How to Choose Schools with Bioethics Programs

Dec 09, 2019

Bioethics, sometimes called medical humanities, is an interdisciplinary field that uses science, medicine, ethics, philosophy, religion and other humanities to analyze ethical questions brought about by the advances in medicine and biology. Topics covered may include informed consent, pediatric ethical dilemmas and end-of-life decision-making. Programs are generally available at the graduate level.

Students can find master's degree programs at various U.S. colleges and universities that offer bioethics curricula, while doctoral programs are less common. Bioethics are commonly studied alongside medicine or law.

10 Schools with Degrees in Bioethics

The following 4-year schools offer degree programs in bioethics:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered* Graduate Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)**
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH 4 year, private Bachelor's, Master's $49,042, undergraduate; $45,204, graduate
Columbia University New York, NY 4 year, private Master's $48,390
Duke University Durham, NC 4 year, private Master's $54,712
Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA 4 year, private Master's $23,112
Emory University Atlanta, GA 4 year, private Master's $42,628
Fordham University Bronx, NY 4 year, private Master's $34,363
Indiana University Bloomington, IN 4 year, public Master's $10,564 (In-state) $33,271 (Out-of-state)
Iowa State University Ames, IA 4 year, public Master's $10,504 (In-state) $24,766 (Out-of-state)
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA 4 year, private Master's $18,106
New York University New York, NY 4 year, private Master's $45,426

Sources: *School websites, **National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Students interested in these programs should consider the following:

  • Bioethics students will want to consider their career path when selecting a program. Those wishing to focus on the medical aspects will want to consider a joint degree with medicine while those more interested in the legal aspects might want a joint degree with law.
  • Students who wish to take a more general approach to bioethics should look for programs that cover all aspects of bioethics including health care, law, public policy and humanities.
  • Flexibility within the program should be a consideration. Students taking dual programs might have to take classes in addition to the regular medical or law schedule. Professionals who already work in the field might need programs with flexible schedules or online options.
  • Students will want to consider the accreditation of their program. The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities suggest bioethics programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

Master's Degree in Bioethics

Various schools offer Master of Science, Master of Medical Humanities or Master of Arts in Bioethics or Medical Ethics. A typical master's degree program includes a clinical practicum, research experience and a terminal project or thesis. The thesis might require a student to read, understand and produce a clinical narrative.

Dual Master's Degree in Bioethics

Some dual degree programs accept undergraduate students and allow these students to earn a bachelor's and master's degree in bioethics or medical humanities simultaneously. Other dual degree programs allow the student to graduate with two graduate degrees. Examples of dual master's degree programs include those that combine a Master of Arts in Bioethics with a Juris Doctor or a Doctor of Medicine.

Doctoral Degree in Bioethics

Very few schools in the U.S. offer doctoral degrees in bioethics or medical humanities. The few schools with these programs allow students to choose specializations such as clinical bioethics or organizational bioethics. Program components include bioethics coursework, practicum, capstone project and research.

Students wishing to study bioethics can find graduate degree programs in the field at private and public institutions. Students should consider their career path, program accreditation and program flexibility when selecting a school to attend.

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