Graduate Certificate in Ethics


The Program on Ethics (formerly known as the Program on Values in Society) aims to facilitate graduate research in ethics as it arises across the disciplines. The Program on Ethics’ Graduate Certificate in Ethics is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for integrating ethics and ethics scholarship into their chosen field. 

The curriculum is designed to accommodate diverse student interests and to facilitate cross-disciplinary conversations and scholarship. The core courses provide students with the necessary groundwork for pursuing ethics scholarship as it relates to their field of study. A student’s faculty adviser in the Program on Ethics will be in charge of helping the student select additional courses specifically suited to the student’s own interests to form a cohesive program of study. Students may also contact the Director of the Program on Ethics for advice about selecting an adviser and about the certificate in general.

Successful completion of the Certificate Program may be noted on official transcripts (see Submitting Request to Award Certificate).


The graduate certificate program is open to students already enrolled in any master’s or doctoral degree program at the University of Washington (except for the philosophy graduate program).


Complete the Graduate Certificate in Ethics Application (PDF) and submit to the Certificate's Graduate Program Adviser,  at or campus box 353350. The application includes the following:

  • Personal statement describing your goals for the certificate and its relation to your studies in your primary degree program
  • Proposed curriculum plan for meeting the certificate course requirements
  • Identification of a faculty adviser
  • Signatures of both the certificate faculty adviser and the graduate program adviser of your primary degree program approving the proposed course plan (your submitted application will be reviewed by the certificate director, whose approval is needed to be admitted to the program)
  • Unofficial transcript [Note: your transcript will be downloaded by the Certificate adviser upon receipt of your application form – do not send transcripts via email!]


Faculty Adviser

Students select a faculty adviser from the Program on Ethics Core Faculty (see Program on Ethics homepage) who will approve their proposed course of study on the certificate application, approve any subsequent changes to the initial course plan, and provide guidance throughout the completion of the certificate. Note: certificate director’s approval is also required for all course plans and changes.

Required Coursework

Students pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Ethics complete a minimum of 15 graded credits, including:

  • One core course (5 credits): Either ETHICS 511: Ethics Matters or ETHICS 512: Justice Matters
  • Additional graduate level values-laden courses (a minimum of 8 credits) that relate to the student’s primary area of graduate study or area of interest in ethics [see Values-laden Coursework: Customizing your Graduate Certificate in Ethics for details & list of sample courses]
  • ETHICS 513: Capstone Workshop (2 credits)


  • Graduate certificate programs for matriculated graduate students cannot simply be a subset of courses required for their regular degree program. Overlap of coursework applied towards both programs must not exceed 6 credits and is limited to elective coursework in each program. Therefore, as well as being reviewed by the Program on Ethics, the student’s primary graduate degree program adviser must also approve their proposed certificate coursework.
  • Students must earn at least a 3.0 in each course counted toward the Certificate.
  • At least 9 credits of certificate coursework (including core courses) must be at the 500-level or above.

Course Descriptions & Tentative Schedules

The certificate core courses are tentatively planned to be offered in the following upcoming quarters (course offerings may be subject to change – always check UW Time Schedule).

ETHICS 511 – Ethics Matters (formerly VALUES 511) (5cr) – to be offered in the 23/24 academic year

This course aims to introduce graduate and professional students from a wide range of backgrounds to some common ethical questions and to provide a basic philosophical framework for thinking about related issues that arise within their own disciplines or fields. Topics may include moral status, autonomy, respect, integrity, trust, responsibility and forgiveness.

ETHICS 512 – Justice Matters (formerly VALUES 512) (5cr) – scheduled for Autumn 2022 (Gardiner)

This course asks what makes social policies and institutions ethically acceptable, primarily through a discussion about justice and injustice. Topics may include: cultural relativism, the sources of competing conceptions of justice and equality, cost-benefit analysis, distributive justice, and beneficence.

ETHICS 513 – Capstone Workshop (formerly VALUES 513) (2cr) – scheduled for Spring 2023 (Mendoza)

This is the final and concluding requirement of the Graduate Certificate in Ethics. Prerequisite: Either ETHICS 511 or ETHICS 512 and enrollment in the Graduate Certificate in Ethics through the Graduate School. Students should normally register for ETHICS 513 after completing all other certificate requirements. In some cases, with permission of the director of the Program on Ethics, a certificate student may enroll in ETHICS 513 concurrently with other approved values-laden course requirements.

The goal of the Capstone is to provide the students with a forum in which they can present their ethics-related research to other Certificate students and Program faculty for discussion, assessment and improvement. Although submission for publication is not required, the aim of the capstone is for students to develop a paper on ethics suitable for submission for publication, or for inclusion in a dissertation. 

ETHICS 513 will normally be offered once each year in Spring Quarter. For further information, please contact the Director.

Submitting Request to Award Certificate

In order for the certificate to appear on the student’s transcript, a petition must be submitted by the certificate program to the Graduate School in a quarter in which the student is registered. You are responsible to notify the Certificate Program that you are completing the certificate requirements and would like to request the certificate.

In your last quarter of the certificate (the quarter in which you register for ETHICS 513: Capstone), email the certificate graduate adviser at to ask to be awarded the certificate. Please submit requests to be awarded the certificate at least two weeks prior to the end of the quarter in order to allow time for processing.

If you are still continuing in your primary degree beyond the completion of the certificate and will continue to be registered for credits, you may request the certificate in a later quarter, but we recommend doing it as soon as possible so that you won’t forget. Your certificate will not be awarded without this process.


For questions about requirements, administrative procedures, submitting your application, or requesting the final certificate, contact Graduate Program Adviser Carla Saulter (

To discuss the content of the certificate’s core courses, and how your own studies might benefit from the study of ethics, contact the Director of the Program on Ethics, Stephen Gardiner (