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Graduate School » Arts and Sciences » Theology (MA)

Master of Arts in Theology

The Master of Arts in Theology program reflects the commitment of USF to the faith and teachings of the Catholic Church. We are able to provide a unique curriculum because of the variety of specializations represented by the faculty. All professors who teach in the program possess a mandatum and are in good standing with the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

Students are able to select one of three concentration areas: Moral Theology, Marriage and Family or General Theology.

Program Outline (21 Credit Hours):

Curriculum Plan

All courses are three credit hours, unless stated otherwise.

Core Courses

  • THEO 500 – Foundations of Scripture
    • An introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament with attention to the cultural contexts in which the texts were formed, canon formation, their transmission and translation, the nature of biblical authority, and methods of interpretation. The close study of a variety of selected texts will also take note of their use by individuals and faith communities.
  • THEO 510 – Systematic Theology
    • Theology is seen as faith seeking understanding. This course will attend to basic beliefs, the development of doctrine, and models of articulation in the historical and contemporary life of the applicant’s faith community. The course will examine the role of religious reflection and interpretation in major doctrinal movements.
  • THEO 520 – Moral Theology
    • An examination of how faith defines and seeks the good life. The course will study how, through reflection and spiritual practices, the individual and the faith tradition articulate values, undergo conversion and reform, and struggle to express their mission in the contexts in which they find themselves.
  • THEO 522 – Liturgy
    • An examination of the theological foundations of the Roman Catholic Liturgy. The course will explore the nature of worship, the historical roots and development of the Liturgy and contemporary issues relating to the celebration of the Liturgy.
  • THEO 525 – Church History
    • A survey of the history of the Catholic Church from its foundations in the Gospels to the late 20th century. Special emphasis will be placed on the Church as an institution as well as the development of various spiritual and theological movements in the Church.
  • THEO 595 – Master’s Thesis/Fieldwork (3-6 credit hours)
    • In his or her final semester the student will do one of the following:
      - Complete six credit hours of independent scholarly research culminating in a master’s thesis (approximately 75 pages) under the direction of a faculty member in the Department of Philosophy and Theology, or
      - Complete three credit hours of pastoral fieldwork under the supervision of the director of the Pastoral Ministry program in the Department of Philosophy and Theology.
  • Prerequisite: Successful completion of Comprehensive Exams

Moral Theology Concentration (15 credit hours)

  • THEO 521 – Catholic Social Teaching
    • Examination of the theological foundations of the Church’s teaching on questions of poverty, justice, human rights, ecology, peace, war, and the right ordering of society. The historical development of Catholic social teaching will be surveyed, and contemporary challenges will also be explored.
  • THEO 528 – Contemporary Moral Issues
    • Selected issues in personal and social morality will be addressed within the framework of Catholic moral teaching. Areas include human sexuality, human life issues (abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research), war and peace issues, and economics.
  • THEO 575 – History of Church-State Relations
    • A historical and ecumenical study of the relations between the Church and the various manifestations of state power and agency over the last two millennia, concentrating on three particular eras: the Constantinian, the medieval (particularly the Gregorian revolution of the late 11th century), and the modern (from 1870 onward). In each case the question of the libertas Ecclesia will be given close attention. Modern challenges to church-state relations, especially in the United States, will be examined. Prerequisite: THEO 525
  • TWO ELECTIVES (listed below under “General Theology Concentration”)

Marriage and Family Concentration (15 credit hours)

  • THEO 521 – Catholic Social Teaching
    • Examination of the theological foundations of the Church’s teaching on questions of poverty, justice, human rights, ecology, peace, war, and the right ordering of society. The historical development of Catholic social teaching will be surveyed, and contemporary challenges will also be explored.
  • THEO 564 – Social and Political Theology of Marriage and Family
    • The social and political implications of the Church’s theology of marriage and family as enshrined in such documents as the 1983 “Charter of the Rights of the Family” published by the Holy See. Special attention will be paid to sociopolitical challenges to the Church’s teaching. Prerequisite: THEO 521
  • THEO 565 – Domestic Church
    • An examination of the way the family is a central element in God’s gifts for human redemption. It will focus upon the family as a “center of living, radiant faith” and the “first school of Christian life” as it exercises the “priesthood of the baptized” in sacrifice and prayer. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1655-1657). Prerequisite: THEO 522
  • TWO ELECTIVES (listed below under “General Theology Concentration”)

General Theology Concentration (15 hours from the following)
These courses are also the available electives for the Marriage/Family and Moral Theology concentrations.

  • THEO 501 – Franciscan Intellectual and Spiritual Tradition
    • An exploration of the Franciscan charism in its 13th century roots. Using primary sources, it will attend to what is spiritually distinctive in the lives of Francis and Clare, the context in which their spirituality emerges, and their impact on early Franciscan movements. The course will trace the charism through later spiritual movements and note how individuals fruitfully integrate this spirituality into their intellectual endeavors. The mutual influence of charism and intellect will be examined in the contributions of Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, Bl. John Duns Scotus, Roger Bacon, William of Ockham, Teilhard de Chardin, Bl. John XXIII and others.
  • THEO 515 – Christology
    • A historical and systematic study of the person and mission of Jesus Christ as revealed in Sacred Scripture and Church Tradition. Special emphasis will be placed upon the early ecumenical councils as well as contemporary Christological issues.
  • THEO 521 – Catholic Social Teaching
    • Examination of the theological foundations of the Church’s teaching on questions of poverty, justice, human rights, ecology, peace, war, and the right ordering of society. The historical development of Catholic social teaching will be surveyed, and contemporary challenges will also be explored.
  • THEO 526 – Ecclesiology
    • A study of the continuity and change in the Church’s self-understanding of her nature, with special attention being paid to the ecclesiological vision and ecumenical implications of Lumen Gentium, Orientalium Ecclesiarum, and Unitatis Redintegratio of the Second Vatican Council. Attention will be paid to the Eucharistic foundations of the Church and also the practical-structural outworking of that communio theology in the episcopal and papal offices.
  • THEO 527 – Sacraments
    • A historical and systematic study of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. Emphasis will be upon the sacraments as instituted by Jesus Christ and developed in Church Tradition, as well as their being reflected upon by Catholic thinkers throughout history.
  • THEO 528 – Contemporary Moral Issues
    • Selected issues in personal and social morality will be addressed within the framework of Catholic moral teaching. Areas include human sexuality, human life issues (abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research), war and peace issues, and economics.
  • THEO 529 – Mariology
    • An examination of the significance of Mary, the Mother of God, both in her person and in the history of salvation. A theological examination of the major declarations on Mary from her identity as the New Eve and the Mother of God to her role as the Queen of Heaven. Prerequisite: THEO 510
  • THEO 531 – Readings in Medieval Theology
    • Selected readings of key thinkers and texts in the medieval Church (400 A.D. – 1400 A.D.).
  • THEO 532 – Readings in Early Church Theology
    • Selected readings of key thinkers and texts in the Early Church (90 A.D. – 400 A.D.).
  • THEO 533 – Readings in Reformation and Post-Reformation Theology
    • Selected readings of key thinkers and texts in the Reformation and Post Reformation Church (1500 A.D. – 2000 A.D.).
  • THEO 534 – Scriptural Topics
    • Selected study of a particular genre of biblical literature (wisdom literature, historical literature, gospels, epistles, apocalyptic, etc.).
  • THEO 535 – Women’s Spirituality
    • Study of themes pertaining to women’s spirituality. Potential topics include women in Scripture, models of female holiness, incarnation, embodiment, and women’s bodies, women mystics, and contemporary women’s spirituality.
  • THEO 536 – Theology of the New Testament
    • Study of theological themes as they emerge in the New Testament writings. Also covers various forms of textual criticism.
  • THEO 537 – Theology of the Old Testament
    • A study of the unfolding of God’s self-communication through the Old Covenant and its preparatory role in the Incarnation, life, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming of Jesus Christ. Prerequisite: THEO 500
  • THEO 555 – Catechetical Methods
    • An examination of the nature and history of catechesis. The course focuses on Creed, Code and Cult within the Catholic tradition and discusses their role in faith formation. The course also explores the fundamental elements of catechetical work and critically examines various curricula used in catechesis.
  • THEO 561 – Ethics in Marriage and Family
    • An examination of the ramifications of the 4th, 6th, and 9th commandments upon ethical life in the family, including the formation of a life of virtue in spouses and children, modern ethical challenges to family life (such as contraception, abortion, pornography, sterilization, in vitro fertilization, and surrogacy), and the theological implications of this ethical life. Prerequisite: THEO 520
  • THEO 562 – Catholic Biomedical Ethics
    • A study of Catholic teachings on biomedical ethics in a variety of magisterial and theological writings including universal and national healthcare directives. These teachings will be framed within a theological context of Catholic social teaching and tradition and then applied to current issues. Prerequisite: THEO 521
  • THEO 563 – Sacrament of Marriage
    • A consideration of the sacramental reality of marriage. Its examination will be historical—surveying how the notion of sacrament and its practice has changed over the centuries—and also an analysis in terms of the “two lungs of the Church”: Western and Eastern Christian rituals for marriage, along with their underlying theological similarities and differences. Prerequisite: THEO 522
  • THEO 564 – Social and Political Theology of Marriage and Family
    • The social and political implications of the Church’s theology of marriage and family as enshrined in such documents as the 1983 “Charter of the Rights of the Family” published by the Holy See. Special attention will be paid to sociopolitical challenges to the Church’s teaching. Prerequisite: THEO 521
  • THEO 565 – The Domestic Church
    • An examination of the way the family is a central element in God’s gifts for human redemption. It will focus upon the family as a “center of living, radiant faith” and the “first school of Christian life” as it exercises the “priesthood of the baptized” in sacrifice and prayer. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1655-1657). Prerequisite: THEO 522
  • THEO 575 – History of Church-State Relations
    • A historical and ecumenical study of the relations between the Church and the various manifestations of state power and agency over the last two millennia, concentrating on three particular eras: the Constantinian, the medieval (particularly the Gregorian revolution of the late 11th century), and the modern (from 1870 onward). In each case the question of the libertas Ecclesia will be given close attention. Modern challenges to church-state relations, especially in the United States, will be examined. Prerequisite: THEO 525

Admissions Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree with a strong liberal arts component, preferably some coursework in theology
  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale

Steps to Apply

  • Complete the application form (with $20 fee if using paper application).
  • Submit official transcripts from all postsecondary institutions attended.
    • Must be sent directly from Registrar of institution(s) attended.
  • Submit a DD214 form (United States veterans only).
  • Submit a writing sample on a theological topic of your choice, with a minimum of 1,250 words to gradschool@sf.edu.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation regarding your personal dedication to theology and your academic qualifications. Must be submitted using our department form.
  • Submit your GRE scores to Office of Graduate Admissions.

After we receive all these materials, you will be interviewed by the program director, or an individual designated by the department chair.  You will also take a placement exam, testing your knowledge of theology. The Department of Philosophy and Theology will use this test to decide if you need to take undergraduate level courses to prepare you for graduate level study.

Start your application!

Contact Us

If you have questions about getting started in our Master of Arts in Theology program, please let us know. You are welcome to contact the theology program director or your personal graduate counselor.