Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Concluding Exercise

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The final requirement for the M.A. (Pastoral Theology) degree is a concluding exercise that demonstrates your mastery of the theology and practice of pastoral care. You may choose one of three options.

Capstone Essays

At the beginning of the last semester of your studies, or after completing all your core course requirements, you may register to complete the capstone essays.

You will be given

  • two randomly selected essay questions from the Division of Philosophical and Systematic Studies, 
  • two from the Division of Biblical and Historical Studies, and 
  • two from the Division of Pastoral Studies. 

You select one question from each of the three categories.

You must respond to each question with an essay of eight to 10 pages. Essays must draw on adequate sources, follow a recognized style manual for citation (preferably Chicago Style), and be completed three weeks prior to the last scheduled class day for the semester.

The professor who submitted the question will read the essay. The grades for all three essays will be averaged to determine your grade for the exam. You must earn a “B-” or above to pass. If you earn lower than a “B-,” you may retake the exam once, within six months of the first attempt.

See a a general calendar of deadlines for registration and completion of capstone essays.

Research Paper

This option for the concluding exercise entails writing a 25- to 30-page research paper that demonstrates achievement of theological literacy, after you have completed at least 30 hours of the MA(PT).

For example, you may write on some aspect of sacred Scripture, Church history, the Profession of Faith, the celebration of the Christian Mystery, the life in Christ, Christian prayer or ministerial practice. In addition, your paper must identify how it satisfies at least one other MA(PT) degree outcome.

Your paper must draw on adequate sources, follow a recognized style manual for citation (preferably Chicago style), and be completed three weeks prior to the last scheduled class day for the semester. Your paper will be graded by your research director and one other faculty reader. You must earn an average of at least a “B-” to pass.

Pastoral Research Project

After completing at least 30 hours of the MA(PT), you may begin developing a project in consultation with a faculty member serving as project director. The pastoral research project entails two components: a project that has direct pastoral application and a research paper for which the project serves as the main focus.

For example, a student may choose to develop a teaching curriculum for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults as the project and then write a related research paper reflecting on the history, theology and other issues that undergird the curriculum.

You and your director will agree on a combined project/paper that is of comparable scope to a 25- to 30-page research paper. The pastoral research project should demonstrate your ability to make pastoral application of theological concepts. In addition, your project must clearly identify how it satisfies at least two of the MA(PT) degree outcomes.

Your research paper must draw on adequate sources, follow a recognized style manual for citation, and be completed three weeks prior to the last scheduled class day for the semester. Your pastoral research project will be graded by your project director and one other faculty reader. You must earn an average of at least a “B-” to pass.