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Frequently Asked Questions


Why should I consider a PhD in Health Care Ethics at SLU?

The Ph.D. programs in Health Care Ethics are perfect for students interested in graduate training that (1) is truly interdisciplinary with respect to coursework, faculty and fellow students; (2) trains scholar-practitioners with an emphasis on producing publishable scholarship; and (3) boasts a 100% job placement rate.

What program options are available to me and why would I pick one program over another?

We offer the traditional Ph.D. in Health Care Ethics, two joint-Ph.D.s: Ph.D. in Philosophy and Bioethics and a Ph.D. in Theology and Health Care Ethics; and three dual-degree programs: M.D./Ph.D., J.D./Ph.D., and M.A. Theology/Ph.D. (offered with the Aquinas Institute of Theology). Consider a joint program if you (a) have a master’s in either philosophy or theology and (b) are interested in an academic career teaching and doing research in both bioethics and philosophy or theology. Joint Theology/HCE students are also competitive for organizational ethics positions in Catholic health systems. A dual program should be considered if you have a strong interest in practicing law or medicine alongside bioethics research and teaching.


What concentrations are available?

Student in the traditional HCE Ph.D. program may choose to concentrate their studies in one of four concentrations: clinical ethics, research ethics, health care ethics in the Catholic tradition, and empirical research methods.

Are fieldwork or practicum experiences available to students?

Yes, all Ph.D. students (in every program) are required to take a practicum which includes 150 hours of shadowing and volunteering in a clinical setting. In addition, students in the clinical ethics concentration are required to complete an additional advanced practicum, involving 300 hours of experience with on-site clinical ethics work.

What kind of jobs do graduates of the Ph.D. programs in Health Care Ethics get?

Alumni have positions across academia, clinical ethics, research ethics and organizational/administrative ethics. Find a current listing of alumni jobs here.

Is there a distance-learning option?

No, all coursework (2-3 years, depending on the program) must be completed in-residence in St. Louis, Missouri.

Is there a minimum GRE score or GPA for admission?

There is no minimum for either, but our most successful applicants usually have verbal and writing GRE scores at or above the 80th percentile and GPAs at or above 3.80.

What should I pick for my writing sample?

The writing sample is a central feature of a successful application. We recommend you select a normative (i.e., in which you advance an argument) original research paper on a topic related to bioethics (if available).

When are admissions decisions made?

All applications are due December 1 [via this admissions portal] and admissions committees meet in January to discuss applicants. Initial admissions decisions are made and communicated in early February, with additional offers made throughout the spring as spots become available.

What funding is available for admitted students?

Most admitted Ph.D. students are offered a graduate assistantship (GA). In exchange for 20 hours of work per week, GAs are awarded tuition for graduate course work (9 credit hours for each fall and spring semester), a monthly stipend, and health insurance for 9 months (August through April) for 4 years, renewable each year based on maintaining good academic standing in the program and satisfactory GA performance. The stipend amount is currently $2,000/month. GAs work as either a research assistant for a faculty member or, as a teaching assistant as the lead instructor for an undergraduate course in bioethics. Three external GA positions with health care organizations are also available to Ph.D. students.

When and how are funding decisions made?

Admitted students are invited to submit a (very brief) assistantship application by the program director and offers are made based on how the skills and experience of students match the needs of the department.

Do any of my MA-level courses count toward the Ph.D. degree?

Yes. We award advanced standing for up to 12 credit-hours from an M.A. toward the 60 credit-hour requirement for the traditional Ph.D. and 9 credit-hours from a M.A. toward the philosophy or theology requirements for the Joint-Ph.D.s.

What kind of mentorship is available to Ph.D. students?

All Ph.D. students have formal and informal mentoring relationships with a variety of faculty and peers, including the Ph.D. Program Director, a GA/TA mentor, a dissertation director, and a peer mentor. In addition, the faculty offers monthly lunches on a variety of professional development topics (e.g., Creating and Maintaining a CV, How to Get a Bioethics Job, Networking).