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Core Curriculum

The MA is a 32-credit degree. Dual degree students will complete 15 of those credits in the course of earning their primary degree. MA students not enrolled in a dual degree program must take additional credits of approved electives from other departments across the University.

UBTH 5001/5101 and 5002/5102: Urban Bioethics 1 and 2 (3 credits each). Seminars are held on Temple University's Health Science campus, at W. Tioga and Broad Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19140.

  • In a weekly 2.5-hour seminar format these courses introduce students to the field of urban bioethics. Topics include: the history and theoretical foundations of bioethics; the role of values and ethics in health, health care, law, and policy; social determinants of health, health disparities and inequities, research ethics, clinical ethics, cultural humility, critical epidemiology, and more. Each unit will introduce students to the foundations of the area, classic readings, and current consensus and/or controversies. Attention will then turn to if, and if so, how, mainstream bioethics’ approach to these issues must be adapted for patients and practitioners in the urban setting.
  • Workload: Each week there will be 30-60 pages of assigned readings (ranging from patient narratives, fiction, social science literature, medical literature). Over the course of the semester there will be approximately 20 pages of writing. This will NOT be a 20-page research paper due at the end of the semester, but will be smaller assignments spread out over the course of the semester.

UBTH 5022/5122 and 5023/5123: Community Engagement 1 and 2 (2 credits each)

  • This is a hands-on, community-based course that takes a holistic look at a community, analyzing both its strengths and challenges. Over the course of a Fall/Spring academic year, students will work in multidisciplinary teams and with a faculty advisor and community representative in different neighborhoods within the city of Philadelphia. Students will work in and with the community to: perform a medical urban map, perform a needs assessment, analyze the bioethics dimensions and the social determinants of health and illness in the community, write a pretend grant to study health issues in the community, conduct oral histories with community members, and conduct photojournalism assignments, among other things.
  • Class meeting times and specific team workload and requirements will be team-determined within the first month of the course.

UBTH 5031/5131: The Values, Ethics, and Economics of Health Care Delivery in Urban Communities (online) (2 credits)

  • This course focuses on the values, organization, funding, and logistics of community based health care delivery. Students will be introduced to the various agencies involved in urban health care delivery –FQHC, HRSA, NIH, and others. In addition, an introduction to grant writing in the area of urban bioethics and health delivery in urban communities will be provided.

UBTH 5041/5141: Critical Social Science and Urban Bioethics (online) (2 credits)

  • This course examines the theories and methods of the social sciences as they relate to knowledge and attitudes in medicine and bioethics. The goals include gaining an appreciation for the relationships between methods and knowledge, the limitations and strengths of different methodologies, the relationships between qualitative methods and health policy, and how the social sciences provide information about the "what" that is happening in order to generate better data with and for bioethics colleagues who desire to focus on the "ought".

UBTH 9995/9996: Thesis (3 credits)

  • Working in conjunction with a thesis advisor, who upon approval can be from the Medical School, the CBUHP, or a dual-degree student’s home department, the student will conduct an original research project (empirical or non-empirical) and produce a publishable quality article-length paper. The thesis does not have to be completed in 1 semester. There are many ways to complete the thesis requirement, and if you are working on a research project elsewhere in your home-school curriculum (for dual degree students) you should talk with Dr. Jones about how to work this project into your thesis.


The MA in Urban Bioethics core-curriculum is designed to be completed over the course of 1.5-2 years, although students may have different paths through the courses. Please contact Dr. Lucas with any questions about scheduling specific to your particular coursework, program, and/or concerns. A typical course progression is shown below, though not all students follow this sequence.


  • Fall: UBTH 5001/5101: Urban Bioethics I
  • Spring: UBTH 5002/5102: Urban Bioethics II
  • Summer: UBTH 5031/5131: The Values, Ethics, and Economics of Health Care Delivery in Urban Communities (online)


  • Fall: UBTH 5022/5122: Community Engagement I, UBTH 5041/5141: Critical Social Science and Urban Bioethics (online)
  • Spring: UBTH 5023/5123: Community Engagement II, UBTH 9995/9996: Thesis


Per credit tuition and fees for Urban Bioethics courses are currently (2015-16) $1,754. MD/MA students are eligible for a scholarship to offset the cost of the MA portion of the degree. Contact Dr. Jones or Professor Rocco for more information on the scholarship.

Unfortunately at this time there is no other financial aid available through the Center for Bioethics, Urban Health, and Policy. There may be other outside sources of grants/funding, and we would be happy to explore those with you.