Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies

This degree - available both online and on-campus - seeks to provide students with a dynamic combination of theological and ministerial formation, which prepares them to offer an engaging, well-formed witness to the world. Those preparing for ecclesial ministry will wish to explore this degree program and/or our Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Studies (see below this page for more information on our GCPS!). A student who completes the MAPS can expect to demonstrate:

Program Outcomes

  • Academic (intellectual)
    • basic knowledge in theological disciplines (biblical, historical, theological and pastoral)
    • ability to articulate and nuance teachings/doctrines of the Church
    • ability to interpret and appropriate the Church’s social teachings
    • ability to think and analyze critically
    • ability to access resources
    • ability to articulate one’s own theology
    • ability to write clearly and coherently
    • ability to integrate and make connections
  • Ministerial (pastoral)
    • skills in public speaking and chairing meetings
    • ability to lead prayer and worship
    • understanding of the liturgical and sacramental tradition of the Church
    • ability to break open the Word in the context of homily, catechesis and preparation for sacraments
    • familiarity with ecclesial administration
    • ability to work collaboratively
    • basic knowledge in canon law
    • zeal for mission and service
    • awareness of an ability to fulfill a public role as a church representative
    • ecumenical sensitivity
  • Spiritual
    • foundation and growth in spiritual life
    • commitment to prayer and reflection
    • commitment to life-long growth in relationship to God and Christ
    • evidence of having done discernment regarding vocation
    • appreciation of one’s call to ministry
    • relationship with a community of faith
  • Personal/interpersonal (human)
    • healthy sense of self-strengths and limitations
    • ability to be self-reflective
    • ability to integrate all aspects of formation and ministry
    • ability to balance various responsibilities and commitments
    • openness (one who evidences growth)
    • ability to relate to others
    • competency in basic counseling skills
    • broader cultural awareness
    • global perspective
    • evidence of having worked on one’s limitations
    • growth as a moral person

Program Overview

15 courses (45 credits)

  • 11 Required Courses:
    • A202 Intro. to Hebrew Scriptures
    • A203 Intro. to Christian Scriptures
    • C215 Orientation to Theological Studies
    • C217 Moral and Social Teachings
    • C226 Worship and Sacraments
    • C228 Church and Ministry
    • C302 Theology of the Trinity
    • D207 Ministerial Leadership
    • D214 Spiritual Formation
    • D217 Pastoral Care I
    • D302 Pastoral Formation
  • 4 Elective Courses


  • A202 Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures
    A general introduction to the social history, content and theological themes of the Hebrew Scriptures. A basic orientation to methods of biblical study.
  • A203 Introduction to Christian Scriptures
    An introduction to the history and literature of the Christian movement in the first and second centuries with particular attention to the New Testament in regards to literary components, composition facets, theological themes, and interpretive principles.
  • C215 Orientation to Theological Studies
    This course orients students to the various aspects of theological studies and the way theology functions in a faith community. Key issues such as faith, revelation, scripture, tradition, human experience, and worship are explored with an eye to how they are integrated into the entire discipline of theology. The course aims at helping the student develop a framework in which to understand how one engages in critical theological reflection in light of human experience in general and pastoral/ministerial life in particular.
  • C217 Moral and Social Teachings
    Introduction to the fields of moral theology and Catholic Social Thought: their purpose in the life of the Church, their methods, and their problems. The content of the course is a thorough treatment of methodological issues rather than analysis of specific moral or social dilemmas, though specific issues and cases are used for purposes of illustration and assisting students in developing skills of application to practical situations. Among the topics to be addressed: sin and conversion, moral growth and development, sources of moral wisdom, methods of moral decision making, conscience and discernment, and the development of Catholic Social Thought.
  • C226 Worship and Sacraments
    An historical, anthropological and theological investigation of Christian worship and sacrament with special attention to the Roman Catholic Sacraments of baptism and Eucharist; historical overview of liturgical practices, texts, and theology from Jewish and scriptural origins to the 20th-century Vatican II reforms; basic principles of liturgical and sacramental theology; and groundwork for interpreting liturgical documents and ritual texts from pastoral practice, multi/inter-cultural concerns, and ecumenical considerations.
  • C228 Church & Ministry
    Historical and theological overview of the Christian understanding of church and ministry, with the Second Vatican Council (especially Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes) as primary points of reference. While the western and Roman Catholic context is central to the presentation, global and ecumenical considerations characterize the treatment of such topics as diversity in the early church(es)’s understanding of its mission, the development of ecclesial structures within their historical and cultural contexts, centralization to the papacy and the magisterium, the church as local/universal, the priesthood of the faithful, ecumenical dialogue, and the origin, function, and evolution of ordained and lay ministries.
  • C302 Theology of the Trinity
    This course examines and explores the nature of the Christian God as unity and Trinity. It focuses on God’s reality as creator, as redeemer in the person of Jesus who we proclaim the Christ, and as unifier and advocate in the person of the Spirit. Since the very nature of God implies “communion,” the social implications of the Trinity are a focal point for this course. Other contemporary questions pertaining to the historical Jesus, God-language, suffering, liberation, and cultural diversity are explored as well.
  • D207 Ministerial Leadership
    As leaders, lay and ordained, in the faith community, ecclesial ministers are asked to serve in a variety of roles: as leaders or prayer, conveners of groups and committees, reconcilers and mediators, animators, and resource persons. In a faith community which proclaims and values collaboration, the ecclesial minister is nevertheless asked to develop and exercise leadership gifts. Using the model of servant leadership, this course will explore the dimensions of ministerial leadership in ways appropriate for each student’s faith tradition.
  • D214 Spiritual Formation
    This course provides a broad introduction to the ways in which people appropriate the mystery of faith, the process entailed in that appropriation, and overview of the history of that process and the types of experiences which have emerged in that history. Students can achieve reflective understanding of their own practice, develop it more consciously and be enabled to appreciate and assist others in this area of ministry.
  • D217 Pastoral Care I
    This course is designed as a beginning course in understanding the basic principles and methods of pastoral care. It will focus on a theoretical background and is complemented by actual, practical experiences in pastoral listening as part of dyads and working groups.
  • D302 Pastoral Formation
    This course is a two-semester, supervised field experience that introduces students to particular pastoral settings in order to provide them with an opportunity to critically reflect on the minister they are becoming. The experience consists of three components: participation in supervised ministry, theological reflection, and evaluation.

A complete list of Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies Electives can be found here.

Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Studies (GCPS)

We recognize that many who are called to come into deeper knowledge and love of God through study may not have a bachelor's degree. Our Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Studies (GCPS) provides an opportunity to receive the identical formation and courses as our Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) - no bachelor's degree required.

Please contact Dr. Matthew Kuhner, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, for further details.

Contact Dr. Kuhner