The Catholic University of America

Church History

Goals of the Academic Area

     The Church History program is focused on the history of the Catholic Church from the first to the twenty-first century. Consistent with its location within the School of Theology and Religious Studies, the program addresses the internal life of the Church, including the history of its doctrine, discipline, polity, worship, spirituality, and piety, its expansion through missionary work, and its charitable and educational activities. The development of its thought and structure is studied in the light of the ecclesiological conceptions of each period, as well as of the external conditions that affected it.

     The program includes the Church's relationship with secular society and civil government, the collective influences of its members in the intellectual, cultural, social, and political spheres, their attitudes toward their contemporary contexts, and the effects of different environments on its development and influence.

Areas of Concentration:

  • history of the early Church (including Latin and Greek patristics, late antiquity, and Oriental Christianity)
  • history of the medieval (including the Byzantine) Church
  • history of the Reformation and the Catholic reform of early modern times
  • history of the Church in later modern Europe, in the United States, and in Latin America.

Interdisciplinary and Consortium Study:

     The program is strengthened by faculty in the history of theology, liturgy, spirituality, canon law, and ecumenism in the School of Theology and Religious Studies and in the School of Canon Law. It is further supported by faculty in the School of Philosophy and in the Departments of History, Semitics, and Greek and Latin in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

     For specialized research, students may obtain permission to use the collections of the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies and the Folger Shakespeare Library. For students of the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, the archives and manuscript collections of the university are at hand, and the archives of the Archdiocese of Baltimore are nearby.

     The program can be supplemented with the history of the Christian denominations represented by the other institutions of the Washington Theological Consortium (especially of the Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist churches), as well as with the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.


William Dinges
Nelson Minnich

Associate Professors
Tarmo Toom
Susan Wessel, Area director
Mark Clark

Professor Emeritus
Robert Trisco


Degrees Offered:

Master of Arts (MA)

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)