Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics

About the Institute

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 (and others) from varying disciplines who are interested in learning more about bioethics. In 2016 the program ran May 30 to July 22. Participants attend a series of morning lectures surveying the field of bioethics; attend intensive seminars on special topics such as care for the dying, bioethics and law, bioethics and media, literature, technology and ethics, public health ethics, and feminist approaches to bioethics; attend a bioethics film/discussion series; participate in field trips to bioethics-related institutions; and present an original paper at a final in-house “mini-conference”. Participants are usually in residence on the Yale campus, and can sometimes find part-time work on the Yale campus or in the area.  

Lectures and seminars will often be presented by scholars from Yale, though there are also speakers from other universities and institutions. (See the list of lecturers and seminars below.) Lecture attendance is compulsory and required reading assignments will be distributed. A series of seminars will be offered to stimulate discussion and a deeper consideration of ethical issues. Students can usually sign up for their choice of two seminars each month.   

“Bioethics Field Trips” generally include visits to The Hastings Center (a major independent bioethics think-tank in Garrison, NY); the Connecticut Hospice in Branford, CT; and the Monsanto Corporation’s Research Center in Mystic, CT, as well as an ecological exploration of Long Island Sound via schooner.

Research “Mini-Conference.” One goal of the summer program is to provide participants with the opportunity to research, write, and present a paper on a selected topic in bioethics. Participants will be expected to write a paper on a bioethics topic of their choice to be handed in at the end of the program. Additionally, they will be required to present the paper at the annual end-of-program “Mini-Conference.”

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

Back to top

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 for the Summer Institute 2017 are now being accepted. Deadline for US student applications is January 20, 2017.  Due to VISA issues, foreign students must apply by November 30, 2016. Applications after that date will still be considered, but we cannot make guarantees about your ability to get a VISA on time.  However, it is also possible to defer your attendance until the following summer. For inquiries and to submit the completed documents via e-mail, please contact Stephen Latham at Notifications of acceptance will be sent out a few weeks after each deadline.

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. Some scholarships are available. Please make every attempt to arrange payment by check (either bank or personal); this is preferable to wire transfers or cash.  We are not able to accept credit cards.  The Bioethics Center can facilitate access to relatively inexpensive on-campus dormitory-style housing.  Rates may vary by amenities offered.   These fees must be paid to the housing office, not the Bioethics Center. In general, the use of this housing is only possible during the period of the program; specific dates will be conveyed to participants each year.

Back to top


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.

Back to top

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:

The Bioethics Center cannot make housing arrangements for you other than the dormitory.  However, you will have the opportunity to coordinate with fellow participants if you wish to sublet apartments together.  We suggest the Yale classifieds and craigslist as valuable resources.

For foreign 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.

Back to top

Summer Symposium

Beginning in 2014, a one-day symposium follows the Summer Institute.  The symposium allows past summer participants to return and present research to their fellow alumni.  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

Pictures by Carol Pollard and Nancy P. Fama-Clark