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PhD in Bioethics

Ph.D. in programs in bioethics cover moral considerations in the healthcare industry and how healthcare practitioners and policymakers balance the medical needs of an individual with existing resources, research and health policy. Learn about degree and specialization options for a bioethics doctoral program.

What Kind of Bioethics Ph.D. Programs Can I Enroll in?

Bioethics programs at the doctorate level award a Doctor of Bioethics (D.Bioethics) or a Ph.D. in Bioethics and Health Policy. These programs aren't available online.

While you're earning a bioethics graduate degree, you can also pursue concentrations in areas such as clinical bioethics, research ethics, Catholic bioethics and organizational bioethics. However, specializing in one or more of these areas may require additional research experience or seminars beyond normal Ph.D. requirements.

Concentration Options Research ethics, clinical bioethics, organizational bioethics, Catholic bioethics
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree; background in medicine or allied health helpful, but not required
Study Topics Current issues in the healthcare system, public health policy, moral decisions in the healthcare field, research methods
Career Options Conducting and formulating bioethics research projects; management or research roles in government, healthcare or nonprofit organizations
Median Salary (2018) $79,590 (for biological scientists, all other)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 8% growth (for biological scientists, all other)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Prerequisites?

You'll need at least a bachelor's degree before you pursue doctoral study. However, many Ph.D. programs in bioethics do not restrict admission to a certain major or type of degree. Likewise, while a background in medicine or allied health is helpful preparation for the interdisciplinary requirements of a bioethics doctorate, it's not a requirement.

What Will I Study?

Regardless of what type of program you enroll in, you'll learn about the moral decisions that have to be made in the healthcare field. These include when life support should be terminated, how care should be delivered in situations of limited resources and how to balance research ethics with the need for medical innovation.

In order to learn how to make these decisions ethically, you'll study different research methods, public health policy and current issues in the healthcare system. You'll also learn how to balance individual health concerns with public policy and those of the healthcare delivery system as a whole.

What Can I Do with My Doctorate?

After you earn a doctoral degree in bioethics, you can design, conduct and formulate bioethical research projects. You'll also learn how to formulate and consider the types of questions these research projects are designed to answer.

If you graduate with a Ph.D. in Bioethics and Health Policy, you can pursue management or research careers with government, healthcare or nonprofit organizations. In these roles, you may also be expected to pursue research funding or grants for bioethics projects.