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 Peter Machamer, 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.

Approved Electives for Fall Term, 2015 (2161)

African American Health Issues AFRCNA 1710/11747

The Archeologist Looks at Death ANTH 0538/28206

Human Sexuality in Cross-Culture ANTH 0768/26445

Anthropology of Food ANTH 1752/28160

Patients & Healers: Medical Anthropology 1 ANTH 1761/29103

Societal, Political & Ethical Issues in Biotech BIOENG 1241/21203

Introduction to Health Economics ECON 0220/20947

Economic Growth Public Health Demography ECON 1580/25505

History of Medicine and Health Care-UHC- HIST1090/10788 & SOC 1488/10789

Global Health History HIST 1091/28537

Environmental History HIST 1695/28055

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/11068

Philosophy and Public Issues PHIL 0350/19101

Biomedical Ethics PHIL 1360/28212

Health and Policy in United States PS 1262/27979

Global Environmental Politics PS 1542/25664

Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality PSY 1110/26545

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/10506, 11298, 18966, 26596

Introduction to Clinical Psychology PSY 1210/11530

Health Psychology PSY 1215/11686

Psychology of Death and Dying PSY1230/18968

Psychology of Aging PSY 1357/26558

Introduction to Global Health PUBHLT 1001/20539

Issues in Health Care REHSCI 1240/14944

Psychology and Sociology of Disability REHSCI 1280/18326

Diversity & Cultural Issues in Health, Disability & Rehab REHSCI 1292/20336

Mountains, Medical Systems & Health RELGST 1517/24650

Sociology of Gender SOC 0446/18268

Medical Sociology SOC 0477/24865 & 26605

Social Problems & Moral Crusades SOC 1324/28029

Health and Illness SOC 1450/26549 & 29079

Approved Electives for Summer Term, 2015 (2157)

The Archeologist Looks at Death ANTH 0538/10806 (6WK-1)

Human Sexuality in Cross Culture ANTH 0768/10807 (12WK)

Social Health Issues East Africa ANTH 1725/15187 (4WK-2)

Anthropology of Food ANTH 1752/10808 (6WK-2)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/10567 (6WK-1)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/19454 (6WK-2)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/20196

Philosophy and Public Issues PHIL 0350/20132 (6WK-2)

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/10667 (6W-1)

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/10334 (6WK-2)

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1210/20068 (Summer Term)

Introduction to Clinical Psychology PSY 1210/10727 (6W-2)

Health Psychology PSY 1215/20126 (Summer Term)

Approved Electives for Spring Term, 2015 (2154)

Women of Africa & African Diaspora AFRCNA 1309/24728

The Archeologist Looks at Death ANTH 0538/11097

Human Sexuality in Cross-Culture ANTH 0768/26210

Special Topics in Cultural Studies ANTH 1737/28982

Patients & Healers: Medical Anthropology 1 ANTH 1761/29106

Societal, Political & Ethical Issues in Biotech BIOENG 1241/13794

Introduction to Health Economics ECON 0220/20001 & 24463

Environmental Ethics, Science and Public Policy GEOL 1055/11056 & 11123-UHC

History of Medicine and Health Care- HIST1090/28675 & SOC 1488/28676

Environmental History HIST 1695/28656

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/11386 & 29060

Biomedical Ethics PHIL 1360/29074

Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality PSY 1110/11879 & 29042

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/10837, 18851, 28879, 28746, 11324, 27909

Introduction to Clinical Psychology PSY 1210/11470, 24320, 29061

Health Psychology PSY 1215/19211, 27910, 28880

Psychology of Emotion PSY 1225/26954

Psychology of Death and Dying PSY 1230/26955

Alcohol Use and Abuse PSY 1235/28881

Child Development & Social Policy PSY 1312/28882

Special Topics in Global Health PUBHLT 1002/21774

Practical Issues in Disability REHSCI 1290/14806

Sociology of Gender SOC 0446/10258

Medical Sociology SOC 0477/26594 & 28756

Health and Illness SOC 1450/24306

History of Medicine and Healthcare SOC 1488/28676