Certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine

Overview of the Certificate Program

The undergraduate program in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine is designed to offer a group of related courses in the areas of medical ethics, the nature of explanation and evidence in the biomedical sciences, and social problems such as assessments of alternative forms of health care delivery. The program is likely to be of particular interest to pre-medical and pre-professional health care students, but is intended to appeal to all students interested in social and philosophical problems in the biomedical sciences.

Students interested in obtaining the the undergraduate certificate should apply as early in their course work as possible. Normally, satisfactory completion of one course in the two-term core sequence, History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) 0612 or 0613, is required for admission into the certificate program.


Please complete the Qualtrics survey below if you are interested in completing the CFM Certificate. We will be sending out email updates and a copy of your electronic CFM certificate upon graduation.

CFM Survey

Please email Diana Volkar at dlv23@pitt.edu if you have any questions.

Instructions to Receive Certificate on Transcript and Electronic Certificate

To receive the certificate on your transcript, you need to include it on your graduation application. (Failing to list the CFM Certificate will remove it from your academic record.) You will need to have fulfilled all the Requirements as listed below.

Graduation Information

Once you graduate and the final transcript has been posted, you will receive an electronic certificate via the email you included in your CFM Survey.


  • The two introductory core courses (HPS 0612 and 0613) in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine.
  • A two-term college-level course in biology.
  • Two additional courses in a variety of departments dealing with social and conceptual issues in the biomedical sciences. The two elective courses must be in different departments.
  • Students must achieve at least a C grade in each of the required courses, and at least a C+ average in the overall certificate requirements.

Core Courses from the History and Philosophy of Science Department

  • HPS 0612 Mind and Medicine 3 Credits

This course focuses on questions of the aims of medicine, its scientific status and its relation to the natural sciences. These questions are pursued in the context of psychiatry, neurology, genetics, and the process of physical diagnosis.

  • HPS 0613 Morality and Medicine 3 Credits

This course is an introduction to the ethical, legal, and social problems which are part of the modern practice of medicine. It begins with a brief introduction to various types of moral theories (e.g., Kantian, Utilitarian, Naturalistic) followed by discussions of truth-telling in medicine, informed consent, euthanasia, abortion, and the relation between political systems and health care. The focus throughout will be on the role of moral values in medical treatment.

Important Certificate Information

  • All required courses must be completed with a "C" average or better. Pass/fail grades do not count.
  • IMPORTANT: Your two upper-level elective courses MUST be from two different departments.
  • The department will furnish a list of courses which satisfy the requirements in the "Other" or "Upper Level" category. It will be available online at the beginning of each registration period or by stopping in the office or phoning the department at 412-624-5896. 
  • If you require academic advising with respect to the required courses, please make an appointment to see Professor Paolo Palmieri, 1101 Cathedral of Learning, e-mail:pap7@pitt.edu.
  • Use CFMED as the Plan Code on your registration form to ensure proper credit on your final transcript.
  • During the first few weeks of your final term of your senior year fill out an additional application from the Arts and Sciences Dean's Office (Graduation Information). This will ensure the processing of the certificate information onto your transcript. If this process is not completed in a timely manner, a processing fee will be assessed by the Registrar.

Alternative Elective Courses to Satisfy the Conceptual Foundations Requirement

If you believe that there is a course that deals with the social and conceptual issues in the biomedical sciences, and that it should satisfy the elective requirement for the certification, you must:

  • Obtain the description of the course; 
  • Write a very short explanation of why the course ought to count toward satisfaction of the elective requirement, by showing how it deals with social or conceptual issues in the biomedical sciences; and 
  • Submit both to the Undergraduate Advisor for approval. 

These are the courses that are considered as electives for the CFM Certificate Program. Please make an appointment to see Professor Paolo Palmieri (pap7@pitt.edu) for permission to use other courses. This list can also be found on our website: www.hps.pitt.edu Please click “Undergraduate Program”.

Approved Elective Courses 

Fall 2021

AFRCNA 1710 African American Health Issues  

ANTH 0538 The Archaeologist Looks at Death

ANTH 0630 Forensic Anthropology: An Introduction

ANTH 0768 Human Sexuality in Cross Culture

ANTH 1752 Anthropology of Food

ANTH 1761 Patients and Healers: Medical Anthropology 1

BIOENG 1241 Societal, Political and Ethical issues in Bioengineering

BIOSC 1010 Communicating in the Biological Sciences

IOSC 1999 Medical Microbiology

CSD 1020 Nature of Language

CSD 1024 Anatomy and Physiology of Hearing

CSD 1111 Aural Rehabilitation

ECON 0220 Intro to Health Economics

EM1102 Emergency Medicine Technician

EM1152 Issues in Health Care

EM1153 Issues in Health Care Education  

EM1155 Legal Issues in Health Care

EM1170 Critical Care Medicine 1

ENGCMP 0535 Writing in the Health Science Professions

GEOL 1055 Environmental Ethics

HAA 0018 Death in the Ancient World

HIST 1084 Food and History

HIST 1476 Religion and Healing in China

IST 1706 Drugs in Global History

NROSCI 0080 Brain and Behaviour

NROSCI 0081 Drugs and Behaviour

ROSCI 1017 Synaptic Transmission

NROSCI 1036 Neurobiology of Aging

NUR 1680 Introduction to Genetics and Molecular Therapeutics

PEDC 1300 Nutrition in Exercise and Sports

PHIL 0360 Introduction to Biomedical Ethics

PS 1262 Health Policy in the United States

PSY 0160 Psychology of Personality

PSY 0205 Psychopathology

PSY 0310 Developmental Psychology

PSY 0422 Cognitive Psychology

PSY 0510 Sensation and Perception

PSY 1052 Topics in Clinical Psychology

PSY 1110 Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality

PSY 1112 Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality: Research Writing Practicum

PSY 1210 Introduction to Clinical Psychology

PSY 1215 Health Psychology

PSY 1230 Psychology of Death and Dying

PUBHLT 1001 Introduction to Global Health

PUBSRV 1305 Health, Law and Ethics

REHSCI 1230 Rehabilitation Ethics  

REHSCI 1240 Issues in Health Care

REHSCI 1280 Psychology and Sociology of Disability

REHSCI 1290 Practical Issues in Disability

REHSCI 1292 Diversity and Cultural Issues in Health, Disability and Rehabilitation

RELGST 1558 Buddhism and Psychology

RELGST 1560 Religion and Healing in China

SOC 0446 Sociology of Gender

SOC 0471 Deviance and Social Control

SOC 0477 Medical Sociology

SOC 1324 Social Problems and Moral Crusades