Program Details

Various objects are piled together including several flasks filled with colored liquid, brown books, orange pill bottles, a stethoscope, and a gavel.

The Department of Bioethics provides PhD students with a multi-disciplinary learning environment, with faculty representing the fields of philosophy, social science, public health, law, medicine, and nursing.  Doctoral students are part of a fully integrated educational program within the department that includes undergraduate courses, a master’s program in bioethics and medical humanities, medical school teaching, international student exchanges, and postdoctoral training.  

Students in the Department’s doctoral program in bioethics and medical humanities will also learn how to better prepare both professional presentations and manuscripts for publication in peer review journals and how to compete for academic positions, NIH funding, and NSF funding.


Program Timeline 


Program Timeline


Year 1

Program Begins

-Core courses


Year 2

Qualifying Exam 


Years 3-4

You’re a PhD Candidate! 


-Publish Articles 

-Apply for Fellowships

-Plan your Career 

Years 4+


-Defend  your dissertation and get your PhD! 

Our Curriculum

The increasing complexity of the healthcare system has resulted in a growing need for investigators who can conduct research to address pressing social problems in bioethics. 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. Candidates may enter the program from any discipline, but all doctoral students will become fluent with the ways in which bioethical scholarship employs concepts and methods from the humanities, social sciences, clinical research, jurisprudence, and health policy. The program’s curriculum is organized around five core areas:

  • Normative and social science theory and methods
  • Research ethics
  • Clinical ethics
  • Medical humanities and social medicine 
  • Public health ethics  

Concentrations are available to students interested in:

  • Problems in genetics and genomics
  • Stem cell research and regenerative medicine
  • Research ethics and public health ethics
  • Clinical ethics
  • Medicine, society and culture

Recommended Program of Study 

First Year 

Course Name 


Foundations in Bioethics 

Research Design in Bioethics

Methods in Normative Bioethics

Intro to Statistical Methods





Foundations in Bioethics II

Research Design in Bioethics II

Methods in Normative Bioethics II


Clinical Ethics Rotation 







Second Year

Course Name 


Grant Writing

Critical Readings in Bioethics

Six Elective Courses





Third Year +

Course Name 


Dissertation PhD


    Graduation Requirements: 

    • Minimum of 51 credit hours of coursework for candidates with bachelor’s degrees; minimum of 42 credit hours for candidates with master’s degrees
    • 18 credit hours of dissertation course work
    • 125 research hours (supervised research experiences with Department faculty)
    • Training in research ethics
    • Comprehensive examination preceding advancement to candidacy
    • Defense of dissertation proposal
    • Completion of dissertation
    • Defense of dissertation

    For details and additional forms, please visit the School of Graduate Studies Doctoral Graduation Requirements webpage.