Beginning in Spring 2011 the Center will offer an MA in medical humanities, compassionate care, and bioethics as a track in the Biological Sciences MA program. We will be accepting applications in September and welcome all inquiries.

Why Stony Brook?

Bioethics masters degree programs have proliferated over the past two decades. Why add one more? Too often these programs focus exclusively on ethical dilemmas in healthcare and the life sciences, without adequately attending to the patient’s illness experience itself. In contrast, our program devotes equal attention to the mutually enhancing themes of bioethics, medical humanities, and the dynamic of compassionate care in a time when both patients and healthcare professionals find the healthcare system dehumanizing.

We will provide students with a comprehensive overview of the paradigm cases and approaches to topics in bioethics. Students will also examine the philosophical and religious traditions that inform contemporary debates. Moreover, they will learn about the human capacity for compassion that underlies the moral life and effective clinical care. Finally, through engagement in the medical humanities, our students will enhance their capacity to understand and respond to the patient as person.

Program Faculty

Recognizing the need for an interdisciplinary approach to education, our faculty includes experts in Disability Studies, Ethics, History, Law, Literature, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and the Social Sciences. Several of our faculty integrate perspectives from the humanities with their experience as healthcare providers (details).


Our commitment to an integrative approach is embodied by the courses we offer.

  • Compassionate Care, Medical Humanities, and the Illness Experience
  • Landmark Cases in Bioethics
  • Traditions and Values in Bioethical Conflicts
  • Special Topic in Biotechnology
  • Special Projects Capstone Course
  • Literature, Compassion, and Medical Care
  • Bioethics, Disability & Community
  • Altruism and Bioethics
  • Disease and Society
  • Global Bioethics
  • Health Policy, History & Ethics
  • Ethical Issues in Human Reproduction
  • The Problem of Evil: Philosophical, Biological, and Social Dimensions
  • Empirical Bioethics
  • Public Health Law
For a complete list of courses and descriptions click here

Praise for our Program

I’m delighted that the scope of Stony Brook University’s program retrieves what is most distinctive about bioethics since its emergence some forty years ago: the integration of the ethics of the life sciences with the humanities that undergird it and the study and practice of compassionate care. The richly diverse Stony Brook program will be in a position to set new standards for programs in this area.
Warren T. Reich, Ph.D.
Georgetown University
An exciting new graduate program that is distinguished by its unique blending of elements and emphasis on the medical humanities, compassionate care, and bioethics. Led by Stephen Post, Ph.D. and a strong interdisciplinary faculty, Stony Brook's program is notable for giving voice to disciplines beyond the sciences which are essential to balanced deliberations and thoughtful scholarship.
Joseph J. Fins, M.D., F.A.C.P.
Weill Medical College of Cornell University
At a time when we are learning more and more about the scientific basis for the healing power of belief and compassion comes an outstanding program that will prepare a cadre of professionals to spread this knowledge in the academy as well as to the public. This can only enhance the stature of this humanistic area within medicine and provide a balance to the technological disciplines. It is a very welcome development for which Dr. Post and his staff deserve a lot of credit and support.
Gregory Fricchione, M.D.
Harvard Medical School


For further information please contact:

Project Staff Associate
Michael L. Dorn, Ph.D.

Co-Director of MA Program
Andrew Flescher, Ph.D.

Center Director and MA Program Co-Director
Stephen G. Post, Ph.D.

Related Links

MA Home


Program Requirements

How To Apply

On-line Application
Select Biological Sciences MA