Catalog 2018-2019

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, NursingOccupational 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.

Who We Are

MGH Institute of Health Professions is an innovative not-for-profit, interprofessional graduate school that offers degrees and certificates in:

Integrating classroom learning with research and clinical experience, the Institute grants doctoral degrees, master's degrees, awards certificates of advanced study, and offers continuing education to practicing professionals, as well as to baccalaureate-educated individuals entering health care from another field.

The MGH Institute, which is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, has more than 1,600 full- and part-time students. Since its founding in 1977 by Massachusetts General Hospital, it has graduated almost 7,700 health care professionals.

The IHP is the only degree-granting affiliate in Partners HealthCare, New England's largest health care provider which was founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital. The Partners network also includes Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and North Shore Medical Center. This affiliation offers 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. The Institute’s 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 academic programs promote interprofessional teamwork through the school's unique IMPACT Practice module 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.





Where We Are

The MGH Institute is located in and around the historic Charlestown Navy Yard, overlooking downtown Boston. The Institute boasts more than 138,000 square feet of classroom and laboratory space spanning seven buildings, including a dedicated research center with research labs for grant-funded scholars. On-campus functional-living, rehabilitation, and simulation labs use state-of-the-art technology and equipment for teaching and assessment activities, which allow students and faculty to engage in active learning across the curriculum.

The school's new innovative IMPACT Practice Center is where students from all programs learn with and from each other while providing faculty-supervised real-world care to clients from nearby underserved communities. More than 10,000 hours of pro-bono care is provided each year. Read more about our campus, classroom, centers, and labs

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.

Take our virtual campus tour.

Mission Statement

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.

Vision Statement

MGH Institute of Health Professions will be preeminent in:

  • Educating graduates to be exemplary leaders in health care for a diverse society,

  • Advancing innovative models of health professions education to improve health and health care, and

  • Creating and translating knowledge to improve health through distinctive programs of research.

Core Values Statement

As members of the MGH Institute community, we collectively commit to reflect the following core values in all we do:

  • The highest standards of professional, academic, and scientific excellence, ethical conduct, integrity, and personal responsibility,

  • An inclusive and welcoming environment where every person is treated with dignity and respect,

  • Mutual trust and collegiality in our relationships with each other and those we serve in health care and the community,

  • Productive partnerships among faculty, staff, and students that support learning and work, and foster interprofessional and global collaboration,

  • A connected, engaged, and diverse learning community where students develop a passion for lifelong learning, and become graduates of choice for employers,

  • An environment that embraces and rewards inquiry, ingenuity, innovation, resourcefulness, and continuous learning,

  • A rewarding work environment where talented people thrive, and

  • Accountability for our work and for prudent, efficient stewardship of our resources.

Our Strategic Map serves as a roadmap to effect the Institute's mission, vision, and core values.

Our Commitment to Diversity

Diversity Image

Each year, 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.

Diversity at the MGH Institute encompasses an inclusive and welcoming environment that is enhanced by persons who differ in gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, socio-economic background, ability, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, and religious belief.

This expression of our commitment to diversity is reflected in a community that is bound by the desire for equal consideration for all people. It is affirmed by the Institute's policies and recruitment and retention activities, thus, ensuring that all members of our community have the ability to reach their individual and collective potential.

Diversity is integral to the MGH Institute's learning and work environment. The Institute's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council tracks its progress using the Diversity Scorecard:

  • Institutional vitality & viability: The Institute's visible and sustained commitment to diversity, and the effectiveness of institutional efforts to advance diversity

  • Human capital - Access & equity: The proportion and success of historically underrepresented students, faculty, and staff at the Institute

  • Cultural competence in the curriculum: Diversity learning experiences in programs, courses,  and social/relational dimensions of the Institute's environment

  • Campus climate: An inclusive, equitable and welcoming climate that is respectful and supportive of all members of the Institute community 


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.

Our Commitment to Cultural Competence

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.

History of MGH Institute of Health Professions

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 Massachusetts General Hospital 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 the hospital. In the late 1960s, hospital General Director Dr. John Hilton Knowles 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.

In the early 1970s, Dr. Charles A. Sanders, Dr. Knowles’ successor, along with Dr. Henry Mankin, Chair of the MGH Committee on Teaching and Education, and John E. Lawrence, 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 establishing a free-standing school governed by the hospital. But in 1977, MGH was awarded degree-granting authority by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The first Provost (school leader), as well as program directors in dietetics, nursing, physical therapy, and social work, were hired. In 1980, MGH Institute of Health Professions officially opened, admitting its first master's students in physical therapy and social work.

The Early Years

In 1980, the Institute began holding classes in Ruth Sleeper Hall in the basement of Mass General. 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 Master of Science in Nursing students were admitted. In 1983, the first degree, a Master of Science in Physical Therapy, was awarded, and a new Master of Speech-Language Pathology program began. 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). 

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, and students enrolled in the speech-language pathology program which was renamed Communication Sciences and Disorders. The Institute also moved from Massachusetts General Hospital into 101 Merrimac Street near North Station– the first time faculty, staff and students were 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 Master of Physical Therapy program began, the dietetics program closed, and the nursing program revised its curriculum to prepare nurse practitioners. In 1996, the speech-language pathology program was awarded teacher certification by the Massachusetts Department of Education. Ann Caldwell became the Institute's fourth 

A Permanent Campus in the 21st Century

The Institute found a permanent home to greet the 21st Century, when in 2000 it purchased Building 36, a former joiners building in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Named the Catherine Filene Shouse Building, after the generous support from the Shouse Foundation, it was renovated into a state-of-the-art educational facility that opened in December 2001.

Several programs were altered or added to the schools mix in the century's first decade. Those included converting the entry-level Master of Science in Physical Therapy degree into a Doctor of Physical Therapy (2001), enrolling the first students in the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Medical Imaging (2004), and launching accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs (2007).

In 2005, the first Distinguished Alumni Award was presented at the 25th Commencement, while alumnae from the MGH Nurse's Alumnae Association began a yearly tradition of carrying the flag of the Massachusetts General Hospital nursing school to symbolize the historical link between it and the MGH Institute's School of Nursing.

In 2007, the Institute held its first annual Gala to generate additional scholarship funds to support students attending the school. That same year, Janis P. Bellack, PhD, RN, FAAN, was named the Institute's fifth president. Under her leadership, the school began an unprecedented growth in programs, students, and facilities that continues to this day. 

In 2008, the Institute expanded from one to three buildings as enrollment reached 900 students. Alex F. Johnson, PhD, CCC-SLP, became the school's first Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. 

In 2009, the graduate programs in nursing were designated as a new 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 closed.

In 2011, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges re-accredited the Institute for another 10 years. The Center for Interprofessional Studies and Innovation 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 expanded into a fourth building adjacent to the U.S.S. constitution, better known as Old Ironsides. The School of Nursing added a second admission cycle to the BSN program to meet rising demand, while the first cohort of students enrolled in a new PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program. The school also began a Master of Science in Health Professions Education program, and the medical imaging program closed.

The first students enrolled in New England's first entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy program in 2014, while the School of Nursing programs and the Doctor of Physical Therapy program were each 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, with research funding surpassing $2 million for the first time in its history.

In 2015, the Institute expanded into its seventh building, creating a new Library and Study Commons, thereby increasing its footprint to nearly 140,00 square feet-almost triple 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. In spring 2015, enrollment surpassed 1,500 students.

During the school's 40th anniversary year in 2017, Paula Milone-Nuzzo, PhD, RN, FHHC, FAAN, became the MGH Institute's sixth president. (List of all the presidents of the MGH Institute.) The Doctor of Occupational Therapy and Master of Physician Assistant Studies programs graduated their first cohorts of students. The IHP also launched its innovative IMPACT Practice Center, a 15,000-square-foot educational facility that now houses the school's five client-care centers, providing more than 10,000 hours of pro-bono patient care.

Counting the graduates in the Class of 2018, the number of alumni has grown to more than 7,700.

Launching of the Graduate School

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.

 

Growth and Change

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.

In 2017, the first classes of students in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy and Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies programs brings to more than 7,200 the number of graduates during the IHP's first 40 years.