Theological Ethics

Theological Ethics includes the ecumenical study of major Roman Catholic and Protestant ethicists and attends to the Biblical foundations and theological contexts of ethics. Proceeding from the conviction that faith and reason are complementary, the program explores the contributions of philosophical thought, both past and present. It includes a strong social ethics component as well as offerings in applied ethics. The exploration of contemporary ethics is set in a critical, historical perspective and encourages attention to the global and multicultural character of the Christian community.

Theological Ethics Faculty

Area Admissions Requirements

  • A master’s degree in theology or a related academic discipline.

Coursework Requirements

  • A minimum of 12 courses

Language Requirements

  • A minimum of two foreign languages. One of them must be a modern language

The written comprehensive exams focus on:

  • Theological ethics and doctrinal traditions (2 hours)
  • Theological ethics and philosophical traditions (2 hours)
  • Major writings in theological ethics (2 hours)
  • Practical ethics and global Christianity (2 hours)
  • Special topic in theological ethics (2 hours)
  • Minor (2 hours)

An oral examination follows the six written examinations.

All Ph.D. students in theological ethics are required to take a minor exam in one of the other theological disciplines offered in the department.

Theological Ethics Minor

The purpose of the ethics minor is to enable graduate students from other theological or scholarly disciplines to gain a basic familiarity with some of the fundamental themes, styles of arguments, major figures, and particular schools of thought characteristic of theological ethics, both past and present.

Coursework requirements

  • Three Ethics courses in the Theology Department, from at least two different professors

Comprehensive Examination requirements

  • For the comprehensive examination, the student will submit for approval by the area faculty two reading lists. The first will be a list of 6 items, distributed among sections 3 and 4 of the area’s doctoral comprehensive bibliography. Students may choose two additional authors besides those listed in sections 3 and 4. The student is requested to identify one or two questions or themes that unite their study of the chosen authors (or subgroups of authors). The exam question will focus on the theme or themes.

  • In addition, the student will submit a second reading list of 8-10 items pertaining to a contemporary ethical topic. The exam topic for the minor is meant to show that the student can move beyond theory, but the topic should be general enough that it is not simply a specific case or the study of a lone individual. So, for example, climate change not ecology; but climate change not a specific policy strategy regarding greenhouse emissions. Or, the just war tradition not the ethics of war and peace; but the just war tradition and not Augustine's ethics of war.

  • Both reading lists will be approved by the advisor, who shall send them to the convener for the Theological Ethics area, to be circulated for comment and approval by the Theological Ethics faculty.

  • Exam questions will be formulated from both lists and presented as parts A and B of the exam. The exam will last two hours. The student should outline or sketch some ideas related to the question for part A, giving an indication of their significance and connection (i.e., not just names of topics). Use less than one hour to do so. These ideas can be discussed during the oral exam. Answer question B as fully as you have time to do.

Ph.D. in Theological Ethics: Catholic Health Care track

Within its Ph.D. program in Theological Ethics the Boston College Theology Department offers the possibility of a track focused on Catholic Health Care. The purpose of the track is to integrate the comprehensive theological training that characterizes the Ph.D. program in Theological Ethics with two focused internships that will empower students by providing them with expertise regarding health care practices in Catholic health care facilities (both a long-term care facility and an acute care hospital).

The Catholic Health Care track neither duplicates nor is in alternative to current programs in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). CPE programs are offered by healthcare facilities to master candidates interested in providing ministry in health care settings.

The Catholic Health Care track of the Ph.D. program in Theological Ethics is offered in consultation with the Catholic Health Association.

Catholic Health Care Track Details