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M.A. Theology & Religious Studies

The Department of Theology & Religious Studies offers graduate programs for those interested in religious education, ministry, non-profit leadership, continued academic study, and other professional careers in religious institutions and social service agencies. The master’s degree program provides a broad foundation in the field of theology and religious studies, while the Certificate in Theological Education provides focused preparation for teaching theology at the high school level.

The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Theology & Religious Studies graduate program is designed to provide master’s students with advanced knowledge of the content and method of various disciplines of theology and religious studies (scripture, Christian history, ethics, world religions, systematic theology, and sociology of religion).

The Certificate in Theological Education prepares teachers by deepening their theological expertise and strengthening their classroom skills.

The 30-credit-hour master’s degree provides a broad foundation in the field of theology and religious studies and can be completed in as little as two years. Alternately, a 15-credit-hour Certificate in Theological Education is available to provide focused preparation for teaching theology at the high school level.

  • Completed application form.
  • Transcripts of undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, with cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Written statement indicating personal interests, goals, and expectations from the degree program.
  • Two letters of reference from persons who are familiar with and able to assess the applicant’s ability to succeed in graduate studies.

Competitive graduate assistant positions provide full tuition and stipend in exchange for 20 hours a week of research and teaching assistance. Click here for more information.

  • A total of 30 credit hours is required to complete the Master of Arts.
  • Attending full time (15 credits per academic year), students can expect to finish within two years.
  • Students may choose to earn graduate credit through internships and service-learning projects with nonprofit agencies, schools or churches.
  • Courses can be completed both on campus and online.

Theology & Religious Studies Program Highlights

Top 10

JCU has ranked in the top 10 of U.S. News & World Report, Best Midwest regional universities for 30 consecutive years.

Why choose JCU for a Graduate Degree in Theology & Religious Studies?

John Carroll’s Department of Theology & Religious Studies offers a remarkable breadth of faculty expertise, with notable scholars of the Bible and early Christianity, Asian religions, Judaism and rabbinics, Islamic Studies, contemporary Catholic theology, moral theology, and the sociology of religion.

The Department of Theology & Religious Studies offers programs that are both firmly grounded in the Catholic theological tradition and radically open to engaging the diverse religious communities that shape our world today. For more than 50 years, the Tuohy Endowment in Interreligious Studies has supported study, dialogue, and understanding among diverse religious believers at John Carroll and beyond. Currently, the department boasts endowed chairs in Catholic Theology and Islamic Studies, as well as a visiting fellow in Jewish Studies. Faculty have experience on the national Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue and the national Muslim-Catholic Dialogue, both co-sponsored by the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

The Certificate of Theological Education is designed for theology teachers in Catholic high schools, with courses aligned to the U.S. Bishops’ curriculum framework. Evening and summer courses—offered both in person and online—allow students to complete the certificate in two years, earning certification to teach religion in the Diocese of Cleveland. The program combines theological rigor and practical pedagogy, with assignments and projects designed for implementation in the classroom. Plus, the certification coursework can be applied directly to the M.A. degree or can serve as a post-graduate credential.

The Department of Theology & Religious Studies has a large alumni network that is especially strong in Catholic universities and in Catholic high schools in Northeast Ohio. All students are invited to participate in the annual “Theology for Teachers” workshop, which has brought to campus almost 200 teachers, campus ministers, and administrators from over 50 Catholic high schools across the region to build lasting connections.

Female student studying in the library

Our Team and Resources

Faculty in the JCU Department of Theology & Religious Studies are nationally and internationally known in the areas of church history, contemporary systematic theology, Asian religions, interfaith studies, Islam, pastoral theology, religious ethics, and scripture.

Furthermore, our members are prominent in professional activities and draw their educational backgrounds from outstanding universities. They have served as officers of professional societies, as advisors to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as editors of professional journals, as members of boards of trustees. They have published numerous books and scholarly articles and bring a wealth of real-world knowledge to the classroom.

Fall leaves in front of stain glass window on chapel

What can I do with a Master’s Degree in Theology & Religious Studies?

There are many goals and paths for students in the Master of Arts in Theology and Religious Studies program, including:

  • To pursue careers in religious education, ministry, non-profit leadership and other professional careers in religious institutions and social service agencies.
  • To expand knowledge of theology and religion for personal enrichment.
  • To build upon previous academic studies with new and different concentrations in theology.
  • To complete a master’s degree before pursuing doctoral programs in theology.

The John Carroll program has the flexibility to allow students to take their expertise in a variety of these new directions upon graduation.

students in classroom sitting at desk

Courses

The Department of Theology & Religious Studies offers graduate courses in scripture, historical theology, systematic theology, religious ethics, world religions, and spirituality, leading to a Master of Arts degree. The graduate program requires 30 graduate credit hours of study, including:

  • TRS 400 Scripture & Revelation
  • TRS 430 Systematic Theology
  • One course in Religious Ethics
  • One course in World Religions
  • At least 15 semester hours in 500-level courses
  • Optional TRS 593 MA Essay or TRS 599 MA Thesis
  • The program concludes with the student's completion of a comprehensive academic portfolio and oral defense.

Full course listings and description can be found in the Online Bulletin.