• College Hall 3


Interested in exploring the MBE Program?

 About the Program

The University of Pennsylvania Master of Bioethics (MBE) is an interdisciplinary degree offered by the renowned Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy. The MBE degree program gives students broad exposure to the full range of topics and issues in contemporary bioethics, drawing on the expertise of our distinguished faculty and visiting fellows.

The Penn Master of Bioethics program is one of the nation's premier programs for bioethics education, attracting exceptional students from both the US and abroad. The program admits highly accomplished professionals who work in the bioethics-related fields of medicine, nursing, law, dentistry, social work, genetic counseling, regulatory affairs, public policy, veterinary medicine, and industry, as well as outstanding students in other professional degree programs at the University of Pennsylvania.

What makes the Penn Master of Bioethics program unique is a threefold approach to bioethics training that combines excellent academic instruction, a worldwide network of alumni, and hands-on research and consulting opportunities that build on the classroom experience.

The Master of Bioethics program is under the leadership of Dr. Autumn Fiester, the Director of Education & Dr. Lance Wahlert, the Program Director.

Who are Our Students?

The MBE is designed for the following audiences:

  • Mid-career and senior health care professionals, including lawyers, physicians, nurses, health care administrators, pharmaceutical employees, social workers, those working in public policy or regulatory affairs, dentists, veterinarians, research associates, other allied health professionals, and other practitioners and teachers who wish to expand their area of competency to include bioethics;
  • Students already enrolled or admitted to a Penn graduate or professional degree program, such as medicine, law, nursing, or a PhD program, who want to combine bioethics with their primary training;
  • Post-baccalaureate students with a special interest in the field who plan further graduate study in law, medicine, humanities, or social sciences. This degree is not sufficient training for job placement.

Bioethics as a Field

The first national code of medical ethics was adopted in Philadelphia in 1847, but biomedical ethics as a modern field of study and as an area of professional practice is just 50 years old. Bioethicists reflect on clinical practice, medical research, the relationship of medicine to society, and changes in health care practice and policy. They may consider and advise on crucial social and individual concerns such as:

  • informed consent in research and treatment
  • confidentiality and the doctor-patient relationship
  • cultural and religious diversity among patients and practitioners
  • suffering, death and dying
  • experimentation and new technologies in health care and science
  • reproductive technologies
  • access to and allocation of medical resources
  • intellectual property
  • regulatory affairs

Despite the growing importance of these issues in our lives, bioethics should not be conceived of as a separate job category or specialty within health care, administration, the law, or policy work. The MBE is not intended as a first professional degree. Instead, the program is designed to combine bioethics with another discipline or with professional practice.

Bioethics, by its nature, is a subject that crosses traditional boundaries between academic disciplines. The advanced study of bioethics at Penn brings together liberal arts disciplines including philosophy, history and sociology of science, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, with the expertise of Penn's professional schools including Medicine, Law, Wharton, and Nursing. The MBE program is designed to provide its graduates with the interdisciplinary training they will need in order to address the moral challenges in health care today and tomorrow.