St. Bonaventure University

Health and Society

B.A. & B.S. degree options help zero in on students' interests

The B.A. and B.S. Health and Society majors are designed to provide students preparing for healthcare professions with experience of both the humanities and social sciences, while also incorporating most of the prerequisite courses required by graduate programs in health care.

By combining coursework in biology, psychology, sociology and other disciplines, the majors give students an interdisciplinary perspective on human health, and the social and psychological ramifications of wellness, disease and health care.

The humanities and social-science coursework is specifically tailored to the interests and needs of students preparing for careers in healthcare, either as practitioners or in other roles:

  • Through their experiences in psychology courses, Health and Society majors develop a much richer understanding of the inner workings of their future patients’ minds, including factors that could bear on the development of medical conditions and factors that could impede treatment regimens.
  • The philosophy courses in the Society content area of our Health and Society major foster students’ moral and intellectual development, and enable them to better appreciate the difficult moral questions that patients and physicians grapple with in making treatment decisions.
  • The sociology courses in the Society content area provide students with a better perspective on the complex social forces that affect access to good health care and effective follow-through on treatment regimens.

Why choose health and society?

A student looks into a microscopePreparation for medical school and other healthcare professions programs has traditionally emphasized core courses in the natural sciences, and many students applying to medical schools major in biology or one of the other natural sciences. But more and more medical schools recognize the importance of having more grounding in the humanities and social sciences.

Coursework in the humanities prepares students for the multi-layered human and social circumstances of providing medical care, improves the cultural competence of physicians serving ethnically and culturally diverse populations, and fosters the personal and moral development of physicians.

A better grounding in the humanities may also protect physicians from a gradual loss of empathy that can distance physicians from patients’ own experiences of illness, and that is thought to contribute to physician burnout.

Higher levels of empathy on the part of physicians has been shown to correlate with higher patient satisfaction and improved healthcare outcomes, suggesting that distancing may actually compromise physicians’ effectiveness.

St. Bonaventure University offers a diversity of courses that explore health care from the perspectives of philosophy, theology, psychology, sociology, political science, biology, chemistry, and other disciplines. Our Health and Society major includes both a core of required foundational courses and electives so students can choose which aspects of health care interest them most.

The B.A. and B.S. options for the Health and Society major provide students even more flexibility in tailoring the major to their own interests. All SBU courses feature small sections that provide students the opportunity for personalized instruction and guidance from faculty who love to teach.

Program information

Various paths to your healthcare career goal

In short, our Health and Society majors give students beginning careers in healthcare a richer and more mature understanding of the many dimensions of human life and society that will bear on their efforts to provide quality health care to as many people as possible.

Bachelor of Science in health and society

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) major caters to the interests of students who would like a more thorough foundation in the natural sciences, potentially with an eye towards pursuing graduate studies in a healthcare professions program.

Degree requirements and a four-year plan for the B.S. in health and society

Bachelor of Arts in health and society

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) major caters to the interests of students who would like to get a basic foundation in the natural sciences relevant to human health and disease while placing more emphasis in their studies on social and philosophical topics.

Degree requirements and a four-year plan for the B.A. in health and society

  • Interested in becoming a physician?

    Health and Society majors who are interested in becoming physicians, and who are not already enrolled in a B.S./M.D. or B.S/D.O degree program through St. Bonaventure University’s Franciscan Health Care Professions program, must apply to and be accepted by a medical school in the traditional manner.

    If you have questions about this, be sure to speak with the director of the Health and Society program or with one of the university’s pre-professional advisers.

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