Medicine, Health, and Society is an interdisciplinary field of research that critically examines the social foundations of health. Graduate students learn about health-related beliefs and practices in their political, social, and cultural contexts. The Center integrates scholarship in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences in order to teach students how to approach questions from multiple perspectives.

MHS offers an M.A. in the Social Foundations of Health through two graduate programs. The first, open to current Vanderbilt undergraduates, offers students the opportunity to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just five years of study through Vanderbilt’s 4+1 BA/MA program. Our second program, a one-year M.A. degree, is open to prospective students nationwide and emphasizes interdisciplinary research and critical perspectives on health and illness. Both are aimed at students who want to gain research experience, enhance their interdisciplinary training, and strengthen their applications before entering medical or professional school or seeking entry to doctoral programs. The center also offers a Certificate in Medicine, Health, and Society for graduate and professional students at Vanderbilt.

The M.A. in the Social Foundations of Health provides students with the interdisciplinary knowledge and skills that future healthcare professionals require. The field of contemporary health care is increasingly shaped by the realization that social, environmental, personal, and structural factors are as essential as basic biological processes to understanding patient’s illness and suffering. Social and cultural aspects of illness and health are a growing component of pre-health education. Many of our M.A. students go on to professional degree programs in medicine, law, and public health. Other recent graduates have accepted positions in research and healthcare consulting.

Prospective students apply to the one-year M.A. program online through the Vanderbilt Graduate School. MHS begins accepting applications for Fall 2020 on September 1, and the final deadline for submission of all materials is February 1, 2020.

Applications for the 4+1 BA/MA are due October 31, 2019 and should be emailed to For a completed application to the 4+1 combined BA/MA program, click here.

Questions about the MHS M.A. program? Contact your MHS adviser or Dr. JuLeigh Petty, Assistant Director of MHS, at

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