Master's Programs in Theology

Graduate students and faculty in theology seminar

Studying theology and ministry within the Augustinian tradition is a crucial component of inquiry at Villanova University.

The Augustinian tradition draws upon the legacy of St. Augustine’s passionate pursuit of truth, an intentional endeavor that summons the union of mind and heart, correlates faith with reason, builds unity in the midst of diversity, and proceeds in the conviction that all authentic human wisdom is ultimately in harmony with divine wisdom. Christian theology and ministry in the Augustinian tradition are living, enduring ways of understanding and of practice that continue to be refined, developed and extended as they engage the contemporary world.

Learn more about the combined BA/MA degree that offers students the chance to earn a master's degree in their fifth year of study.

MASTER'S DEGREE PROGRAMS

The Master of Arts in Theology (MA) offers a foundational and comprehensive theological experience that attracts many types of students, including those seeking an integrated introduction to graduate theology, opportunities to enhance their ministry or vocational pathway, preparation for further graduate work or teaching in secondary education. For current Villanova undergraduates, this degree may be earned jointly, after the completion of a Bachelor’s of Arts with a major in Theology and Religious Studies, in five years total.

  • Full-Time: 2 years
  • Part-Time: 6 years
  • Credit Requirements: 36
  • Portfolio
  • GPA: 3.0

Goal 1: Analyze Faith/Culture Relationship(s)

  • Objective A: Identify faith/culture relationship(s), with attention to the experiences of diversity/inclusion, power, privilege, and marginalization.
  • Objective B: Use scholarly methods to interpret diverse religious/theological texts and related media.

Goal 2: Evaluate the Christian Theological Tradition

  • Objective A: Appraise the vocabulary, sources, beliefs, historical developments & diversity within the Christian tradition, with attention to experiences of power, privilege, and marginalization.
  • Objective B: Assess the reciprocal interaction of practices and beliefs arising from the Catholic and Augustinian traditions with diverse cultural, ecumenical/interfaith, and/or local/global contexts.

Goal 3: Apply Knowledge

  • Objective: Communicate effectively the relevance of theological/religious practices, concepts, and beliefs for personal, communal, societal and global living, in service of transformative action.

If you wish to specialize your studies you may choose a concentration, which will be noted on your transcript. Concentrations permit you to focus your studies, individualize your degree program, and tailor it to suit your academic, professional, and personal goals and objectives.

A concentration consists of four courses (12 credits) in any one area. We offer concentrations in these areas:

  • Biblical Interpretation
  • Historical Theology
  • Systematic and Constructive Theology
  • Christian Spirituality
  • Christian Ethics

Our General Pastoral Ministry Track prepares individuals for transformative leadership in areas that include: lay ministry, education, counseling, non-profit management and social work.

  • Full-Time: 2 years
  • Part-Time: 6 years
  • Credit Requirements: 48
  • Field Education Credits: 6
  • Portfolio
  • GPA: 3.0

Field education can be pursued along two possible tracks.

Residential Field Education

Supervised field education in on-campus residential ministry for students accepted into the Graduate Resident Ministry Program. Students receive tuition remission, room and board, and a living stipend. Contact the Center for Residential Ministry for more information.

Non-Residential Field Education

Supervised field education in non-residential ministerial settings within Campus Ministry or at another ministry site outside of Villanova University. Field placement supervisors in the Center for Residential Ministry will assist students in establishing their practicum placements.

Goal 1: Analyze Faith/Culture Relationship(s)

  • Objective A: Identify faith/ministry/culture relationship(s), with attention to the experiences of diversity/inclusion, power, privilege and marginalization. 
  • Objective B: Use scholarly methods to interpret religious/theological/ministerial experiences, texts and related media. 

Goal 2: Evaluate the Christian Theological Tradition

  • Objective A: Appraise the vocabulary, sources, beliefs, historical developments and diversity within the Christian tradition, with attention to experiences of power, privilege and marginalization.
  • Objective B: Assess the reciprocal interaction of practices and beliefs arising from the Catholic and Augustinian traditions with diverse cultural, ministerial, ecumenical/interfaith and/or local/global contexts.

Goal 3: Apply Knowledge

  • Objective: Communicate effectively the relevance of theological/religious practices, concepts, and beliefs for personal, communal, societal and global living, in service of transformative action.

Goal 4: Serve in Ministry

  • Objective A: Articulate a theory of ministry informed by the concepts of universal call to holiness and of baptismal vocation that fosters unity in diversity in faith communities.
  • Objective B: Demonstrate capacity for ministerial leadership with professional, spiritual, intellectual and moral integrity. 

Goal 5: Grow as Minister

  • Objective A: Conceptualize principles of discernment and demonstrate effective practices of accompanying others in their life and faith journeys – across ethnicities, races, genders, sexual orientations and physical abilities. 
  • Objective B: Develop practices of lifelong personal spiritual growth and growth of the self – aware of, and responsive to, diverse cultural contexts, expressions and experiences. 

The track in Chaplaincy Education serves those who wish to prepare for chaplaincy ministry in health care, prison, military, corporate, university and other institutional settings. The program enables students interested in pursuing certification in hospital chaplaincy to complete the necessary theological coursework and the two (2) required Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) units needed to apply to become a certified associate chaplain and two (2) out of four (4) CPE units needed to apply for full board certification. (Please note that this program does NOT grant certification, but instead moves students toward being able to apply for certification.)

  • Full-Time: 2 years
  • Part-Time: 6 years
  • Credit Requirements: 48
  • CPE Credits: 6
  • Portfolio
  • GPA: 3.0

Goal 1: Analyze Faith/Culture Relationship(s)

  • Objective A: Identify faith/ministry/culture relationship(s), with attention to the experiences of diversity/inclusion, power, privilege and marginalization. 
  • Objective B: Use scholarly methods to interpret religious/theological/ministerial experiences, texts and related media. 

Goal 2: Evaluate the Christian Theological Tradition

  • Objective A: Appraise the vocabulary, sources, beliefs, historical developments and diversity within the Christian tradition, with attention to experiences of power, privilege and marginalization.
  • Objective B: Assess the reciprocal interaction of practices and beliefs arising from the Catholic and Augustinian traditions with diverse cultural, ministerial, ecumenical/interfaith and/or local/global contexts.

Goal 3: Apply Knowledge

  • Objective: Communicate effectively the relevance of theological/religious practices, concepts, and beliefs for personal, communal, societal and global living, in service of transformative action.

Goal 4: Serve in Ministry in a Chaplaincy Setting

  • Objective A: Articulate a theory of ministry informed by the concepts of universal call to holiness and of baptismal vocation that fosters unity in diversity in chaplaincy settings.
  • Objective B: Demonstrate capacity for ministerial leadership in a chaplaincy setting with professional, spiritual, intellectual and moral integrity.

Goal 5: Grow as Minister

  • Objective A: Conceptualize principles of discernment and demonstrate effective practices of accompanying others in their life and faith journeys – across ethnicities, races, genders, sexual orientations and physical abilities. 
  • Objective B: Develop practices of lifelong personal spiritual growth and growth of the self – aware of, and responsive to, diverse cultural contexts, expressions and experiences. 

In addition to course work, students seeking chaplaincy certification must complete a minimum of 2 CPE units at an accredited hospital CPE program, which are the required number of units for a board certified associate chaplain. These units will be accepted as 6 transfer credits toward the MMT degree (1 unit=3 transfer credits). These 2 CPE units also provide track students with the required practicum component of the degree that serves as the basis for their theological reflection. The MMT program does NOT grant certification, but instead moves students toward being able to apply for certification as an associate chaplain by fullfilling the necessary requirements for theological education and ensuring completion of 2 CPE units.

If students wish to become a board certified chaplain, they must complete 2 additional CPE units at an accredited hospital CPE program (for a total of 4 units).  While these two additional units cannot be transferred into the degree program for credit, our program does support students in the process of seeking out CPE programs and preparing to apply to become either a board certified associate chaplain or a board certified chaplain.

The Master of Theological Studies (MTS) is a comprehensive terminal degree for students who seek advanced training in preparation for doctoral studies, teaching or ministerial work or who seek more advanced positions in humanitarian, philanthropic, religious, or other nonprofit, and charitable organizations. The Theological Education Track is distinctive for its focus on dedicated coursework in religious/theological pedagogy and a semester-long classroom apprenticeship experience. This track uniquely aligns with the Heart of Teaching Program developed through Villanova’s Theology doctoral program. Through its focus on critical understanding of contemporary critical reflection on education, this track culminates in an educational design project, and embodiment of sound pedagogical dispositions for transformative learning.

  • Full-Time: 2 years
  • Part-Time: 6 years
  • Credit Requirements: 48
  • Teaching Experience
  • Portfolio
  • GPA: 3.5

If you wish to specialize your studies you may choose a concentration, which will be noted on your transcript. Concentrations permit you to focus your studies, individualize your degree program and tailor it to suit your academic, professional and personal goals and objectives. We offer concentrations in these areas:

  • Biblical Interpretation
  • Historical Theology
  • Systematic and Constructive Theology
  • Christian Spirituality
  • Christian Ethics
  • Religious/Theological Education

Students pursuing the Education Track are integrated into the Heart of Teaching program. The Heart of Teaching provides instruction, supervision, and mentorship in pedagogical theory and practice, as well as mentoring in professional and leadership competencies. This apprenticeship occurs within the context of a peer community. The Heart of Teaching prepares for vocations such as secondary education faculty, religious education leadership, mission leadership, and other roles in theological and religious education. View the Heart of Teaching manual.

Goal 1: Analyze Faith/Culture Relationship(s)

  • Objective A: Identify faith/culture relationship(s), with attention to the experiences of diversity/inclusion, power, privilege and marginalization.
  • Objective B: Use scholarly methods to interpret diverse religious/theological texts and related media.

Goal 2: Evaluate the Christian Theological Tradition

  • Objective A: Appraise the vocabulary, sources, beliefs, historical developments & diversity within the Christian tradition, with attention to experiences of power, privilege, and marginalization.
  • Objective B: Assess the reciprocal interaction of practices and beliefs arising from the Catholic and Augustinian traditions with diverse cultural, ecumenical/interfaith and/or local/global contexts.

Goal 3: Apply Knowledge

  • Objective: Communicate effectively the relevance of theological/religious practices, concepts, and beliefs for personal, communal, societal and global living, in service of transformative action.

Goal 4: Teach Effectively

  • Objective A: Describe contemporary cultural challenges and trends in theological education and articulate an integrative, Augustinian philosophy of education.
  • Objective B: Design educational events that are attuned to issues of diversity and dynamics of power, incorporate contemplative teaching practices and use appropriate assessment tools.
  • Objective C: Demonstrate qualities of a self-reflective, intellectually curious educator sensitive to diverse educational contexts and hospitable toward spiritual experience as a theological source.

The Master of Theological Studies (MTS) is a comprehensive terminal degree for students who seek advanced training in preparation for doctoral studies, teaching or ministerial work or who seek more advanced positions in humanitarian, philanthropic, religious, or other nonprofit, and charitable organizations. The Research Track focuses on critical and advanced synthesis, demonstrated through concentrated areas of study and the design and presentation in a scholarly/professional capacity of a culminating research paper or project.

  • Full-Time: 2 years
  • Part-Time: 6 years
  • Credit Requirements: 48
  • Supervised Research/Project
  • Portfolio
  • GPA: 3.5

If you wish to specialize your studies you may choose a concentration, which will be noted on your transcript. Concentrations permit you to focus your studies, individualize your degree program and tailor it to suit your academic, professional and personal goals and objectives. We offer concentrations in these areas:

  • Biblical Interpretation
  • Historical Theology
  • Systematic and Constructive Theology
  • Christian Spirituality
  • Christian Ethics
  • Religious/Theological Education

Goal 1: Analyze Faith/Culture Relationship(s)

  • Objective A: Identify faith/culture relationship(s), with attention to the experiences of diversity/inclusion, power, privilege and marginalization.
  • Objective B: Use scholarly methods to interpret diverse religious/theological texts and related media.

Goal 2: Evaluate the Christian Theological Tradition

  • Objective A: Appraise the vocabulary, sources, beliefs, historical developments and diversity within the Christian tradition, with attention to experiences of power, privilege and marginalization.
  • Objective B: Assess the reciprocal interaction of practices and beliefs arising from the Catholic and Augustinian traditions with diverse cultural, ecumenical/interfaith and/or local/global contexts.

Goal 3: Apply Knowledge

  • Objective: Communicate effectively the relevance of theological/religious practices, concepts and beliefs for personal, communal, societal and global living, in service of transformative action.

Goal 4: Synthesize Knowledge

  • Objective A: Design and complete a feasible project that thematizes faith/culture relationship(s), with attention to the experiences of diversity/inclusion, power, privilege and marginalization.
  • Objective B: Present effectively the project at an appropriate venue (academic conference, colloquium, etc.).

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT - BRANDON JOA

Theology Master's student Brandon Joa

"As someone who has learned from the disciplines of both medicine and religious studies, I am glad to reflect on the ultimate meaning of both through studying theology at Villanova. The MA program has allowed me to strengthen my foundations in systematic theology and ethics, and the faculty have been so supportive of my efforts to refine my thinking and share it with others, offering guidance for conference presentations and even providing the opportunity to lecture. All these new intellectual connections could have been bewildering, but they thankfully paralleled some spiritual development I was experiencing as someone newly received into the Catholic Church coincidentally (or providentially) during this program. I had read something by, for example, Maximus the Confessor which I could discuss in class and then apply to new mysteries about the sacraments like Confirmation or some phenomena in medicine. The Augustinian impulse to integrate different areas of knowledge has therefore been fruitful since I’m interested in topics like moral emotions, neuropsychology of virtue, and cultural engagement strategies for Christian communities. I am thankful that my time at Villanova is equipping me to apply theological thinking to all areas of knowledge and life. Medicine needs some theological imagination, and theology could certainly benefit from empirical tools. Once I complete training, I hope to continue researching in both theology and medicine while practicing faithfully as a physician."

Ready for the Next Step?

Text at top reads: MMT in Chaplaincy Education, photo is of St. Thomas of Villanova Church

Check out our new Chaplaincy Education track for MMT students.

Jennifer Jackson, ThD
Director of Master's and Certificate Programs
610-519-6476

Rachel J. Smith, PhD
Interim Director of Programming & Advising, Ph.D. Program

Jonathan Yates, PhD
Director of Admissions, Ph.D. Program 
610-519-8892

Department of Theology and Religious Studies
Villanova University
800 E. Lancaster Ave.
St. Augustine Center Room 203
Villanova, PA 19085

                     

DEADLINES

January 9: For admission to the PhD program with or without assistantship

February 1: For admission to master's programs with funding consideration

August 1: For admission to master's or certificate programs without funding for the fall

December 1: For admission to master's or certificate programs without funding for the spring

If you have missed a master's or certificate program deadline, please contact Dr. Jennifer Jackson to discuss your options.

Begin Your Application.

STUDENT NEWS

Trevor Williams (PhD student) won the Founder’s Circle Prize for first place as part of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality. His paper presented a liturgical interpretation of Albert Camus.

Brandon Joa (master's student) was named a recipient of a Summer Professional Development Grant for fiscal year 2023. This funding was created to recognize and support outstanding scholarship by graduate students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Trevor Williams
Trevor Williams
Brandon Joa
Brandon Joa