Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Loyola Launches Doctorate Degree Program in Bioethics

Program is the only one in the United States largely taught over the Internet

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Classes have begun for Loyola University Chicago's new online doctorate degree program in bioethics, designed to provide advanced training in the ethical issues surrounding the complexities of modern medical research and clinical care.

The program is taught by the faculty of Loyola's Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics & Health Policy, part of the Stritch School of Medicine, which is located on the campus of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. Faculty members all have extensive experience in clinical ethics and are experts in a variety of disciplines including medicine, law, canon law, medical humanities, philosophy and public health theology and policy.

"The program is unique in the United States in that it is the only program of its kind that will be delivered to students primarily online," said Kayhan Parsi, Ph.D, director of the online graduate program in bioethics. "It provides students a lot of convenience and flexibility. They don't have to come to a classroom every day or once a week."

The doctorate program builds upon Loyola's popular online master's degree program in bioethics, which has been successful in attracting mid-career health professionals, physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and others worldwide who are passionate about the study of bioethics.

"Some of those people were interested in furthering their education so we thought that it would make a lot of sense to develop a doctoral program," said Parsi, who is also an associate professor of bioethics & health policy at the Stritch School of Medicine.

Graduates will receive advanced training in the skills needed to analyze ethical situations in applicable areas such as health care, public health, pastoral care, patient advocacy, medical social work, medical research, the insurance industry and the legal field. These skills include the ability to identify ethical dilemmas, to create and scrutinize policies and practices in various settings and to think and write critically about these issues.

The program is ideal for physicians, attorneys, clergy, journalists and others who want to bring a unique set of skills back to their workplaces, to start a new career or to supplement joint degrees. Graduates can go on to chair hospital ethics committees, be members of institutional review boards, serve as advisors to corporations and in any other capacity in which bioethics are an issue.

"We're looking for people who are going to be potential leaders in bioethics, clinical ethics and medical ethics," Parsi said.

The doctorate program consists of 57 hours of course credit (nine required courses and 10 electives). The degree requires 27 hours of additional course credits needed to earn a typical master's degree program in bioethics. Students are able to concentrate on Catholic bioethics, clinical ethics or organizational ethics.

A qualifying exam will be required with an oral defense and a capstone project. Graduates will earn a professional doctorate, not a doctorate of philosophy, said Mark Kuczewski, Ph.D., director of Neiswanger.

"The program provides an opportunity for individuals to pursue doctorate studies in bioethics in a form that is better suited to doing ethics in organizations concerned with health care than a traditional research-oriented doctoral program," said Kuczewski, who is also the Father Michael I. English, S.J., Professor of Medical Ethics at Stritch.

Applicants must have already earned a master's degree in bioethics and have a strong academic record and strong recommendations letters. Though not required, having already been published in the academic literature will be a strong aid in any admission decision.

For more information on tuition and fees, go to

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.