Director's Welcome

Welcome to the website for the Master of Arts in Bioethics program at Emory University, one of the leading programs of its kind in the country. I am very glad that you have taken the time to learn more about our program!

Emory’s Master of Arts in Bioethics program is distinguished by having interdisciplinary faculty whose expertise marries fundamental moral theory with contemporary clinical practice and public health policy.  For example, drawing upon her decades-long expertise in pandemic-related work, including co-authoring the CDC Ethics’ Subcommittee’s Ethical Guidelines in Pandemic Influenza in 2007, Prof. Kathy Kinlaw served on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) COVID-19 working group.  Not only did she co-author the CDC’s ethical guidelines for allocating initial supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine, Prof. Kinlaw also co-authored Emory Healthcare’s COVID-19 critical care allocation guidelines with other Emory faculty and clinicians, including Kevin Wack (an alumnus of this program) and myself.  Paul Root Wolpe served as President of the Association of Bioethics Program Directors at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and led innovative collaborations across Bioethics Centers internationally.  These are just a few examples drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic, for more please visit our individual faculty websites or the Center for Ethics COVID-19 Ethics Resources page.

This application of theory to practice is also reflected in our program’s curriculum that includes moral philosophy as well as a required practicum that involves service learning at innovative sites such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the Georgia State Legislature; the Veterans’ Affairs National Center for Ethics in Health Care in Washington DC as well as hospitals around Atlanta.  These exciting opportunities for service learning are made possible by our unique connections in Atlanta and beyond.

The diverse strengths of the program are reflected in the diversity of our students.  I highly value the diversity of the student body as each and every student’s perspective contributes so much to our small-group, discussion-intensive classes.  During my time as Director I have established two new scholarship programs for students, and am continually working to make the program more accessible to and supportive of students of diverse and historically underrepresented backgrounds.  If you are a prospective applicant that identifies in this way, I strongly encourage you to consider applying!  If you’re a current student or alumni, please know that I am always receptive of feedback as I work to continually improve our program and its support for students.

Current students and alumni of the program have included physicians, nurses and other allied health professionals, biotechnology leaders, as well as students who come directly from baccalaureate programs.  Some students choose to combine the MA in Bioethics with one of our dual degree programs: available in Divinity, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Public Health, or Theology.  Of our dual degree programs, we are particularly excited by our new 4+1 dual degree that enables Emory undergraduates from any major to get a head start on their graduate studies by taking bioethics graduate courses in their senior year.  This interdisciplinary – and interprofessional – nature of the classes enables a robust and vigorous discourse that draws upon a rich array of perspectives.  

Through this discourse, practicum, and coursework, our MA in Bioethics prepares its graduates to identify, assess and respond to ethical issues that arise in clinical practice, biomedical research and public health policy.  Some students use the MA in Bioethics to transition between an undergraduate degree and professional school.  Our alumni are now in competitive MD, JD, and PhD programs both in Atlanta and around the country. Others use the degree to enhance their existing careers in healthcare, biotechnology or related areas.  This is made possible by the fact that the program can be completed full-time in one academic year or part-time over the course of a number of years. 

Our alumni also now serve as ethicists, lawyers, nurses, physicians, public health professionals, regulation and compliance managers at a wide range of organizations. Particularly notable is the fact that our alumni have secured clinical ethics positions at all of the major Atlanta hospital systems including the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Grady, Emory and WellStar.  Others have simultaneously started employment with ethics-related organizations such as Emory’s Institutional Review Board. 

I invite you to look through both the MA in Bioethics website and the website of the Center for Ethics at which the MA in Bioethics program is housed. The Center for Ethics brings Bioethics students unique advantages including an active program of ethics-focused events and a distinguished array of affiliated faculty that can serve on MA thesis committees.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the program or would like to discuss your particular situation. We look forward to getting to know you and your interest in bioethics!


Gerard Vong, DPhil

Director, Master of Arts in Bioethics | Laney Graduate School
Associate Professor | School of Medicine