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 Fall Term (2019)

Fall Term (2201)

African American Health Issues-AFRCNA 1710/11462

The Archeologist Looks at Death-ANTH 0538/28154

Forensic Anthropology-ANTH 0630/27988

Human Sexuality in Cross-Culture-ANTH 0786/29925

Culture and Politics in Mental Health-ANTH 1722/28653

Anthropology of Food-ANTH 1752/24348

Patients & Healers: Medical Anthropology-ANTH 1761/24644

Societal, Political & Ethical Issues in Biotech-BIOENG 1241/19289

Issues in Health Care-EM 1152/14240

Issues in Health Care Education-EM 1153/14672

Environmental, Ethics, Science & Public Policy-GEOL 1055/25598

History of Medicine and Health Care-HIST 1090/25640

Disease, & Health in Modern Africa-HIST 1725/30817

Drugs and Behavior-NROSCI 0081/10931, 24618, 24780

Introduction to Bio-Medical Ethics-PHIL 0360/28147

Introduction to Clinical Psychology-PSY 1210/11302, 28146

Health Psychology-PSY 1215/11420, 25746

Psychology of Death and Dying-PSY 1230/29995

Introduction to Global Health-PUBHLT 1001/18835

Health, Law and Ethics-PUBSRV 1305/23505, 25422

Issues in Health Care-REHSCI 1240/14270

Psychology and Sociology of Disability-REHSCI 1280/17065

Practical Issues in Disability-REHSCI 1290/25647

Diversity Cultural Health/Rehabilitation-REHSCI 1292/118678

Buddhism and Psychology-RELGST 1558/25429

Sociology of Gender-SOC 0446/25385

Deviance and Social Control-SOC 0471/22491

Sociology of Globalization & Health-SOC 0473/25386

Medical Sociology-SOC 0477/22539, 23509 & 25423

Health and Illness-SOC 1450/26371

History of Medicine & Health Care-SOC 1488/28641

ENGCMP 0535/27665-Writings in the Health Science Professions

HIST 0709/30853-History of Global Health

HIST 1706/29221-Drugs in Global Health


Approved Elective Courses for Summer Term (2019) (2197)

Health in the African Diaspora AFRCNA 1510/20687 (6WK-2)

The Archeologist Looks at Death ANTH 0538/10707 (6WK-1)

Human Sexuality in Cross Culture ANTH 0768/10708 (6WK-1)

Health, Nutrition & Population ANTH 1713/16596 (6WK-2)

Social Health Issues East Africa ANTH 1725/14318 (6WK-1)

Anthropology of Food ANTH 1752/20191(6WK-1)

Anthropology of Food ANTH 1752/10709 (6WK-2)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/10504 (6WK-1)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/17585 (6WK-2)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/18467 (Summer Term)

Psychological Aspect of Human Sexuality PSY 1110/18998 (Summer Term)

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/10591 (6WK-1)

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/10305 (6WK-2)

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/18029 (Summer Term)

Health Psychology PSY 1215/18996 (Summer Term)

Introduction to Public and Global Health PUBHLT 1003/17156 (12 Weeks)

Public Health Explorations PUBHLT 1004/17157 (12 Weeks)

Public Health Research and Practice PUBHLT 1005/17158 (12 Weeks)

Buddhism and Psychology RELGST 1558/19767 (6W-1)

Medical Sociology SOC 0447/18799 (12 Weeks)


Approved Elective Courses for Spring Term (2019) (2194)

Women of Africa & African Diaspora AFRCNA 1309/21822

The Archeologist Looks at Death ANTH 0538/10888

Bio-cultural Anthropology ANTH 0621/31023

Anthropology of Food ANTH 1752/23433, 31060

Patients and Healers ANTH 1761/29976, 31594

Mountains and Medical Systems ANTH 1797/31154, 32101

Introduction to Health Economics ECON 0220/18045

Literature and Medicine ENGLIT 0541/26127

Environmental Ethics, Science and Public Policy GEOL 1055/10851

History of Medicine & Health Care HIST 1090/31961

Global Health History HIST 1091/29887, 30997

Religion and Healing in China HIST 1476/28336

Disease and Health in Modern Africa HIST 1725/30978

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/11105, 24094, 25403 & 32104

Psychiatric Disorders & Brain Functions NROSCI 1030/29358

Biomedical Ethics PHIL 1360/24104

Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality PSY 1110/24089

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/1055, 17185, 23470, 29649 & 31039

Introduction to Clinical Psychology PSY 1210/11167

Health Psychology PSY 1215/17463, 26367

Psychology of Death and Dying PSY 1230/25618, 26368

Child Development & Social Policy PSY 1312/31040

Buddhism and Psychology RELGST 1558/23926

Religion and Healing in China RELGST 1560/28511

Death & Healthcare Professions RELGST 1725/25129

Sociology of Gender SOC 0466/26752

Medical Sociology SOC 0477/19067, 24001 & 27620

Sociology of Globalization & Health SOC 0473/31187

Medical Sociology SOC 0477/18726, 235479, & 26558

Sociology of Health, Illness & Disease SOC 1307/31403

Health and Illness SOC 1450/26769

History of Medicine and Healthcare SOC 1488/31962

Special Topics in Global Health PUBHLT 1002/19194

Practical Issues in Disability REHSCI 1290/14043

Diversity and Cultural Issues in Health, Disability & Rehabilitation REHSCI 1292/25530


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