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Overview

When it comes to medical research, each new development leaves a trail of moral questions in its wake. Just because we can do something, does that mean we should? Bioethics is the study of ethical issues in the fields of medical research and treatment. In a sense, bioethicists act as the conscience of science; they make sure society doesn’t get too far in over its head. If you are a patient, philosophical person interested in medical issues and helping people, the rapidly-growing field of bioethics might be for you.

As a bioethics major, you’ll learn how to apply social and moral values to health issues. You’ll study philosophical ethics, medical sociology, theology, spirituality, policy analysis, and decision theory; you’ll research and debate the big questions, like cloning, stem cell research, and euthanasia. But you’ll also deal with everyday healthcare issues like death and dying, therapeutic relationships, organ transplantation, human and animal subjects, reproduction and fertility, healthcare justice, cultural sensitivity, needs assessment, professionalism, and clinical or emergency procedures.

With a degree in bioethics, you might work in healthcare, education, public policy, or social work. Or, after further schooling, you might find employment at a university think tank. It seems that demand for those with a background in bioethics will only increase in the years to come.

SAMPLE CURRICULUM

  • Bioethics and the Law

  • Clinical Ethics

  • Empirical Research Methods in Bioethics

  • Feminism and Bioethics

  • Health and Human Values

  • Healthcare Policy

  • Healthcare Systems

  • Human Genetics

  • Medical Sociology

  • Philosophical Foundations of Bioethics

  • Race, Gender, and Medical Science

  • Reproductive Ethics

  • The Human Body and Parts as Property

  • Theology, Ethics, and Medicine


HIGH SCHOOl PREPARATION

To prepare for this major, take biology, along with U.S. History and English. If your school happens to offer philosophy or religion, take those too.