Graduate Certificate in Ethics

The Program on Values in Society aims to facilitate graduate research in ethics as it arises across the disciplines. The program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for integrating ethics and ethics scholarship into their chosen field. The graduate certificate program is only open to students already enrolled in other graduate degree programs at the University of Washington. Successful completion of the Certificate Program will be noted on official transcripts.

Contact the Program on Values

Tentative Core Courses Offered in 2016-17

Program Requirements

  • Selection of a faculty advisor from the Values in Society Core Faculty (see Program on Values in Society homepage).
  • Completion of VALUES 511 (Ethics Matters) OR VALUES 512 (Justice Matters) (5 credits each).
  • Completion of at least two additional graduate level values-laden courses (a minimum of 10 credits).
    Note: Graduate certificate programs for matriculated graduate students cannot simply be a subset of courses required for their degree. Overlap of coursework applied towards both programs must not exceed 6 credits and is limited to elective coursework in each program. All courses must be approved by the student’s faculty advisor and the Program Director. (See below for additional details.)
  • Participation in the Graduate Student Workshop capstone experience (VALUES 513)
  • Total minimum credits required: 15 units (plus Capstone)

Program Curriculum

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 advisor will be in charge of helping the student select additional courses specifically suited to his or her interests to form a cohesive program of study. For example, a student interested in ethical issues in cultural property may complete the program by taking:
•ANTH 480/MUSEUM 480 (Introduction to Museology)
•ANTH 485 (Cultural Property: Legal and Ethical Issues)

Or, a student interested in ethics and development may complete the program with:
•POL S 449 (Politics of Developing Areas)
•ECON 491 (Issues in Economic Development)

Or, a student interested in clinical health care ethics may complete the program with:
•B H 411 (Introduction to Bioethics)
•NURS 410 (Legal and Ethical Issues in Clinical Practice)

Or, a student interesting in environmental/climate change ethics may complete the program with:
•ENV/PHIL 416 (Ethics of Climate Change) or ENV/PHIL 417 (Advanced Environmental Philosophy)
•GEOG/LSJ 467 (Law, Justice and the Environment)

The rich resources of the University of Washington make it possible to develop innovative ethics projects in almost any field. The Department of Philosophy also offers an array of courses on ethics, which can supplement, or be taken in place of, discipline specific ethics courses.

Note that some courses required by your home department may not be eligible to count toward the certificate. According to the Graduate School's Guidelines for Graduate Certificate Program Proposals, "the overlap of coursework applied toward both a certificate program and a graduate degree program must not exceed 6 credits and is limited to elective coursework in each program." Students are encouraged to meet with a Program on Values’ Core Faculty member or the Director to discuss the possibilities. See list of sample acceptable courses. 

Graduate Student Workshop

The Certificate will be completed with a one-day informal Capstone. 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. Students will work closely with faculty in preparation for the workshop. 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. 

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

Application & Instructions

To apply to the Graduate Certificate in Ethics program, please contact the Certificate's Graduate Advisor, Britta Anson ( or the POV Director, Stephen Gardiner (

Note: Certificates are not automatically awarded upon graduation from a student’s primary degree program. Upon completion of the certificate requirements, students must request their certificates formally from the POV in a quarter in which the student is registered for classes. 

Ethics Prize for Graduate Students

The Program on Values in Society at the University of Washington offers an annual grant of $750 for graduate students seeking to introduce serious consideration of normative ethics into their descriptive academic work.  The goal of these grants is to encourage interdisciplinary discussion of ethics as an aspect of empirical research.  Priority will be given to doctoral students writing a dissertation in the social or natural sciences; other graduate students are also welcome to apply.

To apply for this grant, please write a proposal with the following information:

(1) A dissertation abstract of no more than one page, detailing the academic project to which the prize will be attached;

(2) A one-page description of how considerations of normative ethics will be introduced into this project;

(3) A discussion of how the prize money will be useful in the pursuit of these goals.  Possible funding purposes include the purchase of books related to normative ethics, consultation and data gathering expenses helping integrate ethical analysis into the research, or conference attendance relevant to normative ethical inquiry.