Master of Arts

Our program goals reflect

1  Engaging Faith and Culture

Pursue three questions concerning content, context, and application of theological studies with a focus on faith engaging culture:

  1. What is the fundamental truth of a faith claim (veritas)?
  2. What are its biblical, historical, and contemporary cultural contexts (unitas)?
  3. What are its ethical, spiritual and ministerial significance (caritas)?

2  Integrating Knowledge

Bring theological perspectives (and their methods of analysis) in dialogue with each other: biblical, historical and Augustinian, fundamental theological and doctrinal, ethical, spiritual, and ministerial.

3  Learning in the Augustinian Tradition

Become familiar with the classical questions of the western theological tradition by studying the intersection of theology and culture from within diverse academic areas.

Our program objectives reflect Augustine's vision of learning and knowing with the mind and the heart.

1  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; and
  • 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.

2  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.

master's graphic


It takes 36 credit hours of academic course work to complete the program – a mix of elective and required courses. You may choose elective courses from among many possibilities. See the program worksheet.


Our master's program requires you to pass a Language Examination that demonstrates reading comprehension in a foreign language. This policy explains specific requirements. In some circumstances, the Language Examination requirement may be waived; please inquire with our graduate program director.

If you are interested in improving language proficiency, there are opportunities to study ancient and modern languages at Villanova. In general, the theology graduate program does not offer language courses, but the Classical Studies Program and theDepartment of Romance Languages and Literatures do.

Please keep in mind that language instruction courses per se do not count toward fulfilling your theology degree requirements. Still, there is one exception. We permit all students to enroll in up to two courses (electives) in other graduate programs at Villanova. Therefore, you may enroll in classical or modern languages courses that also investigate  philosophical, theological or anthropological questions, and such courses will count toward fulfilling your degree requirements. Before you make any plans, though, please contact our program director.

In addition, every academic year the Graduate Dean makes limited scholarships available to full-time theology and philosophy graduate students. Again, please contact our program director to inquire about the availability of funding.

Program Exit Strategies

Write an integrative thesis OR pass an integrative examination. These are not for credit options.

Research Proseminar

You are required to attend a Research Proseminar in the fall semester of your first year.

We design our degree programs to meet a plurality of professional needs (lay ministerial work; teaching; doctoral studies; etc.). Our Master's in Theology degree designates a general degree. It is particularly beneficial for those students who intend to distribute course work evenly across all academic areas, for example, in preparation for secondary school education or lay ministry work.

If you wish to specialize your studies at the master's level you may choose an academic concentration. A concentration permits you to focus your studies, specialize in distinctive fields of inquiry, individualize your degree program and tailor it to suit your academic, professional and personal goals and objectives. A concentration may enhance your academic portfolio for future employment or further academic studies.

Noting a concentration on your transcript

Academic concentrations are serious academic endeavors. They convey an accurate and objective description your course of study, thus enhancing the value and ensuring the integrity of your education. Your concentration will be indicated on your official transcript if the concentration is declared when you apply for graduation and all courses required for the concentration are documented as completed. Noting a concentration on your transcript not only recognizes your academic interests and the completion of required course work; it also makes the concentration a University recognized track within your master's degree and officially acknowledges your academic achievements in the concentration.

Listing your concentration recognizes the broader academic focus undertaken by you in a particular academic area while clarifying the purpose of the general master's degree for those intending to teach in secondary schools or seeking employment in ministerial fields.

Declaring a concentration

You may choose a concentration during the course of the program; you do not have to declare a concentration when you apply for admission to one of our programs. We will notify the registrar at the time of your graduation that you have completed the concentration.

Areas of concentration

A concentration consists of four or more courses. We offer concentrations in these academic areas:

  • Biblical Studies
  • Historical Studies, Historical Theology and Augustinian Tradition
  • Systematic Theology
  • Christian Spirituality
  • Christian Ethics
  • Lay Ministry

Academic Areas

We designed the master's program to be flexible and transparent. It introduces you to the academic study of Biblical Literature; Doctrinal and Fundamental Theology; Historical Studies, Historical Theology and Augustinian Tradition; Christian Ethics; Christian Spirituality; and Lay Ministry and permits you to develop concentrations in these areas.

Study Full-time and Part-time

You may enroll as a full-time student and complete the program in two years. If you plan to study part-time you may enroll in as little as 1 course per semester and take up to 6 years to complete all degree requirements. To permit part-time students to work during the day, most courses meet in the evening.

Design your Program

You may choose required and elective courses based on your academic and interdisciplinary interests. For example, you may enroll in up to two courses (electives) in other graduate programs at Villanova. Also, you may develop a concentration of 4 courses, or write a thesis under the direction of a graduate faculty that enhances your academic portfolio when you apply for doctoral studies.

Transfer of Credits

At the time of program application you may request the transfer of up to 6 credits from another institution.

1  Review Program Information

Please look around our web-site to find out as much as possible about us and our students, our programs, and Villanova's and our department's services for students. It is important to us that you consider Villanova a good fit for your academic journey. Feel free to contact us and request additional information about our master's program.

Of course, we heartily invite you to contact our program director for program specific information or members of our Graduate Theology Student Committee. And you are most welcome to visit us in person if you live nearby or plan on stopping by in Philadelphia. If you cannot visit in person, you can find detailed information on Villanova's campus and community, as well as the surrounding Philadelphia-area by taking a virtual tour.

2  Review your Academic Qualification

All applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an institution accredited by one of the regional accrediting agencies.

In addition, we ordinarily require

  1. eighteen credits in Theology, Religion, or the equivalent; and
  1. a 3.0 (or higher) GPA.

We will also consider your application if you have a lower GPA or majored in in other fields (Education, the Humanities, the Social Sciences, the Sciences, Law, etc.).

3  Contact the Director of Graduate Admissions

In our department, the Director of Graduate Admissions guides all applicants through the program admission process. We recommend that you contact the director in person, by email or telephone to discuss your unique situation, qualifications, and goals.

4  Apply for Admission

Please complete the online application before you submit additional application materials. We need a completed application to accurately record and match your supplemental material. Thus, without completed online application we will not be able to keep you informed about the status of your application material.

5  Submit Your Application Material

What's Needed
Online Application yes
Application Fee (non-refundable) $50
Resume optional
Writing Sample optional
Letters of Recommendation 3
Interview no
Transcripts yes
GRE (or equivalent) yes

Statement of Objectives (500-700 words)


We do not require that you submit all application materials together. However, we consider applications only when all materials have been received. The items listed above are all we need to review your application. Please do not send unnecessary supporting documents. If you would like us to know about relevant experience or activities, feel free to include that information in your personal statement.

We review and approve applications on a rolling basis and admit applicants to the fall, spring, or summer semester. To insure a timely review, consider submitting your application well ahead of the posted deadlines.

6  What Happens Next?

Upon receiving all your application material, our Graduate Program Committee submits a recommendation concerning acceptance and matriculation status to the Office of Graduate Studies.

We aim to notify you of our acceptance decision by email and regular mail within one week of receiving your complete application.

7  Enroll in Your Classes

As soon as the Office of Graduate Studies admits you to the program you are free to enroll in your classes.