PhD Program

About the Program

We are not accepting applications to this program.

Over the past 30 years, biomedical ethics has developed and matured into a major area of scholarly inquiry.  Professionals from philosophy, medicine, public health, nursing, the life sciences, law, social work, management, public policy, the social sciences, religious studies, and other areas have contributed to the biomedical ethics literature in important ways.  The application of conceptual analytical techniques to ethical issues in science and medicine and the emergence of empirically-based scholarship in ethics have helped to help inform the practice of medicine and to test traditional philosophical tenets of bioethics.   To meet the need for scholars with the interdisciplinary training required for such research, the CWRU School of Medicine’s Bioethics Department created the nation's first Ph.D. program in Bioethics in 2004. The program's mission is to train researchers to conceptualize, design, and conduct both normative ethical analyses and empirical research on bioethics issues.

The goal of the PhD program is to train scholars skilled in the conceptualization, design, and conduct of interdisciplinary research on bioethical issues. This means that each candidate will learn how to integrate their previously mastered disciplinary skills with other scholarly approaches to produce multi-dimensional analyses of bioethical research problems. In addition, each candidate will learn how to lead and fund the collaborative research teams such analyses require. The doctoral program in bioethics has two primary objectives:

  • To train scholars who have specific expertise in the conceptualization, design, and conduct of research on bioethical questions using the methodologies of normative bioethical analysis.
  • To train scholars who have specific expertise in the conceptualization, design, and conduct of empirical research on bioethical questions, as well as competency in normative bioethical analysis.

Candidates may enter the program from any discipline. All doctoral students will become familiar with the ways in which bioethical scholarship employs concepts and methods from the humanities, social sciences, clinical research, jurisprudence, and health policy. The program’s curriculum is organized around four core areas:

  • Normative and social science theory and methods
  • Research ethics
  • Clinical ethics
  • Public health ethics

Special concentrations are available to students interested in:

  1. problems in genetics and genomics;
  2. stem cell research and regenerative medicine;
  3. research ethics and public health ethics;
  4. clinical ethics.

The Department of Bioethics provides PhD students with a multi-disciplinary learning environment, with faculty representing the fields of philosophy, social science, pubic health, law, medicine, and nursing. Doctoral students are part of a fully integrated educational program within the departmentthat includes undergraduate courses, a Master’s program in bioethics, medical school teaching, international student exchanges, and postdoctoral training.

Graduates from the first cohort of the Department’s doctoral program have successfully competed for academic positions, NIH funding, and NSF funding, and have published articles in peer reviewed journals.


Doctoral Program Handbook