The Bioethics Certification program curriculum features select courses from the Master of Science in Bioethics program. It has been tailored to advance students’ knowledge and skills for working in bioethics, using a multidisciplinary approach that draws on medicine, law, philosophy, history, sociology, religion, and other fields.

Courses focus on key areas including the history and philosophy of bioethics, clinical ethics, research ethics, law and bioethics, and neuroethics. They are offered online and are available in both credit and noncredit versions, making it possible for students worldwide to study with distinguished leaders in the field.

Students who complete four or more courses with a 3.0 (B) or better in each course are awarded a Certification of Professional Achievement in Bioethics. Students are required to maintain an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 (B). Every course creditable toward the certification must be taken for a letter grade. Courses with a grade below a C will not count toward the completion of the certification. Students may also apply to the program and take individual courses without pursuing a certification.

Spring 2017 Course Availability

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday
9:00 to 10:30 a.m.     Introduction to Clinical Ethics*
4:30 to 6:00 p.m. Introduction to Clinical Ethics*    
5:30 to 7:00 p.m.     Global Ethics

Fall 2017 Course Availability

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday
4:30 to 6:00 p.m.   Introduction to Clinical Ethics*  
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.   Research Ethics  
7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Philosophy of Bioethics    
7:30 to 9:00 p.m.     Philosophy of Bioethics

* Philosophy of Bioethics is a prerequisite for Introduction to Clinical Ethics with one exception: the student obtains instructor permission based on relevant prior expertise/coursework.

Required Courses

BIET PS5320. Philosophy of Bioethics. 3 pts.


In contemporary bioethics, we find ourselves grappling with practically important, and at the same time, philosophically fundamental questions such as: When does someone’s life begin and how should it end? What is the proper role of physicians, nurses and other health care providers and what are the rights of their patients? What is a just and fair way to provide access to health-care services and resources? Which potential uses of new genetic and reproductive technologies would represent a legitimate advance in medicine and which would signify the beginning of a humanly degrading "brave new world"? Indeed, in a society committed to protecting a diversity of lifestyles and opinions, how can citizens resolve significant policy controversies such as whether there should be public funding of human embryonic stem cell research, or a legally protected right to physician assistance in ending one’s life?

The aims of this course are to identify the fundamental ethical questions that underlie contemporary biomedical practice; develop skill in analyzing and clarifying key concepts such as autonomy, justice, health and disease; critically assess the healthcare implications of different ethical outlooks; explore how citizens can reasonably address controversial bioethical issues in a mutually respectful and constructive way.

The course meets once a week online for an hour and a half. Live-session interaction and post-session discussion forums play a key role as students explore, in a give-and-take spirit, the pros and cons of each position.

This course is designed for medical students, nursing students, and other healthcare professionals, as well as for students at the graduate or advanced undergraduate level in biology, philosophy, political science, public health, law, and related fields.

BIET PS5400. Introduction to Clinical Ethics. 3 pts.


While this course is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of clinical ethics and the basic terminology and framework of ethical analysis in biomedical ethics, it offers a more sociological perspective, putting the contemporary clinical issues into a broader context. We will look briefly at the development of clinical ethics and its impact on hospital care and doctor-patient relationships, on the prevailing autonomy norm and its critique. The course then focuses on issues encountered in clinical practice such as informed consent, patient capacity, decision-making, end of life, advance directives, medical futility, pediatrics ethics, maternal-fetal conflicts, organ transplantation, cultural competence and diversity of beliefs and others. The course will examine the role of the clinical ethics consultant (CEC) and assignments will mimic the work that CECs may perform in the hospital setting.

Over the span of the semester, students become familiar with the ethical questions surrounding major topics in the clinic with a practical case-based approach toward ethics dilemmas and ethics consultation. During the semester, students in New York attend a meeting of the adult or pediatric ethics committees of New York Presbyterian and Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital or another area hospital, as well as ethics lectures given at the medical center.

Students are expected to complete five case write-ups using a template that will be given by the instructor. Students will be using these cases to refine and hone their ethical analysis skills and to show their knowledge of law, policy and ethical principles and how they might apply to each situation


BIET PS5320. Philosophy of Bioethics. Exception: the student obtains instructor permission based on relevant prior expertise/coursework.

BIET PS5440. Global Ethics. 3 pts.


Increasingly, issues of medical research and clinical care are posing complex ethical issues not only in the United States, but in other countries in both the industrialized and the developing world. Yet varying economic, political, social, cultural, and historical contexts shape these issues. In diverse contexts in Asia, Africa, Europe and North and South America, practices and policies, along with cultures and moral values, differ enormously. Yet ethical issues are arising not in isolation, but as part of global communities and discourses. In research, multinational pharmaceutical companies are increasingly conducting studies in both industrialized countries and the developing world, posing numerous ethical tensions. In clinical care, uses of reproductive technologies differ across national borders, leading to “reproductive tourism”. End of life care varies widely, reflecting in part differing attitudes toward death and dying. This course examines the political, economic, social, cultural, philosophical, medical, and historical roots and implications of these issues.

The course meets once a week online for an hour and a half, and offers extensive live-session interaction and post-session discussion forums to explore the various bioethical issues contemplated throughout the semester.

BIET PS5450. Research Ethics. 3 pts.


In recent years, many crucial issues have arisen concerning research ethics. Scientists in biomedicine, social science and other areas, as well as policy makers face rapidly evolving challenges. In recent years, violations of research ethics have attracted attention from the public, the media, the government, and the scientific community, which have all responded in varying ways. Issues arise in deciding how best to protect human subjects, obtain informed consent, protect privacy and confidentiality, finance research without biasing results, and avoid “misbehavior” among scientists. Questions arise concerning the professional responsibilities and rights of scientists, the rights of study participants, and the appropriate role of the state in these matters.

The course meets online once a week for an hour and a half, with extensive interaction between students and the professor both during class and on post-class discussion forums. It can fulfill the requirements for Responsible Conduct of Research that the NIH and other funders currently mandate for training programs that they support.

The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.