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Certificate Program

The Children's Mercy Center for Bioethics offers the only pediatric bioethics certificate program in the world. Students will become knowledgeable in pediatric bioethical issues such as the role of ethics committees, ethics consultations, futility and moral distress, end-of-life decisions, research ethics, and much more.

Program highlights

The nine-month course begins and ends with an intensive three-day session in Kansas City, in September and May. For the rest of the year, students and faculty discuss assigned readings primarily via an online discussion board and attend periodic webinars. The program uses the online learning management system Canvas and the webinar program Microsoft Teams. Technology requirements include access to a computer with high speed internet access, webcam and audio capabilities to be involved in webinars.

For our current cohort, we welcomed students from across the U.S., as well as Argentina, Ethiopia, Ireland, Malaysia, and Pakistan who will complete requirements for the Children's Mercy Bioethics Center's Certificate Program in Pediatric Bioethics from September 2022 to May 2023. These students have begun the program with a hybrid format opening session in September 2022, both in-person at our Children's Mercy Research Institute Auditorium and remotely from across the globe, and are now participating in weekly discussions and program-specific webinars. The program will conclude with a meeting in May 2023 where they will present papers and final projects summarizing the research or capstone project they completed during the program.

Opening Session will be held Sept. 7-9, 2023 and Closing Session will be held May 15-18, 2024 at Children's Mercy Kansas City. Our program priority application deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2022 and we will continue to accept applications until full.

Bioethics Certificate Program faculty, staff and in-person students.
Bioethics faculty, staff and in-person students at the 2022 Opening Session.
Participants appear on a screen for a virtual meeting.
Bioethics faculty and remote students participating virtually in the 2022 Opening Session.

About Kansas City

Kansas City is a vibrant metropolitan area. The Children's Mercy Bioethics Center is located in the Crown Center district and is connected to two adjacent hotels, the Crown Center Westin and the Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center. Children's Mercy Hospital offers a discounted rate for our students to both hotels.

Apply to the Children’s Mercy Certificate Program in Pediatric Bioethics

Application criteria

  • The program is designed for experienced child health professionals. Generally, that means that people have been clinically active in their discipline for at least 3-5 years.

  • We favor people who have already shown an interest in bioethics and who are actively engaged in activities at their home institution. This could mean involvement in a hospital ethics committee, IRB, teaching ethics or other discipline/inter-disciplinary ethics activities. Applications should explain the nature of their involvement.

  • We favor people who, in their application, explain how they plan to use the expertise that they gain through the program. This could mean that they will take a leadership role at their institution, that they will teach, or that they are interested in research and writing about particular topics.

  • We like to see that there is institutional support for bioethics. In letters of support, we look for evidence that the applicants may take on a larger role in the institution in the future.

Application eligibility requirements

  • Earned bachelor’s degree.

  • Proficiency with the English language and excellent communication skills.

  • Access to a high-speed internet connection and willingness to engage in distance learning (and receive additional training as needed).

  • Experience with pediatrics in a clinical, research and/or policy/administrative setting.

  • Experience and interest in pediatric bioethics.

Application process

Applications are accepted for the nine-month term beginning September 2023 and concluding May 2024. Tuition is $10,000 for the nine-month interdisciplinary program. Applicants must cover travel expenses to Kansas City for the opening and closing sessions in September 2023 and May 2024 and the cost of books. 

How to apply

  1. Carefully review the Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center Certificate in Pediatric Bioethics website.

  2. Complete and submit Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center Certificate Program Application. Any technical questions should be directed to Administrative Director Vanessa Watkins at

  3. When completing the application, include the following:

    • A personal statement: one page, single-spaced, 12 point font, one-inch margins. Your statement can answer questions such as “Why do you want to pursue this program? What is your experience in bioethics and pediatrics? What do you plan to do with your training following the program? What institutional support is in place to help you be successful? What attributes do you have that distinguish you as a good candidate?”

    • Names and contact information of two people, who we will contact for letters of recommendation to complete your application. The recommender will receive an email from the Bioethics Center to send the email with the letter of recommendation. Letters are typically written by the applicant’s supervisors, colleagues, or professors.

    • resume/curriculum vitae is required.

For more information, please contact Vanessa Watkins at (816) 731-7207 or or We look forward to receiving your application!

Scholarships for clinicians in developing countries

We have a limited number of partial tuition-waiver scholarships for students in developing countries. We are not supporting full-tuition scholarships or any travel stipends at this time. In addition to sending in the program application and CV, scholarship applicants should send in two letters of recommendation and a one-page essay describing their interest in pediatric bioethics. Our application deadline for 2023-24 is Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2022 at 5 p.m. CST. For more information, e-mail Vanessa Watkins or contact