M.A. Program Requirements

The Master of Arts degree requires a total of thirty credit hours of graduate coursework, completed over a program of 10 three-credit courses, including seven core and three elective courses. Students may choose to take up to two courses per semester in the fall and spring semesters and one course in the summer session in order to finish the program in two calendar years.

Required Courses

  • 6000      Introduction to Bioethics (3 cr)
  • 6100      Bioethics at the Beginning of Life (3 cr)
  • 6200      Law and Bioethics (3 cr)
  • 6300      Bioethics at the End of Life (3 cr)
  • 6400      Clinical Bioethics (3 cr)
  • 6500      *Elective Topics in Bioethics (9 cr)
  • 6600      Foundations of Theological Ethics (3 cr)
  • 6700      Foundations of Philosophical Ethics (3 cr)

*6500 Elective Course Offerings (each 3 cr):

  • Public Policy and Bioethics
  • Global Bioethics
  • Feminist Bioethics
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Ethics and Disability
  • Ethical Issues in Genetics
  • History of Medicine
  • Religion and Bioethics




Course Descriptions

(Students in the Graduate Certificate program take only 6000 - 6300)


Bioethics represents a complex intellectual phenomenon in the canon of newly emerging disciplines. Although an established academic field, it stills struggles to find a formal and coherent methodology for the analysis of ethical problems triggered by advances in medicine and the life sciences. The course introduces students to the historical, theoretical, and thematic dimensions of bioethics. More specifically, the course looks at historical contribution of theologians and philosophers to bioethics; it addresses the theoretical challenges of bioethics as an interdisciplinary field, with an emphasis on dominant theories in bioethics; and, finally, it touches upon the main topics of bioethics, including medical experimentation, assisted reproductive technologies, genetics, transplantation, assisted suicide and euthanasia.

The course looks at bioethical questions that concern the beginnings of life. Topics include the ethics of abortion, maternal fetal conflicts, ethical problems in perinatology and neonatology, as well as the ethical judgment on the entire field of assisted reproductive medicine -- from in vitro fertilization, to surrogate motherhood, gamete storage techniques, and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. There is also a clinical component to this class that offers students with an opportunity for engaged learning. Students will be exposed to decision-making in the clinical setting of obstetrics and neonatology departments at various hospitals.

The law contributes to public bioethics discourse on a variety of issues, from abortion to assisted suicide and euthanasia, to questions of access to health care.
This course looks at the intersection of law and bioethics, relative especially to the study of important legal cases and court decisions. Examples include Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey for abortion, Quinlan, Cruzan, and Schiavo for end of life issues, etc. Students will be exposed to the ethical reasoning of important legal cases and their jurisprudential developments, thus showing how landmark legal cases have shaped bioethical discourse.

The increasing medicalization of the dying process poses new ethical problems to health care professionals and patients alike. This course looks at the bioethical problems that concern the end of life. Topics include ethical criteria for withholding and withdrawing treatments, palliative care, proxy decision making for incompetent patients, as well as the controversial questions, newly emerging in both the clinical realm and the law, of assisted suicide and euthanasia. This class will entail a clinical component as well. Students will be exposed to decision-making in the clinical setting of the Intensive Care Unit at various hospitals or in nursing homes.

This class focuses on “clinical” bioethics, that is, the ethics of decision making at the bedside, exposing students to the practical mechanisms presiding over such decisions in today’s health care facilities, such as ethics committees, clinical consultations, clinical rounds, etc. In addition to learning the method and content of clinical bioethics, this class prepares students for active participation and leadership in the institutional mechanisms mentioned above.

This course analyzes specific topics in bioethics, such as public policy and bioethics, global bioethics, feminist bioethics, the relation between bioethics and environmental sensibility, history of medicine, sociology of medicine, etc. These courses are taught by affiliate faculty of the Bioethics Institute and introduce students to the interdisciplinary dimensions of bioethical questions.

This course introduces students to the foundations of theological ethics. After a historical introduction dealing with different models of ethical thinking, the course looks at the following: biblical roots of Christian morality; the mediation of faith and moral reason, with special reference to the relation of philosophical and theological ethics; the debate on normative theories; and the integration of virtue ethics, fundamental moral option and action theory. Applications to contemporary issues in the field of bioethics exemplify the meaning and function of different foundational frameworks and the relation between theory and practice in theological ethics.

This course introduces students to the theories and problems of moral philosophy, comprising both a historical and a systematic component. Main versions of ethics will be studied, including natural law and virtue ethics, deontological and consequentialist theories. Students will understand the function and importance of ethical frameworks for the articulation of bioethical problems.