Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics

About the Institute

2017 Program & Attendees

Application Process

History of the Institute

Helpful Information & Links

Summer Symposium

Lists of Participants, Lecturers, and Seminars by year

About the Program

Yale’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics offers a unique 2-month-long intensive summer program for American and international undergraduate and graduate students (along with a small number of professionals) from varying disciplines. The program offers over 200 contact hours.

In 2017 the program will run from June 1 through July 22.

Participants attend a series of morning lectures surveying the field of bioethics; attend intensive seminars on special topics such as neuroethics, care for the dying, bioethics and law, philosophy, “Ableist Narratives in Bioethics and Disability Studies,” technology and ethics, public health ethics, and more.  2017 seminars are listed here.

Students also attend discussion group and visit the esteemed Hastings Center.

Expectations & Workload

Students complete weekly readings and written assignments, including a short research paper.  Students will also create a poster version of the final paper for public presentation at Yale’s School of Medicine.

Lectures and seminars will often be presented by scholars from Yale and other universities and institutions. Students sign up for two to four seminars (mini-courses) per month.  See the list of lecturers and seminars from previous years (below). 

Culminating Poster Sessions. One goal of the summer program is to provide participants with the opportunity to research and write a major paper on a selected topic in bioethics, and to summarize that paper in the formal poster format used at national biomedical and medical meetings. Participants will be expected to write a paper on a bioethics topic of their choice to be handed near the end of the program. Additionally, they will be required to create and present the paper in poster format at an end-of-program poster session. 

Evaluation of Work Product. Students will receive feedback on their final projects and will be asked to evaluate the program at its conclusion. 

Earning Course Credits.  While we do not offer Yale credit (to keep the price low), we do work work with your sponsoring institution so that you can receive credit from them.   Undergraduate students often receive 2-3 course credits, and graduate students typically receive 2 course credits.  We work with your school to provide whatever support they need.   We also provide a PDF at the end of the program, defining the exact number of contact hours earned, along with a list of all seminars attended and evaluation (“Meets Expectations,” “Exceeds Expectations,” or “Did Not Meet Expectations.”)

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Application Process

To Apply: Each candidate must submit a current transcript; 2 letters of recommendation from professors or mentors (which should be sent to with the subject “Letter of Recommendation for _____”); a CV or resume, and essays responsive to both of the following questions:

1) This program provides a broad overview of bioethics and is intended for students and professionals from various disciplines, including medicine, public health, nursing, law, theology, philosophy, and more. How do you expect your participation in the program to affect your study within your chosen discipline(s), or your career?

2) Our program seeks curious, thoughtful learners who wish to gain exposure to (among other things) bioethical principles and modes of argument. Bioethics issues often involve conflict, whether “locally” (e.g., at the bedside or in our own life decisions) or in broad debates about social policy. Describe a situation in which you’ve encountered either a “local,” or a more broad social, ethical conflict. How did you think through the issues and resolve the dilemma?

Optional alternative: You may answer the second question in a video of not more than two minutes. Please provide a link to the video on Youtube. (It may be a non-public video!)

Candidates for whom English is not the first language may need to speak with representatives of the selection committee by telephone or Skype in order to demonstrate competence in spoken English.

Applications are processed on a rolling basis. Non-U.S. students who need visas are encouraged to apply by Nov. 30th. For inquiries, please contact Lori Bruce at

Selection of Participants: Qualified students will have demonstrated an interest in the area of bioethics, either by having taken courses or written papers in the area, or by having seriously engaged with bioethical issues through work or extracurricular activities. Yale reads “bioethics” broadly to include medical, biological and environmental ethics. Candidates may be undergraduates, graduate students, or post-graduates in any field, from law to religion, from forestry to medicine, from philosophy to political science, from literature to anthropology, so long as they can make the case for the contribution of their field to bioethical debate. The selection committee will choose candidates on the basis of their established interest in the field, evidence of their academic ability, evidence of their capacity to contribute to the group experience; and relevant intellectual, life, and work experience.

Fees: For the summer of 2017, the fees will be $1,800 (undergraduates), $2,200 (graduate students and post-doctoral fellows), and $3,200 (professionals); this is exclusive of transportation and housing costs, which participants must fund themselves.  Payment must be received by two weeks before the program start date, and may be submitted by check - drawn on a US bank - or via wire transfer.  We are not able to accept credit cards.  

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The Institute began as a Summer Internship Program in 2003 as a response to many requests from Yale’s undergraduate students for more educational opportunities in the field of bioethics. The original program involved students in the intellectual life of the Bioethics Center, and gave them opportunities to join in the work of the Center by assisting in editing Center publications and in planning the Center’s study groups’ activities for the following academic year. In subsequent years the program ceased to be an internship as it took on an increasingly academic cast, now consisting largely of lectures and intensive seminars; and has grown to include participants from universities all around America and the world.

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Helpful Information & Links

Transportation around and off campus:

 a) Yale has a free shuttle that goes around campus.  You can see the locations of the shuttles in real time.  Visit to learn about this lovely service.

 b) New Haven also has a fine city bus system.  Click here to see the various routes that go to and from New Haven.  The normal local fare is $1.30, but multi-ride passes or unlimited number-of-days passes are also available (click the fares tab on the above website for details). 

c) Parking can be challenging in New Haven, particularly to those unused to city parking signs (such as the author of this website, who thought “NO STANDING” meant you shouldn’t stand there).  If you are considering bringing a car to campus, please visit this website for more information.

Housing alternatives:

Some students choose to live in Yale housing, and others choose to sublet from Yale graduate students who are away for the summer months.   We provide a list of sublets and connect you to your classmates so that you can make the decision that is best for you. 

International students:

We will send you paperwork to begin the process of obtaining a visa.  However, you may wish to learn about the process ahead of time.  The Yale Office of International Students & Scholars has lots of helpful information.  Students who are coming to our program will find this page of their website particularly helpful regarding the visa and the SEVIS fee, and this page helpful regarding health insurance coverage.  You can also email us if you still have questions.

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Summer Symposium

Beginning in 2014, we periodically offer symposia in which selected Summer Institute alumni return and present research to their fellow alumni and the current class.  Click here to see the 2016 presenters.


2016 Lectures, Seminars, and Participants
2015 Lectures, Seminars, and Participants
2014 Lectures, Seminars, and Participants
2013 Lectures, Seminars, and Participants
2012 Lectures, Seminars, and Participants
2011 Lectures, Seminars, and Participants

2010 Lectures, Seminars, and Participants
2009 Lectures, Seminars, and Participants