Learning Beyond the Bachelor of Arts By Mary Reichardt May 15, 2000 The University of St. Thomas, through the Center for Catholic Studies, is soon to offera graduate level degree in Catholic Studies. Only the second such master’s program in existence, the Master of Arts in Catholic Studies is an interdisciplinary, advanced course of study for those who seek to deepen their understanding of Catholicism and the Catholic intellectual tradition. Courses explore the truth, beauty and vitality of Catholicthought as it has influenced and been influenced by cultures and disciplines throughout history. The program invites students of all faith backgrounds to join in this exploration.The program grew out of the conviction that the successes achieved on the undergraduate level should find a way of expression for graduate students as well. The need for a truly interdisciplinary and comprehensive investigation of Catholic thought and tradition is especially important at an advanced level as students have the potential to bring such thought to all walks of public and professional life. Such a program contributes directly to the vitality of Catholic intellectual life in contemporary society.The Master of Arts in Catholic Studies is a flexible program, designed to accommodate the particular interests of each student while also providing a strong common core of courses. We anticipate that students who enter the program will come from a variety of academic backgrounds and current or future careers. The program attracts those involved in ministry, law, education, health services, journalism and writing, social services and other professions. It also serves the needs of all students who seek a deeper understanding of the Catholic intellectual tradition for personal fulfillment.To complete the master’s degree, students will take a total of 10 courses, five which are required and five which are elective. Students also will write a master’s essay as the final, integrative project.Core courses include the following: Catholic Thought and Culture I, Catholic Thought and Culture II, Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Contemporary Moral Problems and History of Catholicism in the United States.Catholic Thought and Culture I and II, form a two-semester sequence of courses that provide the interdisciplinary basis of the program. They explore Catholic thought and tradition from the integrative perspective of theology, history and the arts, including literature, music, art and architecture.Essentials of the Catholic Faith provides the specific theological foundation for the program, Contemporary Moral Problems the philosophical foundation, and Catholicism in the United States the historical foundation.The five elective courses are chosen in consultation with the program’s director and allow the student to tailor the program to his or her educational or personal goals. Possible elective courses vary each year, and may include courses in Catholic literature, art, social tradition, political thought, theology, philosophy, the sciences, music, spirituality and other areas.Future plans include the possibility of joint programs with education, the new law school and other advanced degree programs at St. Thomas. With such joint efforts, the Master of Arts in Catholic Studies degree will contribute to the important task of translating the Catholic vision and tradition into the broader concerns of social and public policy.The Master of Arts in Catholic Studies application materials will be available July 2000, the program will begin accepting applications in October 2000, and the first class of students will begin fall 2001.