Graduate Certificate in Bioethics
Department of Philosophy, Florida State University
Program Director: Piers Rawling, Professor and Chair of Philosophy
Associate Program Director: Tracie Mahaffey, Senior Teaching Faculty
The Graduate Certificate in Bioethics is designed to meet the needs of current graduate students, as well as individuals working in the areas of health care, health policy, and biomedical research. The certificate will help prepare graduate students and working healthcare professionals for leadership and administrative positions, and membership on ethics committees and IRBs. It will also benefit students who wish to enroll in graduate and professional degree programs, and/or compete for prestigious fellowships in bioethics and clinical bioethics.
Students who successfully complete the certificate program will be able to (a) analyze ethical situations, particularly those that arise in medical and scientific contexts, from various theoretical perspectives; (b) evaluate the ethical dimensions of policies and practices involved with health care, public health, patient advocacy, medical and scientific research, and related areas; and (c) communicate their analyses through written and oral methods to both technical and non-technical audiences.
Students interested in completing the Graduate Certificate in Bioethics (which is not intended as a diploma or a degree) should submit a completed application form to the Philosophy Department at:
The Graduate Certificate in Bioethics program is open to currently enrolled Florida State University graduate students who are in good standing. In addition, anyone not currently enrolled in a Florida State University degree program can pursue the certificate by enrolling as a non-degree-seeking student (provided they have a BA or BSc from an accredited institution, which is the only prerequisite for this certificate program). Applicants must be admitted to the certificate program in advance of beginning any coursework.
The Graduate Certificate in Bioethics program comprises 12 hours of graduate coursework, to be completed within 5 years. Students are required to earn a B- or better in each class, and must achieve an overall GPA of 3.0 in order for the certificate to be granted. Students may transfer up to 3 hours of graduate coursework toward the certificate, subject to course review and approval by the Certificate Director or Associate Director.
1. Theoretical Foundations of Applied Ethics (3 hours)
This course surveys major ethical theories and their relation to applied ethics, especially biomedical ethics and health policy. The course will include examination and discussion of ethical theories such as consequentialism, duty-based theories, rights-based theories, virtue ethics, and casuistry.
2. Bioethics (3 hours)
This course serves as a graduate-level introduction to some of the topics, texts, and methods of the field of biomedical ethics.
3. Capstone Course (3 hours)
In the capstone course, students will plan, research, and complete a project paper focusing on an ethical problem in one of the following:
a) clinical ethics (for those professionals interested in, for example, hospital ethics committees or ethics consultation),
b) research ethics (for those interested in, for instance, serving on an IRB or IACUC or otherwise consulting about research ethics), or
c) public policy (for those interested in, for example, working on the development and implementation of health care policy).
Elective Courses (students take one):
4. Philosophy of Medicine (3 hours)
This course examines philosophical issues that arise in conceptualizing the aims and practices of medicine and medical science within broader cultural contexts.
5. Special Topics in Bioethics (3 hours)
This is a research seminar on selected problems in biomedical ethics.