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Certificate in Research Ethics

The Certificate in Research Ethics program at MCW will help you build an understanding of human subjects research regulations and their historical foundations, while exploring current topics in research. Our program, designed for investigators, study coordinators, research advocates, IRB members and other who are engaged in human subject research compliance, consists of four online. All credits earned in the program may be applicable to the Master of Arts degree program in Bioethics within one year of completing your certificate.

  • Credits: 12
  • Type: Online
  • Student Status: Full Time
Research Ethics

Message from the Director


Fabrice Jotterand, PhD, MA

Associate Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities
Director, Graduate Program in Bioethics

Over the years, MCW's bioethics programs have been recognized for their intellectual rigor and leadership in bioethics education. As the Director of the Graduate Program in Bioethics, I am committed to promoting this tradition of academic excellence and to foster a student-centered learning environment. If you have any questions about the bioethics programs or the application process, please don't hesitate to contact me.

(414) 955-8451


Research Ethics Certificate

About the Program

About the Program

The Certificate Program in Research Ethics is designed to provide a basic introduction to human subjects research regulation and the historical and philosophical foundations underlying such regulation, as well as an opportunity for students to pursue a broad-based survey of current topics in research ethics. This program is meant to enhance the professional practice of individuals involved in human subject research as investigators, study coordinators, research advocates, IRB members, and others engaged or interested in research compliance. It is Internet-based in order to be available to participants from across the nation and around the world.



Applying to the Certificate in Research Ethics Program

Individuals interested in the Certificate program must apply through the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The application process consists of: (1) completing and submitting the online application form with a $50 application fee; (2) providing official transcript for an earned baccalaureate degree; and (3) providing letters of recommendation with recommendation forms from at least two references who can comment on the applicant’s ability to succeed in the program.

Criteria for admission include academic training, professional experience, college and, if applicable, graduate or professional school grades, commitment to the field of bioethics, and promise in the program’s academic areas.

All applications are reviewed by the Bioethics Program’s Graduate Admissions Committee. The outcome of the committee review is forwarded to the Dean as a recommendation for admission or rejection. The Admissions Committee is comprised of the Director of Graduate Studies and at least two other members of the program’s graduate faculty. Final action on each application is carried out by the Dean, who signs all letters of acceptance or rejection on behalf of the academic program and MCW.

Application deadlines are July 1 for Fall admission, November 1 for Spring admission, and April 1 for Summer admission.



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.  

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.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition and Fees

If you have questions regarding tuition or your account, please contact the Office of Student Accounts, at (414) 955-8172 or mcwtuition@mcw.edu. Please refer to the All Student Handbook (PDF) for tuition payment policies and information.

PhD Students
All full-time PhD students receive a full tuition remission, health insurance and stipend.

2018-2019 Stipend: $30,011

Masters, Certificate & Non-Degree Students
Students seeking financial aid for MPH, MS or MA degree programs, visit the Financial Aid Office website.

Current MCW Employees
Tuition Course Approval Form - Human Resources (PDF)

Late Fees
There will be a $100 late registration fee for anyone not completing registration by the date indicated on the schedule each semester.

There is also a $250 late payment fee for tuition not paid on time according to the Tuition Payments policy in the All Student Handbook (PDF).

Late payment fee is in addition to any late registration fee.

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Contact Us

MCW Graduate School
8701 Watertown Plank Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53226

(414) 955-8218 
(414) 955-0084 (fax)

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