MA Theology

Theology is the study of the human experience of God and the transmission of that experience through religious traditions, doctrines, ethics and rituals.  The study of theology is critical for understanding how the Christian faith has come to be interpreted, expressed and embodied in different ways.  In an age of increased encounters among world religions, those who engage in Christian theology are challenged to put their faith convictions into conversation with the religious beliefs of others.

Features of our M.A. Theology program include:

  • Grounded in the Catholic tradition
  • Ecumenical and inquiring in spirit
  • Small evening classes
  • Convenient course schedule for part-time students
  • Special scholarship fund available for the MA in Theology (up to 50 percent of the cost of tuition). Complete FAFSA to be considered.
  • Begin courses in the summer, fall, or spring

Xavier's graduate program in theology is concerned with the issues of tradition and its relevance in the modern world.  Taught by the most widely published faculty group in the University, graduate students in theology experience a challenging educational environment.  Students from diverse backgrounds receive the conceptual tools to examine society and identify its trends and issues from a theological perspective.

The graduate program in theology is flexible so as to accommodate a wide range of interests, while equipping students with the historical awareness and professional resources necessary to enter or advance in careers such as teaching, ministry or writing; to pursue doctoral work; or to promote their spiritual development.  Optional concentrations in social and pastoral ministry or religious education allow students to develop further ministerial skills, supporting future graduates in a variety of roles of service both within the churches and in society at large--religious education, pastoral administration, social justice, non-profit agencies, health care and many other areas.


The Master of Arts in Theology requires the satisfactory completion of 30 semester hours of coursework, all of which must be taken at the graduate level.  Students pursuing the Master of Arts in Theology with a concentration in social and pastoral ministry must complete 39 semester hours of coursework; students pursuing the Master of Arts in Theology with a concentration in religious education must complete 45 semester hours of coursework.  (An applicant may begin coursework as a non-degree student before being officially accepted into the degree program. A maximum of six credit hours taken as a non-degree student may be applied toward the degree program.)

There are 15 semester hours of required courses for all MA students.  These are:

  • THEO 504 Foundations of Scripture Study
  • THEO 520 Survey of Christian Doctrine I
  • THEO 524 Survey of Christian Doctrine II
  • One course in ethics
  • One course in systematic theology

Students in the Master of Arts in Theology take the core courses plus 15 semester hours in elective courses.

Students may substitute a master's thesis for six elective semester hours.  This should be discussed and approved by the director of the M.A. program prior to the completion of the first 12 hours of graduate coursework.  The thesis is evaluated by three professors and is defended in a final oral examination.  Click here for a list of recent theses; click here for thesis guidelines. 

Students who do not submit a master's thesis are required either to complete a written comprehensive examination or submit a final research paper which demonstrates mastery of research skills and the ability to synthesize key themes from coursework into a coherent theological position.  Students are examined on their written work by a faculty committee.  Click here for research paper guidelines. 


Students engaged in or preparing for professional ministry in church and society may choose to complete a concentration in social and pastoral ministry.  Students pursuing this concentration complete: (1) the five core courses required of all MA students, (2) two additional required courses, THEO 630 Theology of Ministry and THEO 632 Ethics in Ministry, (3) six semester hours of ministerial skills courses, drawn from a menu of courses and workshops offered both inside and outside of the department, (4) three semester hours of a ministerial internship, which requires passing a ministerial assessment and evaluation as a prerequisite, 100 clock hours of supervised experience, meetings with an on-site mentor and faculty advisor and an integration paper reflecting on the experience, (5) nine semester hours of elective courses and (6) a final research paper.


Students preparing to meet the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's professional requirements for Catholic High School Religion Teacher Certification may choose to complete a concentration in religious education. Students pursuing this concentration complete: (1) the five core courses required of all MA students, (2) THEO 538 Religious Education and Youth Ministry, (3) two additional required courses, EDMS 550 Technology and Topics for Teachers and either EDFD 503 Advanced Educational Psychology or EDFD 510 Advanced Human Development, (4) EDMS 470 Student Teaching: Secondary (9 semester hours), (5) twelve semester hours of graduate-level theology elective courses and (6) a final research paper.

For further information about the M.A. in theology, including an application, please complete the web inquiry form. Questions regarding the application process may be e-mailed directly to the office of graduate services at

Dr. Gillian Ahlgren

Director of the MA in Theology