Master of Arts in Theology

The Master of Arts (MA) in Theology is an academic degree for seminarians of superior academic ability who show the capacity for research and writing that may lead in the future to teaching, administration, or further studies. The MA degree is distinct in purpose from the Master of Divinity degree, which is a professional degree oriented to ministry.

Matthew Dal Santo, Ph.D.

Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Theology Program

Matthew Dal Santo is a Church historian. Originally trained as a medievalist and patrologist, he has shifted his focus to the problem of secularization in recent years. He is currently working on a theological reading of the Russian Revolution.

Program Goals

  • Build a body of scholars who can apply the content of graduate-level theology to contemporary ministerial settings;
  • Develop priests who are teachers;
  • Enhance the vocational experience of seminarians who choose to pursue the MA in Theology.

Application for Admission

Seminarians may apply for admission midway through the spring semester of First Year Theology at the earliest or by the midway point of Third Year Theology at the latest. All documentation should be submitted to the Registrar.

Prerequisites for Admission

  • BA or BS, with a GPA of 3.0 or above, and a 3.0 GPA in the regular seminary program.
  • Twelve undergraduate level hours of theology or religious studies, having earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 for these 12 hours.
  • Twelve undergraduate level hours of philosophy from among the following topics, having earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 for these 12 hours: the History of Philosophy, Epistemology, Metaphysics/Philosophy of Being, Ethics/Philosophy of Morality, Philosophy of Nature/Human Person, Philosophy of God.
  • One letter of recommendation speaking to the applicant’s aptitude for academic work, particularly research and writing skills. The letter must be submitted by a member of the faculty at St. Patrick’s Seminary & University.
  • One letter of recommendation from the student’s Formation Advisor ascertaining whether the applicant is capable of completing the program without detriment to his overall priestly formation.
  • Personal statement explaining applicant’s interest.
  • A sample of the applicant’s academic writing (6-page minimum).
  • International students must take the TOEFL: minimum score of 550, paper-based exam; 215, computer-based exam; 80, internet-based.

Student Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the program the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a general and integrated foundational knowledge in Sacred Scripture, Dogmatic Theology, and Moral Theology.
  • Conduct graduate-level theological research by assessing theological texts and materials critically.
  • Use theological texts in a language other than English.
  • Communicate the results of scholarship through a public presentation and an oral defense of theological research.

Program Requirements

The MA program consists of 36 total academic credits. Of these 36 credits, 30 credits of coursework are required. Five courses totaling 12 credits are designated as M.A. Theological Core Courses (see below). A one credit Theological Research and Writing course is also required. The remaining 17 credits of coursework are taken from 4000-9000 level courses in Sacred Scripture, Dogmatic Theology including Liturgical and Church History, and Moral Theology. Additionally, 6 credits are granted for the writing and oral defense of a full-length thesis.

Theological Core Courses (12 credits)

  • SD-4124: Patristics (2)
  • SS-5218: Matthew-Mark (2 credits)
  • SS-5217: Luke-Acts (2 credits)
  • SD-5213: Christology/Soteriology (3 credits)
  • MT-7305: Bioethics (3 credits)

These five Theological Core Courses are not included in the MDiv program curriculum. Students must earn a minimum numerical grade of 85 in all five courses.

Thesis Writing and Oral Defense (6 credits)

Students are required to complete a thesis with a minimum of 60 pages but not to exceed 80 pages in length (not including title page, table of contents, nor bibliography) under the direction of a faculty member, as well as orally defend the thesis before a board of two: the thesis director and one reader. 

Theological Research & Writing (1 credit)

Students must complete a one credit course in graduate theological research and writing. This course should be taken within the first two years of enrollment in the degree program.

Student Designated Courses (17 credits) to be done in consultation with the MA Program Director and reported to the Registrar

Courses transferable from the MDiv program should include a minimum of 3 credits from each Department (Sacred Scripture, Dogmatic Theology, and Moral Theology). The student must achieve at least a B in these courses for successful completion of the requirement.

Transfer Credits

  • For those students earning MA and MDiv degrees concurrently, up to 17 credits may be transferred from the MDiv program to the MA program (excluding Pastoral Studies courses).
  • MA students can transfer up to 12 credits of graduate-level theology courses from an accredited outside institution.
  • For students enrolled concurrently in the MA and the MDiv programs, credits transferred to the MA program from an outside institution count among the total of 17 transferable credits.

The MA Thesis

A thesis is a scholarly work that reflects the study, research, and writing skills that characterize higher education. The thesis must demonstrate the student’s ability to do research, to analyze primary texts, and to consult, utilize, and evaluate scholarly literature on those texts. Students are required to complete a thesis with a minimum of 60 pages but not to exceed 80 pages in length (not including title page, table of contents, nor bibliography) under the direction of a faculty member, as well as orally defend the thesis before a board of two: the thesis director and one reader.

Topics must be approved by the thesis director and Director of the MA Program prior to the student beginning his thesis. The student is advised to obtain thesis guidelines and to discuss thesis plans with the MA Program Director and his thesis director early in his program of study.

Additional Requirements

  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 is required.
  • The thesis must be submitted within five years of the completion of all coursework unless a waiver is granted by the Director of the MA Program.
  • The thesis board evaluates the writing and oral defense of the MA thesis. The board consists of the thesis director and one reader who will be appointed by the Director of the MA Program.
  • The student must demonstrate reading proficiency in one ancient or one modern language that is relevant to their thesis research. This may be demonstrated by passing a language course or an exam.
  • Students must participate in assessment of the academic program, including completion of a Graduating Student Questionnaire during their final year of coursework.

Costs

There is a per credit hour continuance fee in the MA program for all seminarians who do not successfully defend their theses by the end of their Fourth Year of Theology. This continuance fee also applies to non-resident MA students after completion of all coursework requirements.  For more information, contact the Director of MA (Theology) Program.

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