Catalog 2016-2017 > Mission and History
A graduate school founded by the highly ranked Massachusetts General Hospital, MGH Institute of Health Professions offers unparalleled opportunities for faculty and students to learn and work alongside expert practitioners in a variety of hospital, clinical, educational and community settings.
The MGH Institute is composed of the:
Entry-level and post-professional programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant Studies are among the Institute’s offerings. Other programs, including a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences and a Master of Science in Health Professions Education, have been added in recent years to meet rising demand for highly educated health care professionals, educators, and researchers.
MGH Institute of Health Professions is an innovative not-for-profit, interprofessional graduate school that offers degrees in:
Integrating classroom learning with research and clinical experience, the MGH Institute grants doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degrees to college-educated individuals entering health care from another field, as well as to practicing health care professionals. The school also awards certificates of advanced study, and offers continuing education courses.
In addition, the Center for Interprofessional Studies and Innovation is where leaders in the health professions can collaborate with peers in other disciplines and forge a new model of health sciences education for the 21st century.
A graduate school founded by the world-renowned Massachusetts General Hospital, the MGH Institute is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. It operates within Partners HealthCare, offering its more than 1,400 full- and part-time students unparalleled opportunities to learn and work alongside expert practitioners in a variety of hospital, clinical, and community settings.
The MGH Institute believes that knowledge begins with discovery through research. Our faculty engage in original clinical research – much of it collaborative and interprofessional – aimed at ultimately improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of human disorders and disabilities.
All of our programs promote interprofessional teamwork and offer personalized attention in a rigorous, collaborative learning environment that is driven by our faculty's professional expertise and scholarly accomplishments. The academic experience is further enriched by the diversity of our students' backgrounds and life experiences.
Whether you're just out of college, changing careers, or are a practicing clinician looking to advance in your career, the MGH Institute has a degree or certificate program that’s right for you.
The MGH Institute is located in and around the historic Charlestown Navy Yard, overlooking downtown Boston. Its first, fully renovated, state-of-the-art teaching facility is in the Catherine Filene Shouse Building.
The Shouse Building houses classrooms, study areas, the School of Nursing, the departments of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Occupational Therapy, and Physician Assistant Studies, the Speech-Language Literacy Center, the Aphasia Center, the Physical Therapy Center for Clinical Education and Health Promotion, the Center for Interprofessional Studies and Innovation, the Office of Information Technology, the Office of Facilities, and MGH Institute Security.
Originally built as the joiner's shop in 1866, the Shouse Building also houses The Children's Quarters, which offers kindergarten and preschool daycare to staff and students of the Institute, as well as to the Charlestown community. The Shouse Building, also known as Building 36, is located at 36 1st Avenue in the Navy Yard.
In 2008, the Office of Student Affairs moved into the ground floor of Building 39 on 1st Avenue. The offices of the President, Provost, Communications and Marketing, Development, Research, and Finance and Administration are located in the second and third floors of Building 34, directly across the street from the Shouse Building.
In 2012, the Institute expanded by 21,000 square feet by taking over the top floor of 2 Constitution Center (2CC), located just outside the Navy Yard and directly overlooking the USS Constitution, more commonly known as “Old Ironsides.” The space houses expanded physical therapy labs, a 102-seat active learning classroom with state-of-the-art technology, and a lounge and study areas for students.
The next year, the Institute expanded into its fifth location, the Center for Health & Rehabilitation Research located in Building 79/96, which also houses researchers from nearby Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. At the Center, several of the school's full-time research faculty conduct research on topics such asamyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease), cancer treatment related fatigue, and the genetic, neurological, and behavioral links between oral and written language development.
By 2015, the Department of Physical Therapy had moved into new space at One Constitution Center, and a new Library and Study Commons area had been added in Building 38, giving the Institute 140,000 square feet spanning seven buildings – almost double its footprint since moving into the Navy Yard.
The MGH Institute is readily accessible by car, harbor ferry and public transportation, making it convenient to points of interest throughout the Boston area.
View the Interactive Map of the MGH Institute and the Charlestown Navy Yard.
As an independent, interprofessional graduate school of health sciences, MGH Institute of Health Professions prepares health professionals and scientists to advance care for a diverse society through leadership in education, clinical practice, research, and community engagement.
MGH Institute of Health Professions will be preeminient in:
As members of the MGH Institute community, we collectively commit to reflect the following core values in all we do:
Our Strategic Map serves as a roadmap to effect the Institute's mission, vision, and core values.
As each year passes, the face of America becomes more diverse – a trend that is projected to accelerate in the coming years.
MGH Institute of Health Professions is committed to preparing health care leaders to meet the needs of this increasingly diverse society. From concerted efforts to diversify our student body, ensure a welcoming campus climate, and implement curricular changes to integrate cultural competence in all of our academic programs, the Institute continues to weave diversity into the fabric of everything we do.
There is growing evidence that diversity enriches both learning and work, and contributes to institutional excellence. Rather than a goal unto itself, diversity of people, talents, and thought at the Institute will ensure that our faculty, students, and alumni are best prepared to address the range of challenges confronting the U.S. health care system. Ultimately, this will improve the quality of health care and health outcomes for all.
President's Message on Diversity
The growing cultural and linguistic diversity of the U.S. and world's populations calls for health professionals who strive continually to achieve cultural competence and are able to function effectively across an array of multicultural interpersonal and social situations.
Becoming culturally competent is a lifelong learning process that encompasses cultural humility, awareness, sensitivity, knowledge, commitment, engagement, skill, and ultimately, behavior that reflects cultural competence.
Becoming culturally competent enhances the capacity of health professionals and health care organizations to assess, plan, deliver, evaluate and continually improve care that is sensitive to and respectful of the diverse beliefs, values, practices, and needs of the individuals, families, and communities served.
Becoming culturally competent also involves consideration of existing disparities in health care and health outcomes, and the changes in professional practice, health policies, financing, and systems of care needed to address them.
MGH Institute of Health Professions was founded to address the need for master clinicians, leaders in the health care professions molded by the integration of theory and clinical practice in an interprofessional environment.
In 1873, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) established one of the first schools of nursing – the Boston Training School for Nurses – based on the principles of Florence Nightingale, which became the Massachusetts General Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1896, and later the Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing. By the time this diploma school closed in 1981, it was the oldest continuously operating school of nursing in the United States and was the predecessor to the MGH Institute’s School of Nursing.
Since many health care professions evolved from hospital-based needs, the MGH Institute’s educational programs initially developed through on-site clinical training activities. The shift from hospital-based to college and university-based education for health sciences raised several issues, including lack of integration between clinical and didactic aspects of health care curriculum.
Ruth Sleeper, Director of the MGH School of Nursing from 1946 to 1966, recognized the implications of these changes in nursing education and in 1964 promoted the idea of a free-standing, degree-granting institution affiliated with MGH. In the late 1960s, Dr. John Hilton Knowles, then MGH General Director, expanded the idea to include all non-physician education programs for health care professionals and proposed establishing an “MGH University,” which would offer hospital-based, advanced level training programs.
Creating a New School
In the early 1970s, Dr. Charles A. Sanders, Knowles’ successor, along with Dr. Henry Mankin, Chair of the MGH Committee on Teaching and Education, and John E. Lawrence, then Chair of the MGH Board of Trustees, pursued the idea of creating an affiliated graduate degree school.
In 1975, a petition to grant degrees was submitted to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. A public hearing was held, at which local colleges and universities voiced opposition to the establishment of a free-standing school governed by the hospital.
In 1977, Massachusetts General Hospital was awarded degree-granting authority by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The first Provost as well as program directors in dietetics, nursing, physical therapy, and social work were hired. MGH Institute of Health Professions officially opened in 1980, admitting its first students in physical therapy and social work.
The Early Years
In 1980, the first students enrolled in the dietetics program, and the Institute held its first graduation, awarding four certificates in social work. In 1982, the first nursing students were admitted, and in 1983 the first degree - a Master of Science in Physical Therapy - was awarded. That year, the Institute also began a new speech-language pathology program.
In 1985, the MGH Institute was incorporated with an independent Board of Trustees, hired its first President, and received initial accreditation from the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Changes into the 1990s
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the MGH Institute continued to grow and change. A faculty award for excellence in teaching was established and later named in honor of Nancy T. Watts, Professor Emerita, a nationally prominent physical therapist and educator who was instrumental in the Institute’s founding. The nursing program achieved specialized accreditation, the social work program closed, students enrolled in the speech-language pathology program and the speech-language pathology program’s academic department was renamed Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD). The Institute also moved to 101 Merrimac Street – the first time faculty, staff and students were all together under one roof.
By 1994, when Partners HealthCare was formed by the Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the MGH Institute’s enrollment had reached 500 students. The following year, the entry-level physical therapy program began, the dietetics program closed, and the nursing program revised its curriculum to prepare nurse practitioners. In 1996, the Institute added a program in clinical investigation, and the speech-language pathology program was awarded teacher certification by the Massachusetts Department of Education.
In 1997, an Alumni Association was established, the first students were admitted to the clinical investigation program, and the speech-language pathology program and the physical therapy programs gained accreditation by their respective specialized accrediting agencies. In 1998, the Institute graduated its 1,000th alumnus, and in 1999, the Institute began offering courses online.
A New Campus at Dawn of 21st Century
In 2000, the Institute purchased a former joiners building in the Charlestown Navy Yard, giving the school a permanent home for the first time. A $2 million gift from the Catherine Filene Shouse Foundation renovated Building 36 into a state-of-the-art educational facility.
In December 2001, the Institute moved into the newly renamed Catherine Filene Shouse Building. The school also converted its entry-level Master of Science in Physical Therapy degree to a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT).
In June of 2002, the Institute celebrated its 25th anniversary and formally dedicated the Shouse Building. Authority to grant a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Medical Imaging was achieved in 2003, with the first students enrolling in the program in the fall of 2004.
The 2004 Commencement activities were expanded to include an Honors Convocation. A nursing honor society was founded, and four years later was inducted as Upsilon Lambda chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International. With a grant from the MGH Nurses’ Alumnae Association, the former MGH School of Nursing’s archives were permanently relocated to a new, climate-controlled space on campus.
In 2005, a Distinguished Alumni Award was established. The first recipient was honored at the 25th Commencement, which featured an academic procession with alumni from each of the preceding 24 years carrying their respective class flag. Alumni were led by a representative from the MGH Nurses’ Alumnae Association, carrying the flag of the MGH School of Nursing which symbolized the historical link between the School of Nursing and the Institute’s nursing program.
In 2006, the Distinguished Alumni Award was renamed in honor of Bette Ann Harris '83, the Institute’s first degree recipient.
Academic and Campus Expansion Begins
In 2007, Janis P. Bellack, PhD, RN, FAAN, became the Institute’s fifth President, and the first annual Gala was held to generate additional scholarship funds to support students. The nursing program accepted its first students into a newAccelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program, and began offering one of the country’s first Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs.
In 2008, Alex F. Johnson, PhD, CCC-SLP, became Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Institute also expanded its physical space to two additional locations in the Navy Yard (Buildings 34 and 39) as enrollment reached 900 students.
In 2009, the Graduate Programs in Nursing were designated a School of Nursing to better reflect the size and scope of its academic offerings. The speech-language pathology, physical therapy, and medical imaging programs were reorganized under the umbrella of a new School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and the clinical investigation program graduated its last students.
In 2010, the Institute consolidated Commencement activities into one day and moved the event to the Hynes Convention Center. The Emerging Leader Alumni Award was created for individuals who graduated less than 10 years ago.
In 2011, the school received continuing accreditation for a period of ten years by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The Center for Interprofessional Studies and Innovation (CIPSI) was created to foster entrepreneurial activity, innovation, and collaboration between faculty and students in the Institute’s academic disciplines. Enrollment exceeded 1,100 for the first time, while the number of alumni passed the 4,000 mark.
In 2012, the Institute marked the 35th anniversary of its 1977 founding. It expanded into a fourth building at 2 Constitution Center, located just outside the Navy Yard and within yards of the U.S.S. Constitution, better known as Old Ironsides. The School of Nursing added a second admission cycle to the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to meet rising demand. The Institute received approval to offer a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences and enrolled the first five students. It also enrolled the first class in a new Master of Science in Health Professions Education program, and the medical imaging program graduated its last students.
In 2013, two additional programs were approved: New England’s first entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy which began in June 2014, and a Master of Physician Assistant Studies, which began in May 2015.
By 2015, the school had grown to more than 139,000 square feet spanning seven buildings. The expansion included 14,000 square feet in the new Center for Health & Rehabilitation Research in Building 79/96 to accommodate faculty researchers who are leading the Institute’s growing focus on research, with research funding surpassing the $4 million for the first time in its history; and 9,000 square feet for a new Library and Study Commons in Building 38.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts awarded Massachusetts General Hospital degree-granting authority in 1977, despite objections from other universities to the innovative concept of a hospital granting degrees.
The hospital initially was authorized to grant Master of Science degrees in physical therapy, nursing, speech-language pathology, and dietetics, as well as a Bachelor of Science in respiratory therapy and radiologic technology, although the MGH Institute didn't offer its first bachelor degree until 2008 when it created the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Subsequent amendments have approved additional degree and certificate programs.
The hospital renamed its original Educational Division as MGH Institute of Health Professions in 1980 when the first students were admitted. The first degree, a Master of Science in Physical Therapy, was granted in 1983. In 1982, the Institute admitted students to the direct-entry master's program in nursing, one of the first colleges in the country to enroll baccalaureate-prepared individuals with no prior experience or education in nursing.
The MGH Institute became a separate corporation in 1985, with its own board of trustees, although it remains an affiliate of the hospital.
In 1994, Massachusetts General Hospital joined Brigham and Women's Hospital to found Partners HealthCare, now one of the most highly regarded integrated health care systems in the country. The MGH Institute is the only degree-granting affiliate of Partners HealthCare.
Academic offerings over the years have changed in response to the health care environment. Some programs have closed – social work, dietetics, clinical investigation, and medical imaging – while several new ones have been created.
Students were first admitted to the Graduate Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 1991 and to the entry-level physical therapy program in 1995. The Doctor of Physical Therapy in 1999, when the first online courses were also offered.
The MGH Institute celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2002 with the dedication of the Catherine Filene Shouse Building, its new home in the Charlestown Navy Yard.
In 2007, the school created one of the country's first four accredited Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. The next year, the Institute inaugurated an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to meet the demand of filling more than 100,000 nursing vacancies nationwide.
In 2009, the Graduate Program in Nursing became the MGH Institute School of Nursing, and the Communication Sciences and Disorders and Physical Therapy programs became departments and were organized into a School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
In 2011, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges re-accredited the Institute for another 10 years. The school launched the Center for Interprofessional Studies and Innovation to foster entrepreneurial activity, innovation, and collaboration between faculty and students in the Institute’s academic disciplines. Enrollment exceeded 1,100 for the first time, while the number of alumni passed the 4,000 mark.
In 2012, the Institute expanded into a fourth building adjacent to the U.S.S. Constitution, better known as "Old Ironsides." The school also launched an interdisciplinary PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program and an interprofessional Master of Science in Health Professions Education, and the School of Nursing added a second admission cycle to the BSN program to meet rising demand.
In 2013, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education approved an entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy, the first entry-level OTD degree in New England. The Institute also school received provisional approval for a Master of Physician Assistant Studies program.
In 2014, the first students enrolled in the OTD program, while the School of Nursing programs and the Doctor of Physical Therapy program were re-accredited for another 10 years. The school added 14,000 square feet to create the new Center for Health & Rehabilitation Research to accommodate faculty researchers who are leading the Institute’s growing focus on research.
In 2015, the Institute expanded into its seventh building by adding a Library and Study Commons, giving it close to 140,000 square feet—almost tripling the amount of campus space since 2007. Research funding grew to $4 million, while the first students enrolled in a new Master of Physician Assistant Studies program. The student population topped 1,500 for the first time.
Counting the more than 500 students in the Class of 2016, the number of alumni whom the MGH Institute has graduated is close to 6,700 people.
The MGH Institute has always played an active role in helping those in our local and global communities.
As a graduate school for the health sciences, the Institute is a community of people who are drawn to help those in need – not only in their role as a nurse, occupational therapist, physical therapist, physician assistant, or speech-language pathologist, but in their own lives whenever there is a call for assistance.
Community service is such an integral part of the Institute's daily efforts that it is one of the key principles in our Mission Statement.
Faculty, students, and staff at the Institute participate in numerous community activities throughout the year in a variety of ways including service learning via their education, and volunteering during their free time.
Who We Are
Where We Are
Core Values Statement
Our Commitment to Diversity
Our Commitment to Cultural Competence
History of MGH Institute of Health Professions
Launching of the Graduate School
Growth and Change
Community Outreach at the Institute