Prospective Undergraduate Students

poster "faith and culture"

Mark Graham, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Director, Undergraduate Program


text "theology & culture"

Theology and Culture


Our programs explore the inter­­sec­tions of Catholic theology, re­ligion, and culture(s). In every­thing, we draw upon the rich le­ga­cy of St. Augus­tine’s pas­­sio­na­te pur­suit of truth, a purposeful en­­dea­vor that evokes the union of mind and heart, links faith with rational reflec­tion and, in dia­lo­gue with culture(s) and other re­li­gious tra­di­tions, builds unity in the midst of diversity.

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Diversity and Integration


Theological and religious studies as conceived, studied, and ad­vanced at Villanova are inter­dis­ciplinary and inte­gra­tive. Students pursue their objectives from diverse theological and religious perspectives, place them in dialogue with each other, and integrate religious and theological knowledge with experience and other forms of knowing.

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Preparing for a Career


Our programs prepare you for graduate studies and for careers in humanitarian, phil­an­thro­pic or other non-profit, chari­table organizations; and in religious organizations as campus, youth or parish minister, educator, catechist, retreat wor­ker, ad­ministrator, coun­selor, spi­ri­tual direc­tor or in one of the many other positions such organizations offer.

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Goal 1

Gain an understanding of the purposes, central issues, and methods of inquiry standard in theological and religious studies as applied to faith engaging culture.

Objective A

Analyze fundamental issues that frame theological and religious inquiry using appropriate scholarly methods, with attention to diversity and inclusion within the issues.

Objective B

Use critical methods to read, analyze, and interpret diverse religious and theological texts (e.g., women, minorities, non-western) and related genres or media, art, and artifacts (e.g., prayer, mystical writings, autobiographies, film, music).

Goal 2

Engage Christianity, with attention to Roman Catholicism, as a living tradition of practices and beliefs that continues to be refined, developed, and extended through time in diverse cultural contexts.

Objective A

Demonstrate understanding of the unique vocabulary, foundational sources, theological beliefs, historical developments, and diverse thinkers in the Christian tradition, with attention to those that reflect on the experiences of power, privilege, and marginalization.

Objective B

Articulate how Christian practices and beliefs reciprocally interact with diverse cultural contexts, local and global.

Goal 3

Render theological concepts and religious practices and beliefs intelligible, meaningful, and relevant in contemporary cultural contexts as a basis for transformative action in the world, in dialogue with others.

Objective A

Recognize the complexity and diversity of religious practices and beliefs and seek to understand people whose values and senses of the sacred differ from their own.

Objective B

Evaluate the relevance of theology/religion for personal, communal, societal, and global living.

Revised 05/2017

As an integral part of the Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum, the foundation course THL1000 (Faith, Reason, and Culture) introduces students  to the rich living tradition of Christianity: the sources, traditions, practices, and major thinkers that have  shaped Christianity’s responses to the fundamental human questions that underlie all religions and shape  the human search for meaning. 

With a particular focus on Roman Catholicism, students engage Christianity as a living tradition of beliefs and practices that have developed over time in local and global cultural and religious contexts and that, loyal to the living God to which they point, are ready to be transformed again. Students engage Christian truth‐claims, themes, values, and witness as resources for analyzing and critically evaluating contemporary cultural challenges. In this course, students are equipped to appreciate the ongoing quest of Christian faith seeking understanding as it enters into conversation with all human knowledge and experience, including other faith/religious traditions.

Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Students who would like to study material not offered in a regular course, design more specialized courses in which they can work individually with a faculty mentor, or seek to become involved in research with faculty members may pursue an Independent Study Course (THL 6400).

Before registering for this course, students must complete a form which details the content and the evaluation methodology of the independent study. Forms are available in the TRS Department main office.

Note: Only primary and secondary TRS majors may pursue an Independent Study course.

To enhance the academic experience in TRS programs we offer distinctive capstone courses. They differ in significant ways from other courses in that they lead students to reflect on the various components of their major/secondary major curricula and to achieve synthesis in significant culminating experiences.

Capstone Course I: Research Seminar, THL 6300

Students normally take the research seminar in the junior year. The seminar focuses on individual or group research projects that participants design with the help of a faculty facilitator. It emphasizes your active role in the learning process, which implies limited reliance on lectures and extra weight given to you using the methods of THL/RST disciplines to explore fields and topics of interest to you on your own. Rather than repeating others’ work, your will independently (individually or in groups) wrestle with the unknown, discover knowledge, develop expertise in confined fields of research, and present your research progress and product to your peers.

Capstone Course II: Advanced Seminar, THL 6500

Taken in the senior year the advanced seminar stands as the culminating experience of your studies in the major and secondary major. Using higher-order learning, in the seminar, you consolidate and synthesize knowledge by bringing THL/RST fields together or putting elements of theory and/or practice together in an original form. The seminar is organized around student-lead conversations informed by the central theme studied and advanced in all programs offered by the THL/RST department: Faith seeking understanding, engaging culture. Students wrestle with the relationships between faith, religion, theology, and culture as experienced and studied throughout their undergraduate career at Villanova. With the help of a faculty facilitator students choose the seminar topics and teach them to their peers, simultaneously learning to organize and facilitate discussions. Thus, the seminar involves students communicating their explorations or discoveries. In other words, this communication includes a final product, and its precise form will vary by topic, encompassing the possibility of artistic expression as well as customary forms of scholarly communication.