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.

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 

AFRCNA 1021 ENGCMP 0535 NUR 0031 PUBHLT 1001
AFRCNA 1309 ENGCMP 1102 NUR 1680 PUBHLT 1002
AFRCNA 1510 ENGLIST 0541 NUR 2212 PUBSRV 1305
AFRCNA 1710 GEOL 1055 PEDC 1300 REHSCI 1230
ANTH 0538 HIST 0709 PHIL 0360 REHSCI 1240
ANTH 0620 HIST 0791 PHIL 1360 REHSCI 1280
ANTH 0630 HIST 1084 PS 1261 REHSCI 1290
ANTH 0768 HIST 1090 PS 1262 REHSCI 1292
ANTH 1481 HIST 1091 PS 1263 RELGST 0805
ANTH 1713 HIST 1425 PS 1542 RELGST 1252
ANTH 1752 HIST 1695 PSY 0160 RELGST 1558
ANTH 1761 HIST 1706 PSY 0205 RELGST 1560
ANTH 1787 HIST 1725 PSY 0310 RELGST 1722
ANTH 1793 HIST 1769 PSY 1052 RELGST 1725
BIOENG 1241 JS 1252 PSY 1057 SOC 0441
BIOSC 0350 NROSCI 0080 PSY 1110 SOC 0446
BIOSC 1000 NROSCI 0081 PSY 1112 SOC 0471
BIOSC 1200 NROSCI 0083 PSY 1116 SOC 0475
CSD 1024 NROSCI 1000 PSY 1205 SOC 0477
CSD 1025 NROSCI 1011 PSY 1210 SOC 1324
ECON 0220 NROSCI 1012 PSY 1215 SOC 1450
EM 1152 NROSCI 1017 PSY 1225 SOC 1467
EM 1153 NROSCI 1030 PSY 1230 SOC 1488
EM 1155 NROSCI 1036 PSY 1235  
EM 1170 NROSCI 1250 PSY 1357