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Health Care Ethics, Ph.D. & Theology, M.A. Dual Degree (Aquinas Institute of Theology)

Ordinarily, students pursuing both a Ph.D. in Health Care Ethics and M.A. in Theology at Saint Louis University begin their Master of Arts in Theology studies at Aquinas Institute of Theology (AIT). In year one, students will complete 30 credits of 36 credits required for the M.A. from AIT:

  • Biblical Studies (6 credits)
  • Historical Studies (3 credits)
  • Systematic Theology (12 credits)
  • Moral Theology (9 credits)

During the second year, students enter the health care ethics Ph.D. program at Saint Louis University and follow the Ph.D. curriculum for students who already hold master’s degrees. In year two, dual-degree students also become eligible for assistantship funding. Aquinas Institute of Theology will count six credits from the Ph.D. coursework completed in year two toward completion of the M.A.

For additional information, see the catalog entries for the following programs:

Theology, M.A. (Aquinas Institute of Theology)

Health Care Ethics, Ph.D.

  1. Graduates will be able to demonstrate a broad knowledge of the foundational disciplines, methods, topics and issues in health care ethics required for scholarly analysis of issues in the field.
  2. Graduates will be able to demonstrate a proficiency in formulating original, normative arguments on topics related to health care ethics.
  3. Graduates will be able to demonstrate a proficiency in applying interdisciplinary theoretical approaches to answer ethical questions in real life health care contexts.
  4. Graduates will be able to demonstrate the ability to conceptualize, develop and bring to successful completion an original, sustained and coherent independent research project that contributes to the field (i.e. the dissertation).
  5. Graduates will be able to demonstrate an ability to generate appropriate job search materials (i.e. curriculum vitae, teaching portfolio, writing sample, etc.).

The following Ph.D. courses may be used to fulfill the final six credits toward the M.A.:

  • HCE 6020 Methods in Religious Ethics (3 cr) or HCE 6310 Health Care Ethics: Catholic Tradition (3 cr) [Dual-degree students must enroll in both of these courses during their time in the Ph.D. program. Completion of 1 of the courses is required for completion of the M.A. These courses are offered in alternating spring semesters. Therefore, students will complete only one of them in Year 2 of the dual degree program.]
  • A 3-credit elective in HCE
  • A total of 6 credits taken toward the M.A. at AIT will count toward the fulfillment of the Elective requirements in the Ph.D. program.

Two of the following M.A. courses may be treated as Electives for the Ph.D.:

  • Justice and Catholic Social Teaching
  • Ethics of Human Sexuality
  • Christian Anthropology

After the end of year two and completion of the major paper and comprehensive exams required for the M.A. degree, students are awarded the M.A. in Theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology. The timing for completion of the major paper and the comprehensive exams is to be determined in consultation with the M.A. advisor at Aquinas Institute of Theology.

In year three, students begin the coursework required for the Ph.D.

Joint Ph.D. students are also required to demonstrate reading comprehension of French, German or another language with the consent of joint program faculty. This can be satisfied by previous coursework, an exam or by taking additional graduate-level language courses.

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in all graduate/professional courses.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester. Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
HCE 6040 Interdisciplinary Research in Health Care Ethics 1 3
BIBD 502Biblical Interpretation (AI) 3
HSTD 500Church History I (AI) 3
MARD 596Orientation (AI) 0
STHD 503Introduction to Theology and Theological Method (AI) 3
HCE 6130 Clinical Ethics 3
STHD 520Christology (AI) 3
MORD 500Foundations of Catholic Morality (AI) 3
BIBD 5XXScripture Elective (AI) 3
Year Two
HCE 6010 Methods in Philosophical Ethics 3
HCE 6020 Methods in Religious Ethics 3
STHD 532Ecclesiology (AI) 3
MORD 528Justice and Catholic Social Teaching (AI) 3
HCE 6140 Research Ethics 3
MORD 571Ethics of Human Sexuality (AI) 3
STHD 516Christian Anthropology (AI) 3
Year Three
HCE 6310 Health Care Ethics: Catholic Tradition 3
HCE 6150 Practicum, Health Care Ethics 1
HCE 6110 Intro-Medicine for Ethicists 1
HCE 6150 Practicum, Health Care Ethics 2
HCE 6120
or LAW 8005
Bioethics and the Law
or Bioethics and the Law
HCE 6xxxElective chosen with counseling of PhD program director 3
Year Four
Comprehensive Exams (Written exam and oral exam) 0
THEO 6990 Dissertation Research 6
HCE 6990 Dissertation Research 6
 Total Credits69

Take the “Consuming Empirical Literature” exam the first day of class.


Take the “Medical Terminology” exam the first day of class.


An introduction to graduate-level database and library search skills, taught by library faculty.


Complete the clinical shadowing eligibility requirements prior to beginning of class.


Elective must be approved by theology/HCE joint faculty.