Graduate Theology Program revises master's degree

Monday, November 13, 2017

Beginning this fall, it will take fewer credits for lay men and women to earn a master's degree at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. Students will be able to complete the Master of Arts (Theology) degree in 36, instead of 48, credit hours and have more flexibility in choosing courses.

The revised degree will allow students to finish their coursework in less time. "Many of our students are working full time and have families. They're balancing many things, and trying to complete a degree on top of that," says Sr. Jeana Visel, OSB, director of the Graduate Theology Program.

With the revised program, a part-time student attending weekend courses can complete the degree in three years. A full-time student can complete the degree in less than two years.

It also will make the degree more affordable for students. Sr. Jeana notes, "We anticipate that this change will be very welcome to students and dioceses that send them to study at Saint Meinrad."

Students in the Graduate Theology Program can take courses in a variety of formats, attending weekdays alongside seminarians, taking classes online, coming to campus for intensive residence/hybrid courses, or attending weekend courses on campus once a month. Students must take at least 50 percent of their classes on the Saint Meinrad campus.

Drew Hardesty graduated from the program in 2014. A director of religious education in Owensboro, KY, he appreciated the Benedictine character of the school and the quality of the education he received: "The challenge of the Graduate Theology Program has given me a sense of accomplishment…. Every professor has been an excellent teacher willing to work with a guy with a full-time job and a growing family."

While the earlier MA (Theology) required a substantial number of core classes, only three core classes are required now: The Creed and History in Theology, Early Church History, and a core course on the New Testament. Beyond these classes, Sr. Jeana will work with students to plan their studies.

"Students will still get the solid foundation of a Saint Meinrad education, but will more easily be able to tailor their coursework to their area of ministry or interest," she says.

For example, a student looking to become a hospital chaplain might take a series of pastoral care courses. Those intending to teach high school theology might specialize in church history or systematic theology. Those preparing for parish ministries might take additional courses in evangelization and catechesis. Specialization certificates are also available.

"We're known for giving a solid theological foundation for whatever you want to do. We give you a good grounding. We still stand by that, and there's now more flexibility in the degree we offer," says Sr. Jeana.

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