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Online Medical Ethics Courses and Degree Programs

As a medical ethics student, you'll study many controversial topics, including genetic engineering and patients' rights. Though online degree programs aren't typically available in this field of study, you can pursue a certificate program or take standalone online courses. Get more info about course topics in medical ethics, and find out how Internet-based classes work.

What You Need to Know

Medical ethics is generally not offered as a degree program on its own; however, you can find education on this subject within bioethics graduate programs. Your classes will cover the intersection of medical science and ethics, sometimes through the study of real-life situations. While much of the classwork may be offered online, some in-person work is typically required.

Online Degree programs are not available completely online
Courses Professional and universal ethics, stem cell research, patients' rights, genetic engineering, assisted suicide and human experimentation
Programs Graduate certificates and degrees in bioethics are available

Can I Earn a Degree in Medical Ethics Online?

While you can participate in online training in medical ethics, you most likely won't earn a degree. However, you can take advantage of some of the individual courses or certificate programs in medical ethics that are available online. During your studies, you'll be exposed to medical ethics topics based on real case stories. Depending on your class and instructor, you might even get the chance to give your opinion on these cases and explain exactly how you would have handled it in the real world. These course topics might be included:

  • Professional ethics
  • Universal ethics
  • Stem cell research
  • Patients' rights
  • Genetic engineering
  • Assisted suicide
  • Human experimentation

What Else Should I Consider?

As an alternative to the lack of online medical ethics programs, you can major in a related field, such as bioethics. Online bioethics degree programs are typically available at the graduate level and are often offered along with medical ethics or cover many of the same topics covered in a medical ethics program. You can earn a master's degree, professional doctorate or post-baccalaureate certificate. Specializations in areas such as clinical or research ethics may be offered. Most likely, you'll be required to complete a clinical practicum and a capstone project.

The clinical portion of the bioethics program may require clinical observation, written reports and case analyses. For the capstone project, you'll be required to prepare a peer-reviewed article for publication and present your article on campus to faculty.

How Will My Classes Be Presented?

Online medical ethics courses may be available in a self-study method or presented in a virtual classroom where you'll participate in discussions between you and the instructor and your classmates. You might also write subjective essays and participate in group projects. Instructional aids and methods of learning could include video case studies, printable reading materials, virtual seminars, textbooks and online multiple-choice quizzes. Prior to beginning your studies, you may be tested on how prepared you are to take online courses or even how much you know about medical ethics.

Some programs offer open enrollment, meaning you can sign up whenever you wish. Depending on the program, you may be able to track your progress and retake quizzes to make sure you have a full understanding of the subject matter.

What Materials Do I Need to Get Started?

You'll need a computer with high-speed Internet access and an e-mail account. Depending on the program, you may be able to take your courses using a PC or a Mac computer. You'll also probably need the latest operating system and the latest versions of software programs, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Flash Player and Windows Media Player.