The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Advising & Student Resources
Home / Certificates / Certificate in...

Certificate in Medical Humanities

What is Medical Humanities?

Medical Humanities brings the methods and concerns of humanities disciplines to bear on the study of health and health care. This interdisciplinary certificate provides the opportunity to approach medical issues—such as illness, treatment, disability, death, and health policy—from historical, philosophical, literary, and cultural perspectives. It also aims to nurture the skills of analysis, empathy, and self-reflection.

Who should pursue the certificate?

The 15-credit certificate is open to all UMass Amherst students, regardless of major. It will benefit students who plan to pursue careers in health care, by broadening their skills in analysis and communication, and by increasing their awareness of the cultural, social, and political dimensions of medical issues, practices, and services. However, it will also be of value to students in almost any field who have an interest in the subject.

It is possible to complete the certificate entirely online, thereby opening it to both matriculated and non-matriculated students. There are also a number of face-to-face courses, providing on-campus and Five College students with flexibility and choice.

If you're looking to complete this certificate fully online, please use our UWW Explore Classes tool to get updated information about which courses are offered in each term. Under "Program," select "Medical Humanities Certificate."

What are the requirements?

To complete the certificate, students must take two required courses and three electives.

Required Courses
Philosophy 164: Medical Ethics (4 credits, AT)

Spring 2023 (University and UWW - online), Summer 2023
History 264: History of Health Care and Medicine in the United States (4 credits, HS)

Summer 2023
Classics 250: Classical Origins of Western Medicine and Medical Terminology (HS)

English 317: (Dis)Ability and Literature (3 credits)

English 391NM: Narrative Medicine: How Writing Can Heal (3 credits)

Spring 2023 (University), Summer 2023
Italian 333: Representing Women's Bodies: Poetry, Politics, and Power (4 credts, AL)
Japanese 397E: Japan through its Afflictions (3 credits)

Spring 2023 (University)
LLC 451 Working with Trained Interpreters (2 credits)
LLC 552: Medical Interpreting (3 credits, language proficiency and department acceptance required)

Summer 2023
Philosophy 180: Death and the Meaning of Life (DG, SB)

Spring 2023 (UWW - online), Summer 2023
Spanish 456: Spanish Translation for Community Health Services
Spanish 356: Spanish for the Medical Professions
WGSS 205: Feminist Health Politics (3 credits)

Spring 2023 (University)
WGSS 285: Introduction to the Biology of Difference (4 credits, SI, DU)
WGSS 286: History of Sexuality and Race in the United States (DU, HS

Spring 2023 (UWW - online), Summer 2023
Discretionary elective option
A student may petition to have a maximum of one course not on this list counted as an elective, at the discretion of the Certificate’s academic advisor. Courses must cover a significant amount of material related to health and medicine, and related concepts such as disease, disability, etc., from a humanistic perspective. Neither of the required courses, Phil 164 or Hist 264, may be replaced by the discretionary elective.

What do I do when I'm done?

To get a certificate, simply take the required courses. When you have completed them, fill out the Certificate Clearance form and send to program director Sophie Horowitz for her signature.

Are you interested in pursuing the certificate? We would love to hear from you. Click the button below for more information on available courses and help completing the program or contact program director Sophie Horowitz.

Request Additional Information