for professionals who wish to become prepared for teaching, research, policy development, and clinical work related to bioethics. The program includes didactic, clinical and research components, and culminates in the student presenting his or her research in a Master's Thesis project.

The targeted audience for this program are mid-career professionals who are seeking to enhance their research, teaching, and consulting skills. Their professional commitments could permit pursuit of a Master's degree in bioethics provided the program is sufficiently flexible. This program provides that flexibility.

Program Description

 The bioethics Master's program has three main components, all of which are required in order to earn the MA degree:

1. Core Curriculum
The core curriculum consists of three required courses (nine credits) in philosophical bioethics, clinical topics in bioethics, and issues in law and bioethics.

2. Clinical Bioethics Experience
The clinical bioethics experience requirement can be satisfied either through proven professional experience in clinical ethics committees and consultation or through taking a one-credit course on clinical ethics committees and consultation.

3. Thesis or Final Paper
Students can choose either to write the Master's Thesis (six credits) or can opt to complete an additional six credits of course work and write a paper of publishable quality.

This is a unique program that combines the intellectual rigor of MCW’s traditional Master of Arts program with the flexibility that professionals and academics from around the world require. The distance education offerings provide an opportunity for participants to learn the language, literature, and methods of analysis of bioethics in a structured and intellectually rigorous way. The on-campus component provides an opportunity for participants to engage in an intensive seminar experience in which they develop their facilitation and peer education skills, as well as in supervised clinical and classroom experiences in which conceptual, quantitative, and qualitative methods of conducting clinical ethics research are explored.

Requirements for the Executive-Style MA Degree

1. Credit Requirements

All students in the degree-seeking program are required to complete a total of at least 30 credits. Of these 30 credits, at least 24 credits must consist of course credits and the remaining 6 credits are either additional course credits for students pursuing the final paper, or are for the completion of the Master’s Thesis. Of the 24 course credits, students must take 9 required credits (3 courses). Students who do not satisfy the clinical bioethics experience requirement through proven professional experience must take 1 additional required credit (1 course). The remaining credit hours are made up of elective courses of the student’s choosing, selected with the guidance of an advisor and with consideration of the individual student’s area of emphasis, if any.

Courses in the executive-style MA program are delivered through a web-based distance education format. These distance education course offerings provide an opportunity for participants to learn the language, literature, and methods of analysis of bioethics in a structured and intellectually rigorous environment.

See the course descriptions in the traditional MA program section of this document for further details.
 
2. Intensive On-Campus Session
Students pursuing the MA in Bioethics degree through the executive-style curriculum are required to attend one intensive two-week summer session on the campus of the Medical College of Wisconsin. This on-campus component provides students an opportunity to engage in an intensive seminar experience in which they develop facilitation and peer education skills. The summer session meets for the first two full weeks of June and offers two courses that together account for six credits. Students meet for 6-8 hours per day, 5 days a week during the session. Readings are distributed in advance so that students will have time to prepare prior to arrival on campus.
 
The courses offered in the summer session rotate every other year as follows:
 
Even years:
Critical Approaches to Bioethics (3 credits)
Special Topics in Bioethics: Political Issues in Bioethics and Public Health  (3 credits)

Odd years:
Religion and Bioethics (3 credits)

Special Topics in Bioethics: Deadly Medicine (3 credits)
 
3. Comprehensive Examination
The comprehensive examination is taken following completion of the core courses.  Failure to pass the examination necessitates retaking the entire examination and meeting any additional requirements of the examining committee.  If this examination is failed, only one additional attempt is offered to the potential candidate.

4. Clinical Ethics Experience
The clinical bioethics experience requirement can be satisfied either through proven professional experience in clinical ethics committees and/or ethics consultation or through the taking of a one-credit course on clinical ethics committees and ethics consultation.

For students with professional experience in clinical ethics, documentation of this experience must be provided to the Program Director. This documentation should be in the form of a letter or email from an administrator at the institution the student is serving. The documentation should provide the student’s professional role as related to ethics and the length of service.

For students without professional experience, the Bioethics Consulting and Committees course is required. This course is offered in both on campus and online formats in the Spring semester. Please see the course description in the traditional MA program section of this document for further details about this course.

5. Final Paper or Master's Thesis
Each degree‑seeking student in the Master's program is required to undertake and complete either a final paper or thesis project in an area of bioethics, under the guidance of a member of the graduate faculty who serves as the student's advisor. Each student must select an advisor prior to initiating this work. Students are encouraged to pursue the final paper option unless they are planning to pursue additional graduate work in a PhD program upon graduation from the Bioethics MA program.

Every student is required to orally defend his or her final paper before the student’s advisor, of if pursuing the thesis, then the thesis is defended before the members of the thesis committee. Students in the Executive-Style MA program may be able to make arrangements to hold their defense via teleconference or videoconference.

See the traditional MA program section for further details regarding the Final Paper and Master’s Thesis.

Sample Curriculum

The executive-style MA program is typically pursued on a part-time basis. Part-time status is defined as no more than 8 credits per semester (no more than 5 credits in the summer). Degree-seeking students are required, however, to complete the degree within four calendar years from the date of first enrollment. A three-year and four-year sample curriculum for part-time study in the executive-style program is provided below.

THREE-YEAR SAMPLE CURRICULUM

YEAR ONE

Fall
Philosophical Bioethics (3 credits)
Clinical Topics in Bioethics (3 credits)

Spring
Law and Bioethics (3 credits)
Electives (3 credits)

Summer
Intensive Session Electives (0 or 6 credits)

YEAR TWO

Fall
Electives (3 credits)

Spring
Bioethics Consultation and Committees (1 credit, if necessary)
Electives (3 credits)

Summer
Intensive Session Electives (0 or 6 credits)
Comprehensive Examination

YEAR THREE

Fall
Master's Thesis or Elective Course (3 credits)

Spring
Master's Thesis or Elective Course (3 credits) and Final Paper

FOUR-YEAR SAMPLE CURRICULUM

YEAR ONE

Fall
Philosophical Bioethics (3 credits)

Spring
Law and Bioethics (3 credits)

YEAR TWO

Fall
Clinical Topics in Bioethics (3 credits)

Spring
Electives (3 credits)
Bioethics Consultation and Committees (1 credit, if necessary)

Summer
Intensive Session Electives (0 or 6 credits)

YEAR THREE

Fall
Electives (3 credits)

Spring
Electives (3 credits)

Summer
Intensive Session Electives (0 or 6 credits)
Comprehensive Examination

YEAR FOUR

Fall
Master's Thesis or Elective Course (3 credits)

Spring
Master's Thesis or Elective Course (3 credits) and Final Paper

Sample of Distance Learning Course Offerings

The following courses are currently offered in a distance learning format:

Bioethics Consultation and Committees (1 credit)
Clinical Topics in Bioethics (3 credits)
Ethics and Integrity in Science (1 credit)
History and Meaning of Ethics and Professionalism in Medicine (3 credits)
Introduction to Research Ethics (3 credits)
Justice and Healthcare (3 credits)
Law and Bioethics (3 credits)
Philosophical Bioethics (3 credits)
Physician Conduct: Ethics and the Law (3 credits)
Special Topics in Bioethics (3 credits)
Readings and Research (1-4 credits)
Master's Thesis (6 credits)

For more information on these courses, please see "Course Descriptions" under the traditional MA program.

Technical Requirements for the Executive-Style MA Program
The minimal technical requirements for the program include:

1. Personal computer (PC with Windows XP, Vista or 7; Mac with OS X).
2. Internet Explorer 7 (or higher) or Firefox 3 (or higher) for accessing ANGEL. Mac users should use Firefox.
3. Microsoft Office 2003 or newer.
4. Adobe Acrobat Reader.
5. CD-ROM drive.
6. Sound card with speakers or head-set.
7. Email accessibility.
8. Internet connection (broadband highly recommended).
9. Printer.

In additional to the technical requirements above, students must know how to:

1. Access and use the Internet, email, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and instant messenger;
2. Work with email attachments;
3. Contact their Internet Service Provider (ISP) for technical assistance on Internet connection and tools.

Applying to the Executive-Style MA Program
Individuals interested in the MA degree program must apply through the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The application process consists of: (1) complete and submit the online application form with a $50 application fee; (2) providing official transcript for all prior coursework directly to the Graduate School; (3) provide an official test score report for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) directly to the Graduate School; and (4) provide letters of recommendation with recommendation forms from at least three references who can comment on the applicant’s ability to succeed in the program. Applicants with an earned PhD, MD or JD may seek a waiver from the Dean of the Graduate School for the GRE score requirement. MCAT or LSAT scores may be submitted in lieu of GRE scores.

Criteria for admission include academic training, professional experience, undergraduate and, if applicable, graduate or professional school grades, commitment to the field of bioethics, and promise in the program’s academic areas. In addition, applicants to the degree program are expected to meet the technical standards for admission as defined by the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The technical standards are described on the Graduate School’s website. The academic guidelines for admission include an overall undergraduate grade point average of “B” (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) and an average score on the GRE of 60% or greater.

All applications are reviewed by the Bioethics Program’s Graduate Admissions Committee. The outcome of the committee review is forwarded to the Dean as a recommendation for admission or rejection. The Admissions Committee is comprised of the Director of Graduate Studies and at least two other members of the program’s graduate faculty. Final action on each application is carried out by the Dean, who signs all letters of acceptance or rejection on behalf of the academic program and MCW.

Application deadlines are July 1 for Fall admission, November 1 for Spring admission, and April 1 for Summer admission.

A link to the online application form and more information on applying to the program can be found on the Graduate School's Web site. More information can also be obtained by contacting the Graduate School at (414) 955-8218.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Executive-Style MA Program

1. Who can enroll in the program?

The program is open to anyone interested in bioethics that holds at least a bachelor's degree.

2. What are my career options with a Master's degree in bioethics?

The answer is, it depends. While some have had great success with only a Master's degree in bioethics, we do not recommend that a student view a Master's degree in bioethics as a "stand-alone" degree. The recent trend in most employment arenas for bioethics has been decidedly favorable for those with another degree or degrees in addition to the MA. Thus, we see the MA in bioethics as a "value-added" degree, which means it is a wonderful opportunity for those who already possess an advanced degree (or who plan to obtain one) to broaden their career options. So, what you can do with an MA in bioethics depends largely on you.

Some of our graduates serve on ethics committees at their home institutions, provide ethics consultation or education services, either as independent contractors or in their respective institutions, have pursued academic careers...the list goes on. Please feel free to contact us regarding your personal interests.

3. Is the program accredited?

The bioethics program is a program in the Medical College of Wisconsin's Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The Medical College of Wisconsin's Graduate School is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, 30 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504, 800-621-7440.

4. Do I have to take the GRE?

Applicants with a PhD, MD, or JD degree from an accredited institution do not have to submit GRE, or any other graduate admissions test, scores. A waiver of the test score requirement should be requested at the time of application.

Applicants without an advanced degree need to submit official test scores. While GRE scores are preferred, LSAT or MCAT scores may be submitted in lieu of GRE scores.

5. How long will it take for me to complete the program?

The executive-style MA program can be completed in as few as 2 years. The Graduate School requires that the program be completed in a maximum of 4 calendar years.

6. Do I have to be in front of my computer on a particular day and time in order to participate in the online courses?

No. Online class discussions are conducted in non-real time so students can participate at their convenience each week. Students are paced on a week to week schedule, just as in a traditional on-campus course.  Opportunities for optional real-time interactions are provided in some courses of the program.

7. Can I transfer graduate credits that I took at another institution into the MA program at MCW?

The program may allow for the transfer of up to 10 credits into the MA program. Transfer of credits is dependent upon the course content, the number of credits received, and the grade earned by the student. Transfer of credit will be determined only after admission to the program has been awarded.

8. What is the cost of tuition?

Tuition for the 2014-2015 academic year is $765 per credit.

9. When is the application deadline?

Application deadlines are July 1 for Fall admission, November 1 for Spring admission, and April 1 for Summer admission.

10. Whom should I contact if I have additional questions?

Please contact Kristen Tym, Program Manager by e-mail or phone at 414-955-4299.

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Page Updated 06/02/2014