Master of Divinity Degree (Online MDiv) Programs - St. Bernard’s - St. Bernard's

Master of Divinity

The Master of Divinity (MDiv) seeks to provide students with an extensive and dynamic combination of theological and ministerial formation, which prepares them to offer an engaging, well-formed witness to the world, usually through professional ministry. It combines an in-depth exploration of all four dimensions of formation (intellectual, pastoral, spiritual, and human) with opportunities for practical applications of the tools learned in the classroom. Those preparing for ecclesial ministry and looking to complete a Master of Divinity degree online or on campus will wish to explore this program.

Master of Divinity Program Outcomes:

A student who completes the Master of Divinity degree can expect:

  1. To demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the Catholic intellectual tradition (Religious heritage)
  2. To evaluate contemporary beliefs, assumptions, and societal issues in light of the Catholic intellectual tradition (cultural context)
  3. To integrate theological reflection, spiritual development, and ministerial practice (personal and spiritual formation)
  4. To evidence skills conducive to effective professional ministry and pastoral leadership (religious and public leadership)

Program Overview:

24 courses (72 credits)

  • Foundational Courses
    • C215 – Introduction to Theological Studies
    • D214 – Spiritual Formation
  • Area A: Biblical Theology
    • A205 – Introduction to Biblical Studies
    • A202 – Old Testament
    • A203 – New Testament
    • A-Area Elective – Old Testament
    • A-Area Elective – New Testament
  • Area B: Historical Theology
    • B301 – The History of the Church
    • B-Area Elective
  • Area C: Systematic Theology
    • C216 – Grace, Nature, and Christian Anthropology
    • C217 – Fundamental Moral Theology
    • C226 – Liturgical and Sacramental Theology
    • C228 – Ecclesiology and the Theology of Ministry
    • C302 – Christology and Trinitarian Theology
    • B/C310 – Catholic Social Teaching
    • C/D333 – Catholic Bioethics at the Beginning of Life OR C/D334 – CatholicBioethics at the End of Life
  • Area D: Pastoral Theology
    • D207 – Canon Law and Ministerial Leadership
    • D217 – Pastoral Care
    • D218 – Issues in Pastoral Care
    • D302 – Pastoral Field Education I
    • D303 – Pastoral Field Education II
    • D-Area Elective
  • General Electives
    • General Elective I
    • General Elective II


  • A202 Old Testament
    A general introduction to the social history, content and theological themes of the Hebrew Scriptures. A basic orientation to methods of biblical study.
  • A203 New Testament
    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.
  • A205 Introduction to Biblical Studies
  • B301 The Gift of Meaning: History of the Church
    “All those in history who have really done anything with the future have had their eyes fixed upon the past” (G.K. Chesterton). This course will provide a survey of Church history, tracking the Church of God across time and space from Pentecost to our present day. The course content will privilege a theological approach to history: it will investigate the historical unfolding of the Church’s doctrines, charisms, and spiritualities, and will assess the temporal development of the institutional Church. The investigations undertaken will be accompanied by a determined effort to learn from history for the sake of the present.
  • C215 Introduction 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.
  • C216 Grace, Nature, and Christian Anthropology
  • C217 Fundamental Moral Theology
    Introduction to the fields of moral theology and Catholic Social Thought: their purpose in the life of the Church; their methods, 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 Liturgical and Sacramental Theology
    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 Ecclesiology and the Theology of 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 Christology and Trinitarian Theology
    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 the course. Other contemporary questions pertaining to the historical Jesus, God-language, suffering, liberation, and cultural diversity are explored as well.
  • B/C310 Catholic Social Teaching
    This course examines the development of Catholic Social Teaching from an historical and theological perspective. Students will become familiar with the numerous social documents of the Church, beginning with "Rerum Novarum." The content and implications of these documents will be discussed and evaluated. The life and work of Dorothy Day and other key figures in the area of Catholic social teaching will be offered as examples of how we can integrate social teaching in to our ministries and spirituality.
  • C/D322 Catholic Bioethics
    Catholic Bioethics at its core is about guiding us towards making well-considered moral decisions in our everyday life that will ultimately lead us to the greatest possible happiness, as exemplified by a life that best glorifies and honors God. This course will describe foundational Catholic principles which have historically provided clarity and rationality to Church moral teaching and which continue to be relevant in today’s complex bioethical climate. Issues to be considered include abortion, in vitro fertilization, contraception, surrogate pregnancy, organ donation, stem cell research, gene editing, gender dysphoria, immunizations, and physician-assisted suicide. Catholic and secular bioethical ideologies will be compared. End-of-life directives (MOLST, POLST, Living Wills, etc.), will be analyzed in light of Catholic teaching. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs) will be examined. Discussion will touch upon Theology of the Body doctrine, natural law, the role of conscience, human suffering, and cooperating with evil. This course will benefit health care professionals, clergy, chaplains, life science researchers, ethics and human subjects committee members, counselors, and those who are interested in learning more about applying Catholic bioethical principles to real-life situations.
  • D207 Canon Law and Ministerial Leadership
    An introduction to Canon Law, especially as applicable to parish ministry. A particular focus will be given to the canon law of marriage. In addition to a brief summary of the history and development of Canon Law, and a brief survey of the structure of the Roman Curia, an overview will be given according to the organization of the 1983 Code of Canon Law: I. General Norms (canons 1–203); II. The People of God (canons 204–755); III. The Teaching Function of the Church (canons 756–833); IV. The Sanctifying Function of the Church (canons 834–1258); V. The Temporal Goods of the Church (canons 1259–1310); VI. Sanctions in the Church (canons 1311–1399)VII. Processes (1400–1752).
  • 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 an 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
    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.
  • D218 Issues in Pastoral Care
    This course examines a variety of issues surrounding pastoral care and ministry in the parish. We will examine the theology of pastoral ministry, as well as exploring stages of faith development, ministering to Gen Z, family ministry, Eucharistic affiliation, and the current USCCB Strategic Initiatives.
  • D302 Pastoral Field Education I
    This course is a 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.
  • D303 Pastoral Education II
    An additional practicum required of M.Div. students.

A complete list of Master of Divinity electives can be found here.

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