The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Theology is an academic degree for seminarians of superior academic ability who show the capacity for research and writing that may lead in the future to teaching, administration or further studies. The M.A. degree is distinct in purpose from the Master of Divinity degree, which is a professional degree oriented to ministry.

Application for Admission into the M.A. Program

Seminarians may apply for admission midway through the spring semester of First Year Theology at the earliest; by the beginning of Third Year Theology at the latest.

Prerequisites for Admission

  1. B.A. or B.S., with a GPA of 3.0 or above; and a 3.0 GPA in the regular seminary program.
  2. Twelve undergraduate level hours of theology or religious studies, having earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 for these 12 hours.
  3. Twelve undergraduate level hours of philosophy from among the topics listed below, having earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 for these 12 hours.
    1. Coursework in the History of Philosophy
    2. Epistemology
    3. Metaphysics/Philosophy of Being
    4. Ethics/Philosophy of Morality
    5. Philosophy of Nature/Human Person
    6. Philosophy of God
  4. One letter of recommendation speaking to the applicant's aptitude for academic work, particularly research and writing skills. The letter must be submitted by a member of the faculty at St. Patrick's Seminary & University.
  5. Personal statement explaining applicant's interest.
  6. A sample of the applicant's academic writing (5 page minimum).
  7. International students must take the TOEFL: minimum score of 550, paper-based exam; 215, computer based exam; 80, Internet based.

Program Requirements

The M.A. program consists of 40 total academic credits. Of these 40 credits, 33 credits of coursework (taken from 4000-9000 level courses in Sacred Scripture, Dogmatic Theology [includes Liturgical and Historical Theology] and Moral Theology) are required; plus the writing and oral defense of a full-length thesis, for which 6 credits are granted. (Provisionally approved by the Faculty on February 12, 2018)

The MA Thesis

A thesis is a scholarly work that reflects the study, research, and writing skills that characterize higher education. The thesis must demonstrate the student’s ability to do research, to analyze primary texts, and to consult, utilize, and evaluate scholarly literature on those texts. Students are required to complete a thesis with a minimum of 60 pages but not to exceed 80 pages in length (not including title page, table of contents, nor bibliography) under the direction of a faculty member, as well as orally defend the thesis before a board of two: the thesis director and one reader.

Topics must be approved by the thesis director and Director of the MA Program prior to the student beginning his thesis. Thesis guidelines are available here [link on website] or from the Office of the Academic Dean. The student is advised to obtain thesis guidelines and to discuss thesis plans with the MA Program Director and his thesis director early in his program of study.

Additional Requirements

  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 is required.
  • The thesis must be submitted within two years of the completion of all coursework.
  • The thesis board evaluates the writing and oral defense of the M.A. thesis. The board consists of the thesis director and one reader who will be appointed by the Director of the M.A. program.
  • The student must demonstrate reading proficiency in one ancient or one modern language that is relevant to their thesis research. This may be demonstrated by passing a language course or an exam.
  • Students must participate in assessment of the academic program, including completion of a Graduating Student Questionnaire during their final year of coursework. 

For more information, contact Dr. Margaret Turek, Director of M.A. (Theology) Program.

Contact Dr. Margaret Turek
Contact Dr. Margaret Turek
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St. Patrick’s Seminary & University
320 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park CA 94025 
(650) 325-5621