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Seminarian in class

Master of Arts (Theology)

Theology as a Science

Conforming to the standards of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the M.A. (Theology) degree can be of particular value for those interested in teaching positions or who hope to enter Ph.D. programs. Candidates choose from one of four areas of concentration.


Mount St. Mary’s Seminary is a school of faith, discipleship and learning that prepares men for the Catholic ministerial priesthood. We strive to be a spiritual place that fosters a way of life and provides an atmosphere for excellent priestly formation in all its aspects: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral.

  • Undergraduate Major
  • Undergraduate Minor
  • Graduate Degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Accelerated Undergraduate
  • Adult Undergraduate
  • Special Program

M.A. (Theology) Degree Purpose

The Master of Arts (Theology) offers a fully accredited graduate academic degree program. Its purpose is to provide a student with competence in the study of theology as a scientific discipline and to serve as a step toward further graduate study. The degree complies with all relevant standards: ATS General Institutional Standards, Educational Standards applicable to all Degree Programs, and in particular Standard D "Basic Programs oriented toward General Theological Studies."


The goal of the Master of Arts (Theology) degree program is to equip candidates with general knowledge and the ability to do theological research and writing at the master’s level.


The M.A. (Theology) degree program candidates will:

  • Gain survey knowledge of theology
  • Focus in an area of concentration for study and research writing in Church History, Moral Theology, Sacred Scripture, or Systematic Theology
  • Demonstrate the ability to do theological research and writing at the master’s level.

M.A. (Theology) Course Content

  • A minimum of forty-eight (48) graduate credit hours in a curriculum determined by the area of concentration selected by the candidate from among Church History, Moral Theology, Sacred Scripture, and Systematic Theology. This includes a minimum 12 credits of Foundational Theology cores, 12 credits of concentration department specific cores, 9 cores from other concentrations, minimum 6 credits of concentration electives, with 3 credits of concomitant research projects, plus approximately 6 credits of other coursework for 48 credit total.
  • A minimum GPA of 2.5 in four specified 501-level core/foundational courses and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all courses applied to the M.A.(Theology) degree.
  • Foreign language reading proficiency is required only if such competence is demanded by the proposed research projects, such as the use of Biblical Greek or Hebrew for exegesis papers by Sacred Scripture concentrators.
  • Satisfactory completion of a comprehensive examination (described in the Academic Norms section of the Seminarian Handbook ).
  • Successful completion of three one-credit directed research writing projects, and their concomitant two-credit electives, with no grade below 3.0 (described in the Academic Norms).
  • In lieu of two of the directed research writing projects, a student, with the permission of the department chair, may write a thesis (described in the Academic Norms) for which six (6) credits are granted.

Learning Outcomes and Educational Assessment

  • The Master of Arts (theology) degree program candidates will gain both survey knowledge of theology as well as a focus in an area of concentration for study and research writing in Sacred Scripture, Systematic Theology, Church History, or Moral Theology, and demonstrate the ability to do theological research and writing at the Master’s level.
  • The attainment of a minimum 3.0 gpa on coursework required for the concentration, completion of the comprehensive examination, and the approval of the three completed research projects (or one project and the thesis option) together comprise the summative evaluation instrument which ensures that candidates have met the degree program goals.

M.Div./M.A. Combination

Qualified students at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary may enroll in one of the dual degree programs combining the M.A.(theology) with the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree, our fully accredited basic professional degree oriented towards ministerial leadership.

Learn more about our Seminary dual-degree program offerings.

Dual Degrees

Educational Resources & Learning Strategies


The M.A.(theology) degree program normally requires a minimum of two years of study. Students who are also completing the M.Div. can expect to complete the M.A.(theology) degree at the end of their ordination program. No more than one-half of the credits applied to the M.A.(theology) degree may be applied towards the M.Div. degree.  Degree must be completed within ten years of matriculation.

Distinctive Resources

Most members of the seminary faculty are in possession of earned doctorates, the majority from pontifical universities. Most faculty members reside on campus and take part in the community life of the seminary. The full range of information technology, writing center, library and interlibrary loan services are available to both residents and day students alike. A member of the library staff serves as a theological bibliographer and is available to facilitate research projects.

M.A. (Theology) Admissions Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree (or the equivalent) from an appropriately accredited institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (or by the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome)
  • A minimum of 18 undergraduate credits in philosophy, preferably the following titles (which are offered regularly as part of the Pre-Theology Formation Program):
    • Logic; Ethics; Ancient Philosophy; Medieval Philosophy; Modern Philosophy; Contemporary Philosophy
  • Approval from the sponsoring diocese and endorsement by the seminarian’s formation advisor (for priesthood candidates only).
  • Seminarians in first theology may enroll in the M.A. (theology) degree program by declaring their area of concentration during the fall or spring registration period. They must obtain the endorsement of their diocese and their formation advisor.
  • All other students who meet admission requirements must declare their degree program and area of concentration upon application.
  • Mature candidates with evidence of significant professional, military, academic, continuing education may be admitted at the discretion of the seminary academic dean. Some prerequisite coursework in philosophy may be waived based on the judgment that this evidence provides the well founded hope of the ability to actively pursue and complete the degree.
  • No more than six (6) transferable semester credits may be accepted towards the M.A. (theology) degree. All applicants must submit official transcripts showing prior work to be reviewed by the seminary academic dean and seminary registrar.  All course credits applied to the M.A. (theology) degree should be earned (at the Mount or another appropriately accredited graduate-level institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or by the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome) within ten years of the awarding of the degree. 
  • To be considered transferable, credits must be earned with a minimum grade of “C” (2.0), from an appropriately accredited graduate-level institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or by the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome. Transfer credits are not calculated into the final GPA calculations for the M.Div. degree.
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