The Catholic University of America

 Master of Arts General Degree Requirements

M.A. Degree Description

The M.A. program introduces the student to scholarship and research in a selected area of theology and religious studies. The goal of the program is to develop in the student a critical literacy in the chosen area. The M.A. program promotes a broad and solid grounding in the various academic areas while allowing as well for a measure of concentration according to personal preference. The degree program provides a thorough and rigorous foundation for further graduate studies in and an appropriate theological training for ministerial preparation.

Academic Areas of Specialization

The School of Theology and Religious Studies offers the M.A. degree in biblical studies, church history, historical and systematic theology, liturgical studies/sacramental theology, moral theology/ethics, religion and culture, religious education/catechetics, and spirituality.

Requirements for Admission

  1. A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.
  2. Superior achievement and the ability to pursue graduate work as indicated by official transcripts from previous institutions of study.
  3. The results of the Graduate Record Examination, GRE, or Miller Analogies Test, MAT. However, GRE scores (vs. MAT or TOEFL) are necessary for applicants to be considered for most university scholarships and strongly preferred.
  4. Non-native English-speakers must demonstrate evidence of English proficiency through submission of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores or through some other means. Contact the university Office of Graduate Admissions for questions about eligibility for waiver of the TOEFL.
  5. At least three academic letters of recommendation.

Coursework (for program specific curricula, please refer to the academic areas)

The M.A. program requires 30 credit hours of coursework, including either a thesis (six credit hours) or two major research papers. All masters-level students must take the Pro-seminar for Master's Students in their first year of study.  Students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA (3.3 if the student wishes to continue towards a doctoral degree).

Languages

M.A. students must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language, ordinarily French, German, or Spanish, by passing a specially designed exam offered by the Department of Modern Languages or by STRS. Further language requirements may be specified as appropriate to a particular area of study.

Comprehensive Exam

The M.A. comprehensive examination is written on two successive days. It is normally taken in the last semester of coursework, on the dates specified in the academic calendar. In most areas of study a reading list is provided to assist the student's preparation.

Thesis Option

M.A. students who choose to write a thesis must register for two semesters of M.A. Thesis Guidance. The thesis itself should demonstrate the ability of the student to do research by means of a modest contribution to knowledge involving a limited but significant topic of investigation.

Specifically, the thesis should prove the student's familiarity with basic methods of research; mastery of the limited subject matter; ability to exercise sound theological judgments involving analysis, comparison, and/or criticism; and to draw appropriate and accurate conclusions. The length of the thesis is primarily governed by the nature of the subject matter and the research involved but ordinarily should be 75-100 pages.

The student, with the help of a faculty member who serves as director, will prepare a one-page thesis proposal that presents the background, purpose, method, and contribution of the thesis. The proposal with a selected bibliography will be submitted to the Director of the Academic Area for approval and will then go to the M.A. Committee for final approval.

Research Papers Option

M.A. students writing two research papers are reminded that one paper must show familiarity with pertinent works in either an ancient or modern foreign language, as specified by the requirements for the M.A. degree presented in these Announcements.

Residency

The M.A. program requires at least one year of residency.