The University of St. Thomas

College of Arts & Sciences | Department of Catholic Studies | Graduate Program

Academic Overview

Academic Overview

Academic Overview

The Master of Arts degree in Catholic Studies requires students to complete 10 courses (30 credits) and one master's essay (3 credits) for a total of 33 credits.


All students in the program take two required courses:
CSMA 500 Catholic Thought and Culture I
CSMA 501 Catholic Thought and Culture II

These two courses provide students with an introduction to the sweep of two thousand years of Catholic thought and culture, but also introduce students to the interdisciplinary way of thinking central to Catholic Studies.

Students are also required to take one course in each of four core areas: theology, philosophy, history, and art.

Courses that satisfy the area requirements are grounded in a particular area of study, but engage that area explicitly in its relationship to other areas of study. Thus, students have an opportunity to consider a given area with some precision, while seeing it situated in the larger frame of Catholic Studies. The MA program offers area courses on both introductory and more advanced levels. Students work with the Director in determining which courses are most fitting to the student’s program of study in satisfying the area requirements.

Catholic Studies also offers symposia on specific thinkers, works, or topics. These courses are not area courses, but rather bring many areas to bear on the thinker, work, or topic under consideration.

Students may select their elective courses beyond the two required courses and the three required areas from other area courses or from the symposia.

A selection of courses offered in the MA program:
Catholic Social Tradition
Essentials of the Catholic Faith
The Church and the Biomedical Revolution
Philosophical Foundations of Theology
Philosophical Principles in the Thought of John Paul II
Europe and the Church: 1789 to the Present
The History of Western Education
Catholic Spiritual Narrative
The Liturgy of the Roman Rite
Augustine’s City of God
St. Francis and his World
Aquinas the Theologian
The History of Wester
Dante’s Divine Comedy
John Henry Newman
Thomas More: The Man for All Seasons

Master's Essay:

Under the supervision of a faculty adviser, all students complete a master's essay as the final, qualifying project for the degree. The master's essay gives students an opportunity to develop research, critical thinking, and writing skills and deepen their mastery of areas of Catholic Studies that are particularly intriguing to them. The completed paper, approximately 25-30 pages, will be evaluated by a committee of three faculty members who will hold a formal conversation about it with the student. Normally, students complete the master's essay during their last semester of study.