Frequently Asked Questions

Center for Bioethics, Health, and Society

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Bioethics?

Bioethics is a field of scholarly endeavor that addresses ethical and policy issues raised by the life sciences and their human applications. It reaches from the laboratory to health care delivery to industry and government, affecting not only individuals but also the wider society. Bioethics is thus broadly interdisciplinary – both a theoretical enterprise and a practical competence.

What prior studies does this program require?

Bioethics is fundamentally multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. Thus, our students come from many different academic and professional backgrounds.

Who should apply to the MA in Bioethics?

Graduate bioethics education enhances work, service, and scholarship in a number of areas. In order to heighten the value of the learning process, we seek a broad and diverse community of students, including current and future health care providers, researcher in biomedicine and the life sciences, lawyers, and professionals in religion, health and research administration, and the biotechnology industry.

How will graduate study in bioethics enhance my career?

The Graduate Program in Bioethics equips graduates to practice, teach, and conduct research about bioethics, and is an excellent complement to other advanced degrees. People already employed in health-related fields have found that the master’s degree or graduate certificate enhances careers by creating opportunities within their professions or allowing them to branch out into other areas.  For graduates entering the workforce, graduate-level educations in bioethics is relevant to a variety of jobs, including health administration, clinical care, and research, law, and public policy.

Who makes up the student body?

A majority of students are mid-career professionals in fields as diverse as biotechnology, business, consulting, clinical research, journalism, law, life sciences, nursing, medicine, ministry, pharmaceuticals, physician’s assistant practice, public health, public service, etc.  We also enroll a number of post-baccalaureate students and dual degree students (JD/MA, MD/MA, MDiv/MA). Student profiles may be seen here.

How many credit hours does the program require?

The MA requires a total of 30 credit hours: 24 hours of course work (~8 courses) and 6 hours of thesis work. The Graduate Certificate requires 12 credit hours of course work (~4 courses), including at least 9 hours of required courses.

Are joint degree programs available?

Yes. Joint degrees facilitate an interdisciplinary and comparative study of another discipline and bioethics and prepare students whose academic or career interests require gaining scholarly expertise in both.  Joint degrees are currently available with the Wake Forest Schools of Divinity, Law, and Medicine. You can find more information here.

Are dual degree programs available?

There is the option of a dual degree - BA or BS plus the MA in Bioethics - that allows qualified Wake Forest undergraduates to begin early graduate studies that advance career interests in many disciplines and professions related to bioethics, see dual degree program.

How long does it take to complete the MA?

How long does it take to complete the MA?

Full-Time students typically enroll for three semesters (e.g. fall, spring, fall OR spring, fall, spring), though they only enroll with full-time tuition for 2 semesters.  It is also possible to complete an accelerated program in approx. 11 1/2 months.  Please contact the Program Administrator ( with questions about this. Part-Time students have up to 6 years to complete the degree and can take as little as 1 and as many as 3 courses per semester.

Can I take courses on a non-matriculating basis?

Yes.  Students are welcome to take a class without enrolling in a degree or certificate program.  Based on program and instructor permission, students may take up to 6 credit hours (~ 2 courses) in the exploratory status.  If a student applies and is accepted to a program of study, then the earned course credit counts toward the degree or certificate.

When can I start the program?

Students may start the program in either the fall (August) or the spring (January) semester.

Are courses available online?

Not at this time.

Can I take courses as an undergraduate?

There are a number of undergraduate courses in bioethics offered on the Reynolda campus.  Please check the course schedule for more information.  Prospective graduate students are welcome to sit in on graduate class meetings.

There is also the option of the dual degree, BA/BS & MA in Bioethics, that allows qualified Wake Forest undergraduates to begin early graduate studies that advance career interests in many disciplines and professions related to bioethics, see dual degree program.

Prospective graduate students are welcome to sit in on graduate class meetings.

What are classes like?

Most courses meet once a week in the late afternoon and evening to accommodate work schedules. Small class sizes and versatile curricular and research options enable students to tailor the program to individual interests and passions.  Courses are usually dependent upon facilitated discussion and student engagement.

What courses are available to MA students?

The curriculum for MA in Bioethics students consists of required courses and elective courses. All MA students must take Bioethics Theory, Bioethics Seminar, and Thesis Research. Students are required to take 2 of 3 courses: Clinical Ethics; Biomedical Research Ethics; and Public Policy, Medicine and Justice. All MA students must also complete  12 credit hours of electives. Course descriptions may be found here.

Why study bioethics at Wake Forest?

Wake Forest has a national focus and a strong sense of ethics and public mission. Bioethics is necessarily collaborative and interdisciplinary, forming natural bridges among the sciences, the humanities, and the professions. Wake Forest University’s unique scale and composition and its highly collegial atmosphere create an ideal environment for students of bioethics to flourish.

What sets this Bioethics MA program apart from other programs?

In addition to its renowned and accessible faculty and its diversity of engaged students, the program is uniquely customizable, flexible, and personal. The small class sizes and versatile curricular offerings enable students to tailor the program to individual interests and passions. Evening and once-a-week classes ensure that the program can change with a student’s evolving needs. Our intentionally small program emphasizes face-to-face interaction, promotes essential scholarly and interpersonal communicative capabilities, and fosters close relationships among faculty and students.

Who are the faculty members?

A list of our faculty members can be found here.

How much does the program cost?

Financial support for the Bioethics Program is available through institutional and federal sources.  Most students receive substantial financial support.  The tuition rates set for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences form the cost basis for the program and can be found here. Wake Forest University and Wake Forest University Health Sciences employees also may be eligible for tuition concession. Prospective students are encouraged to apply to the program so that their eligibility for financial support can be determined.  For more information, see here.

Is there financial support available?

Financial support for the Bioetihcs Program is available through institutional and federal sources.  Prospective students are encouraged to apply to the program so that their eligibility for financial support can be determined.  For more information, see here.

Are there research assistant or teaching assistant positions available?

The availability of research assistant positions varies per year and is based on a number of factors.  Please check with the program for available positions.  There are no teaching assistant positions.

Is there university housing available?

The Graduate School does not offer on-campus housing.   The Wake Forest University housing office does offer some off-campus housing information here.

Can I make a campus visit?

Students are encouraged to observe a class, talk with current students, and meet with the Associate Director. For more information or to set up a tour, e-mail or call 336-716-1499.

When are applications due?

The MA in Bioethics program begins review of applications for fall enrollment on January 15 and accepts application after this date on a rolling basis. There is a priority deadline of November 1 for spring enrollment.

Do I need to take the GRE?

Applicants to the Graduate School are ordinarily required to have taken the GRE within the past 5 years.
The GRE requirement may be waived for Master of Arts in Bioethics applicants who meet certain criteria. Please see Application Procedures for more information.
Determination of eligibility for waiver is made by the Bioethics Program Admissions Committee. Applicants seeking waiver of the GRE requirement should send a request along with a current curriculum vitae or resume to Vicky Zickmund, The Admissions Committee may request more information before making a decision. Waiver requests should be submitted in time for prospective students to take the GRE if necessary.
Waiver of the GRE requirement does not guarantee admission to the program.

How do I submit my GRE or other standardized test scores?

Instructions on how to submit GRE scores can be found here. For instructions on the submission of other standardized test scores (e.g. MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, etc.), please contact

What are the application requirements?

The application requirement checklist can be found here.

Where do I find the application?

The online application can be found here. As well as printable applications.

Where do I send supplemental application materials?

Dean of the Graduate School
Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road
Room 6, Reynolda Hall
PO Box 7487 Reynolda Station
Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7487

Is an interview required for acceptance?

An interview is not required for admission; however the Admissions Committee may request an interview.

When will I hear if I’m accepted?

Applicants will be notified as soon as possible once all application materials have been received. Timing of notification is dependent upon time of application.

Will I be notified when my application and materials are received?

The Wake Forest University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences will notify applicants periodically if application materials have been received or are outstanding.

How are the recommendation letters sent in?

Instructions for letters of recommendation may be found here.

Are there in-state resident rates?

The tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state students.

Who can I contact if I have more questions?

Vicky L. Zickmund, MBA, MHS
Associate Director, Master of Arts in Bioethics
Division of Public Health Sciences
Wells Fargo Center13th Floor
Medical Center Boulevard
Winston-Salem, NC 27157
p 336 716 1499
f 336 716 7554

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