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The oldest and largest program of its kind, online or on ground.

Master of Arts in Catholic Studies

A Master of Arts in Catholic Studies

What does the rich wisdom of the Catholic tradition say about an individual's purpose and work? About culture, science, and the arts? About the economy, leadership, and virtue? How does the incarnation of Christ illuminate every aspect of the human experience?

Answers to these questions--and more--are what students in Catholic Studies get to explore every day. Catholic studies is grounded in the belief that Catholicism is animated by the self-gift of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. Our approach will help you see how "Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11) – in the wisdom you seek, the work you pursue, and the life you live.

Our full-time and part-time students are drawn from many walks of life: teachers, doctors, businesspeople, parents, empty-nesters, and those just getting started in exploring their life's vocation. Whatever their background, all our students are looking for an immersive, interdisciplinary, and faithful study of Catholic thought and culture, within a rigorous and supportive academic community.

Graduate student speaking during class.

Get a feel for the Program

Engaging the Whole Person

Guided by St. John Henry Newman’s idea of a university, our program is designed to foster the intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth of students. We offer a rich and supportive environment that goes well beyond the classroom.

Student Testimonial Video

The friendships I formed with my classmates have proven to be lasting, and the mentoring relationships I formed with some of my professors continue to bear fruit in my professional and personal life."

Justin Shay ‘13

Curriculum Overview

  • Curriculum Overview
  • Curriculum by the Numbers
  • Master's Essay
  • Example Courses
  • Curriculum Overview

    The Master of Arts in Catholic studies degree requires students to complete 33 credit hours.

    Two required courses introduce students to the sweep of two thousand years of Catholic thought and culture, and to the interdisciplinary way of thinking central to Catholic Studies.

    Students also take one course in each of four thematic areas: theology, philosophy, history, and the arts. While the focus of these courses is grounded in a particular area of study, the course always engages that area explicitly in its relationship to other areas of life. Students learn not just why we believe something, but also how a particular belief in something affects the world around us – the work we choose, the decisions we make, and the culture we build.

    The four remaining elective courses can be taken on a wonderful variety of topics, including specific thinkers, great works, or important themes.

    Full-time students complete the MA degree in two years. Part-time students, taking one course per semester, typically finish the program in under four years.

    Curriculum by the Numbers

    Eleven courses (33 credits)
    • 2 Required Courses: Catholic Thought and Culture I & II 
    • 4 Thematic Courses: Theology, Philosophy, History, and Art 
    • 4 Elective Courses
    One Master's Essay (3 credits)

    Master's Essay

    Under the supervision of a faculty adviser, all students complete a master's essay as the final, qualifying project for the degree. The master's essay gives students an opportunity to develop research, critical thinking, and writing skills, and deepen their mastery of areas of Catholic Studies that have captured their imagination.

    Example Courses

    • The Catholic Novel 
    • Secularization 
    • Thomas Aquinas 
    • Science and Catholicism 
    • The Heart of Culture: The Story of Catholic Education 
    • St. Francis and His World 
    • Catholic Social Tradition 
    • John Henry Newman 
    • Virtue 
    • Christopher Dawson 
    • Dante’s Divine Comedy 
    • Augustine’s Confessions 
    • Thomas More

    Curriculum Overview

    The Master of Arts in Catholic studies degree requires students to complete 33 credit hours.

    Two required courses introduce students to the sweep of two thousand years of Catholic thought and culture, and to the interdisciplinary way of thinking central to Catholic Studies.

    Students also take one course in each of four thematic areas: theology, philosophy, history, and the arts. While the focus of these courses is grounded in a particular area of study, the course always engages that area explicitly in its relationship to other areas of life. Students learn not just why we believe something, but also how a particular belief in something affects the world around us – the work we choose, the decisions we make, and the culture we build.

    The four remaining elective courses can be taken on a wonderful variety of topics, including specific thinkers, great works, or important themes.

    Full-time students complete the MA degree in two years. Part-time students, taking one course per semester, typically finish the program in under four years.

    Curriculum by the Numbers

    Eleven courses (33 credits)
    • 2 Required Courses: Catholic Thought and Culture I & II 
    • 4 Thematic Courses: Theology, Philosophy, History, and Art 
    • 4 Elective Courses
    One Master's Essay (3 credits)

    Master's Essay

    Under the supervision of a faculty adviser, all students complete a master's essay as the final, qualifying project for the degree. The master's essay gives students an opportunity to develop research, critical thinking, and writing skills, and deepen their mastery of areas of Catholic Studies that have captured their imagination.

    Example Courses

    • The Catholic Novel 
    • Secularization 
    • Thomas Aquinas 
    • Science and Catholicism 
    • The Heart of Culture: The Story of Catholic Education 
    • St. Francis and His World 
    • Catholic Social Tradition 
    • John Henry Newman 
    • Virtue 
    • Christopher Dawson 
    • Dante’s Divine Comedy 
    • Augustine’s Confessions 
    • Thomas More

    Program Variations

    Online MA in Catholic Studies

    The online MA in Catholic studies provides a flexible option for students who want to explore Catholic thought and culture using online and blended learning environments. Students may combine online and on-ground courses, as they work toward completion of their MA in Catholic studies.

    Online MA

    Non-Degree Option

    Students who are interested in taking a course, but who are unsure whether they can commit to completing a full MA in Catholic studies degree, have the option to take courses as non-degree status. Up to two such courses may be applied toward a graduate degree at a later point.

    Summer-Only Option

    Students who are not available to study during the academic year or who, because of work or family considerations, cannot relocate to the Twin Cities for the duration of their studies, can opt to complete the program requirements through summer-only courses. Typically, three courses are offered each summer during a six-week session, with each class meeting during daytime hours twice a week.

    Financial Aid and Work Opportunities

    The University of St. Thomas Catholic Studies Graduate Program offers a variety of options to help students finance their education. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, some students receive substantial financial support.

    Visit the Graduate Financial Aid for information about tuition, deadlines, and application requirements.

    A limited number of generous partial and full-tuition scholarships are awarded each year on a competitive basis to full-time, degree-seeking, on-ground students of exceptional promise. These Catholic Studies Scholar awards are renewable until completion of the degree.


    A limited number of Sitzmann Scholarships provide tuition assistance for degree-seeking students. Those wishing to be considered for a Sitzmann Memorial Scholarship must file a FAFSA with the University of St. Thomas.


    Assistantships allow graduate students to work within the Department and Center for Catholic Studies on both scholarly and professional projects . They offer students a rewarding learning and professional development experience. Assistants might work on international conferences, help mentor students in our leadership programs, edit our academic journal or aid a faculty member in research for publishing, or other related work.

    Catholic Studies Graduate Assistants may work up to 20 hr/week, potentially earning as much as $4,000 per semester.


    Murphy Scholars are involved in the full range of programming offered by the Murphy Institute, including public events, private faculty seminars and roundtables. They engage with the Institute's nationally and internationally recognized guests and participate in special Institute projects throughout the year according to their academic focus and scholarly interest.

    Students enrolled full-time in the JD or MA in Catholic Studies program are eligible to apply. Students must also be in residence. Murphy Scholars receive a $2,000 stipend ($1,000 per semester).


    Alumni

    Rachana Chhin headshot Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas  Nadine Friederichs headshot John Kelly headshot Alumnus Will Sipling
    01 / 05

    Rachana Chhin ‘15


    “There’s no other program like Catholic studies! I desired to practice law…informed by my faith and the Catholic intellectual tradition….Catholic studies…enriches my life to this day.”

    02 / 05

    Mary (Burns) Mueller ‘16

    “I never could have anticipated the ways that Catholic studies would have such a lasting impact in my life … my career and family life...”

    03 / 05

    Nadine Friederichs ‘12

    I couldn't have chosen a better program to place my time in …. It will continue to provide payback throughout my entire life.

    04 / 05

    John Kelly ‘10

    I knew only the basics of my faith and had very little devotion to it.... Now my faith is central to who I am and how I live my life.

    05 / 05

    Will Sipling

    “Catholic Studies has provided a solidly Catholic foundation to both my thought and practice.…From Dante to digital media, from mythology to the mundane, I’ve learned so much in the classroom that I’ll apply to my daily life and work.”

    Watch more about Will's experience. 

    Faculty

    Our instructors have varied academic backgrounds and have taken many paths to the University of St. Thomas, all to better serve a diverse group of students in an interdisciplinary program.

    Dr. Erika Kidd headshot

    Dr. Erika Kidd

    Director of the Catholic Studies Graduate Program

    Dr. Erika Kidd is an Associate Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Graduate Program. She studied philosophy, Latin, and great texts at Augustine College and Baylor University and received her PhD in philosophy from Villanova University.

    She writes and speaks on St. Augustine and the Augustinian tradition. She is currently writing a book about how we can learn to hear the voice of God in our conversations with one another.

    Dr. Erika Kidd
    Dr. William Junker headshot

    Dr. William Junker

    Associate Professor of Catholic Studies

    Dr. William Junker is an Associate Professor of Catholic Studies. He studied English at the University of Dallas, philosophy at University of Notre Dame, and received his doctorate from the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of English at the University of Chicago. His interests include Renaissance poetry and drama, the history of political thought, and Dante.

    Dr. William Junker
    Dr. John Boyle headshot

    Dr. John Boyle

    Professor of Catholic Studies and Theology. Chair of the Department of Catholic Studies

    Dr. Boyle writes on Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More and published a lost work of Thomas Aquinas. A graduate of the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, he has received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, the Aquinas Medal from the University of Dallas, and delivered the Aquinas Lecture at the National University of Ireland.

    Dr. John Boyle
    Sitzmann Hall

    01 Master of Arts in Catholic Studies

    Community Life

    Sitzmann Hall, home of St. Thomas Catholic Studies, provides a beautiful space for conversation, worship, study, and friendship. Our vibrant graduate community enjoys a variety of activities together including monthly dinners, Mass before evening classes, reading groups, service outreach, pumpkin carving, “poetry and port” evenings, Lectio Divina, and other social events.