Core Curriculum


The program consists of a total of four courses—three required and one elective course. The required courses are:

  • Introduction to Research Ethics (3 credits)
  • Regulatory Issues in Human Subject Research Protections (3 credits)
  • Current Topics in Research Ethics (3 credits)

For the elective, students can choose one of the following courses:

  • Justice and Healthcare (3 credits)
  • Philosophical Bioethics (3 credits)
  • Law and Bioethics (3 credits)

Participants may take one or two courses in a semester as fits their scheduling needs.

All of the courses of the certificate program are delivered via the Internet. The technical requirements are minimal, i.e., ability to use a Web-browser and email. Class discussions and case analyses are conducted primarily in non-real time, so students can participate at their convenience during each week. However, students are paced on a week-to-week basis just as in a campus course. Moreover, the pedagogical capabilities of the Web environment enhance the “class” discussions and allow for individualized instructor feedback, which empowers the learners and makes the courses truly student-centered.

Participants receive a Certificate in Research Ethics from the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences upon completion of the four courses. Each course is also worth graduate credit which may be applicable to the Bioethics MA degree.

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Core Curriculum (Required Courses)

Introduction to Research Ethics 10207 (3 credits)
This course will provide students with a comprehensive introduction to the ethical issues involved in scientific, animal, and human subjects research. After a brief look back at the history of research ethics, students will spend time considering issues that impact research in both the laboratory setting and in the clinical setting. This course provides the necessary research ethics instruction required to satisfy the United States Public Health Service Policy on Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research for institutions receiving research funds from the Department of Health and Human Services (issued December 1, 2000).


Regulatory Issues in Human Subject Research Protections – Bioethics 10226 (3 credits)
There is no question that the fruits of research have fueled medical progress. Yet, the history of research involving human subjects is not unblemished. Federal regulations, based on ethical principles set forth in the Belmont Report, now govern much of the research undertaken in the United States. In this course, we will explore the history and substance of research regulations in the United States, the application of the regulations to specific research issues, and situations where the regulations do not provide clear guidance. Prerequisites: Bioethics 10207 or sufficient practical experience in research ethics as determined by the course instructor.


Current Topics in Research Ethics – Bioethics 10228 (3 credits)
Rapidly evolving scientific and technologic capabilities in medicine combined with an ever-increasing demand to translate these scientific developments to the bedside presents new challenges to regulating human subjects research. This course seeks to keep pace with many of these new and emerging challenges, providing students an opportunity to critically examine the ethical and legal implications of these topics. Specific topics for analysis will be drawn from the current medical literature, popular press, and evolving policy guidance. Prerequisites: Bioethics 10207 or sufficient practical experience in research ethics as determined by the course instructor.





Elective Curriculum

Justice and Healthcare, Bioethics 10203 (3 credits)
This course addresses some of the critical issues of bioethics as the principle and concept of justice relates to them. Topics include the concept of justice as it relates to health and health care, rationing, the form and substance of a national health policy, and managed care. The format of the course will consist of seminar presentations and class discussion.


Philosophical Bioethics, Bioethics 10210 (3 credits)
This course provides the critical basis for the ethical analysis of biomedical issues. It consists of lectures, seminar presentations, and class discussion of the foundations of moral philosophy, including the concept of morality, moral relativism, classical ethical theories, contemporary methods in bioethics, rights, justice, and the justification of moral beliefs.


Law and Bioethics, Bioethics 10223 (3 credits)
This course provides an introduction to legal principles and legal precedent relevant to issues in bioethics, aimed at providing the foundation for understanding relevant law concerning these issues.