The MA program in Theology and Christian Ministry was established at Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1980 to meet a growing need in the Catholic Church for men and women steeped in authentic Catholic theology and able to apply this theology within the many pastoral, teaching, and service ministries in the Church today.
Each year we receive more requests from Catholic dioceses, parishes, educational institutions, and other ministries for workers who believe deeply in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, adhere to authentic teaching, and are equipped both theologically and pastorally to serve God’s people. They contact Franciscan University of Steubenville because they know our graduates can fulfill this great need. The members of the theology faculty are fully committed to teaching the truth of the Catholic faith as it is found in the sacred Scriptures and sacred Tradition, as these are taught and interpreted by the pope and the bishops teaching in union with him. We also recognize the need for theology to contribute to the ongoing renewal of the Catholic Church, according to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and recent popes. Hence, we refer to our theological approach as “dynamic orthodoxy,” since we seek to undertake theological study in a way that is at the same time truly faithful to the Catholic Church’s magisterium and positive and open to the authentic impulses of the Holy Spirit. Thus, our graduate theology program reflects the nature of Franciscan University of Steubenville: It is Catholic, Christian, and Franciscan in content and spirit.
With the exception of our specialization in catechetics, the MA program is not intended to prepare specialists in particular areas of theology or Christian ministry, although elective courses in many specific fields are offered. Instead, we provide our master’s students with a solid, graduate-level foundation in Catholic theology that will enable them to serve effectively in a variety of fields of ministry, or to pursue further graduate studies in theology. Indeed, graduates of the program to date (who have come from five continents and every part of Canada and the United States) have gone on to serve as hospital chaplains, youth ministers, DREs, teachers, catechists, missionaries, pastoral workers, campus ministers, diocesan service directors, pastors, and in many other responsible positions in the Church. Graduates of our Master’s program have also gone on to pursue PhD or STD degrees in theology at schools such as Fordham, Marquette, Catholic University of America, and the Pontifical University, Rome.
At the completion of the MA in Theology and Christian Ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville, the graduate is able to:
Franciscan University Distance Learning Program provides individuals with the opportunity to take theology courses and obtain an MA in Theology and Christian Ministry degree almost entirely in the comfort of their own home. Although separate and distinct from the on-campus MA program, the curriculum and requirements are identical. Six of the required 36 credit hours must be completed on campus. Future on-campus students may complete their undergraduate background requirements and transfer two graduate courses (using distance learning) into the on-campus program. Please call 1-800-466-8336 for more information.
The curriculum of the Master of Arts degree in Theology and Christian Ministry is designed to provide sound graduate-level education in Catholic theology that will prepare the student for effective ministry and/or further graduate study in a variety of fields. Rather than prepare “specialists” in a particular field of ministry or academic study, at the master’s level, we believe it is important to provide a firm, orthodox understanding of Catholic theology, along with a broad range of elective courses that will expose students to a number of different areas of ministry and study of the Christian faith.
To provide a common basis of approach, we require that all MA students complete four “foundation courses,” preferably toward the beginning of the program. These courses are:
Students will also take eight elective courses. These courses are divided into two categories: those with a primarily theological emphasis (700-level courses) and those focusing on the pastoral application of theology (pastoral emphasis, or 600-level courses). To ensure a balanced education, students are required to choose at least two courses from each category of electives. The remaining four electives may be selected from either emphasis. The philosophical foundations courses are over and above the requirements of the degree while the theological and pastoral courses do count toward the degree itself, as electives. Master’s students in theology must maintain a B average or above (3.0 QPA) to continue in the program. If a student receives a C+ or below in a graduate course, this course will not count toward the fulfillment of degree requirements. The student must achieve a B or better for all of the foundation courses (THE 601, 602, and 604) or else that particular foundation course must be repeated and a grade of a B achieved. For all other graduate courses in the MA in theology program the student may elect not to repeat a course that falls below the required standard (at least a B-). If the course is repeated and a higher grade is attained, this grade will replace the previous grade on the student’s transcript. If the course is not repeated, the grade for the course will be calculated as part of the student’s cumulative QPA and another course must be taken (with a grade above C+) to fulfill the degree requirement of 36 total credit hours (or 42 hours for the catechetics specialization).
The final curriculum requirement for the MA in Theology and Christian Ministry is a comprehensive examination, which each student will take at the end of the program after completion of 12 courses (36 credit hours). The examination will test the overall comprehension of the content of the specific courses each student has taken in the program and the student’s ability to apply this knowledge creatively to various areas of Christian ministry and scholarship. The comprehensive examination is administered a number of times each year at Franciscan University, or is proctored at off-campus sites for those obtaining the degree through Distance Learning or in special circumstances.
Although there is no thesis required for completion of the degree and no foreign language requirements, those who are interested in writing, research, or pursuing further theological studies will be encouraged to engage in additional writing and/or in foreign language study, which is available at the University. We offer adjunct courses in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, which do not count toward the degree but can be taken to supplement the student’s education.
Successful completion of 36 credit hours (12 courses), and the comprehensive examination are required for graduation. The minimum time required for residency at the University is one full academic year. It is possible to complete the degree by attending six summer sessions. However, in order to ensure continuity in the student’s education, the degree must be completed within seven years from the beginning of coursework.
The Theology Department of Franciscan University of Steubenville now offers a specialization in catechetics that leads to certification within its MA in Theology and Christian Ministry. This specialization provides professional catechetical training for those “who, imbued with an apostolic spirit, make an outstanding and absolutely necessary contribution to the spread of the faith and the Church by their great work” (Ad Gentes Divinitus, No. 17).
The mission of Franciscan University is to prepare young men and women for leadership in our society and in the Church. In accord with that mission the Theology Department offers this specialization to train professional catechetical leaders who will join the apostolic ranks in diocesan offices, parishes, and schools across the country. Future Catholic high school teachers, RCIA directors, coordinators or directors of religious education, directors of youth ministry, pastoral ministers, family ministers, and sacramental preparation specialists will find this program invaluable.
The catechetics specialization rounds out an MA in Theology and Christian Ministry by providing practical knowledge and experience. St. Francis heard the call, “Go, and rebuild my Church.” This specialization will help anyone who hears and wants to respond to the same call.
The specialization in catechetics is to be sought in conjunction with the MA degree. To qualify, the student must accumulate 42 credit hours. In addition to four foundation courses and four elective courses, five additional 3-credit hours are:
The specialization is completed with one of the following seven courses (each course is three credit hours):
In addition to the requirements for the MA, an exit presentation must be done in the final semester of the program for the catechetics specialization. This is a one-and-a-half-hour professional presentation on some aspect of the catechetical endeavor. The student chooses the topic. The presentation must reflect a mastery and synthesis of the catechetical magisterial materials and a sense of the reality of the catechetical situation. It is pass/fail.
Admission to the MA program will be granted to those applicants who satisfy the basic qualifications and show high promise of success in the graduate program and pastoral ministry. Applicants are required to submit the following to the University’s Enrollment Services Office:
A student may enter the program at the beginning of any semester. The fall term begins in late August, the spring term in January and the summer term in May, with four three-week summer sessions offered from mid-May to early August.
Ideally, students entering the program should have a BA in theology or religious studies from an accredited college or university. However, students respond to God’s call to serve the Church from many different backgrounds, and thus may enter the program without this training in theology. When this is the case, additional undergraduate theology and philosophy courses will be required for that student’s individual academic program. The undergraduate theology courses offered at Franciscan University of Steubenville would be cross listed on the graduate level as follows:
Along with these theology courses the student should have six (6) credit hours in philosophy. The topics to be covered should consist of two of the following courses:
Candidates who have not completed the above courses are invited to apply to the program, and may be admitted to full graduate status. However, their program would be more extensive due to the addition of courses intended to compensate for their insufficient background in theology and philosophy. This undergraduate background may also be fulfilled by taking undergraduate courses comparable to the above at other accredited colleges or universities.
Students must complete the background courses before they can take graduate courses, unless the required background credit hours do not equal a full load (15 credits), in which case the student may take background courses and graduate courses in the same semester. For full-time students background courses must be completed within the first two semesters of course work. If a student wishes to take the graduate versions of Christology and Sacraments instead of the background versions, then these two background courses need not be taken before other graduate courses.
(sequence of courses subject to revision)
N.B. THE 640, 645, 678, and 804 are not regularly offered.
Courses waived in lieu of the transferred credits would be decided by the director of graduate theology. Only courses taken before entry into the MA program will be considered for transfer, and the request for transfer of graduate courses must be submitted to the director of Graduate Theology no later than the end of the first semester of studies at Franciscan University.
THE 601 Biblical Foundations(3 credits)This course will present the basic principles of the interpretation of the Bible within the Catholic tradition. It will evaluate the strengths and difficulties of biblical criticism as it has developed in recent centuries. Alternate approaches, such as that of the early Christian fathers, will be examined. Differences in biblical interpretation among Christian denominations will be discussed. The Bible will be shown as the foundation of Christian prayer, catechetics, and family and community life.
THE 602 Theological Foundations(3 credits)Theology will be approached as a service to the Christian people, enabling them to fully understand their faith in each successive age. Thus, emphasis will be placed on how the insights of theology can assist in individual and communal spiritual growth and in the renewal of the Church. Some philosophical background to theological study will be presented.
THE 603 Historical Foundations(3 credits)Many of the major figures, spiritual movements, and theologies in the history of Christianity will be studied in this course. It will provide a perspective on the origins of numerous aspects of Christian faith, life, and worship; on the sources of division among Christians; and on other important topics essential to the understanding of Christianity.
THE 604 Teachings of Vatican II(3 credits)The teachings of the Second Vatican Council constitute the modern basis for Roman Catholics’ understanding of the Church and its renewal. This course examines the history and importance of ecumenical councils, the historical and theological background of the Second Vatican Council, and, most important, the meaning and application of the council’s teachings in the Church today.
THE 605 Foundations of Moral Theology(3 Credits)This course will be an exploration of some foundational issues in moral theology, such as the following: the structure of the human/moral act, the meaning of moral law, the meaning of virtue, the nature of conscience, the nature and possibility of mortal sin. The course will focus on understanding the contributions of recent magisterial statements, especially Veritatis Splendor, in the context of significant background texts and current controversies and debates about these issues.
THE 609 Church Renewal(3 credits)This course consists of a study of central issues related to the renewal of the Church and Christian life today. Both the spiritual and institutional dimensions of Church renewal will be discussed. Lessons drawn from the history of renewal and reform in the Church will be applied to present movements, such as Cursillo and charismatic renewal.
THE 610 Theology and Ministry of the Word(3 credits)This course will discuss how the Christian people are formed by the Word of God as presented in Scripture and Church teaching. This information is the result of a sound theological understanding of the Word and its effective proclamation through preaching, teaching, prophecy, and catechesis based on the Word of God.
THE 630 Sin, Conversion, and Evangelization(3 credits)This course will seek a theological understanding of the basic Gospel call to recognition of sin, repentance, and conversion, and pastoral approaches to enabling men and women to respond to that call today. It will explore the relationship of the Church to the world through application of the theology of evangelization presented by Pope Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council.
THE 641 Catechesis: Content and Curriculum(3 credits)This course examines Jesus as the essential content of all catechetical endeavors. It identifies the four pillars of the Deposit of Faith—creed, liturgy and sacraments, Christian moral living, and prayer—as the basis for the Christian life. It discusses the implications of the kerygma on catechesis, i.e., emphasis on insertion into the mystery of Christ. This course considers necessary elements of any catechetical work as explicated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and includes practice in the development of curricula for specific catechetical needs.
THE 645 Pastoral and Spiritual Direction(3 credits)Offering direction for living the Christian life has been part of the Church’s heritage from the beginning. This course will study some of the many approaches to pastoral and spiritual direction in the Church’s history, from the time of the early fathers of the Church up to present-day approaches including Catholic covenant communities and third order groups. Both classical and current theological and spiritual literature will be considered, with practical pastoral applications discussed.
THE 650 Christian Liturgy(3 credits)This is an advanced, graduate-level course examining the theological foundations of Christian liturgy, as well as pastoral approaches to planning and fostering good liturgical celebration. The course will explore the nature of worship, Jewish liturgical tradition and its influence on Christian worship, an historical understanding of Christian liturgy, and the planning of liturgical celebration.
THE 655 Mary in the Modern World(3 credits)The course will consist of a theological investigation of the doctrines and magisterial teachings concerning the singular role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the providential plan of salvation. This will be followed by examining the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit as contained in the writings of the Franciscan martyr St. Maximilian Kolbe. Lastly, there will be a theological and pastoral analysis of the Marian messages from the principal apparitions of Mary in the modern world, with special emphasis on the messages of Lourdes, Fatima, and the present reported apparitions from Medjugorje.
THE 660 Pastoral Issues*(3 credits)This course will focus on a particular topic or area of importance in pastoral theology, or practical pastoral work. Examples of possible topics are: youth ministry, parish pastoral ministry, pastoral structures (Church government), and pastoral guidance (spiritual direction),Church law and discipleship.*This course may be taken more than once on different topics.
THE 675 Pastoral Perspectives on Marriage and Family(3 credits)The course will seek out and discuss pastoral wisdom for marriage and family life from the Catholic tradition and other Christian sources. This would include the teachings on marriage and family from the great teachers of the Catholic tradition, such as St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom. It will also include contemporary Christian wisdom related to the special situation of Christian families and married couples in the modern world, as well as consideration of the contributions of the social sciences and of modern theology to the development of a sound Christian pastoral approach to marriage and family life today.
THE 678 Sacramental Preparation(3 Credits)This course explores the sacramental life of the Church from the perspective that the hallmark of the adult Catholic life must be liturgical. We will discuss preparation for Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Matrimony and Anointing of the Sick in regard to their Rites, Canon Law, pastoral practice, and the truths they express. The primary objective is to understand how to prepare people to be fully conscious of what is happening in the sacraments, actively engaged in the rites, and enriched by them.
THE 680 Applied Christian Ministry(3 credits)Providing a broad overview of ministry positions within the Church, students are taught spirituality skills and methods for ministry using the content of their theology courses. Observations and field experiences as well as peer and practice teaching are included. Preparation and projects are focused on actual placement. This is a suggested course for those not pursuing the Graduate Specialization in Catechetics. It can be taken along with THE 780 and THE 641. This class is not an elective for those pursuing the Graduate Specialization in Catechetics.
THE 681 Catechetical Practicum(3 credits)Opportunities to participate in supervised catechetical ministries such as the RCIA, parish adult programs, Catholic schools, or parish religious education are available for students to obtain teaching experience. This may be elected twice for different ministries.Prerequisite: THE 691, 692, and 641
THE 691 Catechetical Methods I(3 credits)This course introduces organic teaching methods that integrate the academic grasp of Christianity and Christian critical thinking with Christian witness, continuing conversion to Christ, and a call to action in the Church. Practical applications of the principles of evangelization and catechesis are practiced with continuing conversion as the goal. Stages of faith and moral development are studied to facilitate teaching the faith at all levels. Learning styles and models are examined to make them applicable to teaching the faith. Basic communication skills as they apply to the catechetical situation are used.
THE 692 Catechetical Methods II(3 credits)This course continues the organic teaching method described above and includes the uses of liturgy, prayer, music, and Catholic literature and art in the catechetical endeavor. Examination of the culture to be evangelized and catechized is included. A major 50-minute catechetical presentation is required.Prerequisite: THE 691,
THE 693 The Catechumenate in the RCIA*(3 credits)This course studies the development of the Christian initiation process by the Fathers of the Church, highlighting their methods and the content of their catechesis. The revised Rite of Christian Initiation is studied closely, highlighting its catechetical, liturgical, and pastoral components and the initiation into the Church of adults and children.*This course may be taken more than once on different topics.
THE 694 Catechetical Practice Today(3 credits)This course studies the needs of the Church in the United States regarding current catechetical practice. Specifically, it covers family-based catechesis, Catholic schools, religious education, PSR, adult catechesis, catechesis for conversion, catechesis and culture, and alternative structures for catechesis. The theory and elements of each type of program are examined, and practice in the development of new programs for specific needs will be provided.Prerequisite: Students must have completed all other catechetics courses; may be concurrent with THE 692.
ELECTIVE COURSES: THEOLOGICAL EMPHASIS
THE 700 Contemporary Moral Problems*(3 credits)These courses take a Catholic approach to contemporary moral issues from a theological and pastoral perspective. Issues in one or more of the following areas will be treated: social, medical, sexual, marital, and business morality.
THE 705 Foundations of Moral Theology(3 credits)An exploration of several foundational issues in moral theology, namely,
THE 710 Old Testament Writings*(3 credits)An in-depth study of a particular area, book, or theme of Old Testament literature. Examples of possible course topics include: The Pentateuch, the prophetic literature, the Psalms, covenant theology.
THE 711 New Testament Writings*(3 credits)An in-depth study of a particular area, book, or theme of New Testament literature. Possible course topics include: Pauline writings, the Gospel of John, the Church in the New Testament, theology of the Holy Spirit.
THE 721 Christian Spirituality(3 credits)Christian Spirituality is the study of the nature and means of Christian holiness. This course will consider various dimensions of Christian holiness, including prayer and worship, the cross and the monastical life, repentance, the activity of the Holy Spirit, the role of the sacraments, and the love of God in Jesus Christ, which is the center ofall Christian spirituality. This course will approach these topics through the study of major spiritual writers and saints of the past and of more recent times.
THE 722 Fathers and Doctors of the Church*(3 credits)This course pursues an in-depth study of an important topic or author from either the patristic period (the era of the fathers of the Church) or from the great doctors of the Church, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, St. Catherine of Sienna, or St. Theresa of Avila.*This course may be taken more than once on different topics.
THE 730 Grace and the Virtues(3 credits)This course will be a systematic exploration of the theology of grace. We will examine the various meanings and key issues involved in understanding grace as presented in Scripture, tradition, and contemporary sources. The development of an integrated theology of grace will lead to and ground a reflection on fundamental aspects of our relationship with God and our living out the Christian life.
THE 731 Christology(3 credits)A systematic study of the person and work of Jesus Christ will be conducted in this course. Beginning with a consideration of method, we will develop a contemporary, integrative approach to Christology, drawing on the riches of the biblical, traditional, and contemporary testimony.
THE 732 Sacraments(3 credits)A consideration of the signs of salvation flowing from the sacrament, Christ, and his Church will be the goal of this course. The anthropological bases of these signs will be examined and utilized in the seven sacraments that will be covered in-depth.
THE 733 Tradition and the Development of Doctrine(3 Credits)This course will explore the meaning of Tradition and its relation to Sacred Scripture, touching upon such issues as the material sufficiency of sacred Scripture and its relation to the Reformation doctrine sola scriptura. The monuments of Tradition are studied with a view to recognizing the complementarity between Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. The study of Tradition readily leads to an exposition of the development of doctrine within the Catholic Church. The course investigates such development beginning with Cardinal John Newman’s text, An Essay of the Development of Christian Doctrine, wherein the development of doctrine answers the questions of how the Catholic Church’s teaching extended into every generation after the close of the Apostolic Age. The study of the development of doctrine follows various authors from Newman to the present day.
THE 740 Theological Issues*(3 credits)This course will select a topic of theological interest for careful study. Possible topics include: recent papal teachings, ecumenism, Catholic apologetics, theology of renewal, the Church and the Holy Spirit, etc.*This course may be taken more than once on different topics.
THE 780 Scripture, the Heart of Catechesis(3 credits)This course introduces revelation as the teaching technique of God the Father and examines the content and method of Jesus’ teaching. The apostles’ teaching styles, the content of their catechesis, and their use of Scripture are covered as well. The scriptural basis of the catechesis of the fathers of the Church is included. The course also explores implementation of Bible studies and liturgies of the Word for evangelical and catechetical purposes and provides practice in biblical narrative and teaching from Scripture.
There is only one philosophy course offered by the Theology Department toward the MA Theology degree: THE804, Philosophical Foundations of Catechesis. However, a student who so desires may take one three-credit graduate philosophy course (listed in the MA Philosophy program), which would count toward the fulfillment of MA theology degree requirements.
THE 804 Philosophical Foundations of Catechesis(3 credits)This course explores the sound philosophical presuppositions and reasoning of Christian teaching. Catechesis is a cogent presentation of the truth, which finds its fullest expression in God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. However, a philosophical discussion and analysis of truth helps lead thinking people today to consider the sense and veracity of the message of Christ and his Church.
Graduate students are expected to maintain sufficient progress toward a degree. Any student not showing promise of completing a program in a reasonable amount of time and whose academic performance is less than a 3.0 may be advised to withdraw from the University. Evaluation of student performance and progress will be monitored by the student’s advisor in consultation with the other members of the permanent graduate faculty. A review of each student’s performance will be made at the end of the student’s first year. Unfavorable review can lead to warning or to probationary status, which can be removed after a third semester’s work at which time those on probation will be reviewed again. Should a student disagree with an unfavorable evaluation by the graduate faculty, he or she may appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
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