Master of Arts in Health Arts & Sciences
The Master of Arts in Health Arts and Sciences is a cutting-edge, multicultural, interdisciplinary program founded on the principle that personal health, community health, and the natural world are three dimensions of the same whole.
Health is only possible within the context of multiple environments that include close relationships, local communities, social institutions, and local and global ecologies. Joining an ethic of care with an ethic of justice, this vision advocates for diverse ways of knowing and healing, for bringing restorative practices to life through holistic thinking, innovation, transformation, and re-writing narratives of health with diverse voices.
Part of the Goddard Graduate Institute, the Master of Arts in Health Arts and Sciences requires 48 credit hours (four semesters) or 36 credit hours (a three-semester study track for professionals who meet specific admissions criteria).
The MA in Health Arts and Sciences Program invites students to reflect upon and define health from multiple perspectives:
The personal dimension of health is central and includes self-care, self-determination, and personal responsiveness and harm reduction. The personal perspective invites an exploration of modalities and disciplines that focus on the individual body-mind-spirit, practices of personal wellness and self-development, as well as critiques of individualization and ableism within health discourses.
Family and Community Health
From the family/community perspective, health is a function of tangible, day-to-day relationships: the people we see and interact with, the people we love and who love us back, and the relationships that cause injury and harm. This perspective includes the study and practice of potential healing within relationships, families, communities, and small organizations. Studies at the family/community level support the cultivation of a diverse range of social and relational skills and understandings.
Social Health and Medicines
The social dimension of health acknowledges the larger systems that give shape to who we are, what we know, and what we do. By thinking critically about the sociocultural dimensions of health and illness, we bring to light the structures that often invisibly shape our identities, knowledge, and practices. This perspective invites an understanding of the social determinants of health, structural violence, the social construction of health discourses and practices, and the actions necessary to create social change.
Ecological Health and Medicines
From an ecological perspective, health is considered in light of relationships between living organisms and local and/or planetary ecosystems. In the dynamic, living system that is earth, what occurs in any one part has an effect upon the whole. The ecological perspective allows us to expand our notion of health to include environmental health and ecological selves, and asks us how we understand and act upon our understanding of the relationship between health and our ecosystems.
The faculty in the Goddard Graduate Institute have longstanding presence in the college and bring to their work a host of professional skills and disciplinary areas. Fields of expertise include consciousness studies, expressive arts therapy, ecopsychology, cultural studies, gender studies, poetry, literature, psychology, natural history, organizational and community development, neuroscience, medical anthropology, religious studies, theater, and Ayurvedic medicine, among other areas.
Much of the work and interests of the faculty is in keeping with the college’s activist and social justice mission. The faculty also have a range of international experience in terms of work, research, and their own lived experiences.
Accelerated Degree Option
Goddard College offers a 36-credit, accelerated study option to students who are interested in deepening their studies in a current practice and who have already conducted much of the exploratory work of a first semester student. Students should have a clear sense of where they would like to focus their studies and a developed idea of the final product they would like to complete.
We encourage you to review the 36-Credit Accelerated Study Option page as you prepare your application.
Goddard offers students the ability to chart their own paths and develop, or further develop, the habits and skills of life-long learning.
All applicants to graduate degree programs must supply evidence of having earned an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education.
An application may be questioned or rejected because of:
- Curricular Limits: The proposed study appears to require expertise not available at Goddard.
- Critical Inquiry: The proposed study appears to consist in research or other activities designed to proselytize for a theory or point of view important to the applicant, rather than a scholarly study of that and other theories or points of view.
- Readiness: The student has not earned a baccalaureate degree or its international equivalent or application materials otherwise indicate the student is not ready for a graduate-level, writing-intensive independent program of study.
Students in the MA in Health Arts and Sciences Program attend residencies in Plainfield, Vermont, on Goddard’s historic main campus, located just outside Montpelier, the state capital. It’s a former farm with a manor garden, surrounding forests, and period architecture.
At the start of the semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency in Vermont, followed by 16 weeks of independent work and self-reflection in close collaboration with a faculty advisor. Goddard pioneered this format nearly a half century ago to meet the needs of adult students with professional, family, and other obligations seeking learning experiences grounded in the real-world.
Residencies are a time to explore, network, learn, witness, and share with peers, staff, and faculty. Students work with advisors and peers in close-knit advising groups to forge individualized study plans that describe their learning objectives for the semester.
Working closely with their faculty advisors, and supported by fellow learners, students identify areas of study, personal goals, relevant resources, and avenues to achieve these goals. Students also attend and are invited to help organize workshops, keynote addresses, celebrations and other events intended to stimulate, inspire, and challenge.
This low-residency model combines the breadth of a collaborative community with the focus of personalized learning, enhanced by insightful exchanges with a faculty advisor.
Students graduating with a Master of Arts in Health Arts & Sciences will have successfully accomplished the following:
- Clearly articulated their own health philosophy in relationship to multiple cultural views and critically evaluated their own values, biases, ethics, and orientation to health;
- Completed an exploration of at least one (or more) health-promoting modality as it can be applied to the well-being of members in a particular community;
- Demonstrated a thorough understanding of the scientific basis of their specific area(s) of study by being able to: a) identify and examine those science- based studies fundamental to their inquiry, and b) transmit their science-based knowledge to others;
- Demonstrated an understanding of the broader social and ecological context of health in a community particular to their inquiry – evaluating, for example, how particular social, political, ecological, and/or economic issues affect the health status of that community;
- Explored self-care and self-awareness practices through a reflective and active engagement with their own self-healing processes;
- Demonstrated an understanding of how to find, read, and evaluate professional research relevant to their area of study;
- When applicable to their particular inquiry, demonstrated the ability to thoughtfully and critically integrate original primary research into their study;
- Conducted and written a literature review germane to their area(s) of study;
- Completed a final product that builds on fulfillment of the above guidelines (scholarly paper or applied project with an accompanying context/ process paper, possibly addressing a specific health problem or issue in a particular community).
Work of the Program
The residency functions as an expansive face-to-face social environment whose purpose is to define and support the work of the semester. Students pursuing the Master of Arts in Health Arts & Sciences work with their faculty advisor, network with other students, attend workshops that address degree requirements, develop academic skills, and explore a range of health arts and sciences issues and practices. The residency also provides a place to share hidden aspirations within a positive learning climate where “we can think the world together.”
Experiential studies pursued within the low-residency program might include teaching classes or engaging in outreach efforts in such places as holistic centers, public schools, youth programs, hospitals, and natural world environments. Some students develop websites, publish books or articles, or begin organizations. At the culmination of their course of study, students synthesize their work in a final project that may take the form of a community outreach project or encompass traditional scholarship, depending on the interests of the student.