The Georgetown Difference

Dedicated to preparing leaders to address the clinical and moral implications of complex changes in biotechnology and clinical treatments.

Unique Program Features

A Collaboration

The School of Theology & Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America, the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University Medical Center, and The Catholic Health Association of America have partnered together to develop the Certificate and Master of Arts programs in Catholic Clinical Ethics. Students are taught by experts and have resources from both universities.

Preparing Leaders

The Catholic Clinical Ethics programs prepare leadership at Catholic healthcare institutions to address complex social and bioethical issues in healthcare, clinical treatment, genetics, biotechnology, and policy within the framework of the Catholic moral tradition and teaching.

Clinical & Moral Implications

The Catholic Clinical Ethics program addresses both the clinical and moral implications of these issues across the broad spectrum of patient care, access, health management, ethical decision-making and policy development from a distinctly Catholic perspective.



There are 649 Catholic hospitals and 1,614 Catholic continuing care facilities throughout the US.

Catholic Health Association, 2017; 2015 American Hospital Association Annual Survey



There is an urgent need for more trained ethicists, as Catholic health care systems could lose approximately 70.6% of its ethicists over the next few years.

Hamel, 2015; 2009

Why the Catholic Clinical Ethics Programs?

Healthcare in the United States faces numerous challenges in identifying, delineating and achieving goals regarding the promotion of health and the treatment of disease for all Americans. These challenges range from conceptual, technological, to financial and raise ethical issues. Addressing these bioethical issues well in the institutions that are directly involved with providing healthcare will require education and training deeply rooted in an ethical framework. The framework provides practitioners with the ethical reasoning skills and knowledge of medical moral terrain necessary to engage the complexities of current healthcare challenges and to propose solutions or trajectories that will address the needs and goals of all stakeholders in a given situation—be it a health system policy decision or an individual medical ethics case.

In the U.S., over 15 % of all healthcare institutions identify themselves as rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition and are guided by Catholic medical moral theology in all their healthcare policies and decisions. These institutions require individuals educated in Catholic medical moral theology and trained in ethical reasoning to provide leadership and guidance that meets the goals and standards of Catholic healthcare across the entire spectrum of healthcare ethical challenges cited above.

The individuals are needed at all levels within Catholic healthcare systems, from members and chairs of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and hospital ethics committees to system-wide vice presidents of Mission or Ethics.  As the pre-eminent Catholic medical research institution in the United States, Georgetown University is uniquely positioned to provide an educational program that can educate and train individuals to meet this specific need — and as a Jesuit institution, has a great obligation to do so.  Our commitment to meeting this need is bolstered by a partnership with the Catholic University of America, which provides our program with a deep engagement with the Catholic theological tradition.