Master of Arts in Religious Studies

This program is designed for students with a wide range of pursuits and career goals, from chaplaincy, education, ministry and catechetics to preparation for a doctoral degree in religious studies, theology or a related field of study. Rooted in the Catholic and Franciscan tradition, the M.A. in Religious Studies is a 30-credit program particularly but not exclusively focused on Christianity in its many historical contexts and denominational aspects, and situated within contemporary local and global realities. Experience the broad field of religious studies. Students may choose a concentration in ministry, which fosters pastoral skills and understanding. Students earn credits in the core curriculum, studying topics in scriptural studies, systematic theology and church history.

Our MA is one of only two Catholic religious study programs in southeast Wisconsin, and the only program that trains for pastoral studies. Many students from the program pursue doctoral studies. This program provides a solid foundation for educators as evidenced by the fact that more than 60 secondary education teachers are graduates of the program.

Courses Are Available

Face to Face
Main Campus

Program Details

●  Credits: 30
●  Cost per Credit: $782 (2017-18)

Program Coursework

Courses in the Master of Arts in Religious Studies program are generally scheduled in the evenings to accommodate working students. 

In some courses, a graduate course meets simultaneously with advanced undergraduate courses designed for Religious Studies majors, providing a broad based, intergenerational student experience

M.A. in Religious Studies

Concentration in Ministry Option

Students working in or preparing for church ministry may elect to pursue the M.A. in Religious Studies with a Concentration in Ministry by completing additional required courses designed to foster pastoral skills and understanding.

Along with an advanced scripture area elective, concentration students will complete courses in Pastoral Theology, Ecclesiology, Worship & Sacrament, and Morality & Justice. In the final semester, a case study examination, with oral and written components, completes the program; students with a program GPA of 3.7 or higher may opt for a 2-credit Pastoral Project on a chosen ministerial issue which they plan, implement, and assess under the direction of a faculty member.

Foundational Courses (13 credits) required for all students:
RS 500 Professional Development Seminar
RS 552 The Study of the Scriptures
RS 554 The Study of Church History
RS 553 The Study of Systematic Theology

Methodological Application Courses:
MARS students (6 credits): 2-cr. area electives in each of scripture, church history, systematic theology
Ministry Concentration students (10 credits, 2 cr. each): scripture area elective; 556 - Pastoral Theology; 558 – Ecclesiology; 559 – Worship & Sacrament; 562 – Morality & Justice
Elective Courses
MARS students (11 or 9* credits); Ministry Concentration students (7 or 5* credits)

Capstone Requirement
MARS students (Comprehensive Exam or 2-cr. Thesis Option*); Ministry Concentration students (Case-Study Exam or Pastoral Project Option**)
*/**: Students may choose two elective credits for a Thesis (MARS)* or Pastoral Project (Ministry Concentration).**

Transfer Credits You Already Earned

A maximum of nine graduate credits may be transferred from another accredited degree-granting institution. Download our guide that explains credit acquisition.

Application Process and Requirements

Academic and Professional Requirements

  • Prior Education
    • A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.
    • A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale for full acceptance.
    • At least 12 undergraduate credits in religious studies or equivalent competencies such as philosophy, psychology or sociology.
  • Professional Credential and Competency
    • A valid Wisconsin teaching license is required to receive the administrative licenses.

Admissions Application and Transcripts

  • Complete the Admissions Application
    Submit the admissions application which is free to complete online. Applications for this program are reviewed on a rolling basis so allow sufficient time before the start of your program to be considered for admission.
  • Request Transcripts
    • Have official transcripts from each college or university you attended delivered directly to the Office of Admissions. Cardinal Stritch University alumni and current students should inquire with the admission counselor about locating transcripts already on file.
    • Transcripts from institutions outside of the United States require a course-by-course evaluation with GPA. Request the official report from ECE or WES to be sent directly to the Office of Admissions. Allow time for the evaluation to be completed since it could take up to 4-6 weeks to be created.
  • Information for International Students
    If your prior education was not conducted in English, you must demonstrate proficiency with acceptable scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or an ESL program. Review the language and academic requirements to know if you are prepared for studying at Stritch. We can also help you obtain an F-1 student visa.

Two Letters of Recommendation

Waived if you have a 3.0 GPA. Your letters of recommendation should be provided by your building principal, department leader, or another individual who can comment on your professional leadership abilities should complete the other.

Statement of Purpose

Two to three word-processed, double-spaced pages are required, describing your reasons for seeking a graduate degree in religious studies. The essay should include some detail about your qualifications, past academic and employment history relevant to the M.A. in Religious Studies program, expectations for graduate studies and professional goals.


An interview with the chair of the Religious Studies Department will be scheduled after all documents have been received and reviewed.

Send Application Materials to Admissions

Submit the application online and have additional materials sent to:

Cardinal Stritch University
Graduate Admissions
6801 N. Yates Road, #516
Milwaukee, WI  53217-3985

Contact Your Counselor

Our counselors know that each student is unique, which is why they are ready to help you throughout the entire process. Get started by reaching out to the Office of Admissions.

Office of Admissions 

6801 N. Yates Road
Milwaukee, WI 53217 
Phone: (414) 410-4042 or (800) 347-8822

Funding Your Education

Stritch is competitively priced to make graduate education affordable. Counselors in our Financial Aid Office know that each student is unique and they are dedicated to helping identify ways to help students fund their education. Learn more about our tuition and the financial aid process.


Alumni Network

Students, families, and employers know Stritch as a university that helps students find their mission, develop new skills, gain relevant career experience, and expand their professional networks. With a network of more than 34,000 graduates, our alumni are successful in their roles at nonprofits, schools, small companies, health care organizations, corporations, and entrepreneurial ventures.

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