Bioethics Program (M.A. In Bioethics)
The Ethics program has been created to prepare students to engage in education, research, and service related to current ethical issues in health care. Typically, this degree is an excellent pathway to graduate work at the doctoral level, or is a skill set to complement health care careers or other professions such as clinical ethics, theology, law, counseling, and education.
Throughout the program you will explore historic traditions of ethical thought, gain skill in a clinical setting, and develop critical thinking skills for applying theory and values to contemporary, moral, and social issues.
Your professors represent areas of expertise such as biblical scholarship, bioethics, sociology of religion, and ethical theory. In addition, clinical faculty from across all health care professions are involved in the program. This diversity of specialists provides you with a rich and balanced program of study.
Ethical issues in health care are explored from a Christian perspective at Loma Linda University. Students from over 65 religions and 80 countries study here. A mutual and shared respect for various cultures and beliefs is emphasized on the campus and in the classroom. Small class sizes allow for specified instruction and personal growth.
The Ethics Program draws upon resources from across the entire Loma Linda University campus. Additionally, two academic centers—the Center for Christian Bioethics and the Center for Spiritual Life and Wholeness—along with the many health care clinics associated with the medical and dental schools, provide a rich context in which to study bioethics.
The Center for Christian Bioethics is dedicated to enhancing education, research, and service in Christian biomedical ethics and related fields at Loma Linda University; to contribute through scholarly activities to the discipline; and to serve as a resource for the community at large—and the Seventh-day Adventist world church—in the field of biomedical ethics. The Center sponsors a number of programs to provide additional exposure and experience in dealing with current issues in bioethics. Among them:
- Health and Faith Forum, a monthly lecture series where current issues affecting health care professionals and the industry are discussed.
- The Jack W. Provonsha Lecture Series, presented each year during winter quarter, where pertinent ethical issues for both patients and health care professionals are addressed such as physician-assisted suicide, the moral status of the human embryo, and most recently ethical issues in health care disparities.
- Case Conferences, held weekly to discuss the current ethics consultations that have been requested in the Loma Linda University Medical Center. These conferences allow the opportunity to review the difficult dilemmas and decisions that take place for patients, their families, physicians, staff and administration.
- “Claritas, Clarity in Ethics” essay contest, which is open to all university students who compete by writing on a pre-selected topic. Students with the best essays are invited to present them at the Center’s annual Contributors Convocation; students receiving first and second place receive scholarship money.
- Update, a journal/newsletter created to inform and educate students and staff about the activities and accomplishments of those associated with the Center.
The Thompson Library, housed within the Center for Christian Bioethics—endowed and constantly growing, with more than 4,500 volumes—is one of the most comprehensive libraries of materials in biomedical and clinical ethics in the United States. These materials, which are an especially valuable resource for graduate students, supplement the related holdings in the primary libraries of Loma Linda University and nearby institutions.
A desirable component of the Bioethics program is the ability to accommodate LLU students enrolled in other programs who wish to gain additional skills. Students in the following programs are eligible to apply for admission to the Bioethics program concurrently or at any time while enrolled in their primary program: Dentistry (DDS), Medicine (MD), Psychology (PsyD or PhD), Social Policy and Social Research (PhD), Nursing (MS), and Marital and Family Therapy (MS).
Graduates of the Bioethics program will be able to demonstrate:
- A broad knowledge of the field of bioethics.
- Mastery of at least one area of bioethical enquiry.
- Research and writing skills of a caliber to contribute to bioethical literature.
- An understanding of the relationship between personal, professional, and social ethics.
Course of Study
The MA in Bioethics degree requires 48 units of coursework consisting of 11 courses of 4 units each, and culminates in two 2-unit capstone courses, Masters Seminar I & II. One of the Masters Seminars focuses on comprehensive knowledge and the other on a publishable paper. Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.3 or above.
Five courses are required of all students:
- RELE 524 Bioethics and Society
- RELE 588 Philosophical Resources for Bioethics
- RELE 589 Bible, Theology, and Bioethics
- RELE 598 Masters Seminar – I
- RELE 599 Masters Seminar – II
Six courses (Selectives) should be selected from the following options:
- RELG 504 Research Methods
- RELE 525 Ethics for Scientists
- RELE 534 Ethical Issues in Public Health
- RELE 548 Christian Social Ethics
- RELE 554 Clinical Ethics Practicum I
- RELE 555 Clinical Ethics Practicum II
- RELE 564 Ethics and Health Disparities
- RELE 565 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Moral Aspects of Art and Illness
- RELE 566 Heroes of Health Care
- RELE 567 World Religions and Bioethics
- RELE 568 Bioethics and the Law
- RELG 674 Reading Tutorial
- RELG 697 Independent Research
Two other courses are electives, and may be focused in an area of concentration or utilized for gaining more breadth. These courses should be decided in consultation with the student’s advisor, and may be other courses in Bioethics or another area of study within theSchool of Religion, courses in other LLU schools, or courses relevant to one’s interest and found in area universities.
After completing all foundational courses, students in the Bioethics Program will take two academic quarters of Clinical Ethics. This will consist of:
- Seminars focused on ethical issues encountered at the bedside
- Ethics rounds on one or more patient units at Loma Linda University Medical Center
- Writing clinical ethics consultation reports based on past cases
- Attendance at and participation in a weekly Clinical Ethics Case Conference where the actual ethics consults being done at LLUMC are reviewed in detail.
This capstone seminar reflects on previous class work and involves integration of conceptual presuppositions, ethical theories, and ethical principles. Mastery of a broad knowledge of the field through an examination will be assessed by the bioethics faculty. (All program faculty and students are invited to attend sessions of these two seminars as they choose.)
Each student enters class with a research paper, likely prepared in an earlier course. With collegial critique, these papers are prepared for publication and submitted to at least one peer-review journal. Papers demonstrate the ability to identify an issue, analyze it, use relevant literature, and creatively conceptualize or even advance the discussion. Papers are usually 20-25 pages long. (All program faculty and students are invited to attend sessions of these two seminars as they choose.)
Students may transfer approved graduate-level courses from other accredited institutions, up to 20% of the total required units for any LLU degree program. Prior or current students in Loma Linda University's other post baccalaureate degree programs may petition to receive credit for a maximum of 12 units for courses completed in their professional studies that are directly related to biomedical and clinical ethics.
Bioethics – Certificate Program
A Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Bioethics is an option for students who prefer not to complete the full M.A. degree program. Students must complete 28 units of course work. However, there are no additional requirements.