Mission Statement

The MA in Bioethics (MA/BE) equips students to analyze bioethical issues in health care and biotechnology and to engage bioethical challenges in relevant contexts.

Program Outcomes:

Students graduating with a Master of Arts degree in Bioethics will be able to:

  • address issues in bioethics with culturally sensitive biblical and theological frameworks
  • understand current and emerging bioethical issues in healthcare and biotechnology
  • discern the differences among competing contemporary approaches to ethics and bioethics
  • engage bioethical challenges in public policy, clinical healthcare, and biomedical research contexts
  • think integratively and see beyond individual bioethical issues to deeper questions that underlie the bioethics field as a whole

Program Objectives

Students graduating from the MA/BE program will be able to:

  • Understand the current and emerging bioethical issues in health care and biotechnology
  • Discern the differences among competing contemporary approaches to ethics and bioethics
  • Engage bioethical challenges in clinical health care and public policy contexts
  • Employ culturally-sensitive biblical and theological frameworks for addressing issues in bioethics
  • Think integratively, seeing beyond individual bioethical issues to deeper questions that underlie the bioethics field as a whole

The MA in Bioethics (MA/BE) is designed with various groups of students in mind, including those who are presently--or aspire to be--physicians, nurses, and other health care workers; lawyers; people with political, public policy, social service, and ministry interests in pro-life and related areas; teachers in related university, college or high school fields; and those involved in educating and engaging various constituencies through nonprofit organizations. The program is particularly well suited for those with professional or other responsibilities who need a flexible 30-semester-hour program. There is also a multiple masters degree option for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School students and for Trinity Graduate School students, as well as a dual degree option for Trinity College undergraduates. By enrolling in online courses, mentored and independent study work, and as few as two several-day campus courses, the program can be completed without relocating near the Deerfield, Illinois campus. Alternatively, a complete on-campus program is also available.

Program of Study

Common Core Courses6
BE 5001Foundations for Integrative Thought in Bioethics3
BE 5002Foundations for Cultural Engagement in Bioethics3
Required Courses15
BE 5000Introduction to Bioethics: Matters of Life and Dignity3
or BE 5100 Intensive Bioethics Institute
BE 5200Research Ethics2
BE 6500Advanced Bioethics Institute 13-4
PR 7220Ethical Theory3
BE 5300Clinical Issues in Bioethics 22
BE 5500Bioethics and Public Policy 22
Bioethics Capstone
Select one of the following:0-4
BE 7476Bioethics Capstone Exam0
BE 7478Bioethics Capstone Project0-3
BE 7480Bioethics Capstone Integrative or Major Paper0-3
BE 7485MA Thesis 30-4
ID 6910Research Methods (required with Thesis) 31
Bioethics Electives5-9
Students choose 5-9 hours from any of the courses listed below, depending on how many hours they earn for their capstone. Students should consult with an academic advisor in planning their individual programs of study.
BE 5299The Clinical Context 21
BE 5400Nursing Ethics2
BE 5499The Public Policy Context 21
BE 5600Law and Bioethics2
BE 5700The Right to Life & the Law2
BE 5800Bioethics Regional Conference2-3
BE 5900Bioethics National Conference2-3
BE 6100Bioethics Colloquium1-2
BE 6300Bioethics, Human Dignity, and the Church2-3
BE 6400Readings in Bioethics2-3
BE 6500Advanced Bioethics Institute 13-4
BE 6600Classic Cases in Bioethics3
BE 6700Personhood in Theological & Philosophical Perspective3
BE 6800Global Health and Justice2-3
BE 7300Advanced Clinical Ethics1-3
BE 7700Bioethics Seminar1-4
Total Hours30

3 hours fulfill requirement; 4th hour is elective.


Students relatively unfamiliar with clinical-medical and/or public policy settings should take the background courses BE 5299 and/or BE 5499. These courses can count for elective credit.


BE 7485 requires ID 6910, a research methods course, as a prerequisite.

Required Capstone Experience (0-4 hours)

Preparation for work in the field of bioethics should include at least one endeavor that is not merely focused on a particular bioethical issue but is integrative in nature, encompassing multiple issues. The capstone course can involve taking a comprehensive exam in which broad essay questions allow the student to demonstrate a grasp of the field as a whole. Or it can involve writing an integrative paper, or developing a special project such as a bioethics curriculum, a sermon/talk series, or a written reflection on a clinical, public policy, or other bioethics-related internship experience. The paper or project can be done to fulfill an assignment in a non-capstone course, in which case the student registers for a 0-hour capstone course in the same semester as the other course. Alternatively, students may write a formal master’s-level thesis after obtaining approval and instructions from the Bioethics Program Director.

However students choose to meet the capstone experience requirement, those not doing a thesis must register for course credit under one of the following course numbers: BE 7476; BE 7478; or BE 7480. Students should register for BE 7476, BE 7478, BE 7480 in the semester they intend to start the project or paper or take the comprehensive exam. Students making progress toward completion of a capstone (other than the comprehensive examination) but unable to finish in a single semester, can apply for a capstone extension. They must then register for BE 7486. A capstone extension fee will be assessed.

The capstone experience must be completed subsequent to candidacy and is supervised by a faculty member. (A list of approved faculty members is available in the Records Office and on MyTIU.) An Independent Study & Capstone Registration form (available on MyTIU) must be completed to register for all capstone and guided research (BE 7501) courses. All capstones involving research with human subjects must be approved by the TIU IRB prior to the beginning of that research, with the application for approval due by the end of the semester that precedes the semester in which the research is to take place.

Course Sequencing

Either BE 5000 or BE 5100 must be taken before BE 6500. When the elective BE 7300 is offered, only those who have clinical/medical experience (or permission from the professor) and have completed BE 5300 can take it. It is recommended that the four foundational courses—BE 5001, BE 5002, PR 7220, and either BE 5000 or BE 5100—be taken before other bioethics courses. Professors teaching other bioethics courses will assume that all students in those courses either will have taken these four courses or will at least have read a relevant text for each of those courses not yet taken. A list of relevant texts for these courses may be found in the TGS Bioethics Department section of MyTIU.

Trinity provides the opportunity for students to earn multiple masters degrees without substantially lengthening their stay.  Multiple Masters options include:

Bachelor of Arts/Master of Arts in Bioethics

Trinity Graduate School and Trinity College offer a dual Bachelor of Arts/Master of Arts Degree that pairs an MA in Bioethics with an undergraduate degree in any major. This opportunity is open to qualified students in any undergraduate major but may have special appeal for students with the following majors or interests: premedical, pre-health, psychology, philosophy, law, public policy, communications, theology, business, Christian ministries, and education.

In this program, an undergraduate student may earn a graduate degree as early as the summer following the senior year by taking graduate-level courses beginning the junior year. Nine hours of coursework from the MA count toward the BA. These 9 overlapping hours are taken as part of the undergraduate load. (See the dual degree curriculum) Students begin graduate coursework in the summer after their junior year, so it's possible for them to complete both the BA and the MA as early as the following summer.

Qualified applicants must have a minimum cumulative Trinity GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, 70 hours of undergraduate coursework, and a positive recommendation from their academic advisor. Students may apply for acceptance to the Dual Degree program through Trinity Graduate School. Transfer students may apply to the program if they have 70 hours of undergraduate coursework, a positive recommendation from a former professor or their academic advisor, a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all transferred college work, and a minimum cumulative Trinity GPA of 3.0. Students interested in the dual degree are advised to notify their advisor(s) and the dual degree program advisor as early as possible to allow for expedient course planning and to assure that overlapping course requirements can be planned and scheduled.

Model Curricular Plan for the Dual Degree

 The following is a sample course plan for the dual degree. Plans may vary for individual students. Students are expected to consult with their undergraduate and graduate advisors to make individual adjustments to the curricular plan as necessary.

Recommended undergraduate courses to be completed before starting the MA coursework:

BI 101Understanding the Old Testament 13
or BI 111 Understanding the New Testament
BI 210Biblical Interpretation3
PH 180Introduction to Philosophy3
BIO 111General Biology4
or BIO 103 Introductory Biology
Other general education courses and required major courses

Note: ID 5001 substitutes for one of these courses

Undergraduate general education requirements that will be fulfilled by graduate-level courses and need not be duplicated with undergraduate work

  • BI 101 or BI 111: ID 5001 replaces either BI 101 or BI 111 in general education category Foundations of Christian Thinking and Living.
  • Religious and Ethnic Diversity: ID 5002 replaces one course in the Religious and Ethnic Diversity subcategory under Foundations of Cultural and Global Perspective.
  • Any approved undergraduate major, general education, or elective course: (3 hours) of graduate credit can replace 3 hours of undergraduate credit. Students should check with advisors to determine if there are courses in their major that can be replaced with graduate coursework.

Students should note that BE courses are offered in several formats: traditional (15 week), modular (meets two weekends in a semester), online, summer conference associated courses, and independent study courses.

At least two courses must be taken in residency at the Deerfield, IL campus:

BE 5100Intensive Bioethics Institute3
BE 6500Advanced Bioethics Institute3-4

BE 5100 and BE 6500 are offered during the summer at the time of the annual National Bioethics Conference on the Deerfield campus. BE 5100 can be replaced by BE 5000 – a 15-week course offered in the fall semester on the Deerfield campus.

Each spring semester, students are invited to participate in a series of three evening bioethics colloquia. The Bioethics Colloquium course (BE 6100) can also be taken for elective credit toward the MA in Bioethics.

Service Learning Requirement

Students can fulfill Trinity College’s Service Learning requirement by working with The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity during the summer National Bioethics Conference, with optional free attendance at the conference in the summers following the freshman and sophomore years.

Application to the Dual Degree Program

Upon completion of 70 hours with a 3.0 GPA, students must submit an application and letter of recommendation to Trinity Graduate School Admissions to be accepted into the Dual Degree program.

First Summer
BE 5100Intensive Bioethics Institute3
BE 5900Bioethics National Conference (elective)2-3
Fall Semester
BE 5001Foundations for Integrative Thought in Bioethics3
BE 5002Foundations for Cultural Engagement in Bioethics3
BE 5200Research Ethics2
PR 7220Ethical Theory3
Spring Semester
BE 5299The Clinical Context (optional) 11
BE 5300Clinical Issues in Bioethics2
BE 5499The Public Policy Context (optional) 11
BE 5500Bioethics and Public Policy2
Second Summer
BE 5900Bioethics National Conference2-3
BE 6500Advanced Bioethics Institute3-4
(0-4 hours of the following)
BE 7476Bioethics Capstone Exam0
BE 7478Bioethics Capstone Project0-3
BE 7480Bioethics Capstone Integrative or Major Paper0-3
BE 7485MA Thesis 20-4
Total Hours30

Students relatively unfamiliar with clinical-medical and/or public policy settings will need to use one or two of their elective hours in order to take the background courses BE 5299 and/or BE 5499 either concurrently or during the previous semester.


BE 7485 requires ID 6910, a research methods course, as a prerequisite.

Fall and Spring Graduate Coursework

Complete course requirements for general education and major. A full academic course load must include at least 12 hours of combined graduate and undergraduate courses per semester.