Sample Program Curricula

This tool offers suggested templates for designing the curriculum of your Health Humanities program. Please note that these are suggested outlines and not required ones. You can find templates for Baccalaureate Minor, Baccalaureate Certificate, Baccalaureate Major (BS and BA), Graduate Certificate, and Masters degrees. 

These examples are broad, generalized samples of what a health humanities academic program could look like at various educational levels (minor, baccalaureate certificate, and Bachelor of Arts degree; graduate certificate; Masters degree). These samples are composites from many existing programs. Please note that the “HHUM” prefix is not required and was used only for demonstration purposes. Most course names are generic and likely there are courses with more specific names that fall within that particular topic (e.g. “History” could be a stand-in for “Ancient Greek Medicine”, “Ayurvedic Medicine in Pre-Colonial India,” “European Medicine in the Enlightenment,” or “American Medicine in the 20th Century”). 

Also note that these lists are not comprehensive and your institution may have existing courses that would fit well in a health humanities academic program. Being able to incorporate already existing courses at your university would strengthen your proposal–your program will fill empty seats in the existing courses, demonstrate interdisciplinarity and collaboration, and show being cognizant of resource limitations. However, a few new courses may be necessary to help students understand health humanities as a distinct transdisciplinary field (Introduction, Research Methods, Thesis/Project). 

One final note: these examples are suggestions and none of them are required to develop or to be designated a Health Humanities program. These lists should be taken as the starting point for conversations about curriculum that will evolve to meet the needs of your student body and play to the strengths of your existing faculty, curricula, and mission. 

Baccalaureate Minor

A minor program is usually 4-6 courses (the exact number and number of credits will vary depending on school and calendar) that establish a secondary area of academic study for a student. Students pursue these programs concurrently with a bachelor’s degree. This sample was designed to ensure students had a grounding in health humanities foundations. 

The minor in Health Humanities would be a ## credit-hour program. 

  1. Required courses
    1. HHUM 201 – Introduction to Health Humanities
    2. HHUM 205 – Introduction to Bioethics
    3. HHUM 210 – Research Methods in Health Humanities
  2. Elective courses [depending on the size of minor programs, you may want to add 1-3 of these as required courses (or choose 1 from each section) or have students “choose # of the following courses]
    1. Humanities – Disability Studies, Gender Studies and Medicine, Graphic Medicine (comics), Health in Film, History of Medicine, Literature and Medicine, Medical Rhetoric, Medicine and Media, Narrative Medicine, Philosophy of Medicine, Spirituality and Medicine, Writing for the Health Sciences
    2. Social sciences –  Health Communication, Health Economics, Medical Anthropology, Medical Sociology, Psychology, Public Health
    3. Fine and performing arts (with medical or health component)-  anatomical drawing, dance, digital arts, figure drawing, film video, music theory or performance, theater/acting 

Baccalaureate Certificate

An undergraduate certificate program usually provides students with a taste of a specialized knowledge base or skill set. Such programs can be pursued concurrently or independent of a degree. These are popular with students who want a value-added experience to their program of study and can sometimes be taken by recent graduates as well as enrolled undergraduate students. Certificates usually require 3 to 5 courses to complete.

  1. Required courses
    1. HHUM 201 – Introduction to Health Humanities
    2. HHUM 205 – Introduction to Bioethics
    3. HHUM 210 – Research Methods in Health Humanities
  2. Choose [2, 3, 4] courses from the following:
    1. Anatomical Drawing, Disabilities Studies, Figure Drawing, Film Studies, Graphic Medicine (comics), Health Disparities, Health Economics, History of Medicine, Introduction to Bioethics, Life Course (aging) Studies, Literature and Medicine, Medical Anthropology, Medical Sociology, Philosophy of Science, Psychology, Public Health, Research Methods of Health Humanities, Women’s Health, Writing (fiction or nonfiction)

Baccalaureate Major-Science (BS)

An undergraduate major is the primary area of study in which a student specializes. This course of learning usually contains the largest set of courses students complete in pursuit of their degree (though in some schools a general education or liberal arts curriculum may be the largest component of the degree). This sample assumes a student who wishes to pursue graduate or professional training in a clinical health-related field (such as pre-med, pre-nursing, etc.) and thus builds in those prerequisites into the major courses. Of course pre-professional students can pursue any major (and either our BS or BA model here), this BS example assumes that the graduate school prerequisites are built into the major.

  1. Required Health Humanities Core
    1. HHUM 201 – Introduction to Health Humanities
    2. HHUM 205 – Introduction to Bioethics
    3. HHUM 210 – Research Methods in Health Humanities
    4. Choose one of 
      • HHUM 202 – Narrative Medicine OR 
      • HHUM 203 – Literature and Medicine
    5. HHUM 399 – Capstone/Senior Project
  2. Required Science Core
    1. One year of general biology with lab 
    2. One year of general chemistry with lab 
    3. One year of organic chemistry with lab (not needed for pre-PT)
    4. One year of general physics with lab (not needed for pre-nursing)
    5. Biostatistics
    6. Microbiology 
    7. Calculus (pre-dentistry, pharmacy)
    8. Introduction to psychology (pre nursing; physician associate)
    9. Choice of
      • Genetics
      • Biochemistry (pre-podiatry; pharmacy; vet)
      • Anatomy & Physiology
  3. Electives: Choose one of the following: Anatomical Drawing, Disabilities Studies, Figure Drawing, Film Studies, Graphic Medicine (comics), Health Disparities, Health Economics, History of Medicine, Introduction to Bioethics, Life Course (aging) Studies, Literature and Medicine, Medical Anthropology, Medical Sociology, Philosophy of Science, Psychology, Public Health, Research Methods of Health Humanities, Women’s Health, Writing (fiction or nonfiction)

Baccalaureate Major- Arts (Bachelor of Arts)

An undergraduate major is the primary area of study in which a student specializes. This course of learning usually contains the largest set of courses students complete in pursuit of their degree (though in some schools a general education or liberal arts curriculum may be the largest component of the degree). This sample assumes a student who is interested in health but may not plan to pursue a clinical or research career (although they could do this model and then take the clinical prerequisite courses as non-major courses). Instead, they may be interested in public health, health administration, pharmaceutical sales, or pursuing either an MA or a PhD in humanities or social sciences, among other potential careers. 

  1. University liberal arts or general education requirements
  2. Required Health Humanities Core
  1. HHUM 201 – Introduction to Health Humanities
  2. HHUM 205 – Introduction to Bioethics
  3. HHUM 210 – Research Methods in Health Humanities
  4. Choose one of 
    • HHUM 202 – Narrative Medicine OR 
    • HHUM 203 – Literature and Medicine
  5. HHUM 390 – Experiential Learning/Practicum/Internship
  6. HHUM 399 – Capstone/Senior Project
  7. Students will also take elective courses from the following groups (with a distribution requirement)
    1. Additional Humanities course (e.g., Graphic Medicine (comics), Health in Film, Health Communication, History of Medicine, Philosophy of Medicine, Writing in the Health Sciences)
    2. Additional Social Science course (e.g., Health Economics, Medical Anthropology, Medical Sociology, Psychology, Public Health)
    3. Additional Fine Arts courses (e.g., Studio Art, Anatomical Drawing, Figure Drawing, Theater)
    4. If courses do not already integrate equity, diversity, and inclusion perspectives, then you may consider having area study courses (e.g., Aging studies, Asian studies, Black/African-American studies, Disabilities studies, Gender studies, Latinx studies, LGBQT studies, Native American/First Nation studies, Poverty studies, Social Justice Studies)

Graduate Certificate

Many universities do not have a formal classification for what a graduate certificate program is, in which case you have a great deal of flexibility. For others, there is a structure (such as number of courses, credit hours, or length of time) to be considered. Thus, a certificate could be recognition of completing a single course (e.g. “Overview of Health Humanities”) or it could be a formal course of study consisting of a number of courses (most commonly 5).

  1. Required courses
    1. HHUM 501 – Introduction to Health Humanities
    2. HHUM 529 – Bioethics
    3. HHUM 595 – Thesis or  Project
  2. Choose 2 of the following (note that students must fulfill prerequisites to take any of these courses): Disabilities Studies, Figure Drawing, Film Studies, Graphic Medicine (comics), Health Disparities, Health Economics, History of Medicine, Literature and Medicine, Medical Anthropology, Medical Sociology, Narrative Medicine, Philosophy of Science, Psychology, Research Methods of Health Humanities, Women’s Health, Writing

Graduate – Master of Arts

The MA in health humanities would be a [indicate number of] credit-hour program that students could complete in [number of years] year(s) full time or [number of years] years part-time.

A. All students in the MA program will take four foundational courses:

  1. HHUM 501 – Introduction to Health Humanities
  2. HHUM 502 – Methods of Health Humanities
  3. One of either:
    • HHUM 502 – Narrative Medicine OR 
    • HHUM 503 – Literature and Medicine
  4. HHUM 529 – Bioethics
  5. HHUM 550 – Practicum/Internship/Field Experience

B.  Students will also take ## additional elective courses from the following groups (note that students must fulfill prerequisites to take any of these courses):  

  1. # additional Humanities course (e.g., Graphic Medicine (comics), Health in film, Health Communication, History of Medicine, Philosophy of Medicine, Writing in the Health Sciences)
  2. # Social Science course (e.g., Health Economics, Medical Anthropology, Medical Sociology, Psychology, Public Health)
  3. # Fine Arts course (e.g., Anatomical Drawing, Digital Arts, Figure Drawing, Film making, Theater)
  4. If courses do not already integrate equity, diversity, and inclusion perspectives, then you may consider having area study courses (e.g., Aging Studies, Asian Studies, Black/African-American Studies, Disabilities Studies, Gender Studies, Latinx Studies, LGBQT Studies, Native American/First Nation studies, Poverty Studies). 

C. Students would also complete an original thesis or project. They could choose one of these options:

  1. HHUM 598 – Thesis OR
  2. HHUM 599 – Masters Project

How to Cite This Document

Health Humanities Consortium. “Sample Program Curricula.” HHC Curricular Toolkit. https://healthhumanitiesconsortium.com/publications/hhc-toolkit/. August 2021.

© 2021 Health Humanities Consortium. The HHC gives permission for this text to be used in part or in whole for the writing of any health humanities-related proposal without attribution to this source. 

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