Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

M.A. Pastoral Theology

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The goal of the Master of Arts (Pastoral Theology) degree is to strengthen the theological basis of your life and work, whether you are in a ministerial or secular career. This general academic degree, especially useful for those in caring professions and leadership roles, also provides a basic understanding of the theological disciplines required for further graduate study.

Successful completion of the Master of Arts (Pastoral Theology) degree requirements will enable you to: 

  • understand the biblical, historical, systematic, and pastoral dimensions of Catholic belief and practice; 

  • read and interpret texts of the Catholic tradition faithfully and critically; 

  • relate issues of contemporary thought, life and pastoral practice to larger Catholic theological context.

To earn a Master of Arts (Pastoral Theology) degree, you need a total of 48 graduate credit hours in the following areas, with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 (C) on a 4.0 scale. We can waive up to 12 credits if you have completed an undergraduate degree in theology or philosophy. The concludng exercise for the degree can be a series of capstone essays, a longer research paper, or a pastoral research project.


Four courses (12 credit hours)

  • Creed in History and Theology

  • Systematics elective course

  • Sacramental core course (Catholic Sacraments, Sacraments of Initiation, Eucharist, or Liturgical Theology)

  • Christian Ethics or Fundamental Moral Theology

Scripture and Historical Studies

Four courses (12 credit hours)

  • Old Testament core course (Pentateuch and Historical Books or Biblical Narrative and Poetry)

  • New Testament core course (Synoptics, Acts and General Epistles or Paul in Early Christianity or Pauline and Johannine Literature)

  • Early Church History

  • Medieval or Modern Church History

Pastoral Studies

Three elective courses (9 credit hours)


12 credit hours

Concluding Exercise

(3 credit hours)

Students may choose one of three concluding exercises:

  • Three 8- to 10-page Capstone Essays;

  • A 25- to 30-page Research Paper; or 

  • A Pastoral Research Project

1) You must possess a four-year undergraduate degree, in any field, from an accredited institution of higher learning. In rare instances, we can accept students who have not completed an entire bachelor’s degree.

2) You must complete the application process to be accepted into the degree program.

See Admissions