A doctor and staff member walking down the hall in a hospital
Doctor of Philosophy

About the Program

Become a multidimensional scholar with a PhD in Bioethics from Case Western Reserve University, one of the top research universities in the U.S. Our program, among the first of its kind, will train you to conceptualize, design and conduct both normative and empirical research on issues in bioethics and medical humanities.

Here, you’ll learn how to integrate your disciplinary skills with other scholarly approaches to produce multidimensional analyses of bioethical research problems—and how to obtain funding for, and lead, the collaborative research teams that such analyses require. Upon completion of our program, you’ll be prepared to become a bioethicist with a health system, a faculty member in a bioethics or clinical department, a leader or member of research teams, or you might choose to further your PhD studies in medicine or law.

What to Expect

In our program, you’ll learn how to integrate your disciplinary skills while you:

  • Obtain grounding in the philosophical basis of bioethics to conceptualize and analyze moral problems;
  • Develop a theoretical perspective to guide your research;
  • Be proficient in empirical methodologies (both qualitative and quantitative) so that you can conduct research in bioethics problems;
  • Become a scholar who can develop and conceptualize timely and meaningful research questions in bioethics;
  • Develop the necessary skills to prepare academic publications and presentations and to compete for academic positions and grant funding from NIH, NSF, and private foundations.

Regardless of which discipline you enter our program from, you’ll become fluent in the ways in which bioethical scholarship employs concepts and methods from the humanities, social sciences, clinical research, jurisprudence, and health policy. Our 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

You can complete your degree in about four or five years, working closely with faculty in our multidisciplinary learning environment—and immersing yourself in fields ranging from philosophy, social science and public health, to law, medicine and nursing. Doctoral students are part of our fully integrated educational program within our department that includes undergraduate courses, a master’s program in bioethics and medical humanities, medical school teaching, international student exchanges, and postdoctoral training. Within this context, you’ll learn how to better prepare both professional presentations and manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals—and how to compete for academic positions and competitive grant funding.

We welcome a new class of PhD students every other year, with the next class entering Fall 2024.

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A Place for Success

Cleveland is one of the top 10 medical communities in the U.S., so in addition to its 150 international companies and 700 biotechnology and biomedical companies, you’ll also have access to four renowned medical institutions: Cleveland Clinic, Louis Stokes VA Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center and University Hospitals. Cleveland is not only known for its wide array of job opportunities but also for its culture, food, and low cost of living. Taste test local cuisines. Explore world-class museums such as Cleveland Museum of Art, which is just a quick walk away. Or check out Dittrick Medical History Center right on campus.

By the Numbers


medical university in Ohio, U.S. News & World Report


medical research school, U.S. News & World Report


years to complete the program

Admission Details

Our program thrives when we have students with diverse perspectives and a range of educational, professional and life experiences. We look forward to learning more about you!

The application process requires:

  • Online application, including a statement of purpose prompt

  • $50 application fee

  • Bachelor’s and/or master’s degree from an accredited institution (either already complete, or will be complete before you enroll)

  • Unofficial transcripts

  • Current resume/CV

  • Writing sample, no longer than 25 pages

  • Three letters of recommendation

  • GRE test-optional

  • International applicants: Results of TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE

Contact Us

Marsha Michie
Marsha Michie, PhD
Associate Professor of Bioethics
Program Co-Director, PhD in Bioethics
School of Medicine

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