Master of Arts in Theology

Explore the resources of the Christian tradition. Understand contemporary culture. Serve the world and the Church.

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Our program goals reflect our departmental academic vision of "doing theology" in the Augustinian tradition and are consonant with our academic vision.

1  Faith Engaging Culture

On the program level you 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  Integration of Knowledge

On the level of the curriculum, our students pursue the integration of knowledge. We study the intersection of faith and culture by bringing theological perspectives in dialogue with each other: biblical, historical and Augustinian, systematical, ethical, spiritual, and ministerial. Critical knowledge thus requires familiarity with these perspectives (and their methods of analysis). However, our distinctive contribution to learning is the integration (not the parallel study) of knowledge.

3  Knowing and learning in the Augustinian Tradition

On the level of course work, we pursue knowing and learning in the Augustinian tradition. You will become familiar with the classical questions of the western theological tradition and study the intersection of theology and culture from within diverse academic areas.

  • To accomplish these goals we require that you complete foundational graduate seminars and take courses in a minimum of four academic areas, all of which study the intersection, or "engagement", of faith and culture from unique perspectives and with distinctive methods.
  • Upon graduation you will be familiar with the classical questions of the western theological tradition, the diverse theological possibilities of studying the theology–culture interrelationship, and thus the larger theological dialogue within our department.

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.

Please check the Program Requirements Checklist page for a first glance at specific requirements and options.

Academic Areas and Concentrations

We designed our master's program to be flexible and transparent. It introduces you to the academic study of Biblical Literature; Systematic and Fundamental Theology; Historical Studies, Historical Theology and Augustinian Tradition; Christian Ethics; 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.


It takes 36 credit hours of academic course work to complete the program – a mix of four elective and eight required courses. However, you may choose six of the eight required courses from among many possibilities.

Required Courses:

  • 1 course (3 credit hours), Foundation in Theology (THL 8000; offered every fall semester)
  • 1 course (3 credit hours), Texts in Contexts (THL 8480; offered every spring semester)

Elective Courses:

  • 1 course (3 credit hours) in Systematic Theology
  • 2 courses (6 credit hours) in Biblical Studies
  • 1 course (3 credit hours) in Historical Theology
  • 2 courses (6 credit hours) in Christian Ethics
  • 4 courses (12 credit hours) – free electives

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 in up to 2 areas of study, or take 1 course to write a thesis under the direction of a graduate faculty that enhances your academic portfolio when you apply for doctoral studies.

Language Requirement

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 your 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 the Department 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.

Other Requirements

You are also required to attend a Research Proseminar in the fall semester of your first year of studies, and pass a Comprehensive Examination.

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 all her 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.

Worksheets, Requirements, and Deadlines

Admission Status

  • If you fulfill all admission requirements, we will admit you as a matriculated student.
  • If not, the committee may recommend that you be admitted non-matriculated and retain this status until you have successfully completed several graduate courses. At that time, we will re-evaluate your matriculation status.
  • Please note that only matriculated students are eligible for VU assistantships and governmental loans.

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