PhD in Medical Ethics

Learn about what programs are offered at the Ph.D. level in medical ethics. Find out about included coursework, program requisites, online options and potential careers. Schools offering Health Policy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Types of Ph.D. Programs in Medical Ethics Are Available?

You won't find many colleges or universities offering Ph.D. programs that are specifically in medical ethics. However, some schools offer doctorate programs that directly address the issue of medical ethics. These include Ph.D. programs in health care ethics and Doctor of Bioethics (D.Bioethics) programs. While health care ethics programs are based more in administrative and managerial issues, bioethics programs combine the study of ethics with direct study of biomedical science. Both programs can prepare you for leadership roles in medical ethics.

Degree Level Doctoral
Requirements Bachelor's or master's degree in medical ethics or a related field, research experience, coursework in specific areas, professional experience
Online Availability Online programs are available, but rare
Common Courses Health care law, end-of-life issues, human genetics, stem cell research
Career Options Professor, medical ethics researcher, ethics consultant

Are There Any Prerequisites?

You'll need to possess at least a bachelor's degree, with many programs requiring a master's degree. Often, your degree must be in medical ethics or a related field, such as philosophy. Some programs will admit you if your master's degree is in a medical field, such as nursing or social work, and you've completed prerequisite coursework. You'll need a background of coursework in philosophical ethics, critical thinking and other areas typically found in medical ethics master's degree programs. In many cases, you'll also need to have professional experience and research experience that demonstrates your intellectual readiness for doctoral study.

Do I Have Online Options?

You'll find online doctoral programs in medical ethics-related areas to be very uncommon. However, in rare cases, you'll find programs that allow you to take your required coursework online. While you may need to be present on campus for the defense of your dissertation, you can complete your coursework at any time via the Web; this allows you to work full-time while earning your Ph.D or D.Be. Your courses will be completed using an online coursework delivery platform, such as Blackboard, through which you can watch lectures, submit assignments and communicate with faculty members.

What Will I Study?

Your coursework will include studies of medical ethics from a variety of angles, including philosophical, religious and applied ethics. You'll likely also take courses in health care law. Many programs offer courses in specialized ethical issues, such as human genetics, stem cell research and end-of-life issues. Your lecture and research-based studies may be complemented with clinical rotations in a hospital or other medical setting. Clinical rotations involve observing situations in healthcare environments, keeping a record of your observations and discussing current ethics issues at hospital meetings on medical ethics. Most programs will culminate with your writing and defense of a doctoral dissertation.

What Career Can I Pursue With This Degree?

You can follow several career paths with a doctorate in a field related to medical ethics. If you'd like to work in a hospital or other medical setting, you may find a role as an ethics consultant, serving on an ethics committee, or as a leader in any one of many administrative positions where a strong background in medical ethics is beneficial. Alternatively, you can work in academia as an educator at a college or university. You may also focus your work around research in the field of medical ethics, whether at a university, hospital or non-profit organization.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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Popular Schools

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral

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  • Liberty University

    Liberty University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Liberty University:

    • Doctoral

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  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral

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  • Duquesne University

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    • Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh
  • Drew University

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    • New Jersey: Madison
  • Case Western Reserve University

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    • Ohio: Cleveland
  • Stanford University

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    • California: Stanford
  • Harvard University

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    • Massachusetts: Cambridge
  • The University of Texas Medical Branch

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Galveston
  • University of Pennsylvania

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    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia