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: $550 (2018-19)

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).**

PLO 1  Demonstrate an advanced knowledge and understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition, including its ecumenical dimensions and contemporary standing within a global context of diverse traditions and commitments, including the Franciscan tradition.
PLO 2  Utilize an array of scholarly methods in the study of Christianity (e.g., historical-critical, philosophical, structural/post-structural, praxis-oriented, etc.).
PLO 3  Apply various critical lenses of awareness (e.g., historical, cultural, contemporary, ethical, spiritual, scientific, secular) in religious/theological thinking and ritualizing.
PLO 4  Relate and apply religious and theological understanding to contemporary issues and problems of human concern.
PLO 5 (Students in the Concentration in Ministry)
(a) knowledge of the purpose of ministry and its role within the Church and development of these basic ministerial abilities:
(b) fostering communal prayer and worship;
(c) interpreting the Bible in the contemporary context;
(d) providing pastoral care;
(e) promoting social justice; and
(f) communicating the Christian faith in written and oral exposition

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 Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • A grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale
  • At least 12 undergraduate credits in religious studies or equivalent competencies such as philosophy, psychology or sociology
  • A statement of purpose
  • An interview with the Religious Studies Department program chair

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.For international students, a course-by-course evaluation is required to determine if the applicant has the required 12 credits of undergraduate work in Religious Studies, Theology or similar program.

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

Request a one-on-one meeting     Connect on Facebook Messenger

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 close to 37,000 graduates, our alumni are successful in their roles at nonprofits, schools, small companies, health care organizations, corporations, and entrepreneurial ventures.

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