Master of Science in Bioethics: Research Ethics

The Research Ethics Specialization within the Master of Science in Bioethics program emphasizes the challenges faced by those involved in conducting or overseeing research.
"I can honestly say that I would not be at Harvard, or have the opportunities to do such fascinating research, if it were not for the education and mentorship provided to me by the Union Graduate College Bioethics Program. The faculty fostered an excellent educational environment for me to learn about the fundamentals of bioethics."
Susannah Rose
PhD Ethics Concentration, Harvard University’s Health Policy Program

Fellow, Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics

Fellow, National Cancer Insititute
Research ethics focuses on the design and testing of new drugs or medical interventions, as well as the protection of human participants and animal subjects in drug trials and other biomedical research. Graduates of the Bioethics Program will be prepared to shape global research ethics policy and standards, advance ethical research, educate their peers and influence the national debate on research design, review and oversight.

Overview of MSB: Research Course Requirements

Students complete 12 courses: an intensive summer proseminar, five core courses, three practica, a two-course master’s project, and one elective course.

Proseminar in Health and Human Values (One week in August)

This introductory, one-week intensive seminar in bioethics is taught by scholars from across the United States. The proseminar introduces students to the field, acquaints them with the online learning platform and affords them the opportunity to meet their professors and fellow students in person.

Core Courses

Students take five required core courses:
  • Healthcare Policy: The Political and Organizational Context
  • Research Ethics I
  • Research Ethics II
  • Biomedical Ethics
  • Bioethics and the Law

Elective Courses

One elective course is required. Options include courses in empirical research methods, clinical ethics or reproductive ethics.

Online and Onsite Practica

Practica provide invaluable opportunities for students to put theory into practice. The online practicum is taught workshop-style and emphasizes case studies and exercises that develop core competencies in research ethics. The weeklong, on-site practicum at Mount Sinai Medical Center provides intensive, hands-on experience in the context of a major medical center.

Two-Term Master’s Project

Students complete a project, paper, or initiative to investigate a specific area of bioethics or to recommend or implement changes in policy or practice.

Capstone Seminar

During this one-week, on-site seminar, students demonstrate their mastery of bioethics and research ethics practice.

Sample Schedules

MS in RE 3 Years
MS in RE 2 Years
MS in RE 1 Year (Full Time)



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