The Master of Theology Program (MTh)

§1. The Overall Purpose of the Master of Theology Program

Concentrated Focus, Deeper Understanding

The chief aim of the MTh program at Holy Spirit College is to allow degree candidates to attain a more complete mastery of one specific area of theological research. For the end of obtaining a deeper understanding of a particular branch of theological inquiry, new students admitted to the MTh program will declare a theological focus area at the time of matriculation in order to clarify their theological interests. By working toward fulfillment of the degree requirements, students are gradually prepared to advance to the study of academic theology at the doctoral level.

§2. Goals of the Master of Theology Program

The MTh program at Holy Spirit College is an academic program rather than a professional program. In accordance with the academic nature of this degree, the College has established general educational goals which it strives to help students meet.

(1) Advanced Competency in a Theological Focus Area

A primary goal for the MTh program is for students to attain a more advanced competence in a particular theological focus area. Such areas include, for example, theological anthropology, Christology, ecclesiology, bioethics, and many other areas. Student work toward the fulfillment of the degree requirements builds upon the general theological foundation acquired through previous graduate work (for example, in two-year MTS or MDiv programs).

(2) Mastery of a Theological Method

A second goal is that students acquire a more developed professional approach to conducting academic research in sacred theology. For this end, MTh students are required to participate in a seminar course in theological methodology (THEO 710). In this course, students explore historical precedents and contemporary trends regarding how sacred theology should proceed as an academic discipline. Consideration is given to the process of formulating productive questions that will serve to advance theological inquiry, as well as to developing a capacity for locating and utilizing professional resources for the advancement of theological research.

§3. Student Learning Outcomes in the Master of Theology Program

In association with the general goals listed above, the MTh program at Holy Spirit College seeks to help students realize several specific learning outcomes when completing the degree requirements.

First, with respect to the goal of attaining an advanced competency in a theological focus area, successful students will illustrate academic aptitude in a specific area of theological research, as well as the ability to articulate how that area of research relates to and is relevant for other theological disciplines.

Second, with respect to the goal of attaining mastery of a theological method, successful students will be familiar with how to locate critical editions of primary theological sources, refer to various translations of these sources, and evaluate the relevant research of contemporary secondary sources. Students will also be conversant with the current problems and issues facing researchers in their focus area.

§4. Outcome Assessment Strategies

The College assesses whether the specific learning outcomes listed above have been attained.

Whether a student has met the first program goal and its associated outcomes is assessed by his or her successful completion of specialized coursework as well as by his or her passing a comprehensive exam which involves detailed questions in the student’s declared theological focus area. Please see the MTh comprehensive exam policy and section of the Catalog for more details.

Whether a student has met the second program goal and its associated learning outcomes is assessed by successful completion of a required methodology course (THEO 710) and by successful authorship of a research thesis which employs an explicit theological method. With respect to the required methodology course, students must illustrate satisfactory performance in the completion of three course requirements which are connected with the professional activities of an academic theologian, namely, the authorship of a book review, the oral presentation of an abridged research project in front of peers, and the authorship of a research paper in journal article format. 

In association with both program goals, students will complete two language exams (one exam in an ancient language and one exam in a modern language). For more information about the MTh language competency exams, please refer to the designated section of the College Catalog.

The overall educational effectiveness of the program is assessed by evaluating student completion of the comprehensive exam in the student’s declared theological focus area. 

The College assesses whether student needs and institutional goals are being met by review of institutional evaluations administered annually to students who are graduating. Part of the institutional review process includes disclosure of the percentage of students who complete the program as well as the percentage of students who find desired placement after graduation (either occupational placement or academic placement). This statistical data is publicized each year in the College Catalog.

§5. Program Content 

The Holy Spirit College MTh program guides students to a deeper level of theological inquiry associated with the focus area which the student declares upon matriculating into the program. The program is primarily academic in nature rather than professional. Fifty percent of the courses are proper and unique to the MTh program (the two thesis research courses and the theological methodology course). The degree requirements are also program specific (two language exams, the focus area competency exam, and thesis defense). These requirements are all completed at the end of student work toward the degree and collectively serve to illustrate the advanced academic nature of the MTh program.

§6. Location of the Master of Theology Program 

Courses for the Holy Spirit College MTh degree are offered primarily on the main campus of the College which is located at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in north Atlanta. At times, individual courses may be scheduled at satellite classroom facilities associated with other Catholic parishes in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. By pursuing graduate education in Catholic sacred theology in a traditional classroom setting, students at the College participate in a community of learning where faculty and students have regular opportunities for substantive and personal interaction. With approval of the academic dean, a student may also pursue a directed reading under the guidance of a faculty member in order to obtain credit toward the MTh degree.

§7. Duration of the Master of Theology Program 

The normal duration for the completion of the MTh degree at Holy Spirit College involves one year of coursework when registered with a full-time load of 9 credit hours per academic term.

§8. MTh Degree Requirements 

Credit Distribution

18 hrs. Total (Typically Six Courses)
6 hrs. Thesis Research (Two Courses)
3 hrs. Theological Methodology (One Course)
9 hrs. Electives (Courses Relevant for the Declared Theological Focus Area) 

Other Degree Requirements

  • Declaration of a Theological Focus Area
  • Theological Focus Area Competency Exam
  • Evidence of language study (typically one ancient and one modern language, either by passing a competency exam or by registering for non-credit coursework such as THEO 620 Theological Latin)
  • Thesis Defense 

Recommended Full-Time Course Sequence Including Core Courses

Year One           Fall           THEO 700           Thesis Research I (3)   
                                              THEO 710            Theological Methodology (3)   
                                                 -                           Elective (3) or (1.5 x 2)   
                            Spring      THEO 750           Thesis Research II (3)   
                                                 -                          Elective (3) or (1.5 x 2)   
                                                 -                          Elective (3) or (1.5 x 2)    

Criteria for Selecting MTh Electives

(1) Elective courses should pertain to the MTh student’s Theological Focus Area. 

(2) Elective courses cannot have previously been taken as a student in the Holy Spirit College MTS program.

(3) The course THEO 505 Introduction to Sacred Theology is excluded from MTh electives.

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