Master of Arts in Bioethics


Our flexible two-year, in-residence program provides students with the foundational knowledge, skills, and experience to enrich their careers and broaden their competency in bioethics. The program offers training in research and clinical aspects of bioethics as well as empirical and normative methods of analysis. Students have the opportunity to study with diverse and well-respected faculty from the University of Washington, the Treuman Katz Pediatric Bioethics Center, and the Seattle Veteran’s Health Administration. The program helps prepare students to teach, publish, and conduct research that incorporates bioethical analysis.



The 2022 Wylie Burke Endowed Scholarship for Diversity supports UW undergraduate and/or graduate students from diverse social and experiential backgrounds, who are working in interdisciplinary space to study the social, ethical, and policy implications of health research and/or healthcare. The $1,000 scholarship seeks to cover costs of tuition, books, fees, travel to professional meetings, and other educational expenses. Apply by May 15, 2022 here.  If you have questions, please email

More Information

  • Application due date: January 15
  • Application for Graduate Study at the University of Washington; select Bioethics and Humanities Program 
  • Notification: the BH review of applications begins one month after the application deadline. Decisions will be made as soon as possible; applicants will be notified through the MyGrad program. The BH faculty members’ admissions decisions are final. 
  • Applicant decision: all communications regarding admissions will be handled through MyGrad program. After you have been admitted you will need to “accept”, “decline”, or “defer” the offer on MyGrad program. The applicant’s admission decision is final. 


We strongly recommend that you contact us prior to applying at either or This step is important if you have an established career path and want to enhance your work with the MA Bioethics. 


The MA in Bioethics is a complementary, not terminal, degree. Qualified applicants include: 

  • People with established careers: practicing clinicians, nurses, biomedical scientists, health lawyers, post-doctoral fellows, physicians accepted into a University of Washington Clinical Fellowship Program or the Treuman Katz Pediatric Bioethics Fellowship Program
  • People with post-graduate degrees
  • People that are enrolled in or have been admitted to a primary post-graduate degree program at UW (i.e. Law, Nursing, Social Work). Unfortunately, current medical students do not qualify; students may take the MA before or after their MD, but not concurrently. 

If you qualify, apply here. If you are not qualified and would like to take graduate courses, you may register as a graduate non-matriculated (GNM) student. Please see the instructions for registering as a GNM student.  


View the MA Courses, 2020-2025, on our Course Schedules page to see if our two-year program is right for you.  

See: MA Requirements and Progress Report [Template]

Completion of the MA in Bioethics requires a minimum of 40 credits:

  1. Ethical Theory (10 credits)
  2. Empirical Research Methods (6 credits)
  3. Clinical Ethics (6 credits)
  4. Research Ethics (3 credits)
  5. Approved Elective Courses (6 credits)
  6. Practicum (3 credits)
  7. Masters’ Project (6 credits) 

Students are encouraged to take additional electives based on interest and area of specialty, with guidance from their faculty mentor(s).

Additional requirements include leading two BRI discussion groups.


General information can be found here: 


  • UW employees: to determine your eligibility, email Professional & Organizational Development (POD) at, and include your Employee Identification Number (EIN) and quarter you wish to attend in your message. The tuition exemption benefit covers up to 6 applicable credits per quarter. Neither the Office of the University Registrar nor the Department of Bioethics and Humanities can determine an employee's tuition exemption eligibility.


If you are contemplating applying to our program, we encourage you to obtain Graduate Non-Matriculated status and register for a course. Please contact us for assistance. If you decide to apply, GNM credits may be transferred in for the degree. Courses taken without the GNM status are not eligible to be transferred in for the degree. If you decide not to apply, we're confident that you'll find the courses beneficial and we welcome diversity to the discussions. Once the status of a GNM student is changed to regular graduate status, all courses (up to 12 credits) suitable for the program taken as a GNM student will be credited toward the degree.

To view detailed course listings, please visit the UW Time Schedule.

Nancy S. Jecker, PhD, Director of Graduate Studies
Phone: (206) 616-1865
Melissa Cox, Graduate Program Advisor 
Email: or
Phone: (206) 221-6548 or (919) 308-8724

GNM Registration Status
The UW GNM program permits students to take up to 12 credits of graduate courses or advanced undergraduate courses. The majority of GNM students attend part-time, although full-time enrollment is not prohibited. The advantage of this program is that it allows students to take graduate courses regardless of degree objectives. Students whose academic record falls short of the admission criteria may also be advised to enroll as GNM before applying for regular status.

Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree, present official transcripts and have earned a grade point average (GPA) deemed satisfactory by the department, and a statement of purpose to include the following information: Describe why you are interested in bioethics, if and when you are considering applying to the MA program, which classes you are interested in taking and which quarters these classes are offered.  Please also provide a Bioethics & Humanities faculty contact. We expect that you have spoken to that faculty member prior to applying. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores and recommendation letters are not required. Qualification for admission is decided quickly. Furthermore, up to 12 credits of appropriate courses taken successfully as a GNM student may be applied to a degree if students are admitted into a degree program at a later date.

International Students Note: Foreign nationals are not eligible for student visas under the GNM program.

Admission into regular status from GNM status requires that students apply for regular admission to the department, which is competitive with all applicants to the program. They should have taken at least three graduate level courses applicable to a the MA degree in Bioethics (400/500 level and above) and attained competitive grades in each course.
Once the status of a GNM student is changed to regular graduate status, all courses suitable for the program taken as a GNM student (no more than 12 credits) will be credited toward the degree. 

GNM Application Procedure
Information about GNM process can be found on the Graduate School website:

The following items must be submitted to the Graduate School:

GNM Registration Procedure

  • GNM students on the Seattle campus register for classes through UW Professional & Continuing Education (PCE) and are not required to maintain continuous registration but lose their GNM status after an absence of four consecutive quarters. Contact PCE Registration Services for information about tuition and additional fees.
  • GNM students participating in the UW or state employee Tuition Exemption Program register for classes in MyUW and must maintain continuous registration (except summer quarter) or lose their GNM status. Information about tuition and additional fees can be found on the Tuition Exemption Program web page.

We recommend you apply two weeks prior to the beginning of the academic quarter (either on-campus or EDGE). 

Prospective Students:

  1. May I take BH graduate courses using tuition exemption?
    Qualified students may use tuition exemption. See qualifications and current guidelines at
  2. I would like to take BH courses the year prior to applying for the MA program. What do I need to do so that the credits “apply” to the MA if I am accepted?
    Prospective MA students may take our courses in anticipation of applying, provided they have permission from the instructor and there is room in the course.  In addition, before taking courses, students must apply for admission as a Graduate Non-matriculating (GNM) student. See GNM students who hope to transfer UW credits into the MA program should take applicable courses for a grade. 
  3. How many UW credits taken as a GNM student may be applied to the MA degree?  
    A maximum of 12, per approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. NOTE: No more than 12 credits derived from any combination of UW GNM credits and transfer credits may be applied to the MA program. Courses must be pertinent to the study of bioethics. See current Graduate School Guidelines at
  4. As a UW faculty or staff member, may I audit BH courses?  
    Most of our graduate courses are seminars that do not lend themselves to auditing.  Non-matriculating students who sign up for our courses must: 1) secure permission from the instructor prior to registering for the course; 2) register and pay for the course; 3) complete assigned work; and 4) take the course for credit. Admission of non-matriculating students into a course is contingent on space availability.
  5. I am interested in applying as an International Student.  Where can I find instructions?  
    Prior to applying, international students should contact the Director of Graduate Studies at  Please be sure to meet all Graduate School requirements for international applicants.  For current Graduate School guidelines, see
  6. Does BH have funding for MA students?
    Unfortunately, the department does not have funds for scholarships, tuition waivers, nor assistantships. 

Current Students:

  1. How many credits may be transferred into the MA program from an outside institution?
    According to graduate school guidelines, students may petition the Dean of the Graduate School for permission to transfer a maximum of 6 credits for graduate level coursework from another recognized academic institution. These credits may NOT have been used to satisfy requirements for another degree.  Prior to petitioning the Dean, the courses must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.  Note: No more than 12 credits derived from any combination of UW GNM credits and transfer credits may be applied to the MA program. See current Graduate School guidelines at:
  2. How do I seek approval from the Director of Graduate Studies to transfer graduate course credits into the MA program?
    Please send the a copy of the syllabus and an official transcript for each course to  
  3. How do I seek approval for electives that are NOT pre-approved for the MA program?  
    Prior to signing up for the course, send your request along with a syllabus to the
  4. If I am a Joint-Degree student, how many UW graduate credits may apply to both my degrees?  
    See current Graduate School guidelines at
  5. If I am a joint MA-Certificate student, how many graduate credits may apply to both the MA and the certificate program?  
    Per the Graduate School, "the overlap of coursework applied towards both programs must not exceed 6 credits and is limited to elective coursework in each program. Programs for matriculated students must add significant breadth to degree requirements."

Graduate Courses

This course affords graduate students a professional development opportunity to build skills that lay the groundwork for becoming an expert...
This course examines problems in bioethics from diverse global standpoints, including East Asian, Sub-Saharan African and Western. Our...
This course is an examination of the ethical problem of allocating scarce medical resources. We will emphasize the fundamental principles of...
This course provides a survey of contemporary ethical issues that arise in the clinical and research environment when children are involved,...
This course examines the moral grounds for the view that social inequalities in health are unjust using contemporary literature from moral...
Examines and compares phenomenology, discourse analysis, and grounded theory. Reviews the history of ideas and critically reads examples of...
This course introduces students to select biotechnology innovations and invites consideration of the ethical and policy implications...
This course examines the relationship between bioethics and law. Reviews the basic concepts of both disciplines; their theoretical and...
This course studies the major normative ethical theories, including both teleological and deontological approaches. We emphasize moral...
This course entails a research project culminating in a scholarly paper suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. MA...
This course introduces students to research methods in bioethics, ranging from qualitative to quantitative: interviews, focus groups, surveys...
This course examines ethical issues confronting healthcare workers caring for poor and minority populations, whose capacity for health and...