The Catholic University of America

Master of Divinity

Nature and Goals 

Since the Master of Divinity is a first professional degree, the purpose of this program is to foster basic theological understanding and to develop initial pastoral competence on the part of students preparing for ministry. Accordingly, the M.Div. curriculum involves an in-depth study of the Christian, especially the Roman Catholic, theological tradition, and a supervised practice of ministry. The department offers an optional Concentration in Hispanic Ministry that has additional requirements involving the Spanish language and Hispanic/Latino studies and placement in a setting involving Hispanic ministry.

Requirements for Admission

  1. A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

  2. An undergraduate foundation in philosophy, consisting of a minimum of 12 credit hours drawn from the following areas: history of philosophy, logic, metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of God, and philosophical anthropology.

  3. A reading knowledge of Latin.

  4. An introduction to the Old Testament and an Introduction to the New Testament. Students enrolled in the Pre-Theology program who have not already had these courses should take TRS 504A (Introduction to Old Testament) and TRS 504B (Introduction to New Testament) to fulfill this prerequisite during their time in the program.. All students entering the M.Div. program without having had an Introduction to the Old Testament or an Introduction to the New Testament elsewhere must take the two TRS courses during their first year in the program to fulfill the prerequisite.

Course Work

The M.Div. degree requires a minimum of 90 credit hours of graduate courses distributed as follows: systematic theology (18), moral theology (12), biblical studies (12), and one course each in canon law, church history, liturgical studies, and spirituality (12), academic electives (12), pastoral ministry (18), and the ministry seminars (6). All students are ordinarily required to take six credits of Basic Supervised Ministry. At least one course must be taken in a non-Catholic ecclesial tradition through the offerings of the Washington Theological Consortium.

All students entering the program must take the following courses in the first fall semester: Proseminar for Masters Students, Introduction to the History and Method of Theology, and Foundations of Christian Moral Life. Of the 500 level courses, only some may be taken by M.Div. students in fulfillment of degree requirements.

Integration of Theory and Practice

While the integration of theory and practice happens in many courses in the curriculum, the following courses are designed to aid the student in achieving the integration of theoretical and practical aspects of the M. Div. program. There is a course offered at each level of the Master of Divinity that focuses on integration. In the first year of the program Introduction to Pastoral Theology acquaints the students with the process of theological reflection. In the second year of the program Basic Supervised Ministry introduces the student to the art of pastoral care and the integration of theology learned in the classroom with the practice of ministry.

In the second semester of the third year and the first semester of the fourth year of the program, the Capstone Seminar aims at the development and demonstration of pastoral leadership.

Capstone Seminar - A The goal of this course is the development and demonstration of Pastoral leadership in the parish community. Students will be engaged in the practice of pastoral ministry. The seminar will address the current state of parish life in the United States. The seminar will address skills such as group facilitation, conflict management, the exercise of authority, the importance of boundaries, effective collaboration, lay empowerment and pedagogy. Students will be asked to prepare a proposal for a pastoral project which will they will implement in the second part of the capstone seminar.

Capstone Seminar - B The goal of this course is the development and demonstration of Pastoral Leadership. Students will be engaged in the practice of pastoral ministry. The seminar will focus the skills needed for team building and pastoral planning. Students develop a project for the community in which they are ministering, which they will implement or they analyze and evaluate an existing program in which they are engaged. Students will be invited to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in terms of pastoral leadership and examine ways in which they can hone their strengths and develop strategies for dealing with their weaknesses. They will consider how their ministry enhances and solidifies their pastoral identity. They will engage in the process of theological reflection on their ministry, their identity as a pastoral leader, the connection between ministry and their spirituality and their project in ministry.

Language Requirement

Students are expected to have a reading knowledge of Latin. Since Latin is considered a prerequisite, it must be satisfied by the end of the first fall semester in the program.

Course Load

According to university regulations, the normal course load for graduate students is 12 credit hours per semester; the minimum load for full-time graduate students is eight credit hours. To fulfill prerequisites for the M.Div. program, a student is permitted to enroll for a maximum of 15 credit hours if she or he has a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and receives permission from the Associate Dean for Seminary and Ministerial Programs. Students with the requisite background can complete the Master of Divinity program within three years; ordinarily students often complete the program in seven or eight semesters.

Grade Point Average

Students must maintain a grade point average of at least 2.75 in their course work to be eligible for the M.Div. degree. Students who incur two or more failing grades in formal course work are subject to academic dismissal.

Transfer Students

Students transferring into the School of Theology and Religious Studies from another institution may ask to have up to 45 credits applied to their M. Div. degree from their former institution, provided that these credits are at the grade level B or higher and are comparable to those required by the M. Div. degree as administered by the School. The Associate Dean for Seminary and Ministerial Programs will make the final decision about the number of credits to be applied.