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Bioethics and Health Studies, B.A.

Bioethics is a field that analyzes the ethical questions raised by advances in medical and scientific technology. It examines these questions both in the clinical context and in health policy. Well-known bioethical topics include abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. But the field’s area of study has grown dramatically in recent decades in keeping with the rapid pace of biotechnological advances. More recent bioethical work addresses developments in genetics, neuroscience, public health and various emerging fields in the biomedical sciences.

Saint Louis University's bioethics and health studies major gives students the tools to understand these developments. It does so through an interdisciplinary curriculum that fuses the humanities with the social sciences. It pairs this holistic education with unique service-learning opportunities in health care settings, as well as a capstone project designed to guide students in their transition to a career in health care.

Through their coursework, students majoring in bioethics and health studies learn to think across the University and to mobilize their knowledge in the world.

A particular focus of the bioethics and health studies major at SLU is the relationship of religion, health care and social justice. Students are exposed to a broad range of ideological and professional perspectives on health care dilemmas. This will prepare them to collaborate with others across existing professional and political divides. It will also help them to clarify their own views on topics that are often complex and highly personal.

The bioethics and health studies major provides a foundation for post-graduate study and employment in a broad range of health-related fields. Beyond that, it provides students with tools for addressing the ethical dilemmas they will face, not just on the job, but also in the voting booth and their own lives. This integrated approach to health care, when coupled with a strong commitment to social justice and intellectual diversity, makes the major particularly reflective of Saint Louis University’s Jesuit mission.

Curriculum Overview

SLU's bioethics and health studies major requires 36 credits of coursework to be spread over three broad distribution areas: foundational courses, disciplinary frameworks, and advanced issues and practice in health care ethics. 

With the exception of the major’s introductory course, HCE 2010 Foundations in Clinical Health Care Ethics, these courses do not have to be taken in strict order. Students can choose courses to satisfy their disciplinary frameworks and advanced issues and practice in health care ethics requirements from amongst many possible options. Courses taken for the bioethics and health studies major requirements may also fulfill College of Arts and Sciences core requirements. The major’s flexible progression and course requirements give students a high degree of freedom in tailoring it to their own interests and timeframe.

SLU's bioethics and health studies major offers a pre-med track for students planning on pursuing medical school.  

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

SLU's bioethics and health studies major has a service-learning requirement. Students can choose amongst several service-learning courses, each taking place in a distinct health care setting. Students can also receive credit for completing an internship in a professional setting related to health care ethics.

The major offers students opportunities for study abroad in Ireland and Spain.  

Careers

The bioethics and health studies major provides an excellent foundation for professional education in a number of areas, including:

  • Medicine
  • Law
  • Public health
  • Health care administration
  • Public policy
  • Divinity school
  • Various graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences

Through their service-learning courses and capstone, students will gain practical experience that will help them in transitioning to employment in a wide range of health-related fields.

Admission Requirements

Begin Your Application

Saint Louis University also accepts the Common Application.

Freshman

All applications are thoroughly reviewed with the highest degree of individual care and consideration to all credentials that are submitted. Solid academic performance in college preparatory coursework is a primary concern in reviewing a freshman applicant’s file.

To be considered for admission to any Saint Louis University undergraduate program, applicants must be graduating from an accredited high school, have an acceptable HiSET exam score or take the General Education Development (GED) test. 

Transfer

Applicants must be a graduate of an accredited high school or have an acceptable score on the GED.

Students who have attempted fewer than 24 semester credits (or 30 quarter credits) of college credit must follow the above freshmen admission requirements. Students who have completed 24 or more semester credits (or 30 quarter credits) of college credit must submit transcripts from all previously attended college(s).

In reviewing a transfer applicant’s file, the Office of Admission holistically examines the student’s academic performance in college-level coursework as an indicator of the student’s ability to meet the academic rigors of Saint Louis University. Where applicable, transfer students will be evaluated on any courses outlined in the continuation standards of their preferred major.

International Applicants

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students along with the following:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Proof of financial support must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include the courses taken and/or lectures attended, practical laboratory work, the maximum and minimum grades attainable, the grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations, and any honors or degrees received. WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

There are two principal ways to help finance a Saint Louis University education:

  • Scholarships: Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, service, leadership and financial need.
  • Financial Aid: Financial aid is provided in the form of grants and loans, some of which require repayment.

For priority consideration for merit-based scholarships, apply for admission by Dec. 1 and complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 1.

For information on other scholarships and financial aid, visit the student financial services office online at https://www.slu.edu/financial-aid.

  1. Graduates will be able to apply bioethical methodologies.
  2. Graduates will be able to synthesize humanities and social science methods. 
  3. Graduates will be able to evaluate the impact of disparities in identity categories on health care access and quality.
  4. Graduates will be able to justify recommendations for resolving complex ethical health care dilemmas.
  5. Graduates will be able to integrate bioethical knowledge into patient care. 

 Bioethics and health studies students must complete a minimum total of 36 credits for the major.

College core requirements57-66
For additional information about core courses
FOUNDATIONAL COURSES
The Foundational Courses Requirement introduces students to the ethical dimensions of health care practice both in the U.S. and from an international perspective as well as the several methodological frameworks for addressing bioethical dilemmas. It also introduces students to differences in race, gender, disability, sex, national origin, religion, socioeconomic class, and other differences that can lead to disparities in health care. Finally, students are introduced to an interdisciplinary approach to bioethics as a field, which will help them transition to, and more effectively draw from, the “Disciplinary Frameworks” courses.
HCE 2010Foundations in Clinical Health Care Ethics3
HCE 2050Patients as Persons3
HCE 2070Health Care Across Difference3
HCE 2090Bioethics in an Interdisciplinary Perspective3
DISCIPLINARY FRAMEWORKS COURSES 12
The Disciplinary Frameworks Requirement exposes students to diverse disciplinary approaches to promoting ethical discourse and social justice in the health care system.
Students select one course in each of the following attribute categories: Humanities; Philosophy/Theology; Social Sciences; Professional. The list of courses within each attribute will be updated each semester. Listed below are some sample courses that would count for each attribute.
Literature, History, or Fine Arts Courses with Humanities Attribute
Theology or Philosophy course with a Theology/Philosophy
Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, Psychology, African American Studies, or Women’s and Gender Studies course with a Social Sciences Attribute
Public Health, Social Work, Criminology and Criminal Justice, or Communication course with a Professional attribute
ADVANCED ISSUES & PRACTICE IN HEALTH CARE ETHICS12
The Issues and Practice Requirement engages students in current and emerging ethical challenges of 21st century health care and prepares them to recognize, analyze, and facilitate appropriate approaches to resolution in pluralistic and multidisciplinary environments.
A course with a Advanced Clinical Problem-Solving attribute
One Health Care Ethics elective
A course with a Service Learning attribute
HCE 4960
Bioethics and Health Studies Capstone
General Electives18-27
Total Credits120

Continuation Standards

A student must maintain a GPA in coursework for the major in bioethics and health studies of at least 2.00.

Disciplinary Frameworks

These requirements expose students to diverse disciplinary approaches to bioethics and health studies. Students select one course in each of the following attribute categories: humanities, philosophy/theology, social sciences, professional. The list of courses within each attribute will be updated each semester. Listed below are some sample courses that would count for each attribute. 

Humanities Attribute (literature, history, fine arts)
ARTH 2070Art and the Body3
ENGL 3730Introduction to Medical Humanities, Literature3
ENGL 3740Medicine and Literature3
FREN 4170French and the Sciences3
Theology/Philosophy Attribute
PHIL 3360Medical Ethics3
PHIL 3600Science and Religion3
PHIL 4150Philosophy of Science Survey3
PHIL 4280Biology and Mind3
THEO 2510Christian Ethics3
THEO 2815Psychology and the Soul3
Social Sciences Attribute (sociology/anthropology, political science, psychology, African American studies, women’s studies)
AAM 4330Psychology of Oppression3
POLS 4840Global Health Politics and Policy3
PSY 3100Brain, Mind & Society3
PSY 4350Health Psychology3
SOC 2480Drugs and Society: Legal and Medical Implications of the "War on Drugs"3
SOC 2490Sociology of Medicine3
SOC 3490Sociology of Mental Health3
SOC 3580Deviant Behavior: Drugs, Alcohol and Addiction3
Professional Attribute (public health, social work, criminology, allied health sciences, communication)
CMM 3090Health Communication3
CCJ 2050Multiculturalism for Criminal Justice Professionals3
CCJ 2150Criminology: Nature of Crime3
CCJ 3150Contemporary Theories of Crime3
CCJ 3200Ethics in Criminal Justice3
CCJ 3550The Science of Evil3
CCJ 3600Mental Health & Crime3
PUBH 4000Politics and Public Health Advocacy3
SWRK 3100Social Policy for Social Justice3
SWRK 3200Dismantling Oppression: Exploring Equity & Inclusion3
Service-Learning Attribute 
HCE 3100Public Health & Social Justice3
HCE 4240Ethics and Geriatric Care3
Advanced Clinical Problem-Solving Attribute
HCE 4210Controversies in Death and Dying3
HCE 4220Controversies in Reproductive and Pediatric Ethics3
HCE 4270Controversies in Organ Donation3
Health Care Ethics Electives
HCE 3010Ethics in Clinical Medicine3
HCE 3030Disability Studies: Medicine, Ethics, and Policy3
HCE 3050Bioethics in Popular Culture3
HCE 3200Freaks and the Medical Body3
HCE 3220The Desire to Dissect: Philosophical History of Anatomical Dissection3
HCE 3250God in the Clinic? Exploring the Tension Between Spirituality and Health Care3
HCE 3300Bioethics + Human Nature Film3
HCE 4200Warriors and Medics3
HCE 4210Controversies in Death and Dying3
HCE 4220Controversies in Reproductive and Pediatric Ethics3
HCE 4240Ethics and Geriatric Care3
HCE 4250Law and Bioethics3
HCE 4260Race and Research Ethics3
HCE 4270Controversies in Organ Donation3
HCE 4280Controversies in Neuroethics3
HCE 4980Independent Study3

Bachelor of Arts Core Curriculum Requirements

Please note: beginning in Fall 2022, all incoming SLU undergraduates—regardless of major, program, college or school—will complete the University Core curriculum. You can find more information about SLU’s common Core here: https://www.slu.edu/core/index.php
Core Components and Credits
Foundations of Discourse3
Diversity in the U.S.3
Global Citizenship3
Foreign Language0-9
Fine Arts3
Literature6
Mathematics3
Natural Science6
Philosophy9
Social Science6
Theology9
World History6
Total Credits57-66

Graduation Requirements

  • Complete a minimum of 120 credits (excluding pre-college level courses numbered below 1000).
  • Complete either the College of Arts and Sciences Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science Core Curriculum Requirements
  • Complete major requirements: minimum 30 credits required.
  • Complete remaining credits with a second major, minor, certificate, and/or electives to reach the minimum of 120 credits required for graduation.
  • Courses listed under the intensive English program do not count toward graduation requirements. EAP 1500 College Composition for International Students (3 cr), EAP 1900 Rhetoric & Research Strategies (3 cr) and EAP 2850 Nation, Identity and Literature (3 cr) count toward graduation requirements as equivalents to Department of English courses.

    In addition to those courses, six credits from EAP/MLNG courses at the 1000 level or higher may count toward graduation requirements
  • Achieve at least a 2.00 cumulative grade point average, a 2.00 grade point average in the major(s) and a 2.00 grade point average in the minor/certificate, or related elective credits.
  • Complete department/program-specific academic and performance requirements.
  • Complete at least 50% of the coursework for the major and 75% for the minor/certificate through Saint Louis University or an approved study abroad program.
  • Complete 30 of the final 36 credits through Saint Louis University or an approved study abroad program.
  • Complete an online degree application by the required University deadline.

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
FallCredits
Participation in First-Year Mentoring Events  
HCE 2010 Foundations in Clinical Health Care Ethics 3
UNIV 1010 Enhancing First-Year Success 1
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
 Credits13
Spring
Participation in First-Year Mentoring Events  
HCE 2050 Patients as Persons 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
 Credits15
Year Two
Fall
Participation in Second-Year Mentoring Events  
HCE 2070 Health Care Across Difference 3
HCE 2090 Bioethics in an Interdisciplinary Perspective 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
 Credits15
Spring
Participation in Second-Year Mentoring Events  
HumanitiesLiterature, History, or Fine Arts Courses with Humanities Attribute 3
Theology/PhilosophyTheology or Philosophy course with a Theology/Philosophy 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
 Credits15
Year Three
Fall
ProfessionalPublic Health, Social Work, Criminology and Criminal Justice, or Communication course with a Professional attribute 3
Social ScienceSociology, Anthropology, Political Science, Psychology, African American Studies, or Women’s and Gender Studies course with a Social Sciences Attribute 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
 Credits15
Spring
Advanced Clinical Problem-SolvingA course with a Advanced Clinical Problem-Solving attribute 3
HCE 3000/4000Health Care Ethics Elective 3
Service LearningA course with a Service Learning attribute 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
 Credits18
Year Four
Fall
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
A&S Core 3
General Elective 3
General Elective 3
 Credits15
Spring
General Elective 3
General Elective 3
General Elective 3
General Elective 3
HCE 4960 Bioethics and Health Studies Capstone 3
 Credits15
 Total Credits121

Disciplinary Frameworks

These requirements expose students to diverse disciplinary approaches to bioethics and health studies. Students select one course in each of the following attribute categories: humanities, philosophy/theology, social sciences, professional. The list of courses within each attribute will be updated each semester. Listed below are some sample courses that would count for each attribute. 

Humanities Attribute (literature, history, fine arts)
ARTH 2070Art and the Body3
ENGL 3730Introduction to Medical Humanities, Literature3
ENGL 3740Medicine and Literature3
FREN 4170French and the Sciences3
Theology/Philosophy Attribute
PHIL 3360Medical Ethics3
PHIL 3600Science and Religion3
PHIL 4150Philosophy of Science Survey3
PHIL 4280Biology and Mind3
THEO 2510Christian Ethics3
THEO 2815Psychology and the Soul3
Social Sciences Attribute (sociology/anthropology, political science, psychology, African American studies, women’s studies)
AAM 4330Psychology of Oppression3
POLS 4840Global Health Politics and Policy3
PSY 3100Brain, Mind & Society3
PSY 4350Health Psychology3
SOC 2480Drugs and Society: Legal and Medical Implications of the "War on Drugs"3
SOC 2490Sociology of Medicine3
SOC 3490Sociology of Mental Health3
SOC 3580Deviant Behavior: Drugs, Alcohol and Addiction3
Professional Attribute (public health, social work, criminology, allied health sciences, communication)
CMM 3090Health Communication3
CCJ 2050Multiculturalism for Criminal Justice Professionals3
CCJ 2150Criminology: Nature of Crime3
CCJ 3150Contemporary Theories of Crime3
CCJ 3200Ethics in Criminal Justice3
CCJ 3550The Science of Evil3
CCJ 3600Mental Health & Crime3
PUBH 4000Politics and Public Health Advocacy3
SWRK 3100Social Policy for Social Justice3
SWRK 3200Dismantling Oppression: Exploring Equity & Inclusion3
Service-Learning Attribute 
HCE 3100Public Health & Social Justice3
HCE 4240Ethics and Geriatric Care3
Advanced Clinical Problem-Solving Attribute
HCE 4210Controversies in Death and Dying3
HCE 4220Controversies in Reproductive and Pediatric Ethics3
HCE 4270Controversies in Organ Donation3
Health Care Ethics Electives
HCE 3010Ethics in Clinical Medicine3
HCE 3030Disability Studies: Medicine, Ethics, and Policy3
HCE 3050Bioethics in Popular Culture3
HCE 3200Freaks and the Medical Body3
HCE 3220The Desire to Dissect: Philosophical History of Anatomical Dissection3
HCE 3250God in the Clinic? Exploring the Tension Between Spirituality and Health Care3
HCE 3300Bioethics + Human Nature Film3
HCE 4200Warriors and Medics3
HCE 4210Controversies in Death and Dying3
HCE 4220Controversies in Reproductive and Pediatric Ethics3
HCE 4240Ethics and Geriatric Care3
HCE 4250Law and Bioethics3
HCE 4260Race and Research Ethics3
HCE 4270Controversies in Organ Donation3
HCE 4280Controversies in Neuroethics3
HCE 4980Independent Study3