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. Our program helps prepare students to teach, publish, and conduct research that incorporates bioethical analysis.


The 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 15th. 

More Information

The Master of Arts in Bioethics is a complementary degree program, rather than a terminal or professional degree, such as an MPH or MBA program. Therefore our program has been crafted to work best for students who already have a graduate or professional degree, plan to pursue a professional degree program concurrently with our MA program (e.g., Nursing, Social Work, or Law) or otherwise have an established career in a health-related field. 

For more information about concurrent degree programs, see Graduate School Policy 1.5: Concurrent Degree Programs. Unfortunately, it is not an option for UW medical students to concurrently enroll in our degree program due to conflicting course schedules. UW medical students may enroll in our MA before or after completing their MD.

Apply here. If you would like to take our courses before you apply, you may transfer up to 12 credit hours of BH courses taken prior to acceptance into the graduate program. You may take these courses if you are already enrolled in a UW Graduate program, or by registering as a graduate non-matriculated (GNM) student (see the instructions for registering as a GNM student).


  • Complete the Application for Graduate Study at the University of Washington (select Bioethics and Humanities Program) by January 15
  • Submit transcripts for degrees earned, see: Official Transcripts Requirements
  • Submit a personal statement. Because our program does not offer a terminal or professional degree, we encourage applicants to pay careful attention to crafting their personal statement. While your personal statement will be unique to you, please make sure it addresses the following questions:
    • What personal, professional, or educational experiences have shaped your current interests and goals? 
    • How will a UW MA in Bioethics help you to further your interests and/or achieve your goals? 
    • Our program is a complementary graduate program. How will our program augment the training or experience you already possess or will concurrently receive?  If you do not already have a graduate degree, plan to concurrently enroll in another degree program, or have extensive professional work experience in a health-related field, please explain why you believe the UW MA in Bioethics is the best course of action at this time.
  • Submit an essay in response to the essay prompt (do not submit a writing sample instead)
  • Ensure three letters of recommendation are completed in MyGrad by January 15
  • If you selected “no” to the question Are you a native English speaker? in your graduate school application, you will be asked to demonstrate English language proficiency


Advisor Meeting

Before submitting an application, we encourage prospective students to meet with our graduate program advisor. Please contact


Admissions Timeline

  • Mid-February: admissions decisions are conveyed through the MyGrad program and are final.
  • March 1: if you have been admitted, you must accept, decline, or defer the offer on MyGrad program. Your admission decision is final. 
  • Late-September: if you have been admitted and accepted, begin your autumn coursework


Transfer Credits and Graduate Non-Matriculated Students

You may take up to 12 credit hours of BH courses prior to your acceptance into the graduate program. You may take these courses if you are already enrolled in a UW Graduate program, or by registering as a graduate non-matriculated (GNM) student (see the Graduate School: Graduate Non-Matriculated Students). To register as a GNM student, you must apply and meet with the advisor by the deadlines that follow by emailing


GNM Application Deadlines

Quarter Deadline
Autumn August 15
Winter December 15
Spring February 15


Graduate Program Manual

Courses and Registration: 

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.

Tuition Rate

The tuition level is Graduate Tier II, see: Office of Planning and Budgeting, Current Tuition and Fees. Forty credits are required for the MA in bioethics, students typically take six credits per quarter (autumn, winter, and spring) for two years. Use the Graduate Tuition Dashboard to calculate your tuition fees according to credit hour, see: Tuition Rates. For tuition questions, complete the contact form on the Office of the Registrar website. 


Funding for Students

See Graduate School Funding for Students for student assistantships, fellowships, grants, federal loans, work study, and employment opportunities. Also consider the Wylie Burke Endowed Scholarship for Diversity described at the top of this page.

Tuition Exemption

  • State employees, see: State Employee Tuition Exemption

  • UW employees, see: Human Resources Professional and Organizational Development: Tuition Exemption. 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.

Department of Bioethics and Humanities:

Graduate, or (206) 685-2630

Disability Services Office, (206) 543.6450 (Voice), (206) 543.6452 (TTY), (206) 685.7264 (FAX), or

Financial Aid, (206) 543-6101, or MyUW-Financial Aid Status


  1. Apply and select GNM for application type

  2. Submit unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended



Quarter Deadline
Autumn August 15
Winter December 15
Spring February 15


About Graduate Non-Matriculated 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 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. 

Prospective Students

  1. Do I qualify for tuition exemptions, waivers, or reductions? 
    Possibly, see if you qualify for Tuition Waivers, Exemptions, and Reductions. BH staff members cannot make this determination.

  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. 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.

  4. As a UW faculty or staff member, may I audit BH courses?  
    Possibly. 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. Does BH provide funding for MA students?
    We do not offer enough funding to cover the cost of tuition. We administer the Wylie Burke Endowed Scholarship for Diversity grants in the amount of approximately $500-$1000.

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 six 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.
  2. How do I seek approval from the Director of Graduate Studies to transfer graduate course credits into the MA program. Ask for Dr. Jecker's approval via email to, copy, include the course number, name, and syllabus in your message. 
  3. How do I seek approval for electives that are NOT pre-approved for the MA program? Ask for Dr. Jecker's approval via email to, copy, include the course number, name, and syllabus in your message.
  4. If I am a Joint-Degree student, how many UW graduate credits may apply to both my degrees? See current Graduate School Guidelines
  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." See: Graduate School Certificates.

Graduate Program Manual

Courses and Registration: 

Guidelines and Policies:

Master's Project: 






Graduate Courses

Explores the ethical foundations, principles and concepts, and U.S. laws related to the conduct of research with human subjects. Required for...
Understanding race and racism, their applicability to medicine, and their effects on marginalized communities. Explores the necessities of...
Explores how social inequality affects both public sentiment and public health measures during epidemics. Students develop a critical...
The humanities offer important perspectives on the nature and practice of clinical medicine. Focuses on the intersection of multiple...
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...