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U of T’s professional master’s program in bioethics

Let’s take a walk through some important information that you need to know about studying bioethics at a professional master’s level in the Dalla Lana School of Health (DLSPH) at the University of Toronto.

Are ethical issues in public health and health care keeping you awake at night? Do you wish you had a deeper understanding of today’s big bioethics issues and ways to address them?

Bioethics is concerned with finding practical answers to difficult value-based questions faced by patients and families, health professionals, health researchers, health administrators and health policymakers. Many health professionals and scholars have pondered some of the big ethical issues in health care and public health – whether they are experts in bioethics or not. Bioethics is a field of practice and study. It is concerned with issues such as:

  • End-of-life care and medical assistance in dying
  • Pandemic planning and response
  • Patient-practitioner relationships
  • Personal data and its privacy
  • Health technologies
  • Theories of moral philosophy and how they apply to real world concerns
  • Artificial Intelligence and the risk and reality of implicit bias
  • Social determinants of health (race, income, education, gender, housing, inclusion, etc.)
  • Organ transplantation
  • Resource allocation
  • Research ethics
  • Conflicting duties in health care and public health practice
  • Cross-cultural ethical deliberation and decision-making

The aim of the field of bioethics is to improve health. Interdisciplinary in nature, bioethics draws from many areas across the humanities, and health and social sciences. The Master of Health Science (MHSc) in Bioethics reflects this interdisciplinarity in its faculty, curriculum, and student body, making it an exemplary model of interprofessional education.

At the DLSPH, you can learn how to understand and approach these challenging bioethics issues

Once enrolled in the MHSc in Bioethics, you will have the ability to engage with bioethics problems and learn from our faculty who are practitioners and experts in their fields and the specialist domains within it. This professional master’s program it is administered academically through the Graduate Department of Public Health Sciences at the DLSPH, and we are here to help you through the process.

Academic aims of the MHSc in Bioethics program

This program aims to provide you with the core theoretical foundations of bioethics, as well as core skills so that you can participate in ethics-related activities in your own career. It will also give you the ethics knowledge to address the ethical challenges that you – and others like you – face in health, health care and health research. We also introduce you to common, unusual, and emerging ethical issues faced by patients, health care providers, policymakers, and the public in health systems today, both in Canada and globally.

Am I a good fit for the program?

We normally ask that you have a four-year undergraduate degree and/or a master’s degree leading to experience in one of the health sciences (for example, MD, BScN or MN, BScOT or MSc(OT), BScPT or MSc(PT), BSW or MSW) or another field which intersects with health and health care. If you don’t have experience in one of the health disciplines listed, don’t worry. We also consider other applications on a case-by-case basis depending on the availability of space and the ability to meet School of Graduate Studies  and Graduate Department of Public Health Sciences standards. Additionally, as a professional degree program, we find that you will gain the most out of this program if you have at least three years of full-time professional work experience. This is because our program has a capstone component in which you will be able to work on an approach to an ethics-related problem that you’ve faced in your own workplace. You will also be able to contribute to and benefit the most from the practical experience and interprofessional exchanges between yourself and your fellow classmates, our faculty, and guest presenters.

Can you give me some examples of the types of professional backgrounds that previous students have had while taking this program?

We’ve had a wide range of learners in program, and we consider this to be one of the strengths! Here’s a snapshot of some of the professional experiences/roles that our students brought to the master’s program:

  • Health practitioners
  • Health administrators and policymakers
  • Research ethics board chairs, members or administrators
  • Ethics committee members
  • Clinician educators/faculty members
  • Clinical residents and fellows
  • Lawyers, journalists, regulators, etc.

The MHSc in Bioethics is offered in bi-weekly two-day blocks, and is designed so that you can continue to work while you’re taking our two-year professional degree program. As a high-achieving professional, you can earn your master’s degree without interrupting your career.

I still have questions!

We encourage you to check out our MHSc FAQs, because you may find the answer to your question there. If you’re still not sure whether you are eligible to apply, please contact us and we will be happy to have an initial conversation with you about your education goals and work experience to see if you would benefit from this program. Terry Yuen, our program administrator, is available by email at jcb.education@utoronto.ca, and he can help you with any questions you may have.

We also hold online information sessions each Fall, so please register for the next available date.

If you would like to start learning about bioethics issues now, we also run a free weekly JCB Bioethics Seminar Series that you’re welcome to drop in on any time.

Deadline to Apply to the MHSc in Bioethics

Applications are due by January 17, 2022


Questions? Email us!

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