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.

Application Information

Download a Printable Application form in:

You can send the completed application to our Administrator, Diana Volkar at dlv23@pitt.edu. (During normal campus operations it may also be returned to the department via campus mail or in person at the office, 1101 Cathedral of Learning.) 


  • 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 in the Arts and Sciences Dean's Office (140 Thackeray Hall). 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.
  • It is your responsibility to bring a copy of your final transcript to the HPS Department for coursework/GPA verification of the six courses taken. If everything is correct we will then issue a certificate in your name to the permanent address listed on your original application.

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 for Spring Term, 2021 (2214)

ANTH 1752/27681 - Anthropology of Food

ANTH 1761/27888 - Patients & Healers: Medical Anthropology

ANTH 1793/30342 - Asian Medical Systems

BIOENG 1241/12887 - Societal, Political, Ethical Issues in Biotech

ENGCMP 0535/28999 - Writing in Health Science Professions

ENGCMP 1102/26076 - Language of Medicine

ENGLIT 0541/24632 - Literature and Medicine

GEOL 1055/10780 - Environmental Ethics

HIST 0791/29370 - Health Controversies in History

HIST 1090/31982 - History of Medicine & Health Care

HIST 1706/29463 - Drugs in Global History

NROSCI 0081/10985, 22915, 24027 - Drugs and Behavior

NROSCI 1030/26711 - Psychiatric Disorders & Brain Functions

PHIL 1360/22924 - Biomedical Ethics

PSY 0205/28870, 29116, 29117, 29118 - Psychopathology

PSY 1110/22913 - Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality

PSY 1205/10944, 16550, 26878 - Abnormal Psychology

PSY 1210/31704 - Introduction to Clinical Psychology

PSY 1230/24179 & 31914 - Psychology of Death and Dying
PSY 1235/29126 - Alcohol and Abuse

PUBSRV 1305/22374 & 24304 - Health, Law and Ethics

REHSCI 1290/13692 - Practical Issues in Disability

REHSCI 1292/24126 - Diversity/Cultural Issues in Health, Disability & Rehabilitation

RELGST 1558/31249 - Buddhism and Psychology

SOC 0446/31346 - Sociology of Gender

SOC 0473/32208 - Soc of Globalization & Health

SOC 0477/22380, 24939 & 31416 - Medical Sociology

SOC 1488/31983 - History of Medicine and Healthcare

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 for Fall Term (2020) Term 2211

History of the African Diaspora-AFRCNA 1021/28077

African American Health Issues-AFRCNA 1710/11380

The Archeologist Looks at Death-ANTH 0538/26575

Forensic Anthropology-ANTH 0630/26505

Human Sexuality in Cross-Culture-ANTH 0786/31610

Anthropology of Food-ANTH 1752/39736

Patients & Healers: Medical Anthropology-ANTH 1761/23744

Asian Medical Systems-ANTH 1793/330415

Societal, Political & Ethical Issues in Biotech-BIOENG 1241/18723

Issues in Health Care-EM 1152/14038

Issues in Health Care Education-EM 1153/14458

Writing Health Science Professions-ENGCMP-0535/26339

Environmental, Ethics, Science & Public Policy-GEOL 1055/24578

History of Global Health-HIST 0709/28430

Religion and Healing in China-HIST 1476/28020

History of Medicine and Health Care-HIST 1090/31264

Disease & Health in Modern Africa-HIST 1725/28409

Brain and Behavior-NROSCI 0080/10902 & 24653

Drugs and Behavior-NROSCI 0081/10900, 23721, 23872

UHC Brain and Behavior-NROSCI 0083/25447

Introduction to Bio-Medical Ethics-PHIL 0360/26569

Psychopathology-PSY 0205/28508, 28510, 28511

Psychopathology-PSY 0205/28584 (Web Based class)

Abnormal Psychology-PSY 1205/28866, 28867, 28868

Introduction to Clinical Psychology-PSY 1210/11243

Introduction to Clinical Psychology-PSY 1210/26568 (Web Based class)

Health Psychology-PSY 1215/11348

Health Psychology-PSY 1215/24699 (Web Based class)

Psychology of Death and Dying-PSY 1230/27763

Introduction to Global Health-PUBHLT 1001/18315

Health, Law and Ethics-PUBSRV 1305/22755, 24434 (Web Based classes)

Issues in Health Care-REHSCI 1240/14066

Psychology and Sociology of Disability-REHSCI 1280/16654

Practical Issues in Disability-REHSCI 1290/24617

Diversity Cultural Health/Rehabilitation-REHSCI 1292/18173

Religion and Healing in China-RELGST 1560/28021

Death, Health Care Professions-RELGST 1725/31307

Deviance and Social Control-SOC 0471/21831

Sociology of Globalization & Health-SOC 0473/24403

Medical Sociology-SOC 0477/21866

Medial Sociology-SOC 0477/22759, 24435 (Web Based classes)

Social Problem and Moral Crusades-SOC 1324/26530