Master of Bioethics

MBE faculty and administrators held an online info session on Feb. 28 to answer questions about applications, scholarships, and the program.

View the session (passcode: up6@3!Rh)

The Master of Bioethics (MBE) degree is an innovative, interdisciplinary program combining approaches from science and technology, the humanities and arts, and public health and medicine. It prepares students from diverse personal and professional backgrounds to address the bioethics challenges they will face in professional and civic life.

Multiple Scholarships Available for the Berman Institute’s Master of Bioethics Program 

The Berman Institute of Bioethics will provide scholarships to all students who enroll in the MBE Program full-time for 2024-2025. The average scholarship is expected to approach 20 percent of the full cost of tuition. Students will receive this scholarship for up to four terms.

We are pleased to announce that, additionally, as many as four full-time students entering the MBE Program in Fall 2024 will be awarded an additional $10,000 scholarship. Supported by the Ruth R. Faden Endowment for Education in Bioethics, these scholarships will be awarded on the basis of both academic merit and promise in the field of bioethics.

All students who apply by the March 1, 2024, priority deadline will automatically be considered for both scholarships. No additional application is required. Scholarship recipients will receive notification of their awards within two weeks of the March 1 deadline.

GRE scores are optional for the MBE program (full-time and part-time) for the remainder of this application cycle.

Focused on the Future

As a graduate of the MBE program, you will be equipped to drive the responsible pursuit of new knowledge and you will be prepared to help develop new tools to consider society’s thorniest issues through a cross-disciplinary lens.

Advances in health care and scientific research benefit people around the world. From the first ventilator to the first vaccine, scientific and technological discoveries have prolonged life and alleviated human suffering while advancing health-related knowledge. However, these advancements also often present challenging ethical questions for individuals and society related to appropriate use, access, and safety, as well as rights and obligations.

The MBE program prepares you to make meaningful contributions at the intersection of health sciences and societal impact.

Pandemic Response

Through years of experience and scholarship, bioethicists at the Berman Institute have led research to identify the ethical principles that should guide the actions of governments and other institutions in a moment like this.


The program requires successful completion of a minimum of 64 term credits, including a thesis seminar. Upon matriculation, each student charts a program of study to meet individual goals.

For full course information, please visit the online course catalog.

Full-time students typically complete the degree over four 8-week academic terms plus a few credits during the summer. Part-time students must complete program requirements within four years.

In addition to formal coursework and thesis, as well as an optional bioethics practicum, all students will participate in a variety of supplemental seminars in bioethics, such as the Berman Institute Noontime Seminar Series, Robert H. Levi Symposium, Shallenberger Lecture in Ethics, and the Sheila Hutzler-Rives Memorial Lecture in Palliative Care. These events allow students to interact with a broad network of national and international leaders in bioethics.

Upon successful completion of the program, students will have mastered the following competencies:

  1. Understand the essential theories and methods that underpin the ethics of public health, clinical care, science, and research;
  2. Recognize ethics issues and questions that arise in public health, clinical care, science, and research;
  3. Articulate and critique policy and scholarly arguments to engage with long-standing and emerging debates in bioethics; and
  4. Understand approaches to fulfilling ethics advisory functions in practice settings.

700.601 Foundations of Bioethics with Anne Barnhill and BI Core Faculty
Offers an introduction to central approaches and issues in bioethics. Includes a discussion of the history of the field and the issues that led to its birth and growth internationally. Introduces philosophical, empirical and non-empirical approaches to bioethics and core ethical issues in clinical care, public health, science and research. Provides a foundation for future study in bioethics.

700.602 Hot Topics in Bioethics with Travis Rieder, PhD and BI Core Faculty
Offers a continuation of the exploration of ethical theory and its use in bioethics begun in “Introduction to Ethical Theory”. Utilizes the conceptual and methodological tools from “Ethical Theory” in analyzing topics and cases currently being discussed in bioethics. Although topics change from year to year, common themes include: discussion of legal changes concerning end of life; the ethics of new reproductive technologies; ethical challenges concerning genome-editing technologies; and global ethical challenges such as climate change and resource allocation.

700.603 Introduction to Ethical Theory with Travis Rieder, PhD
Explores the relationship between philosophical ethical theory and the practical world of bioethics. In particular, examines the classical accounts of moral obligation and virtue in the context of a variety of contemporary bioethical problems. Further presents the distinction between individual bioethics and collective bioethics, with the goal of determining how the theoretical grounding for these fields differ. The motivating questions are both methodological and substantive: First, how does theory contribute to bioethical investigations? And second, does reflection on ethical theory tell us what to do concerning particular, bioethical problems?

Expected Courses
To gain a comprehensive view of bioethics, students are expected to take a range of courses during their time at Johns Hopkins. Some of the courses relevant to MBE course of study include:

  • Bioethics, Human Rights, and Global Health
  • Bioethics and the Law
  • Ethics in Clinical Practice
  • Food Ethics
  • Germs, Genes, Patients, & Populations
  • Ethics, Policy, and Emerging Biomedical Technologies

For full course information, please visit the online course catalog.


Berman Institute faculty have produced leading empirical research in bioethics and are actively engaged in generating groundbreaking scholarship. They are also dedicated to educating the next generation of leaders in bioethics and contributing in ongoing ways to public policy development.

MBE program faculty are drawn from faculty affiliated with the Berman Institute for Bioethics. Most also have appointments in the Johns Hopkins University’s schools of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing, International Studies, and Arts and Sciences.

Program faculty have served on multiple presidential bioethics commissions as well as committees of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and for state and local health departments.

Admission & Tuition


Applications are reviewed and offers of admission are made on a rolling basis. Because entrance into the MBE program is competitive, we strongly suggest early submission of application materials.

A complete application will be reviewed when we have received the following:

  • A completed online application
  • Paid application fee
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts from ALL educational institutions attended
  • CV or resume
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores (for international applicants as required)
  • OPTIONAL: GRE, LSAT or MCAT scores (submission of these test scores is optional and is not required for an application to be considered complete)

International Applicants: We highly encourage that you submit your application and official documents no later than the priority application deadline below. For more information, please contact the Office of International Services.

Please note the following application deadlines:

  • Priority application deadline: March 1
    • International students are strongly recommended to have everything turned in by this date.
  • Final application deadline: June 1
    • Applications received after this date will not be reviewed.


You should expect notification of your admission decision within four to six weeks of the Admissions Committee’s receipt of a completed application. A completed application contains all of the items listed above, and your application will not be reviewed until all required documentation has been received.

Tuition and Financial Aid

The Berman Institute is offering scholarships to students enrolling in the MBE Program full-time for the 2024-2025 academic year. The average scholarship is expected to approach 20 percent of the cost of tuition.

Tuition information
Please note that tuition and fees are the same for US and international students.

Estimated cost of attendance information: living in Baltimore generally costs less than living in other major cities in the United States.

Qualifying students may be offered a wide array of loans including federal Perkins loans, Federal Direct Student loans (subsidized and unsubsidized), Federal Work Study, and/or Graduate PLUS loans. The Financial Aid Office does not offer need-based grant assistance. To apply for financial aid, please visit the Financial Aid Office.

Students are encouraged to visit the following for additional information and scholarship opportunities:


Can I enroll part-time or switch to part-time status during the program?

Yes. You may enroll part-time or switch to part-time status during any term. Due to course sequencing, students who enroll part-time are advised to enter the program during term 1.

Can I take bioethics courses without enrolling in the degree program?

Yes. Non-degree seeking students may register for MBE classes and earn academic credit as a Special Student Limited.

Special students can take up to 16 credits of graduate level courses without formally enrolling in a degree program. Credits can be transferred for students who are accepted into the full-time or part-time MBE program. Johns Hopkins employees may be eligible for tuition remission.

For general information on taking MBE courses, please visit the Non-Degree Seeking Students page.

During which term should I start the program?

All students should start the program in Term 1 of each academic year. View the academic calendar for more information.

How long does it take to complete the program?

We have worked to ensure full-time students are able complete all program requirements in one calendar year — 4 academic terms, plus a few credits during the summer.

Can I take courses online?

Yes. Students may elect to complete up to 9 credits online. Online courses must be pre-approved.

Can I work while enrolled in the program?

Typically, yes. Many courses are offered late in the day or in early evening to accommodate the schedules of working professionals.

Will I have an advisor?

Once you enroll in the program, the Program Director will help you develop an initial plan for your program of study. You will then be paired with faculty advisors aligned with your interests who will help you refine your study plan and guide you during your studies.

How can I satisfy the thesis requirement?

For the bioethics program thesis requirement (3 credits), students independently write a multi-part thesis on a specific topic in bioethics. Students must demonstrate an understanding of relevant theoretical, policy, and practical considerations in constructing a well-organized critical examination of the topic. You will work closely with your advisors to propose and select a thesis topic, identify thesis committee members, draft thesis sections, and prepare a final thesis. All students participate in a bioethics thesis seminar that supports the development and timely completion of the thesis.

What is the optional practicum?

Students may choose to complete an optional bioethics program practicum (3 credits), in which they are paired with faculty and affiliated mentors who supervise applied ethics learning experiences in highly active clinical, global, public policy, or research/research oversight practice environments. The practicum requires 48 direct contact hours with the placement site. Your faculty advisors will guide you in identifying and selecting a practicum site.

What careers are available in bioethics?

Learn more about careers in bioethics.

Application Deadlines
  • Priority application deadline: March 1
  • Final application Deadline (applications received after this date will not be reviewed): June 1

Apply Now

Program Leadership

Travis N. Rieder, PhD
Director of the MBE Program; Assistant Director for Education Initiatives; Associate Research Professor
Gail Geller, ScD, MHS
Director of Education Initiatives; Professor