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Health Care Ethics (Minor)

Saint Louis University’s minor in health care ethics allows you to examine some of the ethical questions that arise in our complex health care system. You’ll discuss the definition of death, how to allocate donated organs, what is considered a disease and when to withdraw life-sustaining treatment.

All health care ethics courses are small, discussion-based classes. You’ll gain experience and a professional perspective working through actual challenges and issues faced by current health care professionals, patients and families.

Questions and topics are examined from theoretical and practical perspectives through the analysis of specific cases in medicine, nursing, public health, clinical research and the allied health professions.

This minor requires 15 credit hours and is offered through SLU’s Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics.

Highlighted Courses

Students minoring in health care ethics at SLU are required to take the HCE 2010: Foundations in Clinical Health Care Ethics.

You will then select four of the following courses:

  • HCE 3010: Ethics in Clinical Medicine
  • HCE 3030: Disability Studies: Medicine, Ethics and Policy
  • HCE 3040 Mindfulness and the Ethics of Health Care
  • HCE 3100: Public Health and Social Justice
  • HCE 3200: Freaks and the Medical Body
  • HCE 3220: Desire to Dissect
  • HCE 3300: Bioethics and Human Nature Through Film (study abroad Madrid)
  • HCE 4210: Controversies in Death and Dying
  • HCE 4220: Controversies in Reproductive and Pediatric Ethics
  • HCE 4240: Ethics and Geriatric Care (service-learning internship)
  • HCE 4250: Law and Bioethics
  • HCE 4260: Race and Research Ethics
  • HCE 4270: Controversies in Organ Procurement and Transplantation
  • HCE 4500/NURS 4814: Ethics in Nursing and Health Care (for senior nursing students only)

Students pursuing the minor must take HCE 2010: Foundations in Clinical Health Care Ethics before or at the same time as any 4000-level courses. Three of the five courses for the minor must be at the 3000 or 4000 level.

Students may also take one course outside of the center, selected from the following list:

  • PHIL 2055/2050: Ethics
  • PHIL 3360: Medical Ethics
  • THEO 2510: Christian Ethics
  • ENGL 3730: Introduction to Medical Humanities
  • ENGL 3740: Medicine and Literature
Recommendations for Bachelor of Nursing Students

Year 1:

  • HCE 2010: Foundations in Health Care Ethics

Year 2 (Spring):

To count both for the minor and for the School of Nursing required 2000- or 3000-level literature course, the course options would be either:

  • ENGL 3730: Introduction to Medical Humanities, or
  • ENGL 3740: Medicine and Literature

Year 4 (Fall):

  • Two HCE 3000-level courses or HCE 4000-level courses (These two courses will count as the required general education electives required for the BSN.)

Year 4 (Spring):

  • HCE 4500/NURS 4814: Ethics in Nursing and Health Care (entirely online) (NURS 4814 counts as a nursing elective. This course sometimes is offered both in the fall and spring.)

Note that taking a required course, such as "Introduction to Philosophy" or "Introduction to Sociology," during the summer can make room in your schedule for a health care ethics course.

Internships and Careers

SLU’s minor in health care ethics complements a variety of health care fields, including nursing, public health, clinical research and the allied health professions.

It is also a good option for pre-med students, as class discussions are excellent preparation for medical school interviews and the MCAT, which has begun to include more ethical analysis questions.


Faculty in SLU’s Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics are nationally recognized scholars who are actively engaged in research, teaching and service in health care ethics. They hold the highest degrees attainable in the fields of law, medicine, philosophy, psychology and religion.

Study Abroad

Three Weeks Abroad

The Center for Health Care Ethics offers summer intensive courseson SLU's campus in Madrid, Spain, and in Ireland.

HCE 3300: Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Bioethics Through Film offers students the opportunity to spend three weeks in Spain exploring how medicine and biotechnology challenge definitions and conceptualizations of being human. The course and all films are presented in English.

Students who take HCE 3020: Foundations in Catholic Health Care Ethics spend three intensive weeks in Ireland examining ethical issues in health care through the lens of Catholic moral thought.