Carnegie Mellon University

Additional Major in Health Humanities

The additional major in Health Humanities is grounded in a scientific, social scientific and humanistic approach that recognizes the fact that study of the human experience includes essential empirical, as well as interpretive and analytical elements. The program integrates body- and anatomy-based coursework with consideration of social, ethical and cognitive factors of health. A nuanced understanding of health as part of the human experience requires a complex and focused course of study, equally informed by scientific understanding, quantitative skills, communication skills and the ability to reflect and interpret health issues on one’s own with a goal of relating compassionately to others. Our program achieves this integration by combining coursework in life sciences, humanities, social sciences and technology to offer students rigorous preparation for a variety of career and graduate study options in fields that deal with health issues.


The Health Humanities additional major requires a total of 11 courses and the completion of a capstone project.

Required Courses:

Complete the following five (5) required courses:

  1. 03-135: Structure and Function of the Human Body
    or 03-132: Basic Science to Modern Medicine
    or 42-202 Physiology
  2. 03-133: Neurobiology of Disease
    or 03-161: Molecules to Mind
    or 09-303, Hooked: The Molecular Basis of Addiction
    or 85-219: Biological Foundations of Behavior
  3. 79-330: Medicine and Society
  4. 80-245: Medical Ethics
  5. Statistics: 36-200, 36-202, 36-247, or a course to be pre-approved

Health and the Human Experience

Choose three (3) of these courses, including two (2) at a 300 or 400 level:

  • 85-104: Psychopathology
  • 76-241: Introduction to Gender Studies
  • 76-282: Disability in Pop Culture
  • 79-331: Body Politics: Women and Health in America
  • 85-350: Psychology of Prejudice
  • 85-442: Health Psychology
  • 85-443: Social Factors and Well Being
  • 85-446: Psychology of Gender

Health Behaviors and Decisions

Choose two (2) of these courses, including one (1) at an upper level:

  • 80-447: Global Justice
  • 80-348: Health, Human Rights, and International Development
  • 88-230: Human Intelligence and Human Stupidity
  • 88-302: Behavioral Decision Making (pre-reqs: 36-200 & 88-120)
  • 85-241: Social Psychology
  • 85-358: Pro-Social Behavior

Reasoning and Communicating About Health

Choose one (1) of these courses:

  • 76-270: Writing in the Health Professions
  • 88-120: Reason, Passion and Cognition
  • 76-327: Equity & Communication: Strategies for Institutional Change
  • 76-395: Science Writing
  • 76-494: Healthcare Communication (pre-reqs: 76-270 or 76-395 or 76-271)

Capstone Project (9 units)

Students will develop and carry out a research project that investigates how at least two topics from topical areas above intersect, analyzing how these topics inform the humanities’ influence on health. Traditionally, a capstone experience invites students to reflect on and/or synthesize the knowledge and the methods they have learned throughout their undergraduate years. We endorse this requirement but interpret it liberally. Students may satisfy this requirement by completing a capstone project, course or other experience worth at least 9 units. Capstone experiences can be supervised by faculty anywhere in the university. A wide variety of experiences can satisfy this requirement, including an honors thesis, an interdisciplinary student-team project managed by a department or the Dean's office or a creative project.

Students should work with the Health Humanities advisor to initiate the process of identifying their capstone topic and advisor during the fall of their senior year at the latest. Students will be required to submit a written proposal of their capstone project, signed by their faculty advisor, before the end of the semester preceding that in which the capstone project will be completed.