School of Nursing to offer dual-title doctorate in nursing and bioethics

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State’s School of Nursing is the newest academic unit to offer a dual-title doctoral degree in conjunction with the bioethics program administered by the Rock Ethics Institute in the College of the Liberal Arts.

Effective in summer 2013, the dual-title doctorate in nursing and bioethics will provide nursing doctoral students with the skills and knowledge to fully engage ethical issues, conduct original bioethics research, and produce related scholarship, said Judith Hupcey, associate dean for graduate education in the School of Nursing.

“Students earning this dual degree will graduate with expanded employment opportunities in both academic and health care institutions,” Hupcey said. “In addition, the bioethics training will qualify graduates for work in nonacademic positions in both the public and private sectors.”

Researchers in nursing confront a number of ethical issues, both intrinsic to their research and related to the broader areas of public health, global health policy and the environment. The new curriculum will include theoretical and methodological approaches to bioethics and explore relevant ethical and policy issues.

“Through their training in a genuinely interdisciplinary program, graduates will be qualified to compete for jobs on the cutting edge of science, ethics and policy,” Hupcey said. “The rigorous bioethics training will distinguish them from their competitors and allow them to apply for academic positions in this growing field.”

To obtain the dual-title degree in nursing and bioethics, students must satisfy the requirements for the nursing doctorate and complete additional course requirements in bioethics. These include core nursing courses, perspectives and methods courses in bioethics, research methods courses and approved electives.

In addition to course work in both fields, students must combine the two disciplines in their dissertations.

The bioethics dual-title doctoral program was initiated in 2011 to allow students to combine the study of bioethics with another academic discipline. The first program of its kind in the United States, it was designed to produce scholars, educators and professional practitioners who have a deeper understanding of current problems in medicine and the biosciences and are equipped to address the social and ethical implications of proposed solutions.

"We are delighted to add the School of Nursing as our fourth partner in the dual-title Bioethics Ph.D. program, and we are very excited about this collaboration," said Jonathan H. Marks, director of the Bioethics program. "I am confident that we will produce a new cadre of graduates proficient in two disciplines, and that this will greatly enrich the scholarship and practice of both nursing and bioethics."

For more information, contact Judith Hupcey at or Jonathan Marks at Learn more about each program by visiting the Nursing Ph.D. program website or the Bioethics program website.

Media Contacts: 

Beverly Molnar

Work Phone: 

Marketing Communications Specialist, School of Nursing

Last Updated May 02, 2013