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Master's Degree Program: Online Graduate Studies in Bioethics

written by: Sonal Panse•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 5/27/2010

This article takes a look at the online master's degree program in bioethics, how to enroll for it, the courses in the program, and career prospects. The discipline of bioethics delves mainly into the ethical matters related to medical research and new scientific technology.

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    Online Graduate Studies in Bioethics - Master's Degree Program

    Bioethics is a discipline that takes into consideration health as well as human values. People going for this master's degree come from various disciplines like law, medicine, philosophy, healthcare, education, and social work. The bioethics program provides these students and professionals with the interdisciplinary knowledge, broad perspectives, and expertise to deal with complex ethical issues and policies. Issues raised by modern medicine and research like stem cell research, therapeutic cloning, and pharmaceutical therapies are particularly relevant.

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    Online Graduate Studies in Bioethics - Getting a Master's Degree

    A master's degree in bioethics through online graduate studies can take up to three years for completion. Students must complete twelve courses in this period, taking one course per term. The courses may include a few weeks of onsite study work. In some cases, students may be allowed to take more than one course per term and complete the program sooner.

    The courses, depending on the institution, may be structured into cores and electives or may have more flexible course options. Students may have the choice to opt for a thesis or forgo it. Some of the following types of the courses may be covered in a bioethics program:

    • Healthcare Policy
    • History of Medical Ethics
    • Ethical Reasoning
    • Regulation of Research
    • Qualitative Research Methods
    • Literature and Medicine
    • Theories of Justice
    • Confidentiality and Genetic Databases
    • Xenotransplantation
    • Genetics and Society

    Courses may require ten to twelve hours of study work every week.

    Students interested in pursuing an online master's degree in bioethics should research colleges offering online bioethics graduate programs. The following Online Bioethics Graduate Program link should be helpful.

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    Two Colleges Offering Online Graduate Studies in Bioethics

    The Bioethics Program

    Union Graduate College

    Mount Sinai School of Medicine

    A bachelor's degree is required to be eligible for this program. Prospective students must download the application form from the college website, fill it out, and send it in by June 1. Along with the form, their application must include an essay explaining their interest in the bioethics graduate program, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts of educational and/or professional qualifications, and an application fee of $60. Some students may be required to undergo a standardized application test. Students are notified about their selection or rejection four weeks after their application.

    Selected candidates are required to pay $100 as registration fee and later a $250 resource fee. Tuition fees are $2485 for three credit courses. Financial aid is available.

    Alden March Bioethics Institute

    Online Graduate Programs

    Albany Medical College

    To apply for this program, students must provide educational transcripts, a personal essay, reference letters, a current resume, and a $50 application fee. They may be asked to give a telephone interview. Tuition fees for the program are $2500 for three credit courses. For further information, please see the Masters in Bioethics page of the Alden March Bioethics Institute website.

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    Benefits of a Master's Degree in Bioethics Through Online Study

    • Students can become proficient in the latest computer technology as they work online.
    • They get the opportunity to network with professionals from a wide range of disciplines.
    • They can participate in challenging online discussions.
    • They can work any time in a day as per their convenience.
    • They can continue with their profession or with any other course they are pursuing.
    • They don't have to relocate or commute.
    • They can work from any location of their choice.

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    Career Prospects with an Online Master's Degree in Bioethics

    The online master's degree in bioethics is more of a supplementary degree than a stand-alone one. Most of the students take this program to enhance their existing backgrounds in law, medicine, healthcare, education, research, and so on. The bioethics degree helps them further up in their present careers or branch out in a related one. The bioethics degree by itself, without a relevant background, may not be of much help in the job market.

    That said, qualified bioethics graduates can find a variety of employment opportunities. They may work as clinical ethicists, health-policy analysts, and bioethics consultants. They may serve on medical research committees, corporate advisory boards, and institutional review boards. They may work for government agencies, for public corporations, for private companies, for educational institutions, and for research organizations.

    Salaries of bioethics graduates will vary according to their particular field, expertise, initiative, and employer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare practitioners have a mean annual salary of $67,890; people in life, physical, and social science occupations have a mean annual salary of $64,280; people in legal occupations have a mean annual salary of $92,270; and people in education have a mean annual salary of $48,460.