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Major Overview: Earning a Degree in Bioethics

Majors Overview March 21, 2015

Get information about the bioethics major and its education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Bioethics Major

The nomenclature of bioethics teaches emerging ethical concerns in the field of healthcare. While no school offers any undergraduate degrees in the subject, students interested in researching bioethics can seek enrollment to a Master of Science (M.S.) in Bioethics degree program. Students learn about the examination and research of ethical questions pertinent to the morality of certain medical technologies, the boundaries of life and medicine, and advancing biotechnology.

Science, humanities, public policy, philosophy, and biology majors wishing to research ethical concerns in the field of medicine would benefit by enrolling in a bioethics degree program. It is also ideally suitable for working healthcare professionals interested in gaining an understanding of the effect of bioethics on clinical work, decision making, and hospital policy. It takes students two years to complete most degree programs in bioethics, which may combine classroom instruction with clinical experience.

These programs require students to complete core classes, thereby encouraging them to think about ethical issues such as new technologies, including genetic and embryonic stem cell engineering, in addition to human rights to healthcare and the use of placebos in research. A practicum in a research or health care facility is also available in most programs.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree with a strong grade point average. Students seeking admission to a bioethics major would be best served by completing an undergraduate major in an area such as biology, pre-medicine, public policy, or philosophy.


Bioethical clinical topics, bioethical laws, and the philosophical theories behind bioethics are covered within the core coursework in a bioethics graduate degree program, which may include topic areas such as:

•Ethics and integrity in science
•Justice and healthcare
•Medical ethics
•Pediatric ethics
•Bioethics consultation and committees
•Clinical topics in bioethics
•Philosophical bioethics
•Critical approaches to bioethics
•Research ethics
•Law and bioethics
•Physician conduct

Career Choices

A graduate degree in the broad field of bioethics can help students choose from many available positions in the healthcare industry. They can choose from popular career options such as:

•Research program coordinator
•Associate professor of bioethics
•Clinical ethicist
•Bioethics researcher
•Bioethics center director
•Bioethics center physician
•Bioethics consultant

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, job growth rates of ten percent have been predicted for epidemiologists (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought home an average annual wage of $65,270 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Schools offer a few doctoral degree programs related to the field of bioethics, such as a Ph.D. in Bioethics and Health Policy and a Ph.D. in Bioethics and Philosophy. It can take students five years to complete a doctoral degree program in the field. The design of programs allows the in-depth research of a particular area of the bioethics field. A publishable dissertation should result from the completion of such a program, which may often lead to positions in research or academia.

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