University of Pittsburgh

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. Applications can be secured from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science.

Application Information:

You can download the application form and return it to the department via campus mail or in person at the office (1017 Cathedral of Learning). Download Printable Application form in:


  • 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, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, e-mail:

• Use #170042 as the Secondary Academic Program Code number 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.

The list of elective courses is not fixed, and so other courses well may be approved. However, they must have a major component that deals with social and conceptual issues of biomedicine. You must see Professor James G. Lennox for permission to use other courses.


Approved Elective Courses for Summer Term, 2017 (2177)

AFRNCA 1309/20450 Women of Africa & African Diaspora (6WK-1)

ANTH 0538/10781 The Archeologist Looks at Death (6WK-1)

ANTH 0768/10782 Human Sexuality in Cross Culture (6WK-1)

ANTH 1713/17352 Health, Nutrition & Population (6WK-2)

ANTH 1725/14843 Social Health Issues East Africa (4WK-2)

ANTH 1737/17995 Special Topics in Cultural Anthropology (6WK-2)

ANTH 1752/10783 Anthropology of Food (6WK-2)

HIST 1090/20573 History of Medicine & Health Care (6WK-1)

NROSCI 0081/10554 Drugs and Behavior (6WK-1)

NROSCI 0081/18519 Drugs and Behavior (6WK-2)

NROSCI 0081/19523 Drugs and Behavior (Summer Term)

PSY 1052/20178 Topics in Clinical Psychology (6WK-1)

PSY 1110/20472 Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality (Summer Term)

PSY 1205/10651 Abnormal Psychology (6WK-1)

PSY 1205/10328 Abnormal Psychology (6WK-2)

PSY 1205/19000 Abnormal Psychology (Summer Term)

PSY 1215/20469 Health Psychology (Summer Term)

PUBHLT 1003 Introduction to Public and Global Health (Summer Term)

PUBHLT 1004 Public Health Explorations (Summer Term)

PUBHLT 1005 Public Health Research and Practice (Summer Term)

SOC 0446/18269 Sociology of Gender (6WK-2)

SOC 0447/20149 Medical Sociology (12 Weeks)


Approved Elective Courses for Spring Term, 2017 (2174)

AFRNCA 1309/23224 Women of Africa & African Diaspora

AFRNCA 1510/28346 Health in the African Diaspora

ANTH 0538/11021 The Archeologist Looks at Death

ANTH 1752/25158 & 27425 Anthropology of Food

ANTH 1787/28522 Special Topics in Cultural Studies: Comparative Healthcare Practices

BIOENG 1241/13482 Societal, Political, and Ethical Issues in Bioengineering

ECON 0220/19107 & 23063 Introduction to Health Economics

ENGLIT/0541/29223 Literature and Medicine

GEOL 1055/10982 Environmental Ethics, Science and Public Policy

HIST 1090/30147 History of Medicine & Health Care

HIST 1425/27478 History of Medicine in China

NROSCI 0081/11282, 25943 & 27877 Drugs and Behavior

NROSCI 1030/10264 Psychiatric Disorders & Brain Function

PHIL 0360/26905 Introduction to Biomedical Ethics

PHIL 1360/25955 Biomedical Ethics

PS 1261/29295 American Public Policy

PS 1542/27415 Global Environmental Politics

PSY 1052/23242 Topics in Clinical Psychology: Rehabilitation Psychology & Disability

PSY 1057/29622 Topics in Biological & Health Psychology: Health Disparities

PSY 1110/25935 Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality

PSY 1205/10773, 11222, 18072, 25206 & 29624 Abnormal Psychology

PSY 1210/11357 Introduction to Clinical Psychology

PSY 1215/18381, 29625, 29626 & 30080 Health Psychology

PSY 1225/24638 Psychology of Emotion

PSY 1230/28399 & 29627 Psychology of Death and Dying

PSY 1235/29628 Alcohol use and Abuse

PSY 1357/27368 Psychology of Aging

PUBHLT 1002/20476 Special Topics in Global Health

REHSCI 1290/14418 Practical Issues in Disability

REHSCI 1292/28169 Diversity and Cultural Issues in Health, Disability & Rehabilitation

RELGST 1558/25689 Buddhism and Psychology

RELGST 1725/27318 Death and Healthcare Professions

SOC 0446/30539 Sociology of Gender

SOC 0477/19913, 25215, 30082 Medical Sociology

SOC 1450/30568 Health and Illness

SOC 1488/30146 History of Medicine and Health Care