Graduates of the Master of Arts in Theology program go on to a variety of careers in education and church ministry, including pastors, ministers, deacons, local or regional administrators, youth directors, adult education coordinators, directors of service programs for the sick, the poor, and the elderly, etc.
Robert Gunn, Joint J.D. and M.A. in Theology, 2010
I entered St. Mary’s Law School in Fall 2007 and then joined the M.A. in Theology program after the completion of my first year law studies. As a student pursuing a JD/MA degree I took law classes by day and Theology classes by night for the following five semesters. The JD/MA allows for the cross listing of six courses to ensure a student can complete the dual program in four years. One should take Theology requirements as they become available since a particular class may not cycle through for another two years. In joining the program, I hoped to deepen my understanding of the Christian faith. The program is self-described as appropriate for one seeing his or her practice of law as a form of ministry.
Although a life-long Presbyterian, I felt at home in the MA program. The courses are taught from the perspective of the Catholic tradition and very rich in theology and history. The degree is perfect for anyone wishing to explore one’s faith more deeply or build off knowledge gained as an undergraduate. I found my studies in philosophy and history in college were a good primer for the MA program. In difficulty, each Theology course was at least the equivalent of an upper level undergraduate course with twenty-five pages or more of writing required. Each student can expect to amass a good corpus of theological writing by the end of the program. I only took one in-class exam during my time in the program.
Class size is generally small, anywhere from seven to twenty students. Students and professors get to know each other quite well in this setting. There is time for lecture and discussion since each class meets once a week for three hours. This format took a little getting used to, but all the professors generously give one to two breaks. For any law students considering joining the program, the mood is quite different from law studies. Students are expected to have read assigned material and contribute, but there is no Socratic grilling. Everyone in the program is generally self-motivated. I remember being surprised in my Christology and Bioethics classes at how much I learned from fellow students.
I particularly enjoyed learning about the development of early church thought. The development of Christian doctrine is an intriguing history. I emerged from the program better able to think and read from a theological perspective. Learning critical approaches to analyzing scriptural texts and ethics benefited my law studies and vice versa. For anyone who wants to have a thinking faith, this program is for you. My favorite class was the Trinity, and I will miss the interesting lectures and discussions led by great professors.
Joyce Konigsburg, M.A. Theology, 2010
During a diocesan adult education class, someone who happened to be a graduate student at St. Mary’s said to me “You ask really great questions. Have you thought about attending St. Mary’s University for an MA degree in Theology?” The discussion sparked my interest; so after investigating the program, faculty, and course requirements, I realized that if I wanted to get my questions answered and pursue my interest in learning more about God, then pursuing a master’s degree in Theology made sense. The difficult part, however, turned out to be prioritizing and coordinating schoolwork, family, and full-time job responsibilities. I met all my goals and deadlines; it just takes perseverance and excellent time management skills. Moreover, my family was very supportive and taking classes in Austin via teleconference rather than driving to San Antonio also saved time and energy.
I really enjoyed the variety of course offerings and the program’s focus on systematic, moral, and biblical theology. St. Mary’s has a separate degree track for an MA in Pastoral Ministry, and while we sometimes discussed pastoral concerns in Theology classes, the primary emphasis was on God and addressing the fundamental or ultimate questions of life. Therefore, what I appreciated most about St. Mary’s courses was the ability to ask my “really great questions” and have them discussed by my professors and classmates in a stimulating, intellectual environment.
Small graduate class sizes are an additional advantage. They enable more discussions, presentations, and personal attention. In my courses, we created chat groups, met for dinner and study sessions, and formed lasting friendships. The professors also are knowledgeable and professional, yet still very approachable and personable. The coursework, however, is not “fluffy” but challenging and appropriate for an accredited university conferring master’s degrees. I received plenty of practice researching, writing papers, and studying for tests and comprehensive exams. And when all was said and done, my classmates and I graduated with a true sense of accomplishment and an incredible amount of new theological knowledge.
Currently, many of my colleagues utilize their learning in diocesan positions and at local parishes; however, I was accepted into Duquesne University’s Ph.D. program with a four-year scholarship and stipend. I am confident my experiences and education at St. Mary’s contributed to my acceptance and successfully prepared me to obtain my Ph.D. in Systematic Theology.