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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Bioethics (BIOET)

Program Home Page

JONATHAN H. MARKS, Director of the Bioethics Program
129 Willard Building
814-865-5938
bioethics@psu.edu

Degree Conferred

Students electing to pursue this program through participating departments will earn a degree with a dual-title at the Ph.D. level, i.e., Ph.D. in [major program name] and Bioethics.

The following graduate programs offer dual degrees in bioethics: Ph.D. in Anthropology; Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Health; and Ph.D. in Communication Arts and Sciences.

 

Graduate Faculty

 

The Bioethics dual-title program is housed in the College of the Liberal Arts with administrative support (e.g., staff support) provided by the Rock Ethics Institute, similar to, for example, the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences' support of the IBIOS Intercollege Graduate Degree Program. The Bioethics Program Committee, which contains representatives from participating colleges and departments, maintains the program's definition and goals, identifies faculty and courses relevant to the program, and recommends policies and procedures for the program's operation.

Program Objectives of Dual-Title Degree in Bioethics

The dual-title graduate degree in bioethics will acknowledge and foster scholarly work across disciplines, increasing the intellectual rigor and breadth of graduate work through immersion in both bioethics and the primary discipline. The dual-title degree will also provide opportunities for students to learn how to synthesize knowledge and develop expertise within and across disciplinary boundaries.

In addition to the intellectual and academic advantages of interdisciplinarity, the dual-title degree program will strengthen the reputation of individual programs/departments through an innovative degree program, increase recruitment of top quality graduate students, and increase job opportunities for students after graduation.

Dual-title degree programs do not duplicate other degree programs at Penn State University.

Admission Requirements

Dual-title bioethics graduate students will first be admitted to their major programs in accordance with the requirements stipulated by the Graduate Council and the major program. They will then be admitted to graduate study in the Bioethics program by an admissions committee consisting of faculty affiliated with the Bioethics program. Applicants should have a junior/senior cumulative average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and an appropriate background in undergraduate coursework. Prospective dual-title students will write a statement of purpose that addresses the ways in which their research and professional goals reflect an interest in interdisciplinary bioethics research.

Degree Requirements

General requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. in [major program name] and Bioethics are listed below.

  • 7 required credits (BIOET 501, BIOET 502, and BIOET 590). At least three additional BIOET credits at the 500 level.
  • Eight additional credits from a list of approved electives at the 400 and 500 level, with at least two credits at the 500 level.
  • Comprehensive examination in bioethics and the related field, with the format and content to be determined by agreement with the major department.
  • Dissertation on a bioethics-related topic or that includes a substantial bioethics component.

Language Competency Requirements

The student will fulfill the language requirement specified by the major department through which the student is admitted to the dual-title degree program.

Candidacy Requirement

In order to be admitted to doctoral candidacy in the dual-title degree program, students must meet the Ph.D. candidacy requirements specified by the major program. During the candidacy process, the student will also be assessed for candidacy to the dual-title program, and at least one member of the candidacy committee must come from the dual-title program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs may serve in a combined role.

Committee Composition

In accordance with the Graduate Council's requirements, the doctoral committee shall contain at least four members. At least one of the committee members must be a faculty-member affiliated with the Bioethics Program. Where major programs are supportive of this, graduate students will be encouraged to have a second committee member so qualified. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs may serve in a combined role. If the committee chair does not serve in this combined role, the faculty member representing the bioethics program must be designated as co-chair of the committee. The dual-title representative(s) will be expected to participate in constructing and grading comprehensive examination questions that cover the secondary area of study. The Outside Member will be appointed in accordance with the Graduate School's Graduate Student Committee Procedures. The Graduate Council’s current policy is that the Outside Member cannot have more than a 25% budgetary connection with either the graduate major program or the dual-title degree program.

Comprehensive Exams

The faculty member (or members) affiliated with the Bioethics Program will be responsible for administering a portion of the comprehensive exam that will require the student to demonstrate an understanding of various theoretical and methodological approaches to bioethics, and an ability to apply them to issues and problems (including, where appropriate, practical problems) in their major field.

Dissertation

A dissertation on a bioethics-related topic or with a substantial bioethics component is required of students in the dual-title Ph.D. program. The bioethics-related topic of the dissertation or the bioethics component will be approved by the student's committee.

Student Aid

When available, graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid will be described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Program.

Course Listing

Required Courses

All students in the dual-title bioethics program are required to take the following three courses, which will provide a rigorous grounding in general theory, methods and the scholarly literature of bioethics:

BIOETHICS (BIOET)

501. PERSPECTIVES AND METHODS IN BIOETHICS (3)
502. PERSPECTIVES IN MACRO-BIOETHICS (3)
590. BIOETHICS COLLOQUIUM (1)

In addition, students will be required to take at least three additional BIOET credits at the 500-level. These course offerings will be enhanced over time, and will initially include:

BIOETHICS (BIOET)

503. ETHICS AND THE RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT OF BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH (3)
597. SPECIAL TOPICS IN BIOETHICS (1-3)

In addition, this rubric will be used to cross-list courses with a substantial bioethics-related component including courses in bioethics and health law offered by the Dickinson School of Law and courses in bioethics and medical humanities offered by the Department of Humanities in the College of Medicine at Hershey. (Approval for cross-listing will be obtained on a case-by-case basis.) It may also be used to create courses that run concurrently with a bioethics-related seminar series and/or lecture series run by the Rock Ethics Institute.

With the approval of the Director of the Bioethics Graduate Program, students may also fulfill the requirement for the three additional 500-level BIOET credits through one of four alternatives:

BIOET 594. RESEARCH TOPICS
BIOET 596. INDIVIDUAL STUDIES
BIOET 590. COLLOQUIUM (since the topics will vary from semester, students may take this course in subsequent semesters for additional credit OR
An additional elective course determined to satisfy this requirement on the grounds that the syllabus indicates a sufficiently strong bioethics content.

Elective Courses

Students in the program will take the remaining credits by choosing from a wide variety of existing elective courses at the 400 and 500 levels from a list maintained by the Director of the Bioethics Graduate Program in consultation with the Bioethics Program Committee. Students also have the right to petition the Director of the Bioethics Graduate Program to request that additional courses be added to the list of electives. The elective courses chosen by the student must be approved by either the Director of the Bioethics Graduate Program or, with the agreement of the Director, by another member of the Bioethics Program Committee. These courses are currently offered by a variety of departments (including BB H, BMMB, CAS, FRNSC, H ADM, HLHED, H P A, IBIOS, NURS, NUTR, PHIL, PHS, S T S, and WMNST) and they encompass a variety of subject areas including clinical ethics, research ethics, public health and health policy, health law, environmental ethics and policy, global and comparative health, biotechnology, and medical humanities. A list of courses available as elective credits for graduate students in the bioethics program is included below.

In addition, students may pursue an internship or practicum, provided that this is approved in advance by the Director of the Bioethics Graduate Program:

BIOET 595. INTERNSHIP (1-3)

List of Elective Courses

The list of elective courses will be maintained by the Director of the Bioethics Graduate Program in consultation with the Bioethics Program Committee. The list currently includes the following courses:

ANTH/BIOL 460 HUMAN GENETICS (3)
ANTH/BIOL 460H HUMAN GENETICS (4)
ANTH 471H BIOLOGY, EVOLUTION AND SOCIETY (3)
BB H 501 BIOBEHAVIORAL SYSTEMS IN HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT: THEORY AND PROCESSES (3)
BB H 504 BEHAVIORAL HEALTH INTERVENTION STRATEGIES (3)
BB H 551 WORLD HEALTH PROMOTION (3)
BMH 490 BIOETHICS AND MEDICAL HUMANITIES CAPSTONE (3)
BMMB 509 ETHICS IN BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE (1)
CAS 453 HEALTH COMMUNICATION THEORY AND RESEARCH (3)
CAS 557 HEALTH COMMUNICATION (3)
CAS 562 QUALITATIVE METHODS (3)
FRNSC 561 ETHICS IN FORENSIC SCIENCE (1)
H ADM 539 HEALTH SYSTEMS ORGANIZATION (3)
H ADM 540 HEALTH ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY FORMULATION (3)
H ADM 541 HEALTH ECONOMICS AND POLICY (3)
H ADM 542 HEALTH CARE POLITICS AND POLICY (3)
H ADM 543 LONG-TERM CARE ADMINISTRATION AND POLICY (3)
H ADM 551 HEALTH CARE LAW (3)
H P A 401 (IL) COMPARATIVE HEALTH SYSTEMS ( 3)
H P A 510 HEALTH SERVICES FINANCING AND POLICY (3)
H P A 511 RESEARCH SEMINAR ON HEALTH SERVICES FINANCING AND POLICY (3)
H P A 520 INTRODUCTION TO HEALTH SERVICES ORGANIZATION AND DELIVERY (3)
H PA 521 RESEARCH SEMINAR ON HEALTH SERVICES ORGANIZATION AND DELIVERY (3)
H P A 540 EPIDEMIOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS IN HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCH (3)
H P A 541 POVERTY, RACE, ETHNICITY AND CHILD HEALTH (3)
H P A 545 INTRODUCTION TO HEALTH ECONOMICS (3)
H P A 822 CLINICAL ISSUES FOR HEALTH SERVICES MANAGEMENT (3)
H P A 836 HEALTH LAW (3)
HLHED 516 EVALUATION OF HEALTH EDUCATION AND PROMOTION PROGRAMS (3)
HLHED 552 CURRENT HEALTH EDUCATION ISSUES (3)
HLHED 553 MULTICULTURAL HEALTH ISSUES (3)
IBIOS 591 ETHICS IN THE LIFE SCIENCES (1)
NURS 464 (US;IL) DYING AND DEATH ( 3)
NURS 501 ISSUES IN NURSING AND HEALTH CARE (3)
NURS 580 EPISTEMOLOGY OF NURSING SCIENCE (3)
NURS 581 DEVELOPING THEORETICAL CONSTRUCTS RELEVANT TO NURSING (3)
NURS 587 ETHICS IN NURSING RESEARCH (1)
NUTR/S T S 430 (IL) GLOBAL FOOD STRATEGIES: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS FOR REDUCING WORLD HUNGER (3)
PHIL 403 ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS (3)
PHIL 418 ETHICS (3)
PHIL/S T S 432: MEDICAL AND HEALTH CARE ETHICS (3)
PHS 570 HEALTH ECONOMICS AND ECONOMIC EVALUATION (3)
S T S 555 HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF NATURAL RESOURCES (3)
S T S 589 ETHICS AND VALUES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (3)
WMNST/BB H 458: CRITICAL ISSUES IN REPRODUCTION (3)

 

Last Revised by the Department: Summer Session 2011

Blue Sheet Item #: 39-07-008

Review Date: 06/21/2011

Faculty linked: 5/27/14

 

 

 

 

 

 

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