Our Graduate Mission

Who we are

Catholic universities traditionally endeavor to serve as an academic and intellectual resource for the extended local community and the Church by being a place of the discovery of God through learning and a place where the Church can engage its own traditions. Studying Catholic Christian theology at Villanova means experiencing this discovery and reflection at an Augustinian university, the oldest and largest Roman Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Our graduate program fulfills this traditional role in fidelity to St. Augustine's contributions to Western thought. His emphasis on the human will and decision, particularly the decision to love, as the proper fulfillments of all knowing has mediated to the West the biblical understanding of the human being as person who recognizes the unitive quality of his or her relationships with God, fellow human beings, and the world. Theological knowing in the Augustinian tradition is thus both speculative and practical and distinctive in its emphasis on the union of mind and heart.

What we offer

In light of this Augustinian legacy, the Department of Theology and Religious Studies has developed flexible academic full- and part-time programs in Theology. They invite students to accomplish the tasks of the heart and the mind by engaging theology and ministry with a faculty deeply committed to (1) providing our students with a Christian intellectual and moral environment, (2) integrating contemporary thought, experience, and method in course work and practica, and (3) advancing the various disciplines of Systematic Theology, Biblical Studies, Historical Studies and Historical Theology, Christian Ethics, Spirituality, and Lay Ministry.

Who our students are

The program welcomes men and women, ordained and lay, from near and far, from all Christian traditions, of all ages, and with diverse educational and professional backgrounds and equally diverse professional goals. In particular, they have recently completed undergraduate or graduate degrees and majored in theological or non-theological fields of study; they value the academic study of theology and seek to enrich their personal and intellectual lives in the midst of likeminded men and women; or they are professionals interested in changing careers, choose the master's degree as a terminal degree, and pursue further academic work or careers in secondary school education and ministerial leadership.

What our students accomplish

Our graduate program prepares men and women for the academy, the church, and the world by enabling them to ...

Tasks of the Mind

  • construct, evaluate, and advance theological arguments and discuss their significance for Christian living;
  • describe central characteristics of the Christian understanding of human existence, the world, and God;
  • investigate the resources of the Christian theological tradition in light of the questions raised by contemporary culture and the continuing challenges of human life;
  • demonstrate knowledge of biblical traditions and interpret biblical texts using current exegetical methods;
  • examine Christian ethical traditions, think systematically about moral and ethical questions, and evaluate the impact of individual and collective actions on the common good;
  • trace continuity and changes in Christian belief and practice from biblical roots, through historical developments, to contemporary forms of expression;
  • understand the methods appropriate to research and pursuit of knowledge in the diverse fields of inquiry within the program;
  • use these methods to produce research suitable for the MA level and beyond, whether for the pursuit of further study or professional, practical, and personal purposes;

Tasks of the Heart

  • engage their mind and deepen their Christian lives by integrating the speculative (mind) and practical (heart) in their studies and dialogues with faculty and fellow students;
  • discern the relevance of Augustinian vision that all authentic human wisdom is ultimately in harmony with divine wisdom for their own lives and values;
  • advance academic ways of understanding Christian belief and practice by doing theology as “faith seeking understanding” (Anselm), that is, as a critical, systematic reflection on the life of faith;
  • recognize Christian theology as a living, enduring way of knowing that continues to be refined, developed, and extended as it engages the contemporary world;
  • respond to Augustine's call to the restless search for wisdom by responding to a relationship offered from beyond the boundaries of human existence;
  • deliberate and form judgments about the implications of Christian moral principles for building a more just, sustainable and peaceful world; and
  • assume positions as productive, ethical, intellectual, and socially responsible citizens and leaders.

What we offer our University

Our graduate program is pivotal to the mission of Villanova University, which is "grounded in the wisdom of the Catholic intellectual tradition and advances a deeper understanding of the relationship between faith and reason" (see VU Mission Statement). Located within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the program is the theological and spiritual core of its graduate academic enterprise, providing vibrancy, effectiveness, distinctiveness, and excellence in theological education to its students.

Tasks of the Mind

Tasks of the Mind