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Medical Humanities Scholars Program

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Medical Humanities Scholars Program

The Honors College and the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine are pleased to offer this exciting opportunity to a small number of incoming freshmen each year. In this sequential BA/MD program, Medical Humanities Scholars design unique interdisciplinary programs that allow them to enhance their study of medicine with other areas of academic interest from the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

Why Study the Medical Humanities?

Medicine is both art and science. It is the art of understanding humankind in the context of disease – not just recognizing or diagnosing the pathological condition, but seeing how an individual’s disease is a product of his or her environment, constitution, and personality. By exploring medicine through the lenses of the historian, the ethicist, the sociologist, the anthropologist, the writer, and the visual artist, students gain insights into the nature of the human condition, human suffering, personhood, and the responsibilities of individuals to one another in sickness and in health. These insights are valuable for both the aspiring clinician and anyone who will someday get sick and seek medical care. The history of medicine, for example, can provide orientation in a discipline that is changing at a dizzying pace – presenting a picture of where medicine has been, how it is evolving, and what promises and challenges its future may hold. The study of bioethics and medical ethics offers a vital reminder that medicine is a social enterprise that must balance cultural values and moral principles with scientific goals. Literature and the visual arts can convey the personal experiences of sickness and healing, revealing the subjective side of clinical care. Sociologists and anthropologists illuminate the ways in which professional and popular cultures interact, alternately clashing with and complimenting one another. Taken together, these disciplines offer both physicians-in-training and health care “consumers” an enriched understanding of the dynamic relationship between medicine and the larger social world of which it is a part.


History of the Program

In 2000, the University of Oklahoma Honors College and the College of Medicine created a partnership to further the study of humanities in relationship to medicine. Today, at the Honors College there are two programs for students interested in pursuing study in the medical humanities: the Medical Humanities Scholars Program (MHSP) and the Medical Humanities Minor. MHSP students can take advantage of the newly revised curriculum at the College of Medicine, including electives such as “history of medicine,” “literature and medicine,” “photography and medicine” “medicine and spirituality,” for first- and second-year students. Likewise, over one hundred students have taken advantage of the Medical Humanities Minor, focusing their studies on topics such as the politics of AIDS vaccine development, the bioethics of cross-cultural medical practice, music therapy, and the history of sports medicine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the links below to reveal the answer to the Medical Humanities Scholars Program's most asked questions.


Provisional acceptance means that a spot is waiting for you at the OU College of Medicine, if you achieve an MCAT score and a GPA that are equal to or higher than the average MCAT score and GPA of the previous year’s incoming medical school class. Typically, this is an MCAT score of approximately 508 and a science GPA of approximately 3.69. 

1. A record of very high overall academic achievement.

2. Admission to the University of Oklahoma (you must apply and be accepted to OU BEFORE you submit your Honors College application with supplemental MHSP questions)

3. EITHER a 3.75 unweighted GPA OR top 10% of your graduating class

You will also need to fill out the supplemental Medical Humanities Scholars Program questions on the Honors College application, which can be found here: MHSP Application

There are no specific non-academic characteristics that students that are required for consideration or acceptance into the MHSP. In general, however, we look for students with the following attributes:

1. A variety of extracurricular interests, particularly in the humanities.

2. A firm commitment to a career in medicine as a physician.

3. A familiarity with clinical medicine (usually gained through volunteer activities and physician “shadowing”).

4. Knowledge of the problems facing the practice of medicine today.

5. Genuine and demonstrated interest in the humanities and social sciences.

6. Exceptional maturity.

7. Evidence of altruism as displayed through a variety of volunteer or community-service activities.

No. Please do not include ANY supplemental materials with your MHSP application. In order to keep everyone's application on a level playing field, we will review only the MHSP application itself. We will not examine any supplementary documents such as a resume, letters of support, or transcript. 

Yes. There is a Medical Humanities minor that is open to any honors-eligible student enrolled at OU. This way, all high-achieving students at the university may enrich their understanding of social, cultural, ethical, political, economic, and spiritual dimensions of health, disease, and medicine. Through the MH minor, you can enjoy all of the curricular aspects of the MHSP.

On average we receive ~150 applications per year. We invite approximately 15 to 20 applicants for interviews (all interviews currently being conducted via ZOOM due to the threat of coronavirus).

Of the students invited to interview for the MHSP, between 5 and 8 students are accepted into the program.