Combined Degrees in Medicine (M.D.) and Philosophy (M.A.)

At the center of diverse and challenging problems and solutions

Bioethics, the ethics of the life sciences, is a field of rapidly growing importance, both nationally and internationally. The development, delivery, financing, and regulation of healthcare products and services is a major economic and social endeavor. Bioethical issues – social, legal, and philosophical – confront a diverse array of institutions, including state and federal agencies, healthcare organizations, research and educational institutions, corporations (national and multinational), human rights organizations, medical insurers, and religious bodies. In combining the philosophical study of bioethics with the study of medicine, students will acquire the perspective, knowledge, and expertise that will equip them to provide leadership concerning the bioethical issues faced by such institutions, as well as to implement ethical principles in their own practice.

IUPUI is home to one of the nation’s largest health-profession complexes, one that boasts the nation’s second-largest school of medicine. The IU School of Medicine is the only medical school in the nation’s thirteenth largest state and is home to the state’s only residency programs in a variety of medical specialties.

Students completing the program will receive a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree 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 181 credits of coursework rather than the 194 credits required if the two degrees are obtained independently.

Furthermore, the IU School of Medicine requires students to achieve a level 3 (the mastery level of competence) in three of the nine competencies that comprise the IUSM curriculum in order to be eligible for graduation. The combined degrees program provides participating students with the opportunity to achieve a level 3 in the Moral Reasoning and Ethical Judgment competency.

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During your fifth year of study, you will choose two electives from a list of courses in Medicine (see below). While completion of these electives will earn the students 8 cr. towards the 164 cr. required for the M.D. degree, you may also count to 6 of these credits towards the 30 cr. required for the M.A. in philosophy. Furthermore, students who successfully petition to complete a thesis/research project (P803) will be able to count 6 cr. for both degrees; however, students who elect the non-thesis option for the M.A. will still be able to receive a 6 cr. deduction for the total number of credits required for the M.D. degree

For the curricular requirements for each degree, please click M.D. or M.A. (Bioethics). Below is a sample schedule that shows how the curricular requirements for both degrees can be met in the combined degrees program:

Sample Schedule

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

First Year

Medicine Program: 40 credits

  • Fall: Fall semester of MS1 year.
  • Spring: Spring semester of MS1 year.


Philosophy Program: 3 credits

  • Students will be offered one 3 cr. course from the list of courses in the M.A. (Bioethics) curriculum.

Second Year

Medicine Program: 40 credits

  • Fall: Fall semester of MS2 year.
  • Spring: Spring semester of MS2 year.

Third Year

Philosophy Program: 21 credits

  • Fall: Students will choose three or four 3 cr. courses from the list of courses in the M.A. (Bioethics) curriculum (9-12 cr. total).
  • Spring: Students will choose three or four 3 cr. courses from the list of courses in the M.A. (Bioethics) curriculum (9-12 cr. total).

Fourth Year

Medicine Program: 44 credits

  • MS3 year: Students may choose one course from the list below as an elective; up to 6 cr. from this list may be counted towards the M.A.

Fifth Year

Medicine Program: 40 credits; Philosophy Program: 12 credits

  • MS4 year: Students will have three required clinical rotations, a minimum of seven elective rotations (four of which must be established electives from the Elective Program Catalog, and the required capstone course).
  • Students will choose two elective courses from the list shown below, one if they have already taken an elective from this list the previous year (8 cr. towards M.D. and 6 cr. towards M.A.).
93ZP700 Medicinal Ethics & Professionalism (4 cr.) Students will be assigned readings in important current topics and discuss these in seminars with faculty. They will also participate in ethics consultations and have opportunities to participate in research. 93ZP710 Leadership in Medicine (4 cr.) The curricula of most U.S. medical schools provide little or no opportunity for medical students to study leadership. Physicians are trained to view medicine in terms of the physician-patient relationship, yet many of the greatest opportunities to treat disease and promote health lie in the organizational and social contexts of healthcare. The future of medicine and the patients we serve depends on cultivating responsible and effective physician leaders. This course introduces medical students to the key traits and skills of effective leaders and provides them an opportunity to study these broader contexts of healthcare. 93MI697 Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care (4 cr.) A pulmonary medicine rotation with some critical care, including long-term acute care involvement with good exposure to ventilator management. Experience with good history taking, physical diagnosis, cardiopulmonary disease, diagnostic pulmonary laboratory testing, critical care, problem-oriented medical records and care and treatment. Emphasis also on moral reasoning and ethical judgment. Also: 49MP714, 49MP716, 49MP726, 49MP708, 93MP710, 93MP730, 02MP711 93MI860 Palliative Medicine (4 cr.) This course will offer an exposure to end of life care in a palliative care setting. The student will learn interdisciplinary approach to patient care, the value of expert emotional, social, and spiritual support, and the importance of bio-psycho-social factors in patient care. The student will be expected to make rounds with the palliative care team (social worker, chaplain, nurses, and physicians) and will also make home visits. The student will be exposed to ethical scenarios related to end of life care. Also: 49MI746, 49MI756 93PS890 Forensic Psychiatry (4 cr.) This elective is designed to give students exposure to forensic psychiatric evaluations of defendants in jail and office settings, the management and assessment of long-term forensic inpatients, and custody evaluations of families as part of divorce proceedings, with a background of readings on forensic psychiatry topics. Consideration of forensic psychiatry issues from moral/ethical perspectives will be emphasized, as will the social and policy implications of the practice of forensic psychiatry.

For more information contact:

Graduate Program Director & Advisor, Professor Chad Carmichael,