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.
MA in Theology Program Outcomes:
- Build a body of scholars who can apply the content of graduate-level theology to contemporary ministerial settings.
- Twenty percent of Master of Divinity seminarians will pursue a MA in Theology degree concurrently in order to develop priests who are teachers.
- Eighty percent of seminarians in the MA in Theology program feel strongly or very strongly that the MA degree has enhanced their vocational experience.
Application for Admission:
Seminarians may apply for admission midway through the spring semester of First Year Theology at the earliest or by the beginning 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 topics listed below, having earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 for these 12 hours.
- Coursework in the History of Philosophy
- 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 this 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.
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 Historical Theology, 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 credits)
- SS-4108: 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 three semesters. 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.
- For those students earning MA and MDiv degrees concurrently, up to 17 credits may be transferred from the M.Div. program to the M.A. 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 M.A. 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.
- 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.
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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The MA and the MDiv degrees at a glance:
The MDiv degree requires oral comprehensive exams, whereas the MA requires a full-length thesis and oral defense. 17 credits of MDiv coursework (excluding Pastoral Studies) can apply toward the MA, plus the student must take another 12 credits of Theological Core coursework, plus 6 credits for writing and defending a thesis, and a 1 credit course on Research and Writing.
The MA and the STB degrees at a glance:
The STB degree requires both oral and written comprehensive exams, whereas the MA requires a full-length thesis and oral defense. 29 credits of STB coursework (excluding Pastoral Studies) can apply toward the MA, plus the student must take a 1 credit course on Research and Writing and earn 6 credits for writing and defending a thesis.