Bioethics Degree Programs and Majors

Essential Information

Bioethics is the study of human values and the moral implications of biological research and applications. Bioethics degree programs teach students how to apply ethics to situations in the medical field. Programs are generally available at the graduate level and include intensive research and a dissertation.

Degrees in this field include a master's and Ph.D. In order to enroll in a master's degree, students need to have a bachelor's degree in a field related to behavioral and social science, public health research, legal policy research, or philosophy. For a doctorate, only a master's in bioethics or related field is required.

Master's Degree in Bioethics

A master's degree program in bioethics provides students with broad perspectives, interdisciplinary knowledge and the tools to deal with complicated ethical issues and policies. Students learn about modern issues involved in medicine, such as stem cell research, pharmaceutical therapies, and cloning. A bioethics degree program raises ethical questions that arise in relationships among medicine, law, theology, life sciences, and biotechnology.

The coursework in a bioethics master's program focuses on ethical matters related to scientific technology and medical research. The curriculum examines a variety of topics including:

  • Philosophy of medicine
  • Theoretical foundations of applied ethics
  • History of medical ethics
  • Literature and medicine
  • Genetics and society

Ph.D. Program in Bioethics

Students enrolled in a doctoral program in bioethics are educated in the conceptual analytical techniques involved in medicine and science. Students learn to incorporate disciplinary skills with advanced approaches to produce a multi-dimensional analysis of bioethical issues. In addition, individuals learn to fund and lead collaborative research programs.

The coursework is designed to train students in the conceptualization, design, and research of bioethical questions using normative bioethical analysis. Students become familiar with concepts and methods in health policy, clinical research, social sciences, and humanities. Specific course topics may include:

  • Ethical issues in stem cell research
  • Concentration in regenerative medicine
  • Public health and research ethics
  • Normative methods in bioethics

Popular Career Options

Careers in bioethics can be found in healthcare, academia, or health law. Bioethicists in the medical field sit on hospital committees and make ethical decisions regarding patient care. Professionals that choose to enter the academic field balance research and publishing responsibilities with teaching and faculty duties. Individuals that enter health law specialize in malpractice suits or may work as a consultant with a biomedical research group. Specific career titles may include:

  • Professor
  • Consultant
  • Healthcare administration
  • Genetic counseling
  • Hospital chaplaincy

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Statistics relating to bioethics are not widely available. However, according to, professors of medical ethics made a median salary of $134,474 as of August 2016.

A degree in bioethics can be found at both the master's and doctoral levels, discussing the various moral and ethical issues surrounding the rapidly advancing science fields, both of which qualify graduates for a careers in a variety of science fields.

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