Bioethics PhD Program

Over the past 50 years, biomedical ethics and the fields of Medical Humanities and Social Medicine have developed and matured into major areas of scholarly inquiry. Professionals from philosophy, medicine, public health, nursing, the life sciences, law, social work, management, public policy, the social sciences, religious studies, and other areas have contributed to the biomedical ethics literature in important ways. 

The application of conceptual analytical techniques to ethical issues in science and medicine, and the emergence of empirically-based scholarship in ethics have helped to help inform the practice of medicine and to test traditional philosophical tenets of bioethics and medical humanities. 

To meet the need for scholars with the interdisciplinary training required for such research, the School of Medicine’s Bioethics Department created the nation's first PhD in Bioethics in 2004. The program's mission is to train researchers to conceptualize, design, and conduct both normative ethical analysis and empirical research on bioethical issues.

The next PhD in Bioethics cohort will begin Fall 2024. The application will become available in September 2023.   

Objective and Program Outcomes

The objective of the bioethics doctoral program is to train scholars who will have specific expertise in the conceptualization, design and conduct of empirical research concerning bioethics questions. 

Graduates will:

  • Obtain grounding in the philosophical basis of bioethics to conceptualize and analyze moral problems

  • Develop a theoretical perspective to guide their research

  • Be proficient in empirical methodologies (both qualitative and quantitative) so that they can conduct research in bioethics problems

  • Become researchers who can develop and conceptualize timely and meaningful research questions in bioethics

Graduates of the program have a wide range of opportunities, including careers as independent investigators, serving as a bridge between colleagues in the traditional medical humanities and those in clinical and basic-science departments, and employment in academic bioethics centers, clinical and basic science departments in medical schools and schools of public health, government agencies, and public policy institutes.