Planning Your Minor

The Medical Humanities minor requires an application and approval by the committee to enroll. Applications are read in March and October each year; the minor is not open to students beyond October of their junior year.

Minor courses should be selected in relation to your major and your interests. Try to take the required Introductory course, ENGL 2212, as early as possible in the minor, as it will introduce you to a range of disciplinary approaches (and to several BC faculty) that will help you to choose subsequent courses. Try to shape your electives around one of the following thematic clusters:

  • Global/Public Health
  • Values and Ethics
  • Mind and Body
  • Health Care Delivery
  • Medical narrative, writing, and representation

The Courses link will show you which courses will be offered in the minor in 2017-2018. If you have questions about courses that you’ve taken previously, please check with the Director; this list is not exhaustive.

Application Procedures for the Minor in Medical Humanities, Health and Culture: AY 2017-2018

The Committee will review applications twice this year: in early October, and in early March. We are unable to accept applications from juniors after the fall cycle; freshmen should wait until spring semester to apply.

If you would like to pursue the minor, the application form is available in PDF format. (If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, please go to www.bc.edu/software/applications/readers.html to download a copy.) Please be sure to sign and return the first page of your application, as this authorizes Medical Humanities to request a transcript on your behalf.

Along with this authorization, please compose a short personal statement (no more than 500 words) giving us a sense of why you would like to pursue the minor, and what makes you well-suited for interdisciplinary studies. (An example or brief story about yourself is usually more helpful than a cluster of adjectives.) If you have a passion or an activity that’s important to you, it would be great to include that. If you know your major, let us know what it is.

Applications are due October 1 for the fall cycle, and March 1 for the spring cycle. The Committee will email decisions by the second or third week of October and March, in time for the minor’s pre-registration meeting. All juniors will be able to enroll in the Intro course in the spring semester, as will many sophomores; we will also run the Intro course again next year for anyone with a conflict.

Electives taken prior to enrolling in the minor will count once you enroll. For students weighing study abroad: we are now able to offer credit for an elective taken overseas, but that depends on approval by the curriculum committee on your return.

Thanks for your interest in the minor; feel free to e-mail the Director, Prof. Boesky at boesky@bc.edu with any questions, or drop by office hours if you want to talk about courses, the structure of the minor, or the application process.


In order for a course taken abroad to be considered for MHHC minor credit, it should be consistent with the Medical Humanities as the interdisciplinary, humanistic and cultural study of illness, health, health care, and the body. Consideration requires an application and approval by the Medical Humanities Program.

Courses must be taken in a program approved by the Office of International Programs. Courses should not be substantially similar to a course that the student has already taken at Boston College. No more than one course taken abroad can be applied toward the minor.

Deadlines for submitting courses for approval are October 1 and March 1. Along with the syllabus and a brief description of the course, please submit your work that fulfilled a representative assignment (i.e. your paper that constituted the largest part of your grade). If the course required only tests or another form of evaluation, please write a paragraph about your learning through the testing or evaluation process. Students must submit these materials to Medical Humanities at medical.humanities@bc.edu. If necessary, the program will ask for additional information.

Structure and Requirements

The Medical Humanities Minor consists of 18 credits, or six courses:

  • ENGL 2212, required for all minors, to be taken as early as possible in your career
  • Four electives, drawn from a designated list
  • An approved advanced elective, to be taken in the junior or senior year
  • A senior presentation. Minors can give a brief (3-4 minute) presentation in May of their senior year or write a short (250 words) reflective piece that will be shared with the senior class.
  • One elective towards the minor may be taken abroad upon approval from the Curriculum Committee. Ordinarily, credit will only be granted on returning from the program, on evaluation of the syllabus and graded work done in the course.

Courses beyond ENGL 2212 must be drawn from at least three different departments, but one of these can be from your major. In Arts and Sciences, students need 15 “unique” credits towards the minor, but the remaining three credits (one course) may “co-count” for your major or the Core.

Several three-week courses offered through the Office of International Programs count towards elective credit in the minor. See the OIP website for more information.

One elective from an OIP-approved program can be counted towards the minor.

Advising: Informal advising sessions are held before fall and spring registration. In addition, minors are encouraged to meet with either Professor Boesky (boesky@bc.edu) or Colleen Taylor (taylorft@bc.edu) to set up advising sessions when needed.

Advanced Electives

The following courses count as advanced electives in 2016-2017 (all writing intensive):

  • ECON 3390 Applied Health Economics
  • ENGL 4434 Writing Mental Health
  • HIST 4485 History of Medicine and Public Health in the African Diaspora
  • PHIL 5598 Law, Medicine and Ethics
  • PSYC 4436 Clinical Fieldwork in Psychology
  • THEO 3598 Law, Medicine and Ethics
  • THEO 5498 HIV/AIDS and Ethics
  • TMCE 7052 Theological Bioethics: From the Basics to the Future
  • TMPS 7148 Poverty and Mental Illness
  • TMCE 8072 Human Genetics and Biotechnologies: Challenges for Science and Religion

Note: Even if you have already taken one of these courses, you are required to take one in your junior or senior year.