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Bioethics Training and Degree Programs

Professionals in bioethics work closely with lawyers and medical teams to make important ethical decisions. Find out about undergraduate and graduate degree programs in bioethics, including joint degree options. Learn about job opportunities for someone with training in this field.

What is a Degree in Bioethics?

A bioethics degree is an interdisciplinary course of study that addresses the overlapping of issues in a number of areas, such as medicine, law, science, theology, philosophy, biotechnology and politics. A bioethics education is likely to address possible important medical and health-related decision making situations, including how to come up a plan for executing ethical decisions.

You will be able to find bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in the field. Programs combining a master's degree in bioethics with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree are also available, as are those combining a master's in bioethics with a Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree. Several colleges offer programs partly or fully online.

Degree Levels Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, as well as combined master's/Juris Doctor programs and Master's/Medical Doctor programs
Undergraduate Course Topics Medical ethics, public health ethics, law, philosophy and ethical theory
Graduate Course Topics Bioethics and law, sociology, environmental bioethics, anthropology and criminal law
Career Options Professionals often work in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, a board of health or medical counseling offices
Median Salary (2018)$84,810 (Medical Scientists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)13% growth (Medical Scientists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Undergraduate Programs are Available?

If you decide to enter a bachelor's degree program, you can expect to take many general and introduction ethics courses. These courses include medical ethics, ethical theory, public health ethics and decision-making. You will also be required to take courses in basic law and philosophy. You will learn how to construct moral arguments, conduct debates, and understand different sides of an argument or problem.

What Graduate Programs are Available?

When choosing to pursue a graduate degree in bioethics, there are several concentrations to choose from, including global bioethics, bioethics and law, environmental bioethics and health ethics. These programs include courses in research ethics, clinical ethics and medicine studies. You may also be required to take part in clinics.

If you decide to pursue a joint master's in bioethics and law degree, you can expect additional courses in mental health law, bioethics and law, anthropology, sociology, public health law and criminal law. If you decide to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), you can expect to focus on research and education. You may also find concentrations in clinic ethics, organizational ethics, theological ethics and health policy.

What Jobs Are Available?

You will be able to find careers at hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, law firms, governmental departments, medical societies, medical counseling offices and human rights organizations. If you pursue the joint degree in law and bioethics, you may be able to practice law. Completing a Ph.D. program will qualify you to become a college professor, or to work on a hospital ethics committee, a board of health or a team of ethical consults.