Graduate Certificate in Catholic Bioethics

“A particularly crucial battleground in today's cultural struggle between the supremacy of technology and human moral responsibility is the field of bioethics, where the very possibility of integral human development is radically called into question.”

- Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 74


Offered by way of a unique collaboration between the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) and St. Bernard’s, the GCCB provides a dynamic introduction to contemporary bioethics from a distinctively Catholic perspective, with a focus given to the theological and philosophical principles underlying Church teaching and their practical application to real-life pastoral, academic, and health care situations.

This 15-credit Graduate Certificate is comprised of earning the NCBC Certificate Program in Health Care Ethics valued at 9 credits, followed by two 3-credit graduate courses earned at St. Bernard’s. The St. Bernard’s courses delve deeper into the bioethical topics presented in the NCBC program, and also introduce new ones, including those making breaking news. Once attained, the Graduate Certificate may be applied towards a Master’s Degree at St. Bernard’s or other accepting institutions.

The GCCB program is designed for leaders and ministers within the Church, health care professionals, pro-life leaders, Catholic school teachers, catechists, and anyone who wishes to become more deeply formed by the Church’s moral teachings and their application to current bioethical, medical, and health care issues. It will be of particular benefit to students considering further graduate studies or those seeking a deeper grounding in Catholic bioethical teaching.

This Graduate Certificate is designed to be accessible to students across the country (and around the world!) through an approach to distance education that features streamlined technology, engaging professors and expert guest lecturers.

Courses and Requirements

  • The National Catholic Bioethics Center Certification Program in Health Care Ethics
    The NCBC Certification Program (https://www.ncbcenter.org/certification-program) offers a systematic formation and certification in bioethics so that dioceses, hospitals, and ethics committees will have advisors better qualified to apply the Catholic moral tradition to challenging contemporary issues in health care. St. Bernard’s extends this opportunity by offering 9 graduate credits to those completing the NCBC Certification Program and 6 credits for bioethics coursework done through St. Bernard’s. The completed 15 units comprise the Graduate Certificate in Catholic Bioethics. (9 Credits Advanced Standing).
  • C/D333 – Catholic Bioethics at the Beginning of Life
    This course commences with a biological study of the beginnings of human life, leading to discussions of abortion, artificial contraception, natural family planning, NaPRO Technology, in vitro fertilization, gamete donation, surrogate pregnancy, fetal research, and other related topics. Topics are grounded in a broader discussion of the history of Catholic health care and fundamental Church teaching on human dignity, moral status, the human act, conscience, theology of the body, and the common good. Secular bioethical frameworks and arguments are examined. Issues are considered in a highly practical light, with emphasis given to real-world applications in pastoral, academic, and health care settings. (3 credits, Fall Semester)
  • C/D334 – Catholic Bioethics at the End of Life
    This course examines a range of issues and controversies, from the determination of death itself, to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, advance directives, hospice and palliative care options, organ donation, extra/ordinary care, and artificial nutrition and hydration. Topics are grounded in a broader discussion of Church views on suffering and death. Additional cutting-edge bioethical issues such as gender dysphoria, artificial wombs, CRISPR gene editing, and COVID-related ethics, are considered, alongside classic landmark ethical cases, and helpful narratives from the rich history of Catholic health care. Secular bioethical frameworks and arguments are examined. Issues are considered in a highly practical light, with emphasis given to real-world applications in pastoral, academic, and health care settings. (3 credits, Spring Semester)

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