BA in Bioethics

This major requires 13 courses. The bioethics major leads to a bachelor of arts degree and satisfies the humanities requirement of the Rochester Curriculum.

Key goals for this major:

  • Provide students with the tools to think about the major ethical and related legal questions that arise in medicine and public health
  • Understand the frameworks in which individual moral decisions should be made
  • Understand the frameworks in which social and political moral decisions should be made
  • Understand the most important controversies in bioethics
  • Develop the tools to analyze moral arguments in bioethics
  • Develop the tools to construct arguments that contribute to some of these debates

***Beginning in spring 2024 and moving forward, PHLT 102 ‘Introduction to Public Health II' will no longer be a required course for public health majors. Moving forward, PHLT 102 will no longer be offered. Students who are already declared as a bioethics (BET) major will continue to follow their programs as they originally declared. If a student completed PHLT 102 with the intention of using it for their intended BET major, the undergraduate public health program will work with that student to incorporate it as part of their BET major.

Major Requirements

Some of these courses require prerequisites. These prerequisites are not counted toward the major. Prerequisites can be found on the courses page or in the CDCS

Public Health General Core (Four Courses)

PHLT 101: Introduction to Public Health I
PHLT 103: Concepts of Epidemiology
STAT 212: Applied Statistics I (valid until spring 2024) or STAT 180: Introduction to Applied Statistical Methodology (valid beginning fall 2024)
PHIL 228: Public Health Ethics or PHIL 225: Ethical Decisions in Medicine

Specific Core Requirements (Five Courses)

PHIL 102: General Ethics or PHIL 103: Contemporary Moral Problems
PHIL 223/223W: Social and Political Philosophy
PHLT/PSCI 236: Health Care and Law or PHLT 230: Public Health Law and Policy
PHLT 300W (H): Seminar for Bioethics Majors
PHIL 228/228W: Public Health Ethics or PHIL 225/225W: Ethical Decisions in Medicine*

*One can count toward the common core and the other toward the major-specific core

Electives (Four Courses)

I. Philosophy and Ethics (2 Courses)

Choose two of the following:

  • PHIL 102: General Ethics*
  • PHIL 103: Contemporary Moral Problems*
  • PHIL 220/220W: Recent Ethical Theory
  • PHIL 226/226W: Philosophy of Law
  • PHIL 230/230W: Environmental Justice
  • PHIL 312: Neuroethics
  • PHIL 321: Death
  • MHB 210: Bioethics at the Bedside

*The same course cannot be used as both a required core course and an elective course

II. History, Sociology, and Anthropology (1 course)

  • ANTH 216: Medical Anthropology
  • HIST 242/242W: Unequal, Unjust: 100 Years of Racism in American Public Health
  • HIST 373W: American Health Policy and Politics
  • MHB 240: History of the Body
  • PHLT 116: Introduction to the U.S. Health System
  • PHLT 232: Environmental Health Policy
  • PHLT 238: Environmental Health and Justice in the Rochester Community
  • PHLT 265W: Global Anthropology
  • PHLT 394C: Washington Semester Internship*
  • PHLT 397W: Community Engagement Internship**

*Permission of the bioethics faculty advisor required.
**Open to juniors, seniors, Take 5, and e5 public health majors

III. Additional Philosophy and Ethics or History, Sociology, and Anthropology (1 course)

The same course may not be used to satisfy a Group I or Group II elective course and a Group III elective course.

Upper-Level Writing Requirement

Students are required to register for two upper-level writing courses within this major, one of which is PHLT 300W: Seminar for Bioethics Majors.

Overlapping Major Courses

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the public health-related programs, no more than two courses may overlap between a public health major and another major.

The introductory STAT course (STAT 212 or STAT 180) is not included in course overlaps.

Transfer Credit

Students are permitted (with the approval of their public health faculty advisor) to use up to two transfer courses towards their public health program.

Note: Students may choose to major, or to minor, or to complete a cluster within the Public Health-Related programs, but they cannot do more than one.