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Health Humanities B.S.

A multidisciplinary curriculum illuminates social factors affecting health outcomes, provides training in basic bioethics and prepares students for human-centered challenges in health-related careers.
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Health humanities complements the sciences to prepare students for the human-centered challenges involved in health-related careers. Coursework focuses on topics like biomedical ethics, the sociology of disability and the impact of stress on health.

About this Program

  • Bolster your cultural, historical, ethical and social knowledge relevant to health and the health professions.
  • Learn about the social determinants of health, such as links between poverty and health or race and health outcomes.
  • Learn new ways of thinking about disability, as well as about the impact of illness on people’s lives, and increase your empathy and tolerance for ambiguity—important skills in the health professions.
  • Improve your analytical writing and critical thinking skills and apply them to health-related topics.
  • Pursue undergraduate research and internship opportunities to practice these real-world skills you’ve acquired.
  • Explore different career options: Through one-on-one academic advising, internships and career conversations, find a health-related career that best suits your interest in health, disease, healing and disability.
  • Gain an edge in your MCAT performance (with our emphasis on critical thinking and bioethics) and admissions to medical schools or prepare for successful further study in health-related fields.

Program Information

Degree Type






College or School

Career Path

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College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) is Syracuse University’s first and largest college. As the home of the liberal arts, our internationally recognized programs provide the cornerstone of a Syracuse University education with 50+ majors in the natural sciences and mathematics, the humanities and the social sciences (in partnership with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs).
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As a health humanities student, you will take core requirements in areas such as medical ethics, bioethics and sociology. Then, you’ll choose from elective courses across the following categories: health and global concerns, health and social concerns, stages of life, health in communities, and health and communication. Finally, during your senior year you will complete a capstone course that requires a capstone project.

  • Accurately characterize the field of health humanities.
  • Describe, compare and contrast some basic theories and methods in the humanities and social sciences, particularly as they relate to the health humanities.
  • Describe how health humanities complements your primary major.
  • Apply knowledge of the health humanities to critically evaluate, orally and in writing, media items and other statements or claims related to health, illness and health care.
  • Demonstrate an ability, orally and in writing, to engage in well-informed, culturally sensitive moral reflection about specific topics related to health, illness, disability and/or health care.
  • Demonstrate adequate knowledge of different cultural and historical understandings of health, illness, and/or disability, as well as an understanding of social determinants of health and health inequalities.
  • Demonstrate an ability to engage in long-term cumulative learning in the health humanities, culminating in a research project presented to peers.
  • Demonstrate a willingness and ability to empathetically consider others’ perspectives.

The health humanities major is an integrated learning major, meaning that it must be paired with a primary major. The primary major determines whether a student will graduate with a B.A. or B.S. degree. For example, a student who pursues the B.A. in psychology alongside their health humanities coursework will graduate with a B.A., whereas a student who pursues the B.S. in biology alongside their health humanities coursework will graduate with a B.S.

Extracurricular Opportunities

Community service

Global Medical Brigades

Global Medical Brigades is an international movement of students and medical professionals working alongside local communities and staff to implement sustainable health systems. Student volunteers travel to assist health care efforts in remote, rural and under-resourced communities in Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua and Ghana, where there is otherwise limited or no access to health care. Global Brigades also supports communities with economic development, sanitation and clean water projects, and uniquely implements these programs in a holistic model to meet a community’s health and economic goals.

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Student organization

Rebecca Lee Pre-Health Society

The Rebecca Lee Pre-Health Society—named after Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first African American woman in the U.S. to earn an M.D.—is a student organization designed to promote and encourage a diverse group of pre-health students to attend professional health schools, including those for medicine, physician assistant, physical therapy, public health, pharmacy and other health careers. Students from all majors are welcome to join this organization.

Student organization

Syracuse University Ambulance

Syracuse University Ambulance is a volunteer group of students who provide intermediate life support, transport, rapid cardiac defibrillation as well as non-emergency transportation on and around Syracuse’s campus. Members are EMT-certified by trained professionals and respond to more than 1,500 calls for emergency service every year, providing 24/7 coverage for the community.

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