Bioethics and Medical Humanities, Minor

Program Code: BMH_UMNR

Program Description

The tremendous current activity in the biomedical sciences affects both the public and private sectors, including medical care, the pharmaceutical industry, genetics, environmental epidemiology, agricultural science, the insurance industry, occupational health, forensic sciences, and behavioral variation. All these areas go beyond the science itself, with varied impact on people in different age, sex, ethnic, geographic, or economic segments of society. For that reason, life and health sciences research has major social implications that bear on humanities disciplines ranging from ethics and history to religious studies and literature, affecting clinical practice, agricultural practice and research, public policy and private investment. Understanding these issues is important for an informed citizenry. Students electing the BMH minor will start with a basic background of biology coursework, and will take a curriculum that includes 18 credit hours, beginning with an introductory course on basic ideas of bioethics, followed by a choice of other relevant humanities courses, and capped with an integrative course involving original research by the student. The minor will be suitable for students in almost any major, especially students going on to further academic work or careers in health, the life sciences, informatics, forensic or legal professions.

What is Bioethics and Medical Humanities?

Should we use medical science to enhance our mental or physical performance? Where does therapy end and enhancement begin? Do we have a right to choose the time and means of our own death—and should medical personnel be permitted to assist us? Do we have a right to health care? Should governments to try to influence our food choices in order to promote public health, and counter the influence of advertising and marketing by food companies? What can we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic about addressing systemic racism and structural injustice? These are the kinds of questions we explore in bioethics using philosophy, art, fiction, film … and much, much more.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You are interested in health care ethics, food ethics, and environmental ethics.
  • You want fresh perspectives on ethical issues, new and old—from the genetic modification of our food to the genetic modification of ourselves!
  • You want to be part of animated discussions about pressing issues that affect humanity.
  • You are studying philosophy, gender and sexuality, public or global health, health administration, anthropology, biobehavioral health, nursing, health communication, etc.
  • You are premed or prelaw; or you intend to pursue a career in medicine, law, health care, public health, veterinary science, biological sciences, environmental sciences, bioinformatics, or public policy—among many other areas.

Program Requirements

Requirement Credits
Requirements for the Minor 18

Requirements for the Minor

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the minor, as specified by Senate Policy 59-10. In addition, at least six credits of the minor must be unique from the prescribed courses required by a student's major(s).

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
BMH 490Bioethics and Medical Humanities Capstone Course3
PHIL 132/RLST 131Bioethics Keystone/General Education Course3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select 12 credits (at least 3 credits at the 400 level) of the following: 112
Values and Ethics in Biobehavioral Health Research and Practice
Contemporary Issues in Science and Medicine
Dying and Death Keystone/General Education Course
Medical and Health Care Ethics
Medical and Health Care Ethics
PHIL 498
Critical Feminist Issues in Reproduction Keystone/General Education Course
Health Communication Keystone/General Education Course
Health Communication Theory and Research
The History of Madness, Mental Illness, and Psychiatry Keystone/General Education Course
ANTH 470
Deaf Culture Keystone/General Education Course
FDSC 280
Health Services Policy Issues
Meaning, Ethics, and Movement
Sexual Identity over the Life Span

One course must be selected from the list of Ethics courses.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Liberal Arts Academic Advising


Pierce Salguero
Associate Professor
1600 Woodland Road
Abington, PA 19001


Kesha Morant Williams
Associate Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences
Franco, 149
Reading, PA 19610

Career Paths

Potential career paths include: medicine, law, health or life sciences, health administration, health infomatics, or forensics.


University Park

University Park, PA 16802


1600 Woodland Road
Abington, PA 19001


Franco Building
Reading, PA 19610