Combined Degrees in Law (J.D.) and Philosophy (M.A.)

Nationally recognized and rank programs in law and philosophy

In combining the philosophical study of bioethics with the study of law, you will acquire the perspective, knowledge, and expertise that will equip you to provide leadership concerning the bioethical issues faced by institutions such as state and federal agencies, healthcare organizations, research and educational institutions, corporations (national and multinational), human rights organizations, medical insurers, and religious bodies.

The Robert H. McKinney School of Law has a nationally recognized Center for Law and Health and a program in health law that is ranked among the top ten in the nation.

Robert H. McKinney School of Law at IUPUI image

Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Students completing the program will receive a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in Law and a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Philosophy, with a concentration in Bioethics.

Through the combined degrees program, the two degrees can be obtained with a total of 108 earned credits, as compared with the 120 credits required if the degrees are obtained separately.

Up to six credits of health law courses can be counted toward both the 90 credits required for the J.D. in Law and the 30 credits required for the M.A. in Philosophy.

Additionally, if a student successfully petitions to complete a 6 cr. thesis or research project addressing legal and philosophical aspects of a bioethical issue, it may also count for the senior law paper requirement unless one is electing to submit a law review note. Students who complete the combined degrees program will also receive 6 credits toward the 90 credits required for the JD in Law.

Below is a sample schedule that shows how the curricular requirements for both degrees can be met in the combined degrees program for the Bioethics concentration:

Sample Schedule

Below is a sample schedule that shows how the curricular requirements for both degrees can be met in the combined degrees program for the Bioethics concentration.
(Italicized courses are counted toward both degrees)

First Year

Law Program: 31 credits

  • Civil Procedure I-II
  • Contracts and Sales I-II
  • Legal Writing I-II
  • Property
  • Torts
  • Constitutional Law
  • Criminal Law


Law Program: 6 credits

  • LAW selections

Second Year & Summer

Philosophy M.A. Program: 14 credits; Law Program: 13 credits

  • PHIL P547 Foundations of Bioethics (3 cr.)
  • PHIL P540 Contemporary Ethical Theories (3 cr.)
  • MHHS M504 Introduction to Research Ethics (3 cr.)
  • LAW Bioethics and Law (2 cr.)
  • LAW Financing & Regulating Health Care (3 cr.)
  • LAW Legal Writing III (2 cr.)
  • LAW Evidence (4 cr.)
  • LAW Professional Responsibility (2 cr.)

Third Year & Summer

Philosophy M.A. Program: 11 credits; Law program: 18 credits

  • PHIL P553 Philosophy of Science (3 cr.)
  • PHIL P600 Topics in Philosophy (3 cr.)
  • SOC R515 Sociology of Health and Illness (3 cr.)
  • LAW Law and Public Health Care (2 cr.)
  • Other LAW selections (16 cr.)

Fourth Year

Philosophy M.A. Program: 6 credits; Law Program: 16 credits

  • PHIL P555 Ethical and Policy Issues in International Research (3 cr.)
  • PHIL P696 Topics in Biomedical Ethics (3 cr.)
  • LAW selections (16 cr.)
AIDS: Ethical, Legal and Policy Issues (2 cr.) DN696 examines the social and legal response to the AIDS pandemic, as well as ethical issues raised by various measures implemented to limit the spread of the disease. Among other topics, the course will explore the law and ethics of contact tracing and the potential conflict of health care workers between duties of confidentiality to the patient and duties of disclosure to affected third parties. The course will also survey the potential tort and criminal liability of those who expose others to the disease. Concepts in Sexuality for the Clinician (3 cr.) 93ZH890 addresses the often delicate issue of human sexuality as it relates to clinical medicine in particular, and being human and involved in human relationship in general. Experts in their field, faculty members will present lectures, lead discussions, and enable students to better understand the complex interplay between sex, culture, and gender, while gaining confidence in dealing with the social and medical implication of sexuality. Financing and Regulating Health Care (3 cr.) DN845 covers selected legal issues in financing and regulation of the American health care system. The course emphasizes chief policy issues facing the American health care system today—cost, access, and equality of health care services for all Americans. Issues in Death and Dying (2 cr.) DN694 examines the ethical, legal and medical issues concerning the refusal, removal and/or withdrawal of life-sustaining medical procedures, and assisted suicide. The course will consider whether there is a morally relevant distinction that should be reflected in our legal norms between passive measures, such as the refusal or removal of life support, and more active measures that bring about death. The course will survey legal issues such as treatment of the unconscious or non-competent patient, including infants, a discussion of living wills and durable powers of attorney, and recent constitutional developments relevant to the patient’s right to refuse medical treatment. Law and Public Health (2 cr.) DN761 covers the law governing the practice of public health by state, local, and federal agencies, as well as health care professionals and institutions. Topics addressed include legal mandates on public health agencies, physicians, and other health practitioners regarding testing, reporting, and contact tracing with respect to specific diseases, as well as laws for the imposition of quarantine, civil commitment, and mandatory treatment. Also covered are public health aspects of the regulation of health care institutions, legal issues associated with risk assessment and cost benefit analysis, along with the environment. Research on Human and Non-Human Subjects (2 cr.) DN693 surveys issues arising out of experimentation on human subjects and the treatment of animals in research. Topics for discussion will include an exploration of the philosophical nature of informed consent, coercion and exploitation in the human context, to the moral significance of sentience as a consideration in animal research, to an examination of the differences between therapeutic and non-therapeutic research. Social Regulation of the Body and Its Processes (2 cr.) DN691 examines problems related to the social allocation of the body and its products such as the extent to which individuals have an ethically and legally protectable interest in their bodies and body processes. Topics for consideration will include the legal status of human ova and sperm, frozen embryos, and the products of medical research developed from materials taken from the bodies of interested subjects. The course will also consider the ethics and the legal regulation of organ allocation. Topics in Health Law (2 or 3 cr.) DN763 examines specialized topics in health law not addressed in depth by other courses. Possible topics include health care fraud and abuse law, the regulation of long-term care, the law of payment of health care providers, biotechnology and the law, genetics and the law, reproductive rights, end-of-life decision making, and privacy issues in health law. Prerequisites will vary according to the subject of the course as announced.

For more information contact:

Graduate Program Director & Advisor, Professor Chad Carmichael,