Medical Ethics Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Medical ethics education is most commonly found in the master's and graduate certificate levels, teaching students about many moral and ethical dilemmas in healthcare facing medical staff.

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Essential Information

Master's degree and graduate certificate programs in medical ethics are designed for students who seek careers in public policy, law or medicine. It's common for students to pursue medical ethics education through a joint degree program - for example, pairing master's-level medical ethics training with a Juris Doctor. Students explore topics such as religious ethics, disability regulations, and elder-care laws.

A master's degree program in medical ethics prepares students to make decisions consistent with patients' medical, legal, religious, and social needs and wishes, in which students will need a related bachelor's degree to enroll. Medical ethics graduate certificate programs are often designed to give law students a crash course in bioethics. To enroll in a certificate program, students must have completed a master's degree.

Master's Degree in Medical Ethics

The program addresses moral issues with regard to biomedical research. Students enrolled in a master's degree in medical ethics program can expect to take such classes as:

  • Death and dying approaches
  • Medical ethics with regard to reproduction
  • Medical ethics in religious and secular contexts
  • Medical and legal ethics concerning genetics
  • Medical research ethics
  • Clinical medical ethics

Medical Ethics Graduate Certificate

This type of program would be especially important to law students intending to pursue a law specialty, such as medical malpractice, worker's compensation, or civil rights. The program would also be beneficial to students interested in healthcare administration. Students enrolled in medical ethics graduate degree programs typically take classes in the following areas:

  • Laws governing disability
  • Information privacy rules and regulations
  • Medical ethics in healthcare and civil rights
  • Food and drug laws
  • Medical ethics and laws concerning care of the elderly
  • Employee benefit laws and regulations

Popular Career Options

Students graduating from a medical ethics certificate program often pursue legal careers, including:

  • Private-practice attorney
  • Healthcare consultant
  • Government agency legal team member
  • Non-profit healthcare association legal advisor
  • Physician
  • Nurse practitioner

Continuing Education

Students often take master's degree in medical ethics programs as part of joint degree programs, such as law and public health, law and bioethics, or medicine and bioethics. Students enrolled in a law and public health joint degree program earn a Juris Doctor degree as well as a Master of Public Health degree. Law and bioethics joint degree programs allow students to earn both a Juris Doctor degree and a master's degree in medical ethics. A joint degree in medicine and medical ethics results in the student earning a Medicinae Doctor degree and a master's degree in medical ethics.

Medical ethics master's degrees and graduate certificates explore the complex moral issues surrounding medical practice in our society. Master's programs are often offered as part of joint degree program, expanding their job options beyond what could be found with a master's in the field alone.

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