Saint Louis University

PhD Program: Empirical Research Concentration

Program Overview

Students enrolled in the PhD Program in Health Care Ethics may opt to complete courses with an emphasis on Empirical Research Methods in Bioethics. The PhD Program was designed to produce graduates who are competent in normative health care ethics. Completion with this concentration is meant to indicate special research competencies over and above those gained in the PhD program. These specific competencies pertain to empirical research in the field of bioethics.

The concentration has two tracks: Qualitative and Quantitative. Both tracks require the completion of 15 hours of coursework.


Integration of Concentration and PhD Coursework

Some concentration courses will satisfy PhD Program course requirements. These substitutions were carefully considered so as not to compromise competency in normative ethics or in knowledge of the context of health care. Because there may be up to 6 credit hours of overlap, students who enter the PhD Program with the pre-requisite in inferential statistics will be required to complete only 9 additional credit hours of coursework. Students may receive up to 6 hours of advanced standing within the concentration for methods courses completed elsewhere.


Integration with the PhD Program's Educational Mission

The most significant aspect of any PhD program is dissertation research. All dissertations in the PhD Program are expected to make original contributions to normative ethics in health care. However, normative ethics must be informed by many facts, frequently by empirical facts about the values people hold, the causal factors influencing a moral situation, or the outcomes of quality improvement or educational interventions. This presents the opportunity to incorporate original empirical research into dissertations in normative ethics.

The capstone course for the concentration, HCE-652 Directed Empirical Research in Bioethics, requires students to gather original data that will be incorporated into the doctoral dissertation. The course will provide students with the mentoring necessary to integrate this data into the doctoral dissertation proposal in a way that is sensitive to the interdisciplinary nature of this endeavor.

Course of Studies for the Qualitative Track

Note: In square brackets substituted CHCE PhD courses are indicated.

  • A general research methods course such as: SOC-560 Research Methodology, EDR 560-01 General Research Methods, or SWRK-775 Social Work Research
  • SOC-580 Survey Research Methods
    [Topics and Scholars Elective]
  • A graduate-level introduction to qualitative research methods course such as: NR-N610 Qualitative Methods in Nursing Research, SWRK-776 Qualitative Research, EDR-540 Qualitative Research Methods
  • A suitable course on intermediate qualitative research methods such as EDR-640 Intermediate Qualitative Research
  • HCE-652 Directed Empirical Research in Bioethics
    [Topics and Scholars elective]

Course of Studies for the Quantitative Track

Note: In square brackets substituted CHCE PhD courses are indicated.

  • SOC-560 Research Methodology (or equivalent, such as SWRK-775, Social Work Research)
  • SOC-580 Survey Research Methods [Topics and Scholars Elective]
  • PSY-579 Analysis of Variance and Experimental Design
  • PSY-650 Multivariate Statistical Analysis (In some cases, the following courses may be allowed as an alternative: SOC-610 Regression Analysis and Non-linear Models, or SOC-650 Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis)
  • HCE-652 Directed Empirical Research in Bioethics [Topics and Scholars elective]

As most courses build upon each other, course work is ordinarily to be completed in the order indicated above.



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