A practical, interdisciplinary, and in-depth exploration of bioethical issues for undergraduate students with a particular focus on public health ethics, medical ethics, and research ethics. As a student in this certificate program, you will acquire translatable skills required to analyze and resolve a wide breadth of ethical issues applicable to a variety of health care environments such as public health, community health, acute care, home care/hospice care/palliative care, human subjects research, long-term care, rehabilitation, private practice, schools, and athletic facilities.

The certificate focuses on ethical, legal and societal issues in population health and individual health including health equity (particularly in relation to at-risk populations), end-of-life decision making, informed consent, decision-making capacity, confidentiality and privacy, organ donation, religious and cultural implications in health and medicine, conflict resolution, human subjects research and distribution of scarce resources. By completing the certificate, you will gain translatable skills and authentic experiences.


  • To provide tools and practical frameworks for resolving ethical issues in medical, public health, community health, and research environments
  • To create opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary analysis and discourse required of today’s health care and public health professionals.
  • To offer undergraduates an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained and translatable skills acquired in their didactic classes to authentic environments within health-related fields.

Academic Requirements

Required courses (13 credits)

  • PUBSRV 1305 - Health, Law, and Ethics (3 credits)
  • PUBHLT  0120 - Essentials of Health Equity (3 credits)
  • PUBHLT 0500 - Ethical Issues in Public and Community Health (3 credits)
  • REHSCI 1235 - Medical Terminology (1 credit)
  • PUBHLT 501 - Interdisciplinary Resolution of Bioethics Cases (3 credits).  Prerequisites:  Completion and/or concurrent enrollment in either PUBSRV 1305 - Health, Law and Ethics; PUBHLT 120 - Essentials of Health Equity, or PUBHLT 500 - Ethical Issues in Public and Community Health. 

Students must achieve at least a 2.0 (C) average in the overall certificate requirements.

Elective courses

(3 credits)

These 3 additional elective credits could be in public health, arts and sciences, rehabilitation sciences or nursing and should be courses that relate to the student’s career focus or particular area of interest, including but not limited to population health, religious and cultural issues in health/medicine, global health and health issues faced by individuals from populations who are at-risk for discrimination.

Approved Electives

Capstone experience

PUBHLT 901 - Bioethics Capstone (Practicum/Independent Study) (2 credits)

The Capstone: Bioethics Certificate will include practical experiences and an in-depth ethical exploration. For the in-depth ethical exploration, students will have the option of completing either a practicum where bioethics issues can be observed (any experience where the patient will be providing or observing patient care services in an individualized, community, public health, or research setting), or an independent study related to bioethics (any project, directed research, or study abroad experience with focused end-result).


This certificate program is open to all undergraduate students in the University on the Pittsburgh campus. Candidates must complete an application which is reviewed by the certificate director. Admission decisions are made by the certificate director and students will be notified by email.

Thank you for your interest in the Bioethics Certificate. The application window has closed.  Please feel free to reach out to the director of the Bioethics Certificate, Dr. Cindy McCarthy, for additional information.

Note: The Bioethics Certificate is approved by the Frederick Honors College to satisfy the curricular requirements for the Honors Degree and Honors Distinction.