Master's Specialization in Bioethics

Specialized training for MA, MSc or LLM students in Experimental Medicine, Family Medicine, Religious Studies, Law, Human Genetics and Philosophy. 

DEGREE: Determined by base program

PROGRAM TYPE: Specialization with thesis for MA, MSc and LLM degrees 

DURATION: 2 years 

CREDITS: 33 credits


Program overview 

Leaders in health care wrestle with some of humanity's most significant concerns: ethical action, human rights, global justice, and understanding our relationship with the environment. With the Master's Degree Specialization in Bioethics, you will develop the conceptual frameworks and tools to address fundamental questions about life and the interventions by healthcare in research, policy and practice. 

Working closely with a faculty from medicine and law, you will expand your knowledge of modern research methodologies, knowledge and techniques needed to apply a bioethical analysis to your base discipline. 

The specialization combines course work, a bioethics practicum and a Master's thesis on bioethics that satisfies the requirements of the specialization and base discipline. Students graduate with a Master's degree in the designation of their base discipline (MA, MSc or LLM) with a specialization in bioethics. Students in the program are well-placed to continue in doctoral studies or as law or healthcare professionals. 

Program structure 

Degree requirements: 

Fully-qualified candidates are required to complete 33 credits in addition to the requirements of their base program. 

  • BIOE 680 Bioethical Theory (3 credits) 

  • BIOE 681 Bioethics Practicum (3 credits) 

3 credits from: 

  • CMPL 642 Law and Health Care (3 credits) 

  • RELG 571 Ethics, Medicine and Religion (3 credits) 

  • PHIL 643 Seminar: Medical Ethics (3 credits) 

  • PPHS 624 Public Health Ethics & Policy (3 credits) 

  • HGEN 660 Genetics and Bioethics (3 credits) 

24 credits for the M.Sc. thesis requirement: 

  • BIOE 690 M.Sc. Thesis Literature Survey (3 credits) 

  • BIOE 691 M.Sc. Thesis Research Proposal (3 credits) 

  • BIOE 692 M.Sc. Thesis Res Progress Rep (6 credits) 

  • BIOE 693 M.Sc. Thesis (12 credits) 

Please see the graduate calendar for all course descriptions. 

Admissions requirements 

Applicants must meet the admissions requirements of their base program.

Application process 

Complete the online application form and pay the associated fees.  


Upload unofficial copies of your complete record of study from each university-level institution you have attended to date. 

You will be required to submit official records following an offer of admission. 

Personal statement 

In 2 to 3 pages, typed and double-spaced, outline your interest in studying bioethics at McGill in combination with the base discipline the which you are applying. Include any relevant information on your background, education, experience or involvement in the field, to demonstrate how the Master’s Specialization in Bioethics fits with your research interests and career goals. 

Consider the following in preparing your statement: 

  • What are your career objectives? 

  • What academic or life experience have led to your interest in this program? 

  • What specific knowledge and skills do you hope to acquire? 

  • How will this knowledge and these skills enable you to attain your career objectives? 

  • What area(s) of bioethics would you like to study? 

  • What area(s) of interest would you like to pursue for your practicum? 

Reference letters 

Submit the contact information for two personal contacts as per the application form. McGill Admissions will contact them as ask them to provide reference letters from their institutional or corporate email accounts. 

Writing sample 

15-20 pages, typed, double-spaced. 

English-language proficiency 

Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the English language proficiency page for further information on requirements and exemptions.

Academic supervisor 

Applicants applying to the Bioethics option do not need to name a supervisor at the time of their application. You can choose or be assigned a supervisor after you are admitted to the program. Proceed with the online application and this requirement will be removed once you have submitted your application. 

Tuition and funding 

Tuition fees 

The tuition fees of the program may differ depending on your student status. To estimate the cost of your education at McGill, use the graduate fees table.

Awards and funding 

Competitive funding packages in the form of awards, teaching and research assistantships are offered at the time of admission to most students to allow them to focus on their research and studies. The Quebec and Canadian governments offer several competitive graduate scholarships. 

Learn more about the awards you may be eligible for 

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