The Masters of Arts in Historical and Systematic Theology is the basic graduate degree in general Roman Catholic theology. The program provides sound initiation in graduate theological studies by assisting students in acquiring the ability to "think theologically." The unique strength of the program lies in the broad and solid grounding in the Roman Catholic tradition which it affords the candidate. To this end, it avoids a narrow specialization while still allowing a measure of preferential concentration and personal selection. This degree program provides a thorough and rigorous beginning in graduate theological studies and in preparation for ministry. 

In addition and specific to the general requirements for obtaining a Civil Degree, the Historical and Systematic area requires the following:


  • Applicants for admission to the M.A. program must possess a B.A. degree with a minimum of 12 credit hours in theology/religious studies and 12 credit-hours in philosophy.
  • Applicants who do not have this background will be required to complete appropriate courses in tandem with their M.A. work. Such prerequisite courses will be specified in the student's letter of admission.
  • Please refer to the admission requirements section of the "Civil Degrees: Master of Arts (M.A.)" for further information.  

Course Requirements

  • TRS 660: History and Method in Theology (3 credits)
  • Nine credit hours in systematics
  • Three credit hours in Scripture
  • Three credit hours in moral theology
  • Twelve credit hours of electives, with at least three hours from the following: canon law, catechetics/religious education, church history, liturgical studies, religion and culture, spirituality, or world religions.

Language Requirements

  • M.A. students must demonstrate a basic knowledge of either Latin or Greek by: (1) passing either TRS 500A “Theological Latin” or TRS 502 “Greek for Theology” or by (2) passing a reading exam in either Latin or Biblical Greek.
  • M.A. students must also demonstrate theological reading knowledge of either German or a Romance language by passing an area exam in the language. Instead of passing an exam, the German requirement may also be fulfilled by passing TRS 504 Theological German.

Comprehensive Exam Guidelines

Click here to view the guidelines specific to the Historical and Systematic Theology comprehensive exams.

Reading List

Click here to view the M.A. Reading List for Historical and Systematic Theology.

Research Papers

In order to demonstrate graduate level research ability, an MA student must choose one of the following options:

  1. Writing an MA thesis and taking 24 semester hours of coursework; students who write a thesis should register for “thesis guidance” (TRS 995) for two semesters; or
  2. Writing two research papers and taking 30 semester hours of coursework.

M.A. research papers may be: [a] written independent of any course or [b] written in conjunction with a particular course and integral to the fulfillment of course requirements; in the latter case, students, at the beginning of the semester, must inform their professor(s) of their intention of satisfying M.A. requirements by writing an M.A. research paper.

The professor is to grade the paper, sign it, and give it to the Area Director for placement in the student's file; the student must receive a minimum grade of B (3.0) on each of the research papers.

The length of each research paper should be a minimum of 6,000 words but a maximum of 7,500 words. One paper must show familiarity with pertinent works in Latin, or Greek, or a modern foreign language.