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Master of Theological Studies Course Descriptions

NOTE: THEO 501-513 are the required core courses for all degree students. 

THEO 501 Systematic Theology and Theological Method
(3 credits)
This course examines the foundations of theology and theological method. It explores the role of scripture, doctrine, ecclesial practice, philosophy and the sciences in theological reflection. It examines the distinctive and diverse methods that are employed in contemporary Christian thought with special emphasis on practical theology. The central themes of faith, revelation, God, creation and eschatology are addressed.

THEO 502 Historical Development of Christian Tradition
(3 credits)
This course studies the development of Christian theological tradition in its unity and diversity, through the contributions of major theological figures, critical movements within the Christian community and the social context in which theology is formed. It explores a variety of approaches to theological inquiry from classical tradition to modern revisions in interpretation, diversity and the research skills necessary for studying theology today.

THEO 503 Scripture and Biblical Interpretation
(3 credits)
This is an introduction to contemporary exegetical methods of interpretation through a study of particular biblical texts. The course will also investigate related biblical questions such as inspiration, canonicity and the place of scripture in the Christian community.

THEO 504 Christian Ethics
(3 credits)
Christian ethics will examine the basis of a Christian response to moral questions. The study will include the development of a method consistent with the role of a disciple of Jesus and attempt to apply the method to specific issues such as nuclear war, bioethical issues and economic social justice.

THEO 505 Christology
(3 credits)
The central question of all Christian theology is Jesus’ challenge, “Who do you say that I am?” The Christian community in every age has explored the question and attempted to answer it in light of scripture and human experience. The course will study both past answers and contemporary positions.

THEO 506 The Nature and Mission of the Church
(3 credits)
This course is a historical theological study of the origins, nature and mission of Church: basic images and themes in scripture and tradition; the relation of the kingdom to the Church; the relation of the Church to the world.

THEO 509 General Comprehensive Exam
(0 credit, $100 fee)
The general exam is a take-home exam based on readings covered in the core area courses. Questions are based on those readings and will examine the student's knowledge of the core areas and also test their ability to integrate the different areas. The student will be required to address four of the six test questions. Three questions will require the student to synthesize material between various core courses; the fourth question will require the integration of specific core material with the student's area of concentration. Students are allowed a maximum of six weeks to complete and return the exam. Review of notes and material from the courses is useful in preparing for the exam. Students must submit the registration form and fee as well as contact the program coordinator to request the exam. Prerequisites: all core courses (THEO 501-506) and a minimum of three of the five specialization courses.

THEO 510 Integrative Colloquium
(2 credits)
The colloquium engages students in a learning experience that fosters an integration between theology and the practice of Church ministry (i.e., religious education, liturgy, pastoral ministry, parish administration or youth ministry). The case study method is used to examine various contemporary Church issues and to develop appropriate responses in a process which promotes critical theological reflection, collaborative models of work and intellectual as well as personal self-criticism. Prerequisites: THEO 509.

THEO 512 Master’s Thesis Project I
(1 credit)
The students develop and, under the supervision of the thesis director, writes the master’s thesis. The director of the Master of Theological Studies program must approve directors of the master's thesis. Enrollment and registration of this course is typically available in the fall semester of each academic year. Graded on a S/F basis.

THEO 513 Master’s Thesis Project II
(1 credit)
Continuation of work that began in THEO 512, culminating in a discussion of the thesis and submission of the finalized, approved work. Prior to final approval, a discussion of the work occurs between the student and a panel of three persons (i.e., thesis project director and two readers) at which time the thesis project is either approved, disapproved or conditionally approved with recommendations for improvement. Enrollment and registration of this course is typically available in the spring semester of each academic year. Graded on a S/F basis. Note: Those students who wish to graduate in May of any year, must have the final, completed thesis project turned in no later than March 1 of that year.

THEO 520 History and Models of Catechesis
(2 credits)
This course will explore the foundations of catechesis through the major movements, principles and people who influenced today’s approaches to catechesis. Students will investigate historical forms of catechesis and the ways they impact how we teach and evangelize today. The task of this course is to discover the reasons “we do what we do” and to recognize the foundational principles for judging the effectiveness of catechetical movements today. The course will examine methods and models of catechesis, addressing the practical issue of how to teach religion and theology, including the Sacraments.

THEO 522 Faith Development 
(2 credits)
This course offers perspectives on the contributions of theology and developmental psychology to an understanding of faith development through the lens of modern developmental psychology. They will discuss ways to encourage the development of a spiritual life across the life cycle.

THEO 540 Principles of Liturgy 
(2 credits)
This course considers the principles of Christian liturgy as the primary expression of the church's life and spirituality. It will provide a basic overview of the history of Christian liturgy and an exploration of the concepts of ritual action, time, space and the relationship of liturgy and mission. The course will address the current pastoral need for a broader development and understanding of music, environment and art, language and inculturation.

THEO 541 Sacramental Theology
(Those seeking diocesan certification are encouraged to take this course.)

(2 credits)
This course is an examination of sacramental theology. This examination includes a brief survey of the development of sacramental practices and theologies in Christian history.   Particular attention is given to contemporary Christian theological understandings of sacramentality and sacraments and of their inherent anthropological, ecclesial and liturgical dimensions. The intimate connection between sacramental celebration and the transformation of the individual, the Christian community and the world is also explored.

THEO 560 Models of Ministry and Leadership in the Church
(2 credits)
This course will investigate the theoretical basis for the practice of ministry in the contemporary church. It will examine the collaborative role of leadership and authority within that focus of ministry and servant leadership. After exploring the theological understanding and history of ministry in the community, students will come to an appreciation of the psychological and sociological influence and impact on ministry. 

THEO 576 Theology and Practice of Pastoral Care 
(2 credits)
This course examines major theological models related to pastoral care. It investigates the implications of these different approaches for ministry and for the psychology of pastoral counseling. Self-understanding, biblical and theological teachings, basic psychological theory and helping skills, and working with different populations are the main topics of the course. 

THEO 578 Theologies of Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue 
(2 credits)
The task of ministry today has been impacted greatly by the reality of cultural and religious diversity. Promoting mutual understanding and empathy between different Christian traditions as well as between Christian and non-Christian faiths has become of paramount importance. This course examines the historical and theological contexts of recent developments in ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. Special attention is paid to the pastoral and socio-political implications of such developments.

THEO 579 Enculturation and Evangelization 
(2 credits)
This course explores the dynamic relationships between Christianity and contemporary culture and societies. It focuses on the development of contextual theologies and the unique challenges and opportunities of postmodern society for shaping a distinct Christian identity. Theories and methods of evangelization and of “New Evangelization” will be examined in light of these new cultural and global realities.

THEO 580 Foundations of Spirituality 
(2 credits)
This course is a historical survey of various forms of Christian spirituality and mysticism.  These spiritualties are examined both in terms of their distinctive place in Christian history and for their use in the development of contemporary spirituality that addresses the needs of the Church and the world.

THEO 589 Special Topics 
(2 credits)
See program schedule for upcoming special topics courses.

THEO 590 Independent Study
This course provides the opportunity to investigate, through independent inquiry and critical analysis, educational theories, practices and agencies that influence the work of teachers. Prerequisites: consent of instructor and approval of MTS director and the associate academic dean.

THEO 594 Theological Practicum  (Encouraged for those not already in a ministerial position)
(2 credits)
This course is an action/reflection experience for the development of particular pastoral knowledge and skills. Students are placed in a ministerial setting that is appropriate to their area of concentration. Before a student can register for this course approval is required by the director of the Master of Theological Studies program.

THEO 600 Continuing Master’s Thesis
(0 credit, $100 fee)
If a student does not complete the thesis project while enrolled in THEO 513, students are required to register for this course in every semester thereafter until the project is completed. Note: Those students who wish to graduate in May of any year must have the final, completed thesis project turned in no later than March 1 of each year.

Independent Study vs. Arranged Course
Students may take courses in their area of specialization outside of the classroom. Both Independent Study and Arranged Courses must be pre-approved by the director. Independent Study or Arranged Courses cannot be offered for a core course unless a formal petition is made to the M.T.S. Policy Committee and will be reviewed on a case-by-case situation. Students may not take more than four credits (two courses) for specialization courses as an Independent Study or Arranged Course. The student must provide credentials of the instructor that show an M.A. or Ph.D. in the area of specialization, along with a complete syllabus that includes a required text list. An Independent Study is a course developed to meet an area of study not offered in the M.T.S. program and uses the course number THEO 590. An Arranged Course is a course that is offered in the program. Students must provide explanation as to why he/she is unable to take the course when offered and must be approved prior to scheduling the course. The course number for an Arranged Course is the same as listed in the course descriptions.