Skip to main content

Careers in Ethics

Careers in Ethics and Social Justice

We live in unprecedented times. A global pandemic has turned millions of lives upside down. Plagues of racism and xenophobia continue to take countless lives and produce trauma in our communities. We are already seeing the devastating effects of a warming climate. These times challenge us to think more deeply about how to be part of the solution to today’s problems, and how to integrate our moral values into our everyday lives--including into our work. Many of us are now looking to build or redirect our professional lives in the service of ethics, social justice, sustainability, and the common good, to meet this moment.

Wherever you are in your career, there are countless ways to build your values into your professional life, using your skills and talents to address today’s local, national, and global challenges. You might consider studying ethics and social justice as part of your journey. An ethics and social justice education, such as Fordham’s Master’s degree program in Ethics and Society, can increase your insight into pressing ethical and social issues you encounter, help you stand out to employers committed to “doing well by doing good”, open doors to organizations or leadership positions on the front lines of social justice, or bolster your application to further advanced degrees that will help you become the changemaker you want to be.

Below we describe the importance of ethics and social justice to six different career fields, and just a few of the ways you could integrate your values into each:

We also provide examples of Ethics and Society alumni who have been successful in their pursuit of meaningful careers shaped by moral values. View the Ethics and Society Alumni Spotlights.

Fordham’s innovative Ethics and Society curriculum integrates moral philosophy, theology, and the social and natural sciences, providing a comprehensive study of approaches to ethical problem solving that will serve you in numerous career paths. You can also take advantage of our optional areas of specialization, practicum opportunities, and personalized advising and mentorship to tailor your education to your academic interests and professional goals.

1. Advancing Health and Social Justice

There is a pressing need for health care practitioners and mental and physical health systems that provide ethical care for all and that address pervasive health inequalities. Moral sensitivity. ethical decision-making skills, and broader analytical skills learned through studying ethics help you serve the needs of your patients, clients, colleagues, and communities. Some career strategies for advancing health justice and bioethics include:

  • Protecting patients and helping health care providers navigate complex ethical dilemmas by becoming a clinical ethicist, hospital ethics committee member, or ethics consultant
  • Becoming a researcher, journalist, or writer focusing on issues in biomedical ethics and health justice (for example, engaging in health research on issues that disparately impact marginalized communities, such as the work done through the HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute)
  • Working as a community organizer or advocate with a non-profit community health organization
  • Expanding access to medical care throughout the world by working for an international health NGO
  • Working to protect clinical research subjects, and to promote justice in clinical research, as a research ethics professional or as part of a clinical research institution’s Institutional Review Board
  • Becoming a bioethics or health justice policy advisor for a state, local, national, or international agency or organization

Alumni Spotlights


Left to right: Steve Kazanjian '16: Vice President, CHRISTUS Spohn Health System, Leah Puri '18: Medical Student, Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, and Princess Chukwuneke, '16: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

What Our Program Can Do for You

A Master’s degree in ethics can help you stand out in the competitive holistic medical school or PhD admissions process, make you more competitive for a variety of clinical and administrative positions, and help you develop the expertise and practical skills that help you pursue or advance a variety of careers in bioethics and health justice. (Current health care practitioners may also consider an Advanced Graduate Certificate Program in Health Care Ethics.) 

Our curriculum, faculty, and events provide numerous opportunities to engage with issues in bioethics and health justice, including an optional specialization in Bioethics & Health Sciences. Relevant courses include: 

  • Bioethics Analysis of Clinical Case Studies
  • Health Care Ethics 
  • Health Disparities and Social Inequalities
  • Epidemics and Development Policy
  • Health Economics
  • Health Psychology

Students also have practicum opportunities in health care settings or health-related non-profit organizations. 

Ethics and Society alumni have gone on to study at Yale School of Public Health, Yale School of Nursing, Yale School of Public Health, Stony Brook Medical School, The Medical School at the University at Buffalo, Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, and elsewhere, or have gone on to work at and lead organizations like Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, St. Barnabas Hospital, Montefiore Health System, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, CHRISTUS Spohn Health System, New York State Department of Health, NYC Mental Health Service Corps, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Catholic Community Services.

2. Pursuing Law, Compliance, And Policy In The Public Interest

Now, more than ever, we need public and private institutions that are responsive to the demands of social justice and human rights, and we need people with the ethical knowledge and practical skills to keep these institutions accountable. Lawyers and other ethics professionals play central roles in designing, analyzing, and implementing fair and equitable laws, policies, and regulations; they also play critical roles in making sure that these rules are followed. Some career strategies for pursuing law, compliance, and policy in the public interest include:

  • Becoming a public defender or working in civil rights, immigration, or environmental law
  • Advancing alternatives to incarceration by becoming a restorative justice practitioner
  • Working with an advocacy group or think tank as a researcher, analyst, or advocate in order to help shape policy
  • Examining the social justice implications of proposed legislation as a legislative policy analyst or legislative aid
  • Taking a position in a state or federal agency, such as the National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, or the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and helping to develop more just, equitable, and sustainable regulations
  • Working as an ethics consultant or ethics committee member to help a company or organization develop or revise its code of ethics
  • Becoming an ombudsperson for an institution or organization
  • Providing research ethics and human research protections oversight as a university responsible conduct of research administrator or IRB manager

Alumni Spotlights

What Our Program Can Do for You

A Master’s degree in ethics can be a valuable stepping stone on the way to law school or a more direct path into ethics compliance, policy analyst, or other policy-related positions that require a deep understanding of ethical decision-making and social justice.

Our curriculum includes many courses that would be valuable for a variety of careers in law, compliance, and policy. As an Ethics and Society student, you would have the opportunity to take courses offered by Fordham’s School of Law, Gabelli School of Business, and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, our areas of specialization provide opportunities to explore the ethical dimensions of specific policy areas more deeply. Someone interested in pursuing a career in environmental law or policy could specialize in Environmental Ethics, while someone who is interested in housing or employment discrimination may benefit from a specialization in Race, Class, and Gender, and someone interested in immigration law may opt for a specialization in Globalization and Human Rights.

Relevant courses include: 

  • Human Rights and Social Justice
  • Democratic Political Economy
  • Ethics and Economics
  • Conservation Law and Policy
  • Crime and Punishment
  • U.S. Immigration and Ethnicity
  • Campaign Finance and Ethics

Ethics and Society alumni have gone on to study at some of the top law schools in the country--including at Fordham, Yale, Duke, Georgetown, NYU, and CUNY--and have gone on to meaningful legal careers with the Bronx Defenders, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, and numerous private law firms. Other alumni have gone on to pursue compliance- and policy-related positions outside of the law, for organizations like the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and NYU.

3. Empowering And Educating Youth

There is a critical need for teachers, school administrators, and educational systems that meet the educational and developmental needs for all students, that address the complex issues that students face, and that understand the importance of education in the service of ethics and social justice. Learning about fundamental ethical frameworks and substantive issues in applied ethics can help you better serve the needs of students; it can also be valuable for educators interested in developing curricular and extracurricular educational programs in ethics and social justice. Some career strategies for empowering and educating youth include:

  • Providing educational opportunities for disenfranchised youth by becoming a classroom or after school teacher in a low-resource K-12 school
  • Creating ethics opportunities for students by creating a course in bioethics, environmental ethics, or social justice, leading an ethics across the curriculum initiative, or leading an extracurricular ethics club, Ethics Bowl team, or civic engagement organization as a middle school or high school teacher
  • Addressing the school-to-prison pipeline by working at or leading restorative justice or alternative-to-suspension program for K-12 schools
  • Starting a program that provides tutoring, mentorship support, and other resources to boost college access and success for low-income youth
  • Becoming a researcher, journalist, or writer focusing on issues in educational equity, and factors that stand in the way of academic success for marginalized youth
  • Working as an official in a local, state, or national education agency to address systemic injustices in education
  • Becoming a librarian, and developing youth, adult, and family literacy programs

Alumni Spotlights

What Our Program Can Do for You

Whether you are an experienced teacher or just starting a new career in education and youth development, a Master’s in ethics can open up new doors, while providing you additional tools to understand the issues your students face and to empower them to become ethical leaders.

Our flexible curriculum includes opportunities to take courses offered by Fordham’s Graduate School of Education, Graduate School of Social Service, and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Some courses examine ethical and social justice issues in education and youth development, while others provide you knowledge of various subject areas in ethics that you could integrate into your curriculum or educational programming. 

Relevant courses include: 

  • Urban Education: Problems and Perspectives
  • Integrating Human Rights and Justice in Practice
  • Applied Developmental Psychology
  • Ecological Ethics
  • Bioethics
  • Confronting Moral Controversy

Students may also choose to participate in a practicum in a local K-12 school or education non-profit organization. 

Ethics and Society alumni have gone on to a variety of roles teaching and empowering youth, including teaching in public and private schools, working for youth development and education non-profit organizations like Urban Dove and Classroom, Inc., have worked for governmental agencies like the NYC Department of Education, and have pursued further graduate work researching issues in urban education.

4. Incorporating Values Into Academic Research, Scholarship, And Higher Education

There is a growing understanding throughout higher education that the tools of academic teaching and scholarship should be used to identify and address the local, national, and global challenges that we face. Studying ethics and social justice is crucial for philosophers, theologians, social and natural scientists, historians, legal scholars, and others who wish to use their teaching, research, and scholarship to engage with pressing issues of social import, and to advance the common good. Some career strategies for incorporating values into academic research, scholarship and higher education include:

  • Starting a multidisciplinary research group that addresses a systematic social problem
  • Researching and writing about ways in which racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of bias appear within your discipline, and anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-ableist practices that could be used to address them
  • Helping advance the careers of faculty and students from underrepresented minority groups by developing mentorship and career development programs
  • Integrating ethics and social justice education into your department’s professional development courses, and throughout the rest of your department’s curriculum
  • Starting a community outreach program that provides public-facing events and resources to educate community members about pressing issues
  • Creating a prison education program for incarcerated persons
  • Becoming a program manager or administrator for a university program engaging in ethics and social justice research, teaching, or student development
  • Teaching ethics courses at a local community college

Alumni Spotlights

Left to rightAnthony Bradley '13, M.Div, Ph.D.Associate Professor of Religious Studies; Program Chair, Religious and Theological Studies; Director, Center for the Study of Human Flourishing, The King's CollegeDaniel Ziebarth '19: Ph.D. Student in Political Science at The George Washington University and Research Fellow at Wagner College, and Tori Mack '18: Academic Skills Administrator, Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Fordham University.

What Our Program Can Do for You

A Master’s degree in ethics can be a helpful step toward numerous PhD degree programs, which are increasingly looking for students with a demonstrated commitment to social justice and an active interest in the ethical dimensions of their work. As an interdisciplinary graduate program, you will have the opportunity to take graduate courses--and connect with graduate faculty--across the humanities, and social and natural sciences. Our flexible curriculum enables you to advance your graduate in the field of your interest, while developing a deeper understanding of how ethics and social justice can be integrated into teaching and research throughout academia. Our program also provides important skills that are directly transferable to numerous other career tracks in academic administration and research support.

Relevant courses include:

Ethics and Society students have gone on to further graduate studies in philosophy, theology, political science, psychology, education, and social work at prestigious universities such as Harvard University, Fordham University, George Washington University, Boston College, University of Pittsburgh, the University of Quebec, and Westminster Theological Seminary. Other program alumni have taken administrative positions supporting students and research at Stockton University, Fordham University, New York University, and St. Joseph’s Seminary.

5. Making Change Through Public Service, Non-Profit Work, and Philanthropy

Given the immense challenges that we face, there is incredible need for people interested in public service, non-profit, and philanthropic work. From community-based organizations to global NGOs, from organizations and public servants providing front-line services to meet pressing individual, social, and environmental needs, to organizations engaging in advocacy and actions to promote long-term structural change, these are the engines driving progress toward social justice. Ethical frameworks and analytical skills that you learn through studying ethics would help you identify and address important ethical and social issues, and would help you better serve the needs of your clients and communities. Some career strategies for making change through public service, non-profit work, and philanthropy include:

  • Bringing grassroots energy to address an important social issue as a community organizer
  • Working with a national or international human rights organization
  • Developing, implementing, and evaluating innovative programs that address pressing social needs as a non-profit event coordinator or program manager
  • Becoming a caseworker that connects community members to social services, such as food or housing assistance, mental health care, or employment counseling
  • Expanding the impact of an organization’s programs and advocacy work as a director of communications and outreach
  • Raising funds to advance an organization’s missions as a grant writer or stewardship professional
  • Developing and implementing a socially-conscious and sustainable giving plan that meets urgent and long-term social needs as an organization’s director of philanthropy

Alumni Spotlights

Left to right: Yohan Garcia '18: Pastoral Migratoria National Formation Coordinator, Archdiocese of Chicago, Karen Bartos '14: Special Assistant to the President and CEO, CSH, the Source for Housing Solutions, and Omar Lebron '18 Director of Administration, Black Veterans for Social Justice

What Our Program Can Do for You

Our curriculum and areas of specialization provide theoretical knowledge of foundational ethical frameworks, topical knowledge in specific issues in ethics and social justice, and practical knowledge about how to put ethics into practice. A Master’s degree can help you advance in institutions and organizations working for social progress, while helping you become an effective changemaker.

Some relevant courses include: 

  • Integrating Human Rights and Justice in Practice
  • Social Media and Civic Engagement
  • Capacity Building with Faith Communities: Meeting the Challenges of Poverty
  • American Political Behavior
  • Urban Economics
  • Working With Survivors of Violence
  • Systemic Liberation Theology
  • Campaign Finance and Ethics

Students can also pursue a practicum field experience in a wide variety of non-profit organizations. 

Ethics and Society alumni have gone on to a variety of non-profit and public service roles in health, education, housing, social services, and philanthropy. Our students have thrived in organizations like Classroom Inc,. Urban Dove, Corporation for Supportive Housing, The Archdiocese of NY, New York State Department of Health, Black Veterans for Social Justice, The Archdiocese of Chicago, NYC Mental Health Service Corps, NYC Department of Education, and Catholic Community Services.

6. Encouraging Socially-Responsible Business and Social Entrepreneurship

More and more businesses are seeking ways to help them navigate complex ethical dilemmas, identify and implement socially-responsible practices, and promote social justice for their clients, employees, communities, and other stakeholders. As our communities look to meet local and global challenges, there is an increasing demand for entrepreneurs and employees who understand how to put ethics and social justice into practice and to find innovative market-based solutions to pressing social issues. Some career strategies for encouraging socially-responsible business and social entrepreneurship include:

  • Identifying and analyzing the ethical and social implications of new and emerging technologies as an ethics analyst in a tech company
  • Starting a business ethics and social responsibility consulting firm
  • Developing digital tools to help address an important social issue
  • Providing consulting services to help minority-owned businesses, or to individuals looking to start small businesses in underserved communities
  • Helping consumers and investors identify companies that engage in ethical and socially-responsible practices
  • Advocating for and implementing hiring and advancement practices that protect marginalized workers and promote fairness, equity, and social justice

Alumni Spotlights

Left to rightPatricia Vorhees '14: Director, The Alta GroupTim Dinneen '15: Vice President, Global Philanthropy at BNY Mellon, and Christopher Kovel '15: Head of UX Research, First Abu Dhabi Bank

What Our Program Can Do for You

A master’s degree in ethics can be a valuable asset in many business settings--whether you are seeking a job with a financial institution, providing consulting services to other organizations, or starting a company that directly tackles an important social problem. 

Our curriculum provides a foundation in ethical decision-making, while helping you develop analytical skills that you can draw on as you seek to integrate your values into your entrepreneurial endeavors. As an Ethics and Society student, you would have the opportunity to take courses offered by Fordham’s School of Law, Gabelli School of Business, and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. 

Some relevant courses include: 

  • Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives in Ethics and Society
  • Socially Engaged Theology
  • Fair Trade Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing and Branding in the Public Interest
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Integrating Human Rights and Justice in Practice

Ethics and Society alumni have gone on to thrive in numerous business and leadership roles in the financial, health, fashion, and manufacturing sectors, for businesses such as The Alta Group, Calvin Klein, BNY Mellon, CHRISTUS Spohn Health System, First Abu Dhabi Bank, and PD Instore.