Bioethics Major: Information and Requirements

Bioethics master's degree programs prepare students to examine and research ethical questions related to advancing biotechnology, the boundaries of life and medicine and the morality of certain medical technologies. Discover programs and career information for graduates.

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Essential Information

Applicants for a master's degree program in bioethics must possess a bachelor's degree with a strong grade point average. Some undergraduate majors that segue well into a bioethics degree program include philosophy, public policy, pre-medicine and biology. In these two-year programs, students complete core classes on ethical issues such as the use of placebos in research, the harvesting of embryonic stem cells and genetic engineering.

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Master of Science in Bioethics

The core courses often found in a bioethics graduate degree program cover the philosophical theories behind bioethics, bioethical laws and bioethical clinical topics. In addition to classroom-based sessions, most programs include a practicum in a health care or research facility. A final thesis or research project may be required. Some examples of core classes might include:

  • Philosophical bioethics
  • Bioethics consultation and committees
  • Justice and healthcare
  • Physician conduct
  • Research ethics
  • Ethics and integrity in science

Popular Career Options

Bioethics is a broad field, and a graduate degree can act as a supplementary background to many positions in the healthcare industry. Some of these might include:

  • Bioethics center director
  • Bioethics researcher
  • Bioethics center physician
  • Associate professor of bioethics
  • Research program coordinator
  • Bioethics consultant
  • Clinical ethicist

Employment and Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide occupational information on the field of bioethics. However, it does provide information on a variety of health and medical careers, like epidemiology. The BLS expected that job growth for epidemiologists will reach 6% for the years 2014 through 2024. These workers earned $69,450 as a median annual wage in 2015.

Continuing Education Options

There are a few doctoral degree programs related to the field of bioethics, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Bioethics and Health Policy or a Ph.D. in Bioethics and Philosophy. Doctoral degree programs in the field can take up to five years to complete and are designed to allow students to research a particular aspect of the bioethics field in-depth. The completion of such a program should result in a publishable dissertation and often leads to positions in academia or research.

Students in a Master of Science in Bioethics program will complete in-class coursework and a practicum. In the program, students will be exposed to bioethical theories, including both legal and clinical applications, and can prepare for careers in research, consulting and medicine.

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