Master of Arts (MA) in Theology

The Master of Arts in Theology prepares men and women to produce sound theological research and writing. It provides the academic competency required to teach theology at the secondary level and prepares students for continuing into doctoral studies in theology. This program is an excellent choice for inquisitive minds who are interested in deep, scholarly engagement with theology or who plan to pursue professions in academic research and/or teaching such as high school teachers and college professors.

Prospective students who are interested or actively engaged in ministerial/pastoral positions within parishes, diocesan organizations, or other charitable services, rather than choosing the M.A. in Theology, should apply for the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies or the Master of Divinity, which provide the vital formation needed to meet the demands of pastoral work.

Degree Program Outcomes for the M.A. in Theology

Upon completion of the M.A. in Theology degree, the student will be able to:

  1. Constructively integrate academic theology into teaching, service, leadership, and/or Christian practice in ways that utilize the broader Christian tradition in order to be responsive to present-day needs and concerns (Identity & Mission);
  2. Intelligently articulate Christian and Dominican tradition in a way that is faithful to its foundations and sensitive to the concerns of the present day (Intellectual Formation);
  3. Evaluate and assess present-day situations, concerns, struggles, and debates in light of the broader Christian tradition.
  4. Enter into conversation through research, writing, teaching, and/or pastoral ministry that is sensitive toward people of other contexts—including but not limited to other cultures, perspectives, denominations, religions, or political views (Engagement with Social and Cultural Context);
  5. Engage in critical theological dialogue with others through collaborative work with peers; through detailed, open, and inclusive research of a broad range of scholarly sources; and through professional-grade writing and publication (Dialogue);
  6. Critically integrate, evaluate, and build upon a broad range of perspectives, concepts, and theological/philosophical frameworks.
  7. Apply theological and philosophical ideas to respond to practical problems, questions, and challenges (Integration).


In addition to a bachelor's degree from a recognized institution, alongside the other general graduate degree program admission requirements outlined in the Academic Catalog (p. 31), the M.A. in Theology program requires:

  • 12 undergraduate hours in theology and philosophy

Deficiencies in this requirement may be made up after being admitted to Aquinas Institute, which will add time beyond that which is ordinarily required to complete the degree.

Course Overview

The M.A. in Theology includes 36 credit-hours of graduate-level courses designed to fulfill the degree program outcomes and prepare students to become leaders in the field of theology.

Course Title Credit Hours
Integrative Studies
Proseminar 3
Major Paper or Thesis -
Comprehensive Exam -
Biblical Studies
Bible Interpretation 3
Scripture Elective 3
Historical Studies
Church History I: Patristic and Medieval 3
Church History II: Reformation to Post-Modern Era 3
Systematic Theology
Introduction to Theology and Theological Method 3
Christology 3
Moral Theology
Foundations of Catholic Morality 3
Student's choice 12


Thesis and Comprehensive Exam

Toward the end of their studies, students synthesize their learning and practice good research by preparing for and taking a written comprehensive examination. Students receive all of the possible questions beforehand so that they can be well-prepared.

M.A. in Theology students also research and write a 50–70 page thesis of publishable quality. This level of research helps to prepare students for the kind of work that belongs to a career in academic theology. When finished, each student discusses his or her completed thesis in an oral presentation with faculty and students.

In addition, students can choose to study a forgein language, which is highly recommended for those who plan to continue on to doctoral degree programs.

Language Study

In order to better fulfill the academic goals of the Master of Arts program and significantly improve their own credentials, students have the option of fulfilling a language requirement by demonstrating competence in a language other than their native language that is appropriate for academic theological research.

In order to complete the Master of Arts in Theology, students must demonstrate competence in a language other than their native language that is appropriate for academic theological research. Nearly any language can be appropriate, so long as it benefits the student's theological research interests (see the director of the M.A. program for specific guidelines). Learning a second language not only helps students deepen their academic research; it can also make them more attractive candidates for high school and university teaching positions.

This language requirement can be fulfilled in a number of ways. Depending on the student’s particular situation, two of the options may not require any additional commitments by the student. These include:

  1. Demonstrating by official transcript that he or she has already obtained an undergraduate degree with a major in an appropriate language;
  2. In the case of students for whom English is a second language, fulfilling the standard requirements for demonstrating English competency (see “Admission Requirements for Masters’ Degrees and Certificate Programs” in the Academic Catalog).

    If neither of these situations apply, then the student may satisfy the language requirement by:
  3. Demonstrating reading competency by passing a language exam at Aquinas Institute (see the director of the M.A. program for guidelines);
  4. During his or her tenure at Aquinas Institute, taking and passing a three-credit advanced course for acquiring reading competency in an appropriate language at an accredited institution of higher learning. St. Louis University offers several such courses over the summer.

How do I apply?

Click here to apply online. Feel free also to ask a question via email.

Joint M.A./Ph.D. in Health Care Ethics

For those interested in going straight into doctoral studies, Aquinas Institute and Saint Louis University together offer a Joint M.A. in Theology and Doctor of Philosophy in Health Care Ethics. This program has slightly different requirements than our regular Master of Arts in Theology, and benefits from our collaborative relationship with Saint Louis University.