Issues concerning the ethical, legal, and social implications of advances in biotechnology and biomedicine are increasingly arising both in the United States and abroad. From stem cell research to healthcare reform, these topics involve critical dilemmas at the intersections of law, society, culture, public policy, philosophy, religion, economics, and history.

Scientists, healthcare providers, and policy-makers confront how to approach these complex questions, yet scientific and technological advances have far outpaced our ability to understand or make key decisions about these issues.

The Master of Science in Bioethics, part of Columbia University’s Programs in Bioethics, which also include an Online Certification of Professional Achievement and Online Noncredit Courses, grounds students in historical, philosophical, legal, and social-scientific approaches and models to address bioethical challenges. The program prepares students to work in various capacities within this new and ever-growing field, and includes a concentration in global bioethics – the first of its kind in the United States.

Students study with faculty from across the University, drawing on the extraordinary resources of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, and Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry. Through elective coursework on campus, students may study with faculty from the schools of Law, Journalism, Nursing, International and Public Affairs, and Arts and Sciences.

Study Options in New York City, Online, and San Francisco

The program includes options to complete the program face-to-face primarily on Columbia’s campus in New York City; entirely online, via Columbia’s flexible and interactive networked learning platform; and through a combination of online coursework and multi-day intensive study held in San Francisco.* During this intensive study, students engage in intensive study and have the opportunity to network with other students, faculty, and industry leaders.

Online, students use a highly collaborative and interactive social learning platform to connect with their instructors and fellow students. All online courses have weekly live web classroom meetings with their professors to enable dynamic interaction around course content. Additionally, students participate in discussion groups, collaborative and independent coursework, interactive forums, and prerecorded videos.

Our programs are designed for maximum flexibility, and students enrolled on campus or online have access to rigorous coursework, world-class instruction by Columbia faculty, career and professional development, and personal feedback on written assignments.

Depending on your interest and schedule, on-campus students may also be able to take courses online. International students on a student visa who were planning to do so may only enroll in one online class each semester.

Switching between on-campus and online is possible. If you enroll in the online format, you can switch to the on-campus format after your first semester with administrative approval.

Note: International students who are interested in switching from online to on campus should consult with us about visa and other requirements as soon as possible in their decision making process. They will also need to consult with ISSO for detailed information related to visa requirements and CPT (Curriculum Practical Training) eligibility.

* Schedule subject to change.

Who Should Apply

The Bioethics program is appropriate for students who are interested in working in various capacities in biomedical and health-related areas. The program includes and benefits four types of students:

  • Recent undergraduates who plan to work in the healthcare profession and are interested in bioethical issues, such as medical ethics. Students will have a diverse range of backgrounds, and may have majored in the social sciences, the humanities, or the sciences.
  • Pre-med students who wish to strengthen their application to medical school by adding the breadth and experience of Columbia’s bioethics program to their curriculum vitae, while also enriching their eventual training in medicine with a grounding in critical ethical issues and perspectives.
  • Graduate students in fields such as medicine, science, business, law, public affairs or journalism who wish to combine their training with the study of bioethics.
  • Professionals in healthcare or related fields such as law, medicine, nursing, or related industries, who are interested in enhancing their skills and problem-solving abilities concerning bioethical issues.


Participants in any of Columbia University’s courses in Bioethics can obtain Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit.

Accreditation Statement
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

AMA Credit Designation Statement
The College of Physicians and Surgeons designates this live activity for a maximum of 19.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

More program options in bioethics

Online Certification of Professional Achievement in Bioethics

Ideal for healthcare professionals and medical practitioners, researchers, IRB members, attorneys, educators, and others interested in the field, including patients and their kin who have confronted bioethical issues.

Learn More >

Noncredit Courses Online

An ideal option for busy professionals, who may hone in on a point of interest and select one or more courses from the certification to take on a noncredit basis.

Learn More >



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