Medical Ethics PhD Programs with Prerequisite Information

Medical ethics is a highly interdisciplinary field that combines social and medical science. Find out more about what it takes to earn a Ph.D. in the field and what you can do after graduation.

Essential Information

Doctoral degree programs in medical ethics are highly interdisciplinary, research-intensive programs that combine the fields of research ethics, clinical issues, medical law, and religion. While programs were widely available a few decades ago, some programs have changed their names to 'bioethics,' in order to reflect a growing concern for the role of science and technology in medical decisions. A bachelor's degree is required for enrollment, and many students hold professional degrees in law or medicine. Most programs take three to six years to complete and culminate in a research dissertation.

Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Ethics

Students pursuing doctoral degrees in medical ethics spend most of their time conducting independent research under the guidance of a faculty member, although they do complete some theoretical coursework. Common classes include:

  • Genetics and ethics
  • History of medicine
  • Clinical issues
  • Ethics in research
  • Medical law
  • Health care administration

Doctor of Philosophy in Bioethics

Today, doctoral programs in bioethics are more common than programs in medical ethics. These programs emphasize intensive study in ethics, medical law, and science. Like doctoral candidates in medical ethics, students conduct independent research and take some lecture-based classes, including:

  • Ethical theories
  • Religion and bioethics
  • Public health ethics
  • Health and society
  • Medical ethics

Popular Career Options

A doctoral degree in medical ethics prepares graduates for careers in academia, health, and research. Here are some common career opportunities for students after graduation:

  • Professor
  • Ethicist
  • Public health official
  • Researcher

Similarly, graduates with doctoral degrees in bioethics are also prepared for employment in health, education and government. Here are some common jobs for graduates:

  • Public health official
  • Hospital administrator
  • Professor
  • Researcher

In summary, whether you choose a doctoral program in medical ethics or bioethics, you will be prepared for a career in academia or a health-related field.

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