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Hi all! I'm hoping you might have some advice/clarity/insight on a decision I'm trying to make. I'll try to make it brief (and hopefully coherent)!

I'm applying to Bioethics + MSW programs at the University of Louisville (where those two are already an established dual degree program) and the University of Pittsburgh (which has both degrees but not integrated yet, so I'd do most of it separately). Both programs would take three years. If I were to qualify for in-state tuition (in either state), Louisville would be significantly less expensive. It also has an MSW specialization that's the only one of its kind and very much in line with my interests. 

The Bioethics program at Pitt is much more comprehensive - there is a two-part practicum (the opportunity to go on Grand Rounds, etc) as well as a thesis component. At UofL, other than the core coursework there is only a group capstone project. Maybe I'm wrong but it seems much less rigorous.

I'm torn because I don't know yet exactly what I'll want to do after graduation. I definitely want to be able to do counseling/work one-on-one with patients and families, and I've read that as far as the MSW goes, the rank/prestige of the program isn't nearly as important as the internship and actual work you've done. But I love research and writing, love bioethics, and I know I get burnt out on direct patient contact, so I really want to have those research-oriented options after I graduate. I don't think I see myself working in academia, but I would love to be able to serve on a bioethics committee or do consulting. 

So essentially my question is, how big a factor is the rank/prestige of a Bioethics MA program? Say that after I graduated I really wanted to pursue the bioethics research/consulting route, would a less-intense (but also less expensive and already-established dual degree) program like UofL's count me out of those opportunities? Would it weaken my application to potential PhD programs?

Thank you SO, so much for any advice. I'm feeling so stuck and just don't know how to weigh these options. 

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Dugan1989 said:

Hi all! I'm hoping you might have some advice/clarity/insight on a decision I'm trying to make. I'll try to make it brief (and hopefully coherent)!

I'm applying to Bioethics + MSW programs at the University of Louisville (where those two are already an established dual degree program) and the University of Pittsburgh (which has both degrees but not integrated yet, so I'd do most of it separately). Both programs would take three years. If I were to qualify for in-state tuition (in either state), Louisville would be significantly less expensive. It also has an MSW specialization that's the only one of its kind and very much in line with my interests. 

The Bioethics program at Pitt is much more comprehensive - there is a two-part practicum (the opportunity to go on Grand Rounds, etc) as well as a thesis component. At UofL, other than the core coursework there is only a group capstone project. Maybe I'm wrong but it seems much less rigorous.

I'm torn because I don't know yet exactly what I'll want to do after graduation. I definitely want to be able to do counseling/work one-on-one with patients and families, and I've read that as far as the MSW goes, the rank/prestige of the program isn't nearly as important as the internship and actual work you've done. But I love research and writing, love bioethics, and I know I get burnt out on direct patient contact, so I really want to have those research-oriented options after I graduate. I don't think I see myself working in academia, but I would love to be able to serve on a bioethics committee or do consulting. 

So essentially my question is, how big a factor is the rank/prestige of a Bioethics MA program? Say that after I graduated I really wanted to pursue the bioethics research/consulting route, would a less-intense (but also less expensive and already-established dual degree) program like UofL's count me out of those opportunities? Would it weaken my application to potential PhD programs?

Thank you SO, so much for any advice. I'm feeling so stuck and just don't know how to weigh these options. 

I didn't realize that Pitt had a bioethics program, despite familiarity with the philosophy department. This makes me wonder how philosophical the program might be, since it's wholly separate from the philosophy department.. No faculty in the philosophy department at Pitt do bioethics , and a quick look at faculty for the bioethics program shows only two people who have PhD's in philosophy, one of whom is an adjunct. I'm not sure what your expectations are, but if you're thinking that you'll be able to get a rigorous, philosophical background in bioethics, or be involved in the philosophy department at Pitt, I'd wonder about that. Then again, I might have similar worries about the U. of Louisville, but I suppose it might depend on what your goals are.

Have you looked at the social work forum? I suspect that you might get more informed answers about the Louisville program and the MSW program there.

 

 

Edited by hector549

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Posted (edited)

Thanks so much for your response!! I really appreciate it, and great to hear from someone who's familiar with Philosophy at Pitt. I'm surprised to hear there's not more overlap there. This may be unwise, but I don't feel too worried about that aspect because my focus is more on the practical side - getting to shadow physicians and really see the application of the theories is what excites me. It looks like only a couple of the UofL professors have PhDs in philosophy, too. Are you saying, though, that having less of a base in philosophy would be an impediment to future research positions? 

I checked out the social work forum a bit but will definitely keep looking! Thank you again!!

Edited by Dugan1989

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18 hours ago, Dugan1989 said:

Thanks so much for your response!! I really appreciate it, and great to hear from someone who's familiar with Philosophy at Pitt. I'm surprised to hear there's not more overlap there. This may be unwise, but I don't feel too worried about that aspect because my focus is more on the practical side - getting to shadow physicians and really see the application of the theories is what excites me. It looks like only a couple of the UofL professors have PhDs in philosophy, too. Are you saying, though, that having less of a base in philosophy would be an impediment to future research positions? 

I checked out the social work forum a bit but will definitely keep looking! Thank you again!!

My thought was that if you're looking for a very philosophical program in bioethics, that I'd wonder about how well the Pitt program would satisfy that desire. It doesn't sound as though that's what you're looking for. As for whether that will hinder the kind of work you want to do in the future, as long as you aren't thinking of applying to philosophy PhD programs or something of the sort, then I doubt it would much matter how philosophical the program is, but people in the medical or social-work fields will likely have more informed views on that than I.

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On 7/6/2019 at 2:02 AM, hector549 said:

My thought was that if you're looking for a very philosophical program in bioethics, that I'd wonder about how well the Pitt program would satisfy that desire. It doesn't sound as though that's what you're looking for. As for whether that will hinder the kind of work you want to do in the future, as long as you aren't thinking of applying to philosophy PhD programs or something of the sort, then I doubt it would much matter how philosophical the program is, but people in the medical or social-work fields will likely have more informed views on that than I.

Thank you again for your time and your thoughts!! 😊

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Posted (edited)

Here seem to be common bioethics MAs:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_masters_programs_in_bioethics#United_States[51]

The two programs you mentioned are on that list.

 

Another way to go about this is to consult the list of funded MAs in philosophy, created by Geoff Pynn

https://www.academia.edu/9666729/Funded_MA_Programs_in_Philosophy (also attached, in case you don't have Academia.edu account)

....and then look at some of the programs that sound enticing whether they have two or three faculty who do bioethics as a research interest (specialty ideally, competence minimum).

 

@hector549 gave some great advice. One thing I want to emphasize is that you need to discern whether you're going for a specialization in ethics under the umbrella of "Medical Humanities". For example, this conference https://wmich.edu/medicalhumanities/events/conference2019 ... If you see past programs in the archive, you'll notice that the speakers include a blend of doctors, philosophers, counselors, nurses, etc. who have an eye toward reforming policies and being sensitive to the impact of new technologies (https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u755/2018/2018_Conference_Program_1.pdf). Most people there, though, are philosophically interested, but not formally trained in philosophy as a rigorous enterprise. That is, they find the topics important and urgent, but many don't necessarily know how to separate the critical questions out and untangle the issues with nuance you expect for philosophy at a graduate level. Still a good venue. Still a good network. Just pointing out a difference.

 

Funded_MA_Programs_in_Philosophy.pdf

Edited by Duns Eith

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On 7/8/2019 at 9:02 PM, Duns Eith said:

Here seem to be common bioethics MAs:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_masters_programs_in_bioethics#United_States[51]

The two programs you mentioned are on that list.

 

Another way to go about this is to consult the list of funded MAs in philosophy, created by Geoff Pynn

https://www.academia.edu/9666729/Funded_MA_Programs_in_Philosophy (also attached, in case you don't have Academia.edu account)

....and then look at some of the programs that sound enticing whether they have two or three faculty who do bioethics as a research interest (specialty ideally, competence minimum).

 

@hector549 gave some great advice. One thing I want to emphasize is that you need to discern whether you're going for a specialization in ethics under the umbrella of "Medical Humanities". For example, this conference https://wmich.edu/medicalhumanities/events/conference2019 ... If you see past programs in the archive, you'll notice that the speakers include a blend of doctors, philosophers, counselors, nurses, etc. who have an eye toward reforming policies and being sensitive to the impact of new technologies (https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u755/2018/2018_Conference_Program_1.pdf). Most people there, though, are philosophically interested, but not formally trained in philosophy as a rigorous enterprise. That is, they find the topics important and urgent, but many don't necessarily know how to separate the critical questions out and untangle the issues with nuance you expect for philosophy at a graduate level. Still a good venue. Still a good network. Just pointing out a difference.

 

Funded_MA_Programs_in_Philosophy.pdf

Thank you so much for your help! That makes a lot of sense, and I want to make sure I get to study under people who are trained in philosophy. Do you mind if I ask you, do you think a program that doesn't have a thesis component (but instead a capstone project - working on active solutions vs research/writing about them) would be strong enough if I wanted to focus on research (or even a PhD) in the future? Everything else about this program seems great and the people I've talked to have been awesome; I'm just not sure how to weigh that against a seemingly less-rigorous curriculum. Thank you again for your input!! 

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On 7/10/2019 at 9:04 AM, Dugan1989 said:

Thank you so much for your help! That makes a lot of sense, and I want to make sure I get to study under people who are trained in philosophy. Do you mind if I ask you, do you think a program that doesn't have a thesis component (but instead a capstone project - working on active solutions vs research/writing about them) would be strong enough if I wanted to focus on research (or even a PhD) in the future? Everything else about this program seems great and the people I've talked to have been awesome; I'm just not sure how to weigh that against a seemingly less-rigorous curriculum. Thank you again for your input!! 

I am happy to help.

Honestly, I wouldn't know. My impression has been that a thesis would matter a lot, but professors I've spoken with about this think that it isn't necessary or very important.

For me, I went to a terminal MA that didn't require a thesis, and I didn't elect to do the thesis option. I didn't get into a well-ranked PhD program, but I wouldn't blame that on my program. Many of my peers who didn't do an MA thesis got offers from really, really good schools.

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On 7/12/2019 at 9:48 AM, Duns Eith said:

I am happy to help.

Honestly, I wouldn't know. My impression has been that a thesis would matter a lot, but professors I've spoken with about this think that it isn't necessary or very important.

For me, I went to a terminal MA that didn't require a thesis, and I didn't elect to do the thesis option. I didn't get into a well-ranked PhD program, but I wouldn't blame that on my program. Many of my peers who didn't do an MA thesis got offers from really, really good schools.

This has all been really helpful to hear. I talked to a couple professors last week who actually said the same thing, that a thesis isn't (usually) as important as it seems - or at least it isn't the only good option. Thank you again for your advice!! 

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