Master of Arts in Theology (MA)


The Master of Arts in Theology is a graduate degree in theological studies requiring research. This course of study is available in a traditional classroom format and also may be completed in its entirety in an online format.


For admissions process and requirements for the MA program, please see the admissions section of this document.


  1. To understand and integrate the theological disciplines within the Catholic faith and tradition.

    • Learning Outcome: To demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of Catholic theology grounded in Scripture and Tradition.

    • Learning Outcome: To display an ability to evaluate theological issues critically.

    • Learning Outcome: To demonstrate an ability to reflect on human experience within the context of Christian faith.

  2. To communicate how Catholic faith, tradition and theology illuminate the meaning and purpose of human experience.

• Learning Outcome: To demonstrate both orally and in writing the ability to communicate the Catholic faith and tradition effectively in relation to

human experience.

• Learning Outcome: To apply the world view and value system of Catholic theology to the pertinent issues of our time, for example, ecumenical, global, multi-cultural, scientific and economic issues.

Course of Study (40 credit hours)

Theological Core (26 credit hours):

ST 500Theological Methodology*2 cr
SS 521Method and Pentateuch3 cr
SS 525Synoptics3 cr
SS 625Pauline Literature3 cr
ST 5351Human Person and Grace2 cr
ST 6351Nature and Mission of the Church2 cr
ST 650Trinitarian and Christological Foundations of the Christian Faith3 cr
MT 675Foundations of Christian Moral Life3 cr
LS 575The Sacramental Life of the Church2 cr
SP 735History of Christian Spirituality3 cr

*ST 500 must be taken in conjunction with IS 505 Theological Research and Writing, 1 cr.


Research Concentration (10 credit hours):

Courses in a research concentration consist of a planned program of 10 credits or more designed to lay the foundation for the student’s thesis work. This course of study must be planned with the student’s academic advisor.

Suggested Research Areas:

  1. Interdisciplinary Studies:

    • Biblical Studies and Spirituality

    • Biblical Studies and Systematic or Moral Theology

    • Historical and Systematic Theology

  2. Biblical Studies

  3. Spirituality

  4. New Evangelization

Thesis (4 credit hours):

IS 899MA Thesis4 cr

IS 899 is intended to be taken in the student’s final semester of study. 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 50 pages but not to exceed 60 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 at least two professors.

Topics must be approved by the theology faculty prior to the student beginning his/her thesis. For students planning to graduate at the end of the winter term, topics must be approved no later than December 1; the thesis must be defended no later than April 1. For students planning to graduate at the end of the fall term, topics must be approved no later than April 1; the thesis must be defended no later than December 1.

Thesis guidelines are available here or from the Office of the Dean of Studies. Students are advised to obtain thesis guidelines and to discuss thesis plans with their academic advisors early in their program of study.

IS 8991 Continuing MA Thesis (1 credit; not applicable toward degree completion) is provided for the student who does not complete the thesis during the semester for which he/she registered for
IS 899. The course is required for each semester that a student wishes to use the library for thesis research or to have contact with the thesis director until the thesis is completed. 


Program Requirements

  1. A minimum of 40 credit hours must be earned through completion of the course of study.

  2. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.7 is required.

  3. A maximum of thirteen hours may be applied to the degree from other institutions or from other credit earning options.

  4. The program must be completed in six years from time of matriculation. Under extenuating circumstances, a student may request an extension in writing to the dean of studies.

  5. Students must complete a one credit course in graduate theological research, IS 505 Theological Research and Writing. This course must be done in conjunction with ST 500 Theological Methodology, and should be done within the student’s first year of study. The course is graded pass/fail; credits earned do not count toward the 40 credits required in total for the degree.

  6. Students must participate in assessment of the academic program, including completion of a Graduating Student Questionnaire during their final year of study. 

  7. Reading ability in Latin must be shown during the first year of the program, and reading ability in a modern language pertinent to the student’s course of studies must be done before completion of half of the degree program (20 credits). The MA/MAPS admissions committee determines whether the student needs to demonstrate comprehension in a given language based on an examination of previous transcripts.

    Language competency can be demonstrated by the following:

a. SHMS provides a course called Latin for Graduate Students that satisfies the Latin language requirement.
b. Students can demonstrate competency in a language requirement through successful completion of a three credit hour undergraduate course with a passing grade of ‘C’ or better, or a two credit hour graduate course with a ‘pass’ or grade of ‘C’ or better. Courses must be taken for credit from an accredited institution of higher learning.
c. Students may also study a language on their own. The student should contact the dean of studies when ready to be tested. The dean of studies will arrange with an instructor to conduct the examination.
d. The language examinations will consist of a written translation of a theological text of about two pages. The student will have 90 minutes to complete the exam and may use a dictionary to translate the pages. The student will also compose a paragraph summary of the two pages to demonstrate comprehension. Judgment of pass/fail will be based primarily on comprehension. An examination fee applies.

Formation Opportunities

A specific program in formation is not required by students in the Master of Arts in Theology, which prepares the student for research and continued studies. However, each student is encouraged to participate in the formation opportunities available at SHMS through the Institute for Ministry.

See a complete list of our Graduate Course Descriptions.

See our Academic Catalogs for this and past academic years.


Admissions information for this program can be found on the Graduate Admissions page.

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