Course Descriptions | Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • Theology Course Descriptions


    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.


    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 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 ascetical 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 of all 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 Siena, 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 of 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 on 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.

    THE 895: Thesis

    (3 credits)

    The Master's Thesis is an approximately 50-75-page research paper that advances, even if modestly, the study of the Bible or of historical, systematic, or moral theology. It will be written under the direction of a faculty advisor and formally defended before the advisor and two other members of the faculty of theology.

    THE 999: Thesis Extension

    (No credit)

    Registration for this optional non-credited course indicates that the student is involved in studies necessary for the completion of the thesis. At the end of each extension period the student must demonstrate progress toward the completion of the thesis. Master's students are allowed to register for THE 999 no more than two (2) times. A matriculation fee is required. This fee entitles the student to the use of the library and other basic services.

    Online Catechetics Courses (MACE)

    There is a measure of fluidity between the MACE and resident MA Theology programs. MACE courses requiring CAT 517 as a pre-requisite may not be taken without first completing CAT 517. Otherwise, with permission from the Director of their program, students may take up to three (3) courses in the venue other than the one in which they are registered.


    There is only one philosophy course offered by the Theology Department toward the MA Theology degree: THE 804, 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.

Academically Excellent Passionately Catholic

1235 University Boulevard

Steubenville, Ohio 43952

(740) 283-3771


Franciscan University of Steubenville is no ordinary university, and a Franciscan education is no ordinary education. Rather, it's an education as rigorous and demanding as it is faithful--an education that challenges you intellectually, forms you professionally, and feeds you spiritually.


You can help Franciscan lead the way in providing a faithfully Catholic education!