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Philosophy and Bioethics, Ph.D.

Saint Louis University students interested in both bioethics and philosophy who wish to write a dissertation on bioethics from a philosophical perspective should consider the joint Ph.D. in philosophy and bioethics, offered by the Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics and the Department of Philosophy. Unlike a dual degree, this program offers one degree: a Ph.D. in philosophy and bioethics.

Curriculum Overview

The degree consists of 66 credits: 24 credits in health care ethics, 30 credits in philosophy and 12 dissertation research hours. Pre-comprehensive exam coursework can usually be completed in three years (9 credit hours each fall and spring). Non-coursework requirements include three research tools requirements in library database skills, medical terminology, statistics and study design and written and oral comprehensive exams.

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

All joint Ph.D. students take a three-semester, 150-hour clinical practicum to gain experience working in a clinical setting. In addition to these fieldwork opportunities, most Ph.D. students graduate with two or more publications.


Graduates of this program are highly qualified candidates for academic jobs in philosophy departments or bioethics centers, as well as administrative jobs in ethics in health care institutions. 

Admission Requirements

  • Transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores
  • CV/Resume
  • Writing sample 
  • Professional goals statement


Tuition Cost Per Credit
Graduate Tuition $1,370

Additional charges may apply. Other resources are listed below:

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Information on Tuition and Fees

Miscellaneous Fees

Information on Summer Tuition

Scholarships, Assistantships and Financial Aid

For priority consideration for a graduate assistantship, apply by the program admission deadlines listed. Fellowships and assistantships provide a stipend and may include health insurance and a tuition scholarship for the duration of the award. 

Explore Scholarships and Financial Aid Options

  • Graduates will be able to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of foundational philosophical theories and methodologies, historical and contemporary, that inform scholarly analysis of issues in bioethics.
  • Graduates will be able to demonstrate a proficiency in formulating original normative philosophical arguments. 
  • Graduates will be able to demonstrate a proficiency in combining philosophical theories, concepts or methodologies with those of other disciplines in order to address practical ethical issues that arise in health care contexts.
  • 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 both the fields of philosophy and bioethics.
Health Care Ethics Courses
HCE 6010Methods in Philosophical Ethic3
HCE 6020Methods in Religious Ethics3
HCE 6040Interdisciplinary Research in Health Care Ethics3
HCE 6050Philosophical Foundations3
HCE 6110Intro-Medicine for Ethicists1
HCE 6120Bioethics and the Law2
HCE 6130Clinical Ethics3
HCE 6140Research Ethics3
HCE 6150Practicum, Health Care Ethics3
Philosophy Courses
PHIL 6220Advanced Logic3
PHIL 5/6XXX:Ancient Philosophy 3
PHIL 5/6XXX:Medieval Philosophy 3
PHIL 5/6XXX:Modern Philosophy 3
PHIL 5/6XXX:History of Philosophy 3
Select 9 credits in two of the following areas:9
PHIL 5/6XXX:Philosophy Electives6
Dissertation Research
HCE 6990Dissertation Research (taken over multiple semesters, 12hrs total)0-9
or PHIL 6990 Dissertation Research
Total Credits66

Non-course Requirements

Proficiency in a foreign language, if required for research

Other Content

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.50 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 6010 Methods in Philosophical Ethics 3
HCE 6110 Intro-Medicine for Ethicists 2 1
PHIL 5/6XXX:History of Philosophy 3
Library Database Skills 3  
HCE 6140 Research Ethics 3
HCE 6150 Practicum, Health Care Ethics 4 1
PHIL 5/6XXX:Topics in Philosophy 3
PHIL 5/6XXX:Philosophy Elective 3
Year Two
HCE 6050 Philosophical Foundations 3
HCE 6040 Interdisciplinary Research in Health Care Ethics 3
HCE 6150 Practicum, Health Care Ethics 1
PHIL 6220 Advanced Logic 4 3
HCE 6130 Clinical Ethics 3
HCE 6150 Practicum, Health Care Ethics 1
PHIL 5/6XXX:History of Philosophy 4 3
PHIL 5/6XXX:Topics in Philosophy 4 3
Year Three
HCE 6020 Methods in Religious Ethics 3
PHIL 5/6XXX:History of Philosophy 4 3
PHIL 5/6XXX:Topics in Philosophy 4 3
HCE 6120 Bioethics and the Law 2
PHIL 5/6XXX:History of Philosophy 3
PHIL 5/6XXX:Philosophy Elective 3
Year Four
Comprehensive Exams 4  
PHIL 6990
or HCE 6990
Dissertation Research
or Dissertation Research
HCE 6990
or PHIL 6990
Dissertation Research
or Dissertation Research
 Total Credits66

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.


Written exam and oral exam.

For additional information about our program, please contact:

Harold Braswell, Ph.D. 
Graduate program coordinator, health care ethics 

Kent Staley, Ph.D.
Graduate program coordinator for philosophy