The Catholic University of America

Master of Arts in Spirituality

The Master of Arts in Spirituality introduces the student to scholarship and research in the area of spirituality with a special emphasis on its historical and theological dimensions.  The degree program prepares the student for advanced and doctoral studies in the field of spirituality and is designed to give the student a solid academic foundation in the discipline while offering the opportunity for elective courses to further research goals.

In addition to the general and specific requirements outlined in the Civil Degrees page, the Program in Spirituality includes the following:


Beyond the requirements for admission to the School of Theology and Religious Studies, the following are additionally required:

  • An appropriate bachelor's degree that includes at least twelve credit hours of undergraduate or graduate religious studies and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.  These should include courses in biblical, sacramental or liturgical, historical-systematic, and moral theology.  Upon review of the candidate's previous studies, certain prerequisite courses may be required.
  • Up to six graduate credit hours from other accredited institutions at a grade level of 3.0 or above may be applied to course requirements for the master's degree upon recommendation from the academic area director and the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies in the School of Theology and Religious Studies.
  • Three letters of recommendation from persons able to evaluate an applicant's ability to successfully complete graduate studies.
  • A report is required of scores of the General Aptitude Test of the Graduate Record Examination.
  • Students whose native language is not English must meet the university requirements for proficiency in English.

Course Requirements

The Master of Arts degree consists of a minimum of 36 credit hours including either a thesis (6 credit hours) or two major research papers completed in coursework on the 600 or 700 level.  Students are to maintain a 3.3 GPA.

The following courses are required:

  • Introduction to the History of Christian Spirituality;
  • Methods for the Study of Christian Spirituality;
  • Biblical Hermeneutics of Judeo-Christian Spirituality
  • Liturgical Dynamics of Christian Spirituality
  • 18 credits according to specialized interests in Spirituality, e.g., The Carmelite or Franciscan Certificate Programs;
  • 6 credits in another academic area of the School of Theology and Religious Studies, e.g., Biblical, Liturgical, Moral Theology, etc.
  • Two major research papers demonstrating an ability to incorporate sources written in Latin and French are to be written in connection with the above listed coursework on the 600 or 700 level, each paper must be on a topic directly related to the study of Spirituality, or an M.A. thesis (two semesters of directed thesis) which counts as six (6) of the above listed required 36 credits.  These papers become part of the student's file.
  • Completion of the Pro-Seminar for master students.

Language Requirement

Reading competence in both Latin and French are required by the end of the second semester of course work.

  • Latin: Reading knowledge of Latin must be demonstrated by successful completion of the Latin Proficiency Exam administered by the Department of Greek and Latin or by a course in Patristic or Medieval Latin.  Ordinarily, the Latin requirement should be satisfied during a student's first semester in the program.
  • A Major Modern Language: Reading knowledge of French required because of its extensive literature in catechetics.  The student must demonstrate his/her proficiency by passing an examination administered by the Department of Modern Languages.

Comprehensive Exam

The M.A. comprehensive examination is normally taken during the student's last semester of study.  It is based on course work and an M.A. reading list.  The M.A. comprehensive examination consists of eight questions from which the student answers four.  It takes place on two days for four hours on dates specified by the University academic calendar.  The examination is evaluated as one unit on a pass/fail basis.