Medical Humanities

The Medical Humanities Certificate offers an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the intersection of human experience, medical practice, and scientific technology. The program emphasizes how bioscience and health care take place within specific cultural and social contexts. Drawing from expertise across the University, this new program offers rich exposure to both the humanities and social sciences.

The Medical Humanities Program provides an opportunity to provide new models within and across fields and to foster collaborations between departments and programs. Research and Curriculum working groups promote ideas about medicine and health among the university by sharing research, applying for grants, and bringing in outside speakers and involve students in a more tangible, practical way.


Academic & Career Preparation

The demand for professionals who can synthesize the ethical, social, historical, and practical aspects of health care continues to grow. Purdue graduates who go on to take leading roles in the fields of medicine, engineering, science, and public policy should demonstrate an understanding of and an appreciation for the cultural and historical dimensions of their disciplines.

Students with Medical Humanities training have gone on to work in social/economic research, medicine, allied health professions, dentistry, health law, medical social work, nursing, public health, and public policy studies. This certificate will aid graduates pursuing degrees in pharmacy, medicine, occupational therapy, and other health professions, as well as law and graduate school programs to stand out.

Explore these examples of research on the importance of humanities in health professions programs.


Certificate Requirements

18 hours (6 courses) required with at least 6 hours from each the Social Science and Humanities Categories including more than 50 courses from across campus.

All students outside of the College of Liberal Arts will need to complete this form to register for the certificate and meet with their advisor in their home college in order to get approval. 

Other electives may be considered with a medical humanities focus with the permission of the program director.


Sample Courses

CLCS 38500 - Science, Medicine And Magic In The Ancient West

ENGL 42201 - Writing For The Health And Human Sciences

HIST 47005 - Women And Health In America

HIST 31505 - American Beauty

PHIL 28000 - Ethics And Animals

SPAN 32200 - Spanish For The Health Professions

ANTH 32500/SOC 35200  - Drugs, Culture, And Society

HIST 36305 - The History of Medicine and Public Health (SPRING SEMESTER)

Upcoming Events

Lithium Jesus

Lithium Jesus: A discussion with author Charles Monroe-Kane

Sponsored by Purdue University Department of History
February 22, 2017

BRNG 1230 5:00 pm

Beyond Risk: Social Influences of Young Women’s Health in Africa

Sponored by Center for Research on Young People's Health
Feb 24, 2017 Noon to 5pm
STEWART CENTER, Room 218
The Department of History’s Stover Lecture Series Presents

Margaret Humphreys

“Death and Diversity in Civil War Medicine”

Thursday March 2, 2017 7:00pm
Fowler Hall STEW Center 

Certificate Resources

Capstone Application

Capstone Frequently Asked Questions

Course Information

Purdue Admissions Website

Program Brochure - General

Department of History

Purdue Cancer Resource Guide

Purdue Cancer Culture and Community Colquium


"By looking back at the history and roots of diseases and medicine it really helped further the understanding of modern day practices and opinions in the medical field. Wanting to go into a medicine based field myself I found it very valuable to learn about the social mindsets around diseases rather than just the scientific facts to know the roots of how certain social stigmas came to be."

Morgan Kuenning
Pre-Pharmacy Major


"Medical humanities offers a really valuable opportunity to examine the social side of medicine. It's so easy to forget that beyond the molecules and pathologies, there are real people whose interactions, perspectives, and mentalities have an enormous impact on the field of medicine."

Shovik Bandyopadhyay
Biology Major
2016 Goldwater Scholar


"The medical humanities certificate at Purdue is a valuable opportunity for students particularly interested in pursuing careers in the healthcare field. Beyond the biomedical sciences courses required for students to understand the science behind medicine, medical humanities provides the depth and context necessary to build well-rounded and compassionate future healthcare professionals."

Nicole Biddinger
Biological Sciences Major

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

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