Degree Requirements and Curriculum

Required Core Courses: All students must complete the following core courses:

I. Common Core: Five Courses (15 credits)
HCE 550 Topics in Bioethics
HCE 551 Methodological Issues in Bioethics
HAD 554 Health Care Law
HAD 559 Health Policy
HAD 600 Ethics of Health Care 

II. Required General Ethics: Two Courses (6 credits)
HCE 552 Theological Issues in Bioethics
HCE 553 Philosophical Ethical Theories in Bioethics

III. Elective Courses: Four Courses (12 credits)

Clinical Concentration Select (0-4)
HED 552 Epidemiology and Community Health
HCE 600 Fieldwork in Clinical Bioethics
HCE 570 Clinical Bioethics and Religious Traditions
HCE 571 Health Care Disparities
HED 577 Health Education in HIV/AIDS

Ethical Concentration Select (0-4)

HCE 601 Ethical, Medical & Legal Issues in Neonatology & Pediatrics
HAD 570 Psychosocial Aspects of Chronic Disease and Disability
HCE 572 Social Justice and Bioethics
HCE 573 Death & Dying: End-Of-Life Decision Making  
HCE 574 Spirituality and Health Care
HED 560 Bio-psychosocial Characteristics of the Aging American  

IV. Integrative Capstone Course: One Course (3 credits)
HCE 700 Integrative Capstone in Bioethics



I.    Common Core Courses:  Five Courses (15 credits)

HAD 554: Health Care Law 
An examination of the major legal issues encountered in the health care field by administrators and practitioners. Among the topics to be included are principles of liability, legal aspects of medical ethics, and legislative and regulatory factors in health care delivery.

HAD 600: Ethics of Health Care
The purpose of this course is to give a critical examination of the central ethical issues in the health care field. Issues to be treated include euthanasia, life-prolonging medical technologies, abortion, screening for genetic defects, stem cells/cloning, reproductive technologies, experimentation and informed consent, distribution of scarce medical resources, the right to health care, and its implications for the health care delivery system. Necessary background in moral philosophy and moral theology will be provided. 

HAD 559: Health Policy
The formulation and analysis of health policy at federal, state, local, and corporate levels. This course presents an overview of the legislative, regulatory, and political processes and their effect on the health care system. This course will provide a conceptual and analytic framework for bioethical policy analysis regarding policy formulation, adoption, implementation, operation, evaluation, and termination. Pragmatic application of policy analysis tools is included.

HCE 550: Topics in Bioethics
The course is an analysis of some of the important topics in bioethics. Students will familiarize themselves with the ethical questions surrounding major topics in contemporary bioethics. The course will focus on one or more of the following topics: medical research with human subjects, the new genetic medicine, social justice and the delivery of healthcare, organ transplantation, death and dying, and the development of techniques for human reproduction.

HCE 551: Methodological Issues in Bioethics
Bioethics represents a complex intellectual phenomenon. Although an established academic field, it still struggles to find a formal and coherent methodology for the analysis of ethical problems triggered by advances in medicine and the life sciences. The course will, first, look at the historical roots of bioethics, concentrating, in particular, upon the original contribution of theologians and, later on, of philosophers to the field. It will, then, discuss the dominant theories in contemporary bioethics, among others: principlism in its various versions, rights-based theories, casuistry, virtue ethics and the ethics of care.

II.    Required General Ethics Courses:  Two Courses (6 credits)

HCE 552: Theological Issues in Bioethics
This course will introduce the student to the basic theological concepts, frameworks, and analyses that have been used by both Catholic and Protestant theologians in their discussions of bioethics. After reviewing the various relationships between religion and medicine and the role that theological reflection can play in bioethics, several specific topics will be discussed and analyzed in depth. Topics such as assisted reproductive technologies, abortion, genetic control, care of severely handicapped neonates, death and dying, and the meaning and application of "quality of life" to contemporary issues will be discussed in both lecture and seminar formats.

HCE 553: Philosophical Ethical Theories in Bioethics

This course will study from a philosophical perspective the various ethical theories that have influenced the development of bioethics. The course will use an historical method and concentrate, among others, on the ethical theories of virtue, teleology and deontology in their historical contexts. These theories will then be placed in the context of the development of contemporary bioethics in the United States and Europe.

III.    Elective Courses:  Four courses (12 credits)

Clinical Concentration

HED 577: Health Education in HIV/AIDS
The retrovirus of AIDS, the people, and society it infects are the center upon which this course is based.  Current public health policy, ethics and politics of AIDS are examined. Emphasis is placed on the skill building in health education, counseling, and referrals for persons with AIDS, their families, and those individuals who test positive. The school and corporate sectors are explored, as well as high-risk groups and global AIDS.

HED 552: Epidemiology and Community Health
An introductory course exploring the basic concepts of epidemiology as a public health science, including rates and ratios, risk and association, causation and investigation of outbreak.

HCE 570: Clinical Bioethics and Religious Traditions
This course will focus on the clinical and religious aspects of bioethics in a hospital setting. Every week the students will attend two sets of clinical rounds in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). During these rounds certain ethical issues will emerge from patient care, and the students will be responsible for researching these issues during the week. On the other class day, the students will attend class at Saint Joseph's, and seminar discussions of various ethical issues involved in clinical medicine from different religious traditions, e.g., Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, etc., will be held.

HCE 571: Health Care Disparities
This course will define the major health care disparities that exist in our society (gender, race, ethnicity, income, education, disability, geographic location and sexual orientation), how to measure disparities, the impact on individual and societal health, how to resolve disparities through cross cultural respect, current issues and future directions.

HCE 600: Fieldwork in Clinical Bioethics
Individuals will arrange specific types of clinical bioethical fieldwork in an approved health care environment. Students need permission of the program director before registering. This course is designed to meet individual professional goals and may only be taken once during a student's completion of this degree program. All five core courses must be taken prior to enrolling in this course.

Ethical Concentration

HAD 570: Psychological Aspects of Chronic Disease and Disability
A survey of psychological, social and behavioral theories and principles as they relate to the experiences of chronic illness and disability. The course will emphasize the impact of these experiences on the patient in terms of motivation and life satisfaction, restructuring social support systems and changes in psychosocial/developmental needs. Attention will be given to the changing role of the health professional as direct care provider, manager, consultant and advocate.

HCE 572: Social Justice and Bioethics
This course will examine how social justice is addressed in bioethics. Attention will be paid to the relationship between micro-ethics and macro-ethics. Different theories of justice will be presented along with specific moral problems facing contemporary health care. These may include globalization, resource allocation, rationing, access to health care, preventative medicine and public health (e.g., which may include how we responsibly attend to epidemics, outbreaks, and/or bioterrorist attacks), compensation for organs or participation in research protocols (e.g., egg donation for SCNT and stem cell technology), and managed care and the role of evidence-based medicine. In addition, the course may include a section on how decisions are made from a social perspective on research agendas (i.e., why do we/should we pursue high-tech, high-priced medicine versus allocating those funds to other initiatives).

HCE 573: Death and Dying: End-of-Life Decision Making
This course surveys ethical issues and norms that pertain to healthcare for patients who are near the end of life. Various topics will be covered such as: extraordinary/ordinary means, medical futility, pain management, hospice, palliative care, living wills/advance directives, Do Not Resuscitate orders, Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care and current topics in end-of-life decision making.

HCE 601: Ethical, Medical and Legal Issues in Neonatology and Pediatrics
This course will examine the ethical, medical and legal issues surrounding treatment decisions for handicapped neonates and children with medical and genetic anomalies. This will entail examining numerous anomalies and medical conditions that challenge parents and health care professionals to decide what is in the best interest of the child. Various medical conditions and genetic anomalies will be examined such as; spina bifida, anencephaly, Trisomy 13, 18 and 21, Thanatophoric Dysplasia, Lesch-Nyan Syndrome, the Ashley Treatment, etc. Various legal developments will be examined such as the federal Child Abuse Law amended in 1984, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Texas Advance Directive Act, etc. and various legal cases will be examined including the Johns Hopkins case, Baby Doe, Baby K, Sun Hudson case, etc. Ethical principles and norms will be analyzed as well as ethical criteria proposed by Bioethicists to assist parents and physicians in making well-reasoned medical decisions that are in the best interest of the child. Special attention will be given to the Groningen Protocol (Netherlands).

HCE 574: Spirituality and Health Care
Drawing on the rich history of spirituality, insights from ethics and psychology and experience of contemporary healthcare, this course will explore the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit in the promotion of health.

HED 560: Bio-Psycho-Social Characteristics of Aging American

As the first ‘baby boomers' enter retirement years, a consideration of ‘Aging in America' becomes all the more important. Areas of study in this course include theories of aging, bio-psychosocial characteristics of older people, family systems and non-systems, resources, policy, legislation and activism. To promote critical thinking and understanding of opposing viewpoints on aging, students discuss and debate the issues as controversies.

IV.    Integrative Capstone:  One course (3 credits)

HCE 700: Integrative Capstone in Bioethics
This course is an integrative course in which the student is expected to integrate and synthesize prior course work and to demonstrate competence in the field of bioethics. The student will be required to analyze and synthesize a designated bioethical topic and propose policy solutions or program development initiatives.  The end goal is to complete a research paper for publication in a peer-review journal.