Skip navigation Jump to main navigation

Health Advisory Regarding Coronavirus COVID-19

Online Classes: Columbia will remain open, but all classes for the remainder of the semester will be conducted online. Visit the link below for important information about the virus’s symptoms and current recommendations. Learn More
Close alert

Curriculum & Courses


  • 38 points for degree completion
  • On-campus instruction only
  • Fall intake only
  • Up to 6 terms to complete 
  • Practicum/Independent Study

International students are responsible for ensuring they have read and understand the University’s student visa application eligibility and requirements. Please note that it is not permissible to enroll while in B-1/B-2 status. In addition, if studying on a student visa, you must enroll full-time (12 credits per term) and study on campus.

The Narrative Medicine graduate degree requires 38 points to complete. 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 program development and/or evaluation project, a scholarly thesis, or a creative 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.

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.


Core Courses

Topics in Narrative Medicine

Practicum/Independent Study