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MA Theology, concentration in Bioethics

In conjunction with The National Catholic Bioethics Center

Applications for the 2014-2015 academic year will be accepted until:

  • June 1, 2014 for all eligible students applying for financial aid
  • August 31, 2014 for all other students

Please note that due to the nature of financial aid requirements, exceptions can not be made to this deadline. For more information on eligibility and financial aid, please visit here.

Earn a M.A. (Masters of Arts) in Theology with a concentration in Bioethics through our Distance Learning Program; Offered in conjunction with The National Catholic Bioethics Center


I. Program Overview

II. Who Is Eligible and How Does One Apply

III. Bioethics Course Sequence

IV. Bioethics Course Descriptions

V. Registration/Admission Requirements & Deadlines

VI. Tuition/Fees

VII. General Information About Holy Apostles' Graduate Programs


I. Program Overview

Working in conjunction with the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), Holy Apostles College and Seminary is pleased to offer a Master of Theology with a concentration in Bioethics through our Distance Learning Program. 

Holy Apostles and the NCBC have collaborated to provide a unique educational opportunity for professionals and students interested in receiving general or specialized graduate training in the growing field of Catholic bioethics.

One result of this collaborative effort is a one-year sequence of graduate-level courses in bioethics available through Holy Apostles' Distance Learning Program. This sequence of courses satisfies 9 graduate level credits and can be applied toward the concentration in Bioethics in Holy Apostles' Master of Theology degree program. Additionally, students pursuing this 9 credit sequence may also qualify for the Certification in Health Care Ethics, a professionally recognized certificate offered directly by the NCBC.

This 9 credit sequence of courses in Catholic Bioethics will be taught by Father Tadeusz (Tad) Pacholczyk, Ph.D., who is the Director of Education at the NCBC and is recognized as one of the leading experts in the field of Catholic bioethics. Father Tad is concurrently an adjunct member of the faculty at Holy Apostles College & Seminary.

To complete the concentration in Bioethics, students will be required to take one additional bioethics course offered through Holy Apostles to meet the required 12 credits for an area of concentation in the Master's Degree Program.


II. Who is eligible & how to apply

Professionals and others interested in obtaining graduate (continuing education) credits while pursuing the Certificate in Health Care Ethics through the NCBC must register as a continuing education student in the Distance Learning Program at Holy Apostles College & Seminary following the steps and procedures outlined here.

The bioethics sequence also satisfies 9 of the 12 credit course requirements for the Concentration in Bioethics in the Master of Theology Degree Program at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. Those interested in pursuing a Master in Theology degree with a concentration in bioethics must become a matriculated graduate student at Holy Apostles. More information regarding this program can be found here.

Students enrolled in Holy Apostles' Master in Theology Degree Program with a declared concentration in an area other than Catholic Bioethics are not eligible to take dual enrollment course offerings but may instead enroll in one or more of the bioethics courses not affiliated with the NCBC dual enrollment program to fulfill elective requirements.


III. Bioethics Course Sequence

The sequence of courses in the dual enrollment program is a one-year sequence that begins in September and ends in July.

  • Bioethics Course Sequence & Course Requirements for the Dual Enrollment Program

The following courses in bioethics comprise Holy Apostles' dual enrollment bioethics sequence. Students pursuing the dual enollment program must take the following bioethics courses in the sequence described below:

Course Titles Semesters Offered Credit Hours
 *Guiding Principles of Catholic Medical Ethics  Fall  3
 *Catholic Bioethics and the Dignity of the Human Person  Fall  3
 *Case Studies in Catholic Bioethics1  Spring  3
 One additional course in Bioethics  Spring  3

 * These courses comprise the Catholic bioethics sequence and must be taken in the sequence presented above.

1This course is comprised of 2 additional curricular components - the first which is two conferences (a Fall 2 day seminar and a Spring 1 day seminar), and the second of which is a final paper due in July.

NOTE: For all students, the dual enrollment bioethics courses must be taken in the sequence offered and within the same academic year.

For students interested in pursuing both NCBC certification and graduate-level college credit through Holy Apostles' continuing education tract, the courses asterisked above must be taken in the sequence offered and within the same academic year.

Students not pursuing NCBC certification but who seek to fulfill the requirements for the Concentration in Catholic Bioethics at Holy Apostles may meet this requirement by taking any of the other non-dual enrollment bioethics courses offered through Holy Apostles.

Students pursuing both NCBC certification and graduate credits for the bioethics sequence, whether as a matriculated or non-matriculated student, must attend a two-day seminar conducted at the beginning of the academic year. The two-day seminar is held at various locations throughout the United States (please visit the NCBC website at National Catholic Bioethics Center for the specific locations and dates available). Following the initial 2-day seminar, students then interact independently with Father Tad (via web-based distance learning) as they progress through the course curriculum during the one-year program of study. The program also includes an intensive one-day seminar of case studies at a location in the Philadelphia area and ends with a final paper due on July 1st.


IV. Bioethics Course Descriptions

STM 660-D Guiding Principles of Catholic Medical Ethics

Students will explore the extraordinary challenges, both medical and moral, currently facing health care in the United States. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, will be used to help acquire an overview of critical topics in Catholic medical ethics. In these revised Directives, the bishops reaffirm the Church's commitment to health care ministry and to the ethical standards of behavior that flow from the Church's teaching about the dignity of the human person. The clear formulations of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services will serve as a reference point for the content covered in subsequent courses. This course is for dual enrollment students only.

STM662-D Catholic Bioethics and the Dignity of the Human Person

Students will examine key areas of modern bioethics, and be able to articulate the major ethical concerns raised by these issues. Topic areas include assisted reproductive technologies, abortion, contraception, informed consent, euthanasia and assisted suicide, organ transplantation, and ectopic pregnancies. Students will examine areas where ethical ambiguity may still exist from the vantage point of Catholic teaching, like Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer, and be able to articulate a reasoned position and coherent approach to dealing with such questions in the practical sphere. This course is for dual enrollment students only.

STM665-D Case Studies and Applied Topics

Students will examine a number of bioethical topics and critically analyze case studies from a Roman Catholic perspective. Subject areas include research ethics, ethics committee process topics, beginning and end-of-life ethical issues, selected clinical issues, and institutional issues. The course will emphasize the application of ethical reasoning and connections with Church teaching. This course is comprised of 2 additional curricular components - the first of which is two conferences (a Fall 2-day seminar which meets at various locations and a Spring 1-day seminar which meets in Philadelphia), and the second of which is a final paper due in July. This course is for dual enrollment students only.

Holy Apostles College and Seminary also offers the following courses in Bioethics that are not part of this sequence. 

STM670-A Directed Studies in Catholic Bioethics

Specialized studies in Catholic bioethics directed to the individualized needs of the student. A paper is required. This course may be repeated by students pursuing the Master Degree in Theology with a Concentration in Bioethics for a total of six (6) graduate credits.


STM 672 Biology and Biotechnologies for Ethicists
In this course we will study the basic biological principles related to ethical issues such as in vitro fertilization and other reproductive technologies, embryonic and adult stem cells, artificial contraception, and genetic engineering. As these technologies and issues are constantly changing, we will also cover a basic grounding in the study of biology. The results of scientific studies filtered through the lens of the popular media can be inaccurate and misleading. As such, we will also practice reading and analyzing scientific journal articles, so that we are prepared to study scientific advances from their original sources. Finally, we will read key documents that evaluate related ethical issues from the standpoint of the Catholic faith.

STM 675 Theology and Biotechnology
In this course we study recent advances of biotechnology, which have undergone incredible development in the last several years while seeking to improve human health and well-being. We evaluate these advances in conjunction with the rich, ancient wisdom of the Catholic faith, whose primary purpose is to seek human happiness by drawing the human person into union with God.

STM 807 Contemporary Moral Problems
The course researches and evaluates significant moral questions confronting the Church and the world today. Included will be the study of such issues as abortion and euthanasia in their contemporary aspects, pressing issues such in social justice, issues in business, environment, and media ethics, and critical issues in sexual ethics. The study of special questions (such as capital punishment; homosexuality; drugs and addiction; ecological concerns; and war, terrorism, and torture) will provide occasion for understanding and evaluating contemporary moral methodologies.

STM 810 Bioethics

This interdisciplinary course prepares students for pastoral practice involving medical-moral questions ranging from conception to death. Issues considered include: in vitro fertilization, genetic manipulation, the aggressiveness of medical treatment, allocation of scarce medical resources, medical experimentation, abortion, euthanasia, the use of fetal tissue for therapy or experimentation, sterilization, contraception, natural family planning, and population control. Moral principles developed will include stewardship, ordinary means, totality, double effect. Problems presented by the theories of situation ethics, Kant’s ethics, relativism, consequentialism and utility will also be considered.

STP 626 Sexual Ethics
This course is an introduction to Catholic sexual ethics using the work of John Paul II. The students will examine the significant philosophical thought of Karol Wojtyla on this topic in his book, Love and Responsibility. At the same time, they will examine his mature theological thought, as pope, concerning the theology of the body, as found in his general Wednesday audiences. The professor will provide a summary of several major papal documents (e.g., Arcanum, Casti Connubii) to set his work in context. The goals of this course are to communicate the principles of Catholic sexual ethics, and for students to articulate and apply those principles to several sexual topics and to a magisterial document.

STP 640 Medical Ethics
The starting point will be the background out of which the Catholic Medical Ethics grew. Once the background of the tradition, which originated in the ancient world, is in place, the modern situation and its failure will be described and the contemporaneous need for the religious traditions to exercise their appropriate influence will be affirmed.

THL 514 Theology of the Body
The first part of this course will go through the biblical foundations for the theology of the Body as expressed in the writings of Blessed John Paul II. The second part of this course will seek to relate the Theology of the Body in the practical encounters of life, love and Marriage. This course will end by highlighting how the theology of the body as presented to us through our beautiful Catholic Tradition can enable us promote life and the institution of Marriage today, and how it will help to shape our lives hereafter. This course can be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit.


V. Admission/Registration Requirements & Deadlines

Those wishing to receive graduate-level college credit for the coursework completed in pursuit of NCBC certification in Health Care Ethics must, by August 31, submit a completed application form and the required tuition and fees (see below) to the Distance Learning Program at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. For students seeking to receive Financial Aid, this deadline is June 1.

Students pursuing certification with NCBC may matriculate into the Master of Theology Degree Program at Holy Apostles anytime during the certification program or within two (2) years following completion of the bioethics course sequence.

Those wishing to register as a matriculated student in the Master of Theology Degree Program at Holy Apostles must submit the following completed materials to Holy Apostles College & Seminary:

  • A completed and signed application form and additional documentation as listed on the DL checklist, available online here or through the Distance Learning Office.
  • Application and other fees as specified

All transcripts, additional documentation and fees must be submitted and sent directly to:

Distance Learning Office
ATTN: Bioethics
Holy Apostles College & Seminary
33 Prospect Hill Rd.
Cromwell, CT 06416-2027


IV. Tuition & Fees

The non-refundable application fee for all Holy Apostles' programs is currently $50 which is due at the time the application form is submitted.

For those seeking both certification from the NCBC and 9 graduate (continuing education) credits from Holy Apostles, current tuition for the sequence of bioethics courses is $3,780. This amount may be subject to change for upcoming semesters.

For students pursuing a Master of Theology Degree, Concentration in Bioethics, the tuition and fees can be found here.


VII. General Information About Holy Apostles' Graduate Programs

The campus of Holy Apostles College & Seminary is located in Cromwell, Connecticut. Holy Apostles offers fully accredited educational programs in strict compliance with Catholic Church teaching. The Distance Learning Program at Holy Apostles has no residency requirement.

NEASC Accreditation

Holy Apostles College and Seminary is accredited by the Connecticut Board of Governors for Higher Education, and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC), Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, a non-governmental, nationally-recognized organization whose affiliated institutions include elementary schools through collegiate institutions offering postgraduate instruction.

Accreditation of an institution by the New England Association indicates that it meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of institutional quality periodically applied through a peer group review process. An accredited school or college is one which has available the necessary resources to achieve its stated purposes through appropriate educational programs, is substantially doing so, and gives reasonable evidence that it will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Institutional integrity is also addressed through accreditation.

Accreditation by the New England Association is not partial but applies to the institution as a whole. As such, it is not a guarantee of the quality of every course or program offered, or the competence of individual graduates. Rather, it provides reasonable assurance about the quality of opportunities available to students who attend the institution.

Inquiries regarding the status of an institution's accreditation by the New England Association should be directed to the administrative staff at the College. Individuals may also contact the Association at: Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, 209 Burlington Road, Bedford, MA 01730-1433.
(Telephone: 617-271-0022)

(860) 632-3010