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 (1101 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, 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 (2020)

Summer Term, 2207 (2020)

East Africa Issues AFRCNA 1725/14193 (4WK-2)

The Archeologist Looks at Death ANTH 0538/10671 (6WK-1)

Bio-Cultural Anthropology ANTH 0620/20735 & ANTH 0620/20771 (6WK-2)

Human Sexuality in Cross Culture ANTH 0768/10672 (6WK-1)

Health, Nutrition & Population ANTH 1713/16405 (6WK-2)

Social Health Issues East Africa ANTH 1725/143192 (6WK-1)

Anthropology of Food ANTH 1752/19674(6WK-1)

Anthropology of Food ANTH 1752/10673 (6WK-2)

Mountains and Medical Systems ANTH 1797/20245 (6WK-1)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/10483 (6WK-1)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/17355 (6WK-2)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/18199 (Summer Term)

Psychopathology PSY 0205/20569 (6WK-1)

Psychopathology PSY 0205/20570 (6WK-2)

Psychopathology PSY 0205/20736 (Summer Term)

Psychological Aspect of Human Sexuality PSY 1110/18664 (Summer Term)

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/10561 (6WK-1)

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/10297 (6WK-2)

Health Psychology PSY 1215/18662 (Summer Term)

Introduction to Public and Global Health PUBHLT 1003/16941(12 Weeks)

Buddhism and Psychology RELGST 1558/19346 (6WK-1)

Deviance and Social Control SOC 0471/20705 (6WK-1)

Medical Sociology SOC 0447/18486 (12 Weeks)

Spring Term, 2204 (2020)

1) Health in the African Diaspora-AFRCNA 1510/30742

2) The Archeologist Looks at Death-ANTH 0538/10845

3) Biocultural Anthropology-ANTH 0620/28957

4) Forensic Anthropology-ANTH 0630/30798

5) Anthropology of Food-ANTH 1752/22842 & 28983

6) Patients & Healers: Medical Anthropology-ANTH 1761/28123 & 29416

7) Societal, Political & Ethical Issues in Biotech-BIOENG 1241/13003

8) Writings in the Health Science Professions-ENGCMP-0535/27524 & 30935

9) Language of Medicine-ENGCMP 1102/26915

10) Literature and Medicine-ENGLIT 0541/25295

11) Environmental Ethics-GEOL 1055/10810

12) Health Controversies in History-HIST 0791/31395

13) History of Medicine and Health Care-HIST 1090/29722

14) Drugs in Global History-HIST 1706/31495

15) Drugs and Behavior-NROSCI 0081/11026, 23450, & 24645

16) Psychiatric Disorders & Brain Functions-NROSCI 1030/27686

17) Biomedical Ethics-PHIL 1360/23459

18) Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality-PSY 1110/23447

19) Abnormal Psychology-PSY 1205/10983, 16857 & 27894

20) Introduction to Clinical Psychology-PSY 1210/11072

21) Health Psychology-PSY 1215/25507

22) Psychology of Death and Dying-PSY 1230/24818

23) Health, Law and Ethics-PUBSRV 1305/22873 & 24950

24) Practical Issues in Disability-REHSCI 1290/13838

25) Diversity Cultural Health/Rehabilitation-REHSCI 1292/24753

26) Buddhism and Psychology-RELGST 1558/23308

27) Sociology of Gender-SOC 0446/25816

28) Deviance and Social Control-SOC 0471/10713

29) Medical Sociology-SOC 0477/22879 & 25661

30) Sociology of Health, Illness & Disease-SOC 1307/29254

31) Health and Illness-SOC 1450/25827

32) History of Medicine & Health Care-SOC 1488/29723


These are the courses that maybe considered as electives for the Certificate Program.

You must see/or e-mail Dr. Paolo Palmieri: pap7@pitt.edu for permission to use other courses.

This list can also be found on our website at www.hps.pitt.edu