Public Health Ethics

Major: Public Heath Ethics
Degree Awarded: Master of Science (MS)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 45.0
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 51.3201
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 11-9111

About the Program

The Master of Science in Public Health Ethics will equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to identify, understand and analyze ethical issues in public health; to disseminate new knowledge through the scholarly literature; and to work towards real-world solutions to ethical issues. Students will receive in-depth training in ethical theory and decision-making and the ethical dimensions of public health research, practice and policy. Students will also receive training in public health systems and research methods. The program will prepare students to serve as thought-leaders in the field of public health and for job positions requiring expertise in health ethics. It will also serve as a stepping-stone for students wishing to pursue doctoral-level education in ethics.


  • Investigate the historical context for and evolution of the discipline of public health ethics and its relationship to philosophy, human rights and biomedical ethics.
  • Justify public health decisions based upon data driven evidence and/or ethical theories and principles, as well as the values and beliefs of stakeholders.
  • Critique specific issues and cases in public health using ethical theories.
  • Analyze socio-political determinants of health and how they relate to philosophical theories of justice.
  • Assess the ethical dimensions of contemporary public health research methods and practice.

Additional Information

For additional information about this program, go the Dornsife School of Public Health's Admissions web page.

Admission Requirements

The admissions criteria and process for the MS in Public Health Ethics will be broadly similar to those of the MPH degree and are as follows:

Application review

  • The Admissions Committee carefully reviews applications and gives personal essays and letters of recommendation particular attention.
  • The selection process weighs prior academic and personal accomplishments.
  • Diversity of background and outside interests, depth of self-appraisal, and commitment to public health are highly valued.
  • Prior coursework in ethics is not required, but will be viewed favorably.

Admission Requirements

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 from an undergraduate bachelor degree program in an accredited US college or university, or its equivalent in another country.

Application Requirements

  • A personal essay describing what you perceive to be pressing public health issues and their ethical dimensions, why a degree in public health ethics appeals to you, and your strengths as a candidate.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume or CV
  • Satisfactory results from one of the following taken within the past five years (the GRE or GMAT is preferred):
    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
    • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)
    • Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
    • Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for applicants whose first language is not English

Please note: The Dornsife School of Public Health's code for submitting GRE scores is 2194. The SOPHAS GRE school code is 7890.

Degree Requirements

Core Courses30.0
Proseminar in Public Health Ethics
Cases in Public Health Ethics
Ethics Journal Club (0.5 credits repeated two times for credit)
History of Public Health
Public Health Ethics
Introduction to Research Ethics
Global Health Ethics
Health Disparities: Systemic, Structural, Environmental & Economic
Introduction to Public Health *
Methods for Public Health Research I
Methods for Public Health Research II
Master's Thesis6.0
Master's Thesis
Electives might include both courses that are directly ethics-related and also courses that are indirectly related to ethics. A non-exhaustive list of possible ethics-related elective courses is given below.
Dornsife School of Public Health
Introduction to Statistical Computing
Intermediate Biostatistics I
Animals and Public Health
Drug Use and Public Health
Theory and Practice in Health Communication
LGBT Health Disparities
Environmental and Occupational Health Policy
Public Health and Disaster Preparedness
Introduction to Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Intermediate Epidemiology
Evolution of United States Health Policy
Legal Aspects of Public Health
Health Disparities: Systemic, Structural, Environmental & Economic
Historical and Contemporary Developments in Social Justice
Public Health Advocacy and Activism
Health Systems Policy Analysis
Health and Human Rights
College of Nursing and Health Professions
Historical Influences on the US Healthcare System
Ethical and Legal Issues in Healthcare Management and Policy
Comparative Health Systems
Advanced Ethical Decision Making in Health Care
Wicked Problems in Health Care
Foundation of Good Clinical Practice in Clinical Trials Mngmt
Current Topics in Clinical Trials
College of Arts and Sciences
Seminar in Communication Ethics
College of Computing and Informatics
Information Ethics
LeBow College of Business
Business Ethics
Total Credits45.0

Sample Plan of Study

Term 1Credits
CHP 510Proseminar in Public Health Ethics3.0
CHP 512Cases in Public Health Ethics1.5
CHP 513Ethics Journal Club0.5
PBHL 512Methods for Public Health Research I 4.0
 Term Credits12.0
Term 2
CHP 513Ethics Journal Club0.5
CHP 607Public Health Ethics3.0
CHP 660Global Health Ethics1.5
PBHL 513Methods for Public Health Research II4.0
 Term Credits12.0
Term 3
CHP 516History of Public Health3.0
HMP 550Health Disparities: Systemic, Structural, Environmental & Economic3.0
 Term Credits12.0
Term 4
CHP 609Introduction to Research Ethics3.0
CHP 699Master's Thesis6.0
 Term Credits9.0
Total Credit: 45.0
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