The Catholic Clinical Ethics Master of Arts program prepares leadership at Catholic healthcare institutions to address complex social and ethical issues in healthcare, clinical treatment, genetics, biotechnology, and policy within the framework of the Catholic moral tradition and teaching. The Catholic healthcare system is projected to lose approximately 70.6% of its ethicists over the next few years, creating an urgent need to train ethicists. Developed in conversation with the Catholic Health Association, the Catholic Clinical Ethics program produces graduates trained in the Catholic tradition of ethical reasoning on medicine and health and ready to step into Catholic healthcare systems. As a joint program between the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America and the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University, students are given access to faculty, staff, and academic and career resources at both institutions. Students may pursue this degree either full- or part-time.

Theology student

Application Requirements

  • 4-year Bachelor’s degree
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Official transcripts
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Writing sample
  • TOEFL or IELTS (for applicants from non-English speaking institutions)
  • Admission term: Fall or Spring
  • Normally an applicant's prior academic background will have been in theology, philosophy, nursing, medicine, or other appropriate foundational area. Students with other academic or clinical backgrounds, however, will be considered if they demonstrate strong academic promise.


  • Students must complete 30 hours of coursework. All of the coursework is online, except for the summer intensive practicum.
  • The coursework includes six core courses (16 credits), in which students develop a strong foundation in Catholic moral theology and the ability to apply philosophical and medical principles to concrete cases. Topics covered include healthcare as a vocation, philosophy of medicine, cultural and religious sensitivities, pain/palliative care, mental health, reproductive ethics, big data, neuroethics, organizational ethics, justice and health, Christian anthropology (or, moral anthropology), clinical ethics and the law. Core courses are offered during weekday evenings.
  • Students take three electives (9 credits), which offer students the opportunity to tailor the program toward their interests on particular bioethical issues relevant to modern healthcare.
  • Students will also complete portfolio and capstone projects (2 credits). A typical portfolio will consist of all the student’s reflective writing assignments completed during the program, accompanied by a synopsis of the included work, written in light of knowledge gained in coursework and prior learning experiences. In addition to the portfolio, each M.A. student will write a capstone research paper focused on an issue chosen by the student and an instructor. This paper will provide additional evidence of the student’s ability to investigate, evaluate, and provide recommended action to address a selected issue in clinical ethics.
  • The summer practicum will include asynchronous and synchronous preparations for mediation and consult skills. It will conclude with a multi-day onsite component. While staying at Catholic University, students will be exposed to the spirituality that undergirds Catholic clinical ethics and will engage in discussions of Catholic spiritual and sacramental practices as they relate to medical care. At Georgetown University Medical Center Department of Medicine, students will engage in simulated case consultations.

To Learn More

For questions, please email David Miller, the program coordinator, at, or Paul Scherz, the program’s co-chair, at