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Receive email updates about the MBE program and application information for the 2024-25 academic year.

FAQs for All Students

  • When should I apply?

    What are the upcoming deadlines?

    Applications for the 2024-25 program cycle are now closed.

    Applications for the 2025-26 program cycle will open in the fall. 

  • What is the Harvard community like?

    Harvard Medical School is a vibrant and diverse community consisting of the Longwood Campus and 12 affiliated teaching hospitals in the greater Boston area. Harvard Medical School is a leader in academic medicine through its teaching, research, and clinical resources. View the Student Resources page for more detailed information.

  • Do I need to have a particular background in bioethics to apply to the program?

    Do I need previous work experience in bioethics?

    No. Previous study or experience in bioethics is helpful, but not necessary. You will have the opportunity to describe your interest in bioethics in your personal statement and other application materials.

  • Can I customize the program according to my interests?

    Yes. Students will be required to complete a core course of study in the foundations of bioethics and major areas in bioethics. With the guidance and approval of the academic advisor, students will have opportunities to tailor their experience to their interests with elective coursework, through the capstone project, and by drawing on the vast resources of the Center for Bioethics and Harvard University.

  • Who is eligible to apply for the program?

    The program is aimed primarily toward mid-career professionals interested in ethical issues related broadly to health care practice, industry, research, and policy. The minimum requirement for entry into the Master of Science in Bioethics degree program is a bachelor’s degree and demonstrated interest in the field of bioethics. An essential feature of the program is that our students come from diverse backgrounds but collectively share an interest in bioethics.

    Common professions include (but are not necessarily be limited to) physicians, nurses, social workers, health care administrators, chaplains, attorneys, journalists and writers, scientists and medical researchers, psychologists and therapists. A limited number of Bachelors-level applicants with strong academic records and an evident interest in bioethics will be considered for admission.

  • What materials are required for application?

    What is the deadline?

    You may begin your application using Harvard Medical School's application portal, which clearly lays out the application process. The Center hosts online information sessions which provide an opportunity to speak directly with members of our admissions team. Refer to the Admissions page for detailed information about the application process and deadlines. Please contact bioethics_masters@hms.harvard.edu if you have questions.

  • Can I complete the program while working?

    Yes. There is an option to complete the program full-time or part-time. Some mid-career professionals can take a sabbatical while completing the program full-time and return to their career with relevant experience they have gained from the curriculum. Some students also choose to continue their career while attending but may need to work with their employer to accommodate availability during class time.

    Full-time students will complete the Master’s program in one year by completing a total of 36 credits, including a 4-credit capstone project. Classes offered through the center will primarily occur in the late afternoons, generally beginning at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).

    Part-time alternatives are possible with the expectation that students would complete the degree in two years. The part-time virtual option offers mid-career professionals an opportunity to participate in online classes in the evening hours (Eastern Time).

    The maximum time from enrollment to completion is three years, however extension of studies beyond two years would require a petition for extension and is granted only in light of extenuating individual circumstances. Additional costs for extended time will be applied. Schedules of the full- and part-time options are viewable on the Curriculum page.

  • Do you offer online classes?

    Yes. We offer a two-year, part-time virtual program where all instruction is offered remotely. Online required courses are offered in the evenings (Eastern Time) to accommodate working professionals. Students will select this option during the admissions process. 

    We also offer an on-campus "residential" program. For the residential program, there may still be some courses taught online, depending on classroom and building capacity allowances. We will continue to follow the strict public health guidance from HMS and Harvard public health guidance as informed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the CDC. Therefore, we must remain flexible and ready to shift to remote instruction if public health necessitates it.

  • Do I need to take the GRE?

    No. The only required standardized test score for admission is the TOEFL exam for applicants whose native language is not English, with the exception of non-native English speakers who earned a bachelor's or graduate degree from an institution at which English was the sole language of instruction. If you have taken the GRE and wish to have your scores considered by the admissions committee, you may submit scores to Institution Code 3812.

  • Do I need to interview?

    We receive many applications, so decisions on some applications may be made without interviews. Three to four weeks after the deadline, you may be invited to interview via Zoom. If you are not invited to interview, please know it is not indicative of any particular decision made about your candidacy. 

  • How should I submit my transcript?

    PDF copies of transcripts from all institutions where applicants earned credits toward academic degree(s) must be uploaded to the application database for review by the admissions committee. An unofficial copy is acceptable only for the admissions process. Unofficial copies should still be in PDF format and easily readable.

    Upon enrollment of the Master of Science in Bioethics Program, you will need to submit official transcripts to begin the program. You will get information about where to send official transcripts when accepting your offer to study in the program. Questions regarding official transcripts should be sent to admissions_masters@hms.harvard.edu.

    If you need your official transcripts evaluated and translated, Harvard Medical School and World Education Services (WES) have designed an easy application to do so. Please access it here: Credential Evaluation Requirements for Harvard Medical School.

    Falsifying documents for admissions review can result in expulsion from the program.

  • How much does the program cost?

    Please visit the Cost of Attendance page. Note the costs shown are for the current academic year, not the academic year you will be applying to.

    Part-time tuition is paid each year. Part-time online students do not need to consider any of the living expenses listed.

    There are various types of funding. Should you have any questions regarding the cost of attendance or types of funding, contact the Financial Aid Office.

  • Are there scholarships or discounts available?

    Yes. Many of our students do receive financial assistance through their employers or through their home government. Information about financial aid through Harvard Medical School is available at the Financial Aid Office. This is the current listing of institutional scholarships available to incoming students:

    Dean's Scholarship for HMS Master's Students
    We strive to make master’s education at HMS accessible to all qualified students. In Fall 2021, HMS began offering a new scholarship for U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents who have demonstrated financial need and have exhibited academic excellence, persistence, resilience, and a commitment to advancing the position of the underserved and the underrepresented in their field of interest. This award provides eligible students with a scholarship equivalent to 15% of the full time tuition rate for any of the HMS Master’s Degree Programs (tuition only). HMS will award the Dean’s Scholarship for up to twenty students across the HMS Master’s programs. You can learn more about the Dean's Scholarship and additional HMS Master’s Aid.

    Tuition Discount for Faculty and Staff at HMS and Affiliated Institutions
    Full-time, benefits eligible faculty and staff at HMS and the affiliated institutions/hospitals are eligible for a scholarship equivalent to 10% of the full time tuition rate for any of the HMS Master’s Degree Programs (tuition only). Please notify the program if you think you are eligible for this scholarship.

    Yellow Ribbon Program
    Harvard Medical School provides qualifying post-9/11 veterans the maximum assistance available through the Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program. Under this program, the Department of Veterans Affairs matches school aid contributions made to eligible veterans. Harvard Medical School will contribute the maximum amount to be matched by the VA for all eligible veterans.

    You will be requested to submit a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to the Financial Aid Office prior to the start of the academic year in order to process your Yellow Ribbon benefit. Additional VA benefits for veterans provide substantial assistance for living expenses. These benefits should cover academic year living expenses for most Yellow Ribbon recipients. However, Yellow Ribbon recipients may also apply for federal student loans to meet living expenses costs, if needed.

    Harvard University's Committee on General Scholarships
    The Committee on General Scholarships (CGS) awards a range of financial assistance to international Harvard students. CGS funding is very competitive—admitted applicants and current students from across Harvard are eligible. CGS international fellowships are country specific. They are not awarded through HMS and require a separate application. Application details, contact information, and a full list of fellowship and restricted scholarship opportunities are available on the CGS website. Please contact CGS for any questions regarding fellowship/scholarships opportunities for HMS graduate students.

  • Can I change my course of study schedule?

    A three-year option may be possible in certain circumstances with prior program review and approval.

FAQs for International Students

  • Can international students apply to the bioethics program?

    Yes. International students may apply using the same materials as US students, and if necessary, submit an English proficiency exam score. International students should review the International Students page.

    International students accepted to the full time in-person program will need to provide proof of funding for tuition and living expenses in United States Dollars (USD). International students cannot study part time in-person due to visa regulations. 

  • Is financial aid available to international students?

    What are my scholarship options?
    • International students are not eligible for US government loans, but they may be eligible for certain private loans with or without a US co-signer at private financial institutions.
    • The Harvard University Employees Credit Union will provide a maximum of a $25,000 loan to international graduate students.
    • Additional information about external scholarship resources can be found on the Types of Funding for Master’s Students page.
  • Do I need to take an English proficiency exam?

    Yes. The TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English exam is required of applicants whose native language is not English. Exemption from this requirement may be granted for those who earned a bachelor's or graduate degree from an institution at which English was the sole language of instruction. The TOEFL Code for Harvard Medical School Graduate Education Master’s Programs is 3151.

  • Can I enroll part-time?

    Visa regulations require full-time study to enroll in the in-person program. International students may enroll in the part-time virtual program and will complete all degree requirements virtually.