Centers and Institutes

Institute of Catholics Bioethics

Certificate Program in Healthcare Ethics



Online Certificate in Health Care Ethics

Program Description

The Online Certificate Program in Health Care Ethics is designed to prepare individuals for the complex and growing field of biomedical ethics.  It will enable students to reflect systematically on the ethical, legal and policy dimensions of contemporary issues in bioethics and health care.

Health Care professionals are confronted almost daily with complex ethical dilemmas they may not be well prepared to handle. It is imperative that they, and those preparing to work in the field of Health Care, have a solid understanding of moral theory and its application to decision-making in clinical practice.
In the near future members of Hospital Ethics Committees and Institutional Review Boards will be required to have academic credentials in health care ethics. The Online Certificate Program provides the education they need to carry out the three functions of Hospital Ethics Committees (1) advise doctors, patients and their families as they struggle with difficult end-of-life diagnostic and treatment decisions, (2) offer educational opportunities to the hospital community and (3) review and recommend hospital policies.

The Online Certificate Program is also intended for all professionals in the Health Care field who wish to pursue a credentialed career or enhance their expertise in bioethics.
Executives in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries would also profit from the Online Certificate Program in Health Care Ethics. Clinical research and marketing pose moral questions for pharmaceutical executives. Moreover, health care management and allocation decisions pose moral questions for insurance executives. The Online Certificate program in Health Care Ethics would help these executives navigate stormy ethical waters.
The Online Certificate Program may be of interest to those who are not ready to make a commitment to master level studies. The four courses encompass the core of the master’s curriculum and would be accepted in transfer if the student subsequently decides to advance to the master’s program.

Course # Course Name Semesters Offered
HAD 554 Health Care Law Offered each session, all semesters
HAD 559 Health Policy Offered each session, all semesters
HAD 600 Ethics of Health Care Offered each session, all semesters
HCE 552 Theological Issues in Bioethics Offered Spring Session, 2nd session only


Application Requirements

  • A completed Saint Joseph’s University Graduate Application at sealed transcript(s) of undergraduate/graduate coursework (mail to Graduate Admissions).  If you are a SJU graduate the Office of Graduate Operations will obtain your SJU transcripts for you.
  • Official sealed transcript(s) of undergraduate/graduate coursework (mail to Graduate Admissions).  If you are a SJU graduate the Office of Graduate Operations will obtain your SJU transcripts for you.
  • A current resume.
  • Personal statement – 500 word letter of intention outlining the candidate's professional and educational goals.
  • Two letters of recommendation.
  • $35 application fee (waived if attended an Open House or are a SJU graduate.)

For admission information contact:

Kate McConnell

For program information contact:

Mark C. Aita, S.J., M.D.
Director, Graduate Programs in Health Care Ethics

Answers to commonly asked questions:

  • Admissions on rolling-basis throughout the year and, upon acceptance, students tend to finish the program in one year. Yet students can progress at their own pace.
  • Once accepted, students may register for class the next available session up until 1 week before class begins.
  • There are two 8-week sessions in the fall and spring semesters; whereas, there are two 6-week sessions in the more condensed summer semesters.
  • If they so choose, students may take one course both sessions of each semester in whatever sequence they choose; however, most students take one course per semester.
  • For each course, students tend to devote 12-15 hours to reading, written assignments and discussion board interaction.
  • If student wishes to advance to the Master of Arts in Health Care Ethics Program, all four courses will be accepted in transfer.
  • Tuition 2011-2012:  $752/credit, $2256/three credit course, total of $9024/Entire Program  If your employer plans to pay part or all of the tuition, complete the Employer Deferral Program Application (attached), then fax it to the number indicated at bottom of form. If you have any difficulty with this, contact Student Services (610) 660-2000 or

    Course Descriptions

    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 550   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 559   Health Policy
    This course will introduce the formulation and analysis of health policy at federal, state, local, and corporate levels. It 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 552   Theological Issues in Bioethics
    This course will introduce the student to the basic theological concepts, frameworks, and analyses that have been used by various religious traditions. The relatively new field of Bioethics developed from a long tradition of Medical Ethics which is predicated on the discipline of theology. 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. Also offered, is an additional, elective module on the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.