Theological Studies (M.A.)

Our program provides you with an opportunity to broaden your knowledge and deepen your understanding of Christianity through the academic study of Scripture, historical theology, church history, and contemporary and moral theologies.

This program is ideal for you if you are interested in pursuing graduate work in theology or a related discipline. Our program is also popular for ministers who find they want further background in theology to minister more effectively.

Within this program, you can earn a special concentration in Marian Studies through courses offered at the International Marian Research Institute located on campus.

We also offer a Master of Arts in pastoral ministry, which is ideal if you're interested in pursuing a career in ministry. As you develop your background in theological studies, you will also receive practical training in ministry.

Graduate Programs in Religious Studies Website >>

Admission Requirements

Applicants to the pastoral ministry and theological studies programs should submit the following information in addition to the online application:

  1. Official academic records of all previously attended colleges or universities must be submitted directly from the colleges or universities to the Office of Graduate Admission Processing. Hand-carried transcripts, official copies marked Issued to Student and unofficial copies are not acceptable.
  2. Three letters of recommendation from professors or employers.
  3. A personal statement explaining the applicant's desire to study theology at the University of Dayton.
  4. Results from the GRE are not required for applicants to the M.A. programs. However, candidates are welcome to submit a score in support of their application.

Additional requirements apply for international students.

Academic Requirements
Twenty-four semester hours of undergraduate course work in philosophy and theology/religion with a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is recommended. Those with limited or no academic background in theology may be admitted on a conditional basis.

Additional Information
Assistantship opportunities are available for students in the theological studies program.  

Academic Requirements

Program requirements can be found in the online Catalog. Simply select the area of study and click "Explore".

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with an M.A. in theological studies?
Many things! Those with experience in ministry pursue the degree in order to enhance their understanding of the tradition and advance their working knowledge of youth ministry and religious education. Others use this program to develop a content area for teaching, or as a springboard into a Ph.D. program. Still others use the master's program as a way to explore their own faith.

Does the M.A. in theological studies require a thesis?
No. Students may choose to complete a six-credit thesis, a three-credit comprehensive project or 36 semester hours in course work with a faculty-reviewed research paper. Those going on to a Ph.D. are encouraged to do a thesis. Others find the other final projects more rewarding.

What can I do with an M.A. in pastoral ministry?
The M.A. in pastoral ministry is designed to give the academic and practical basis for acquiring the competencies outlined for lay ecclesial ministers. In the Roman Catholic Church, the degree is the standard training required for pastoral associates in parishes. Pastoral associates undertake many ministries under the direction of the pastor or parochial administrator.

Does the M.A. in pastoral ministry require a thesis?
No. The M.A. in pastoral ministry does require a practicum experience and ongoing participation in the Pastoral Ministry Ongoing Seminar, as well as other practical courses.

I have heard that the Ph.D. is in "American Catholicism." Is this correct?
Not quite. The degree is a Ph.D. in Theology, with a focus on the U.S. Catholic experience. We think of theology as the organizing center of a web of the disciplines of religious studies, including historical, sociological, ethnographic, cultural and literary approaches. Our program requires basic competency in biblical studies, the history of Christianity, and theology and ethics. These are tested by general exams. Our program requires advanced competency demonstrated through a qualifying exam in the area of the dissertation and in the U.S. Catholic experience, the latter meant not to be a limit but a focus.

Are there language requirements for the degrees?
The M.A. degrees do not have language requirements, although languages other than English are useful both for research and for ministry. The Ph.D. requires rudimentary knowledge of Latin, a research language or languages appropriate to a student's research.

Can non-Catholics take these courses?
Yes. The University of Dayton is proud to be a Catholic and Marianist institution. As such, its academic posture has been called an "open circle" centered on the Roman Catholic tradition but certainly not limited to it. While the M.A. in pastoral ministry is shaped for those planning to do ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, the M.A. in theological studies and the Ph.D. in theology can be structured with somewhat different foci. A significant number of faculty and students in the Ph.D. program are non-Catholics.


Amy Doorley
Administrative Support Staff; Coordinator of Graduate Studies
Contact >>

Graduate Programs in Religious Studies Website >>