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Master of Bioethics Dual Degrees

Many of our students complete the MBE degree concurrently with another professional degree at Penn. Some application procedures and curriculum/financial requirements vary for different dual degree students. Please be sure to follow the procedures for your specific dual degree, the most common of which are found below. For questions about other dual degree options not listed here, please contact . Please note that the application fee is waived for all dual degree applicants.


MD/MBE

Applying
Those interested in the MD/MBE program should follow the instructions posted on Penn Medicine's website. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

MD/MBE applicants do NOT need to include their Penn graduate transcripts in their application. Penn Med students who were Penn undergrads DO need to request an official transcript for their application file.

MD/MBE applicants may use the same letters of recommendation in both their Penn Medicine and MBE applications. To do so, the applicant must contact their recommenders and have them email at the Perelman School of Medicine authorizing her to forward a copy of the letter to us.

Aside from the points above, MD/MBE applicants should follow the instructions on the MBE Applicants page.

Bellet Scholar​ship
MD/MBE applicants are eligible to apply for the Bellet Scholarship. The Samuel Bellet Scholarship Fund honors the memory of Dr. Samuel Bellet and celebrates his pioneering work in cardiovascular research and medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.  The goal of the Bellet Scholarship Fund is to train committed, compassionate and humane physicians, thereby enhancing the quality of health care delivered in this country.

The Bellet Scholarship pays for one MBE course. Applications for the Bellet Scholarship are due each year on October 15 and March 15.

Download the Bellet Scholarship Application  Here.

Curriculum
Students will meet with the Director of Education, Dr. Autumn Fiester, to develop a curriculum plan. Each student in the Master of Bioethics program will be assigned a faculty adviser, who will guide student course selection and research. Additional student supervision will be given by members of the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy faculty, as well as other faculty at Penn working in various areas of bioethics.

After a curriculum plan is developed, the student must meet with Amy Nothelfer or Helene Weinberg in the Perelman School of Medicine to discuss the plan and seek approval from the School.

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with a staff member in the Financial Aid Office to discuss financial issues. (See tuition policy below.)

Program Requirements
Nine course units are required for the MBE degree:

  • Introduction to Clinical Bioethics (BIOE 601)
  • Conceptual Foundations (BIOE 602)
  • Rationing (BIOE 565) OR Research Ethics (BIOE 580) OR Advanced Clinical Ethics (BIOE 603)
  • Final Project (BIOE 996)
  • 3 Electives
  • Doctoring (full course), with a supplemental 5-10 page paper.
  • Attend Frontiers and Bioethics (FR601) as a TA, with a supplemental 5-10 page paper. For more information on Frontiers and Bioethics, click here.

The MBE degree counts as your Scholarly Pursuit requirement. More information can be found here.

Timing
Every bioethics course in the masters program is held in the late afternoon, once a week throughout each semester. Coordinating the Master of Bioethics course offerings with the demands of the MD curriculum will require careful attention to the guidelines described below.

With careful planning, it is possible to complete both the MD and the MBE in four years. To complete both degrees in four years, it will be necessary for the student to implement a schedule which takes into account the maximum number of courses which may be taken in a given semester.

Starting the Master of Bioethics program any later than the spring of the third year in Medical School will require that additional semesters be added to the standard timeline for Medical School in order to complete the degree. Students do have the option of taking a 5th year to complete the MD/MBE. However, there may be financial aid implications (see the Financial Aid section below for details).

Students must be proactive about any changes that diverge from the original schedule approved by the Perelman School of Medicine and the Master of Bioethics program. Some seemingly simple changes in course selection and timing may have the unintended consequence of adding additional semesters and increasing tuition. Be sure to consult with the Perelman School of Medicine and the Master of Bioethics program directors before making adjustments to your schedule. Following are 2 possible scheduling scenarios that an MD/MBE student might follow. These are based on the assumption that students will complete the requirements for 2 transfer credits. If a student wishes to take a MBE elective in place of 1 or both of these transfer credits, 2 more MBE courses can be fit into these schedules.

Example 1 - Begin MD/MBE Spring 1st Year

Example 2 - Begin MD/MBE Fall 2nd Year

This worksheet can help you and your advising team plan your MBE career.

Tuition Policy
The Perelman School of Medicine tuition policy for the MD-MBE program seeks to minimize the additional financial burden for students enrolling in the program. The Perelman School of Medicine will cover the cost of 4 MBE required courses as long as the student has not taken any other university registered credits. Students who also take advantage of the 2 units of transfer credit (see details, above) from the medical school curriculum will only need to pay for 3 of the 9 course units required for the degree.

**Students will be charged additional tuition for 3 MBE graduate courses:
IF 2 credits have been earned via 'Doctoring' and 'Bioethics and Professionalism';
AND,
IF the Perelman School of Medicine is paying for 4 courses (which would happen as long as the student has not taken any other university registered credits)

Students will be charged for more than 3 courses if either of the above conditions are not met. Students with questions about credits earned or needed should contact Helene Weinberg. If the Perelman School of Medicine is paying for 4 courses, these would normally be the first 4 the student takes with the exception of any courses taken during the summer.

Please note that the MD/MBE program guidelines are subject to change based on University or program recommendations and policy requirements.

MD/MBE Financial Aid
As soon as a student is considering the pursuit of an integrated dual degree program, financial aid counseling and planning is strongly advised. Perelman School of Medicine Office of Admissions and Financial Aid staff members are available to help explain program costs, the financial aid process, funding options, and how to apply for financial aid.

It is recommended that a medical student who needs to maximize his/her eligibility for loans takes 2 or fewer MBE courses per term. By taking 2 or fewer MBE courses each semester, a medical student can retain a Perelman School of Medicine scholarship and would have a Stafford eligibility of $38,500. If a student takes 3 or more MBE courses in a semester, the loan/scholarship system will automatically categorize him/her as a Graduate Student (not as a Medical Student), and the student would be eligible for a significantly lower amount of Federal Aid/Scholarship funds. A student who takes 3 or more MBE courses in a semester is not eligible for a Perelman School of Medicine scholarship and has a Stafford eligibility of $18,500.

There are a number of private loan programs which are available for students in meeting program costs if necessary. These funds are credit based and more costly. The Perelman School of Medicine Financial Aid Office lists preferred private loan lenders on the Perelman School of Medicine financial aid website. Students who anticipate applying for a private loan are encouraged to contact the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid to discuss options and determine the best program based on individual circumstances and prior borrowing.

Please note that policies concerning curriculum and financial aid are subject to change. Additionally, though variations in the curriculum may be possible, any changes will need prior approval and may have financial implications.


JD/MBE

Applying
Students who wish to apply to the JD/MBE program should gain admission to the Penn Law School before applying to the MBE program. Students may apply to the MBE program during their first year of Law School. This provides students an excellent opportunity to further explore and refine their interests before submitting an MBE application, and any interested 1L student should contact  to discuss options.

JD/MBE applicants do NOT need to include their Penn Law transcripts in their application. Undergraduate transcripts must be included, even if Penn is the undergraduate institution.

JD/MBE applicants may use the same letters of recommendation for both their Penn Law and MBE applications. To do so, the applicant must contact their recommenders and have them email at Penn Law authorizing her to forward a copy of the letter to us.

Aside from the points above, JD/MBE applicants should follow the instructions on the MBE Applicants page.

Please note that in general, applicants who wish to begin taking BIOE classes in the Fall should have their application in by the previous April 1, but applications are accepted on a rolling basis and can be accepted up until the first of September. 

See Penn Law's JD/MBE web page for further information.


Program Structure
Students enrolled in Penn Law must take 5 courses in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy. Four law courses taken at the Law School will count towards both the MBE and JD programs. A minimum of 2 of the 4 law courses must be from the Core JD/MBE course list, which includes:

  • Advanced/Regulatory Law and Policy Seminar
  • Animal Law and Ethics / Animal Law Seminar
  • Bioethics
  • Bioethics and the Law: Mental Illness and Moral Lives
  • Bioethics, Babies, and Babymaking
  • Biotechnology and Intellectual Property Rights
  • Drug Product Liability Litigation
  • FDA Law
  • Health Law and Regulation
  • Health Law and Policy
  • Health Law, Economics, and Policy
  • Human Reproduction: Law and Policy
  • Law and Bioethics
  • Law, Science, and Technology
  • Mental Health and Morality
  • Mental Health Law
  • Patent Law - Appellate Advocacy
  • Pharmaceutical Regulation and Enforcement
  • Public Health Law and Policy
  • Regulation of Health Insurance Markets
  • Technology and Policy
  • Topics in Public Health Law

Other approved law courses include:

  • Administrative Law
  • Advanced Topics in Intellectual Property
  • American Public Benefits Law
  • Ethical Perspectives
  • Ethics of Regulation
  • Foundations of Environmental Law and Policy
  • Human Rights and National Security
  • Insurance Law and Policy
  • International Human Rights
  • Introduction to Intellectual Property Law and Policy
  • Issues of Global Human Rights
  • Law and Policy of Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Law and Sexuality
  • Legal Responses to Inequality
  • Legislation
  • Litigation for Social Change
  • Mediation Clinic (and other courses about alternatives to litigation)
  • Negotiation and Dispute Resolution / Negotiation Skills and Strategy
  • Philosophical Basis of Legal and Moral Equality
  • Policy Analysis
  • Privacy and Data Protection
  • Problems in Law and Morality
  • Prof. Responsibility: Traversing the Ethical Minefield
  • Tobacco: Legal, Political, Ethical Perspectives
  • Topics in Law and Morality

**All law classes must be taken for 1.0 CU (credit unit) in order to count towards the JD/MBE dual degree
***1.0 CU is considered equivalent to 3.0 SH (semester hours) at the law school. A course listed as a 0.5 CU is equivalent to 1.5 SH
 

Please contact the MBE Director of Education if you would like to petition to have a new course meet the core or other requirements and would like to include it in your curriculum.

A JD/MBE student may use their Journal Law Comment, Journal Comment, or Senior Writing Requirement as their MBE final project. Students who would like this option should submit a Petition and receive approval from the MBE Director of Education early in the process.

All students not on a journal should meet with Dr. Autumn Fiester to discuss how to fulfill their final project requirement.

Here is a worksheet that will help you and your advising team plan your MBE career.

On an occasional basis, some students may be required to take summer courses. Students pay the tuition and fees and receive financial aid from the department in which they are primarily registered. Details regarding Penn Law tuition policies can be found on-line here.


LLM/MBE

Applying
The Law School and the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy have a joint admission process for this program. Each school makes its own determination concerning admission to the program, and the applicant will be jointly admitted only if both schools agree to admit the applicant. Applicants will submit materials to both schools, indicating that they wish to be considered for the dual degree program. Applicants should comply with the requirements for each school, but may use the same letters of recommendation for both applications. LLM/MBE applicants should follow the instructions on the MBE Applicants page, indicating that you are also applying for the LLM.


Curriculum
Students enrolled in Penn Law must take 5 courses in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy. Four law courses taken at the Law School will count towards both the MBE and LLM programs. A minimum of 2 of the 4 law courses must be from the Core LLM/MBE course list; please see the Core Law/MBE courses listed in the JD/MBE section above. A list of other approved law courses can also be found under the JD/MBE section.

Please contact the MBE Director of Education if you would like to petition to have a new course meet the core or other requirements and would like to include it in your curriculum.

Please click here for a worksheet that will help you plan your LLM/MBE degree.


DMD/MBE

Applying
DMD students must apply during their first year of Dental School. Students who wish to pursue this dual degree must gain approval from the Office of Academic Affairs before submitting the MBE application. Contact Caryn Stivelman, 215.898.4557, for more information.

DMD students should follow the application instructions on the MBE Applicants page.


Curriculum
The dual DMD/MBE can be completed in the four-year span of DMD program. The Master of Bioethics program will count 3 DMD courses as part of the 9 required in the MBE program: Local and Global Public Health, DMD 685 OR 785 (either with a 5-10 page supplemental essay), and DMD 712 OR 812 (either with a 5-10 page supplemental essay). DMD students are eligible to take courses in the MBE program during either the Fall, Spring, or Summer terms to complete the 6 additional courses required for the MBE. Following are 2 sample programs of study for the DMD/MBE degree. Here is worksheet that will help you and your advising team plan your dual degree.

Example 1 - Begin MBE in D1 Summer

Example 2 - Begin MBE in D2 Summer

Accepted students should make an appointment with both the Office of Academic Affairs in the School of Dental Medicine and the MBE Program Director in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, to discuss course planning.


MSW/MBE

Applying
This joint program is open to FULL-TIME Master of Social Work students in both advanced clinical and advanced macro social work practice tracks. Current and prospective students must apply to BOTH the Master of Social Work and the Master of Bioethics independently. Applicants must note on both the MSW and the MBE applications their intention of completing the dual degree. Admittance into one program does not affect admission to the other. For information regarding the application process for the School of Social Work, see their web site.

Current and prospective MSW students should follow the application instructions on the MBE Applicants page.


Curriculum
The joint MSW/MBE can be completed in two full calendar years, and it requires both the summer following the first year in the MSW program and the summer after the second. The Master of Bioethics program will count 3 MSW courses as part of the 9 required in the MBE program (SW701 and SW 702 will be required) and the MSW program will count 2 MBE courses as meeting course requirements for their degree. Here is a worksheet that will help you and your advising team plan your dual degree.

Sample 2-year Curriculum for MSW/MBE

MBE graduation would take place in August of the second year.


MPH/MBE

MPH students complete a 14 course unit (CU) curriculum, and the MBE students complete a 9 CU curriculum: 3 required courses and 6 elective courses. With our proposal, MPH/MBE dual degree students would need to take a total of 17 CU's to complete the MPH/MBE dual degree, and would be able to complete both degrees in 2 to 4 years, depending on whether the student takes courses on a full-time or part-time basis.

The MBE program will accept 3 PubH courses as elective courses for the MBE. These courses are PubH 504: Behavioral & Social Sciences in Public Health; PubH 505: The Health Services Policy; and 1 CU of PubH 508: Capstone Experience, OR 1 CU of another applicable course (perhaps with the addition of a supplemental paper--description of this on the MPH/MBE worksheet). If the student elects to use the Capstone Project option, this CU will count as the MBE Final Project. Students wishing to count the Capstone as the MBE Final Project must file a petition to the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy for approval prior to their completion of the project. Students who elect to use another PUBH course as their third PubH course for the MBE portion of the degree will have to take BIOE 996: Final Project.

The MPH program will also accept 3 BIOE courses as elective courses to count towards the MPH. These courses are BIOE 601: Proseminar; BIOE 602: Conceptual Foundations; and one BIOE elective, to be approved by the Public Health curriculum committee.

Here is a worksheet that will help you and your advising team plan your MPH/MBE dual degree.


MSEd or EdD /MBE

Masters and doctoral students in the Penn Graduate School of Education may earn either a Master's or PhD in Education and the MBE degree concurrently. Interested students should contact to discuss this dual degree.


MSN/MBE

Interested students should contact Carol Ladden, Director of Graduate Enrollment in the School of Nursing, to begin the application process (; 215-898-4271).

Click here for an MSN-MBE planning worksheet.


Nursing PhD/MBE

Those interested in the PhD in Nursing/MBE program should follow the instructions posted on Penn Nursing's website.

Please see the Penn School of Nursing website for the most recent information on requirements and financial aid.

Here is a worksheet that will help you and your advising team plan your dual degree.

Financial Information
Students who are able to complete both degrees within the 21 courses will not incur additional costs for the dual PhD/MBE degree. Students who require 23 courses to complete both degrees will incur an additional tuition charge for the two MBE courses taken in the summer term.