Concurrent J.D.-Ph.D. In Medical Humanities

UTMB’s Institute for the Medical Humanities and the Health Law and Policy Institute at the University of Houston Law Center have agreed to offer selected students the opportunity to complete concurrently both the J.D. and the Ph.D degrees.  The concurrent degree plan will provide an opportunity to obtain a J.D. and Ph.D. in approximately six years of study. It aims to serve a small number of highly qualified students with an academic interest in law (such as bioethics, legal history, medical jurisprudence, or health policy) and the humanities.

To be eligible for the concurrent degree track, a student must meet the admission requirements of both institutions. Certain courses taken in the medical humanities would count toward a law degree–up to twelve semester hours of approved lecture and seminar courses. Similarly, certain health law courses would count toward elective credit for the medical humanities degree–up to three courses or nine semester hours.

This unique collaboration between the Institute for the Medical Humanities and the Health Law and Policy Institute will allow serious and well-qualified scholars at an early stage in their careers to obtain both professional training and interdisciplinary academic education. In particular, the concurrent degree plan will enhance students' ability to obtain a rich understanding of how the values, theories, and ideas of the humanities are tied to law and health care.

We expect that this concurrent degree plan will accept two or three students during the next five years.  In the future, we will seek additional fellowship support for outstanding candidates.

 Among the many courses available at the Health Law and Policy Institute, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, Texas, through the concurrent J.D.-Ph.D. degree track, are the following:

 Health Law Courses


    Explores financial and end-of-life planning for the elderly, including the use of trusts, wills, advance directives, and powers of attorney; examines the role of the guardian and attorney ad litem; analyzes the role of Medicare and Medicaid; and considers the legal aspects of home health, assisted living, and nursing home alternatives for senior citizen care.

    Is an introductory health law course focusing on bioethics and the mechanisms for assuring quality of health care. Bioethics topics include death and dying, reproductive technologies, organ donation/transplantation, and public health. The course also surveys the major mechanisms ensuring the quality of health care, including medical malpractice and professional licensure.

    Explores the legal implications of HIV infection for public health policy, education, employment, insurance, health care, and criminal law.

    Is a study of current topics in law and psychiatry, including civil commitment, right to treatment, right to refuse treatment, competency to stand trial, the insanity defense, and the psychiatrist's role in the sentencing process.

    Examines the legal, ethics, and policy aspects of current controversies in bioethics. Topics include privacy and confidentiality, terminal care decisions, patients' rights to refuse treatment, organ donation and transplantation, and experimentation involving human subjects.

    Examines the gender implications of the health care system. Gender issues arise in many contexts, including reproductive rights, confidentiality and informed consent, health care financing, insurance, and criminal law.
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