MSW/MA in Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics

MSW/MA Dual Degree Program 

Combining the MSW and MA degrees prepares students to be innovative leaders and change agents working in critical intersections of social work and medical humanities, compassionate care and bioethics, concerning direct practice and policy. Programs addressing bioethics too often focus exclusively on ethical dilemmas in healthcare and the life sciences without adequately attending to the patient’s illness experience. At Stony Brook, the MA devotes equal attention to bioethics, medical humanities and the dynamic of compassionate care at a time when patients and healthcare professionals may find the healthcare system challenging. The MA focuses on enhancing students’ understanding of the integration of technology and science with individuals and society and the MSW focuses on individual and societal well-being. Combining these two foci within a dual degree program trains students to develop a keen understanding of the principles and problem resolution techniques that are central to bioethics along with the clinical practice skills to help individuals and families restore or enhance their capacity for social functioning, and to work to create societal conditions that promote social justice. This knowledge base will afford social workers and bioethicists the training to address the numerous complex ethical dilemmas, the patient’s experience and social injustices in health care, mental health, aging and disability, in order to create a lasting impact in our rapidly evolving society. 

Employment: The right degree at a pivotal time in history for specialized healthcare social workers. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), healthcare social workers are in demand in all areas of the healthcare sector–hospitals, home healthcare services, family, nursing facilities and outpatient care. Some of the highest density of healthcare social workers in the United States are found in New York, ranking second and metropolitan New York having the highest employment of healthcare social workers. Combined with training as a bioethicist, healthcare social workers are viewed as acquiring a highly desirable specialized level of expertise necessary to address the current challenges and dilemmas that routinely arise in healthcare settings. 

Benefits of the MSW/MA dual degree at Stony Brook University: 

Career flexibility: Become eligible for social work licensure (LMSW* and/or LCSW*) in New York State. Only students who are in the Integrated Health specialization at SSW are able to apply for this dual degree.

Cost-efficient: Earn two highly desirable Masters degrees in a shorter period of time.
Interprofessional training in a healthcare setting: Participate in an active learning community alongside students and faculty from a variety of health professions in Stony Brook University’s Health Sciences Center, including Medicine and Nursing in addition to experts in Disability Studies, Ethics, History, Law, Literature, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and the Social Sciences. Several of our faculty integrate perspectives from the humanities with their experience as healthcare providers.

Special Note:

Students in the combined MSW/MA program pay the graduate MSW tuition rate. For more information visit:

MSW/MA Academic Schedule
Sample Program
(Most MSW classes and all MA classes take place at the Stony Brook University campus)

HWC 500 - Field Education I HWC 501 - Field Education II
HWC 504 - Human Behavior and the Social Environment I HCB – 502 Landmark Cases in Bioethics
HWC 509 - Foundations of Social Justice: Challenging Oppression HWC 510 - Social Policy & Social Determinants
HCB 501- Compassionate Care, Medical Humanities, and the Illness Experience HWC 512 - Research II
HWC 513 - Social Work Practice I HWC 514 - Social Work Practice II
HWC - 511 Research I (online) HWC 519 - Psychopathology & Psychopharmacology
  HCB 511 - Bioethics, Disability and Community

HWC 502 - Field Education III

HWC 503 - Field Education IV
HWC 564 - Advanced Practice I: Assessment and Skills in Integrated Health HWC 565 - Advanced Practice II: Strategies and Interventions in Integrated Health
HWC 574 - Clinical Skills: Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in Integrated Health (IH) HWC 576 - Integrated Health: Advanced Health Policy Systems
HCB 521 - Clinical Ethics Practicum HCB - Bioethics Elective
HCB 503 - Traditions/Values in Bioethical Conflicts HCB 599 - Capstone Course will serve as HWC 505 - Integrating Seminar
HWC - Social Work Elective      HWC – Social Work Elective
  HCB - Bioethics Elective


Students who wish to be considered for admission into the combined MSW/MA program must comply with all admission requirements for each degree, (MSW and MA) including completion of 2 separate applications. Please note: When completing the MSW application, select the MSW/MA option to be considered for the dual degree.


If you have questions about admission or would like more information about the program, you are encouraged to contact Dr. Michelle Ballan at 917-406-1446 or e-mail: