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Course content

The Narrative Medicine master's program seeks to strengthen the overarching goals of medicine, public health, and social justice, as well as the intimate, interpersonal experiences of the clinical encounter. The program fulfills these objectives by educating a leadership corps of health professionals and scholars from the humanities and social sciences who will imbue patient care and professional education with the skills and values of narrative understanding.
Health care and the illness experience are marked by uneasy and costly divides: between those in need who can access care and those who cannot, between health care professionals and patients, and between and among health care professionals themselves. Narrative medicine is an interdisciplinary field that challenges those divisions and seeks to bridge those divides. It addresses the need of patients and caregivers to voice their experience, to be heard and to be valued, and it acknowledges the power of narrative to change the way care is given and received.
Program structure
The Narrative Medicine graduate degree requires 38 points to complete. Those studying full-time can complete the program in one academic year plus the following summer, and for a few students, in one academic year. Students electing to study on a part-time basis can complete the degree in two years. The part-time option is designed to accommodate the professional obligations of students who are employed. This is a rigorous and concentrated program that demands a serious commitment of time and energy. Students are expected to devote significant time to completing reading assignments, class assignments, and term projects outside of class.
Degree requirements include the five Core Courses in Narrative Medicine (22 points) and the Research Methodology course (4 points), which is required for all students who have not taken a graduate-level course in research methodology, with a focus on qualitative research and/or evaluative research. The remaining 12 to 16 points may include any combination of (1) additional Topics in Narrative Medicine courses; (2) elective courses chosen from other departments (up to six points: note that many graduate courses in other departments are three points each); Independent Study (one to four points) and/or (4) a Capstone (two to four points).
The core curriculum of this pioneering M.S. in Narrative Medicine combines intensive exposure to narrative writing and close reading skills, literary and philosophical analysis, and experiential work, with the opportunity to apply this learning in clinical and educational settings. Core courses provide the conceptual grounding for work in narrative medicine, and introduce the direct practice of teaching narrative competence to others. Students combine core curriculum work with more focused study of important and current topics in the field. Focused seminars draw on the resources of more than one discipline. Courses rotate to reflect the current concerns, methodologies, and analytic approaches of narrative scholars and practitioners. To allow students to individualize their professional education in narrative medicine, they may choose electives from among a wide range of offerings at the University, with advice and approval of the faculty adviser. Electives enable students to gain knowledge in academic disciplines they wish to pursue (e.g., medical anthropology) or in subject areas of special professional interest (e.g. aging).The optional Capstone Project offers a wide range of opportunities for supervised or mentored work: a clinical placement, a program development and/or evaluation project, a scholarly thesis, or a writing project. It may combine independent work with a summer intensive workshop, such as the Columbia University Oral History summer workshop or an intensive writing workshop. The requirement can also be satisfied by clinical practicums that may include teaching, witnessing, or serving as a teaching assistant.

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Research Methodology
All students who have not taken a graduate-level course in research methodology, with a focus on qualitative research and/or evaluative research, are required to take our Research Methods in Narrative Medicine course
Funding and Financial Resources
We want to make sure that the cost of your continuing education and professional studies do not stand in the way of your goals.
Most students at the School of Professional Studies use a combination of savings, scholarships, loans, outside grants, sponsors, or employer tuition benefits to cover the cost of attendance. However you choose to finance your education, consider it an investment in your future, and know that we, in conjunction with the Office of Student Financial Planning, are here to help and advise you along the way.

You can find more information on the funding available here:




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