Graduate Bulletin

VI. Graduate Programs

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College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

The College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences offers degrees in the following areas: Religious Studies and Multidisciplinary Studies. A certificate for completion of a course of academic credits is also offered in the Pastoral Institute. Specific requirements for the certificate are listed in this section.

Please see information on admissions requirements in the descriptions for each program.


The Master of Arts in Religious Studies is designed to prepare participants to serve competently and effectively in contemporary ecclesial ministries and leadership, especially in Catholic parish ministries, religious education on all levels, spirituality and spiritual development, youth ministry and catechetical leadership. The thirty-six semester hour degree plan encompasses three areas of study: scripture, theology (including the historical, sacramental, liturgical, moral and ecclesial aspects) and ministry, and normally culminates with an individually designed supervised Pastoral Project. Participants may incorporate a second field in their degree plan through other UIW graduate departments, particularly Education.

In keeping with the spirit and direction set by the Second Vatican Council and subsequent ecclesial documents, the program promotes personal growth and spiritual formation through workshops and other opportunities for theological reflection and personal development. An integral part of the Pastoral Institute is the emphasis, not only on solid scriptural and theological foundations, but also on the pastoral application of theory and research to the concrete situations of ministry and to the development of leadership roles in the church. Theological reflection, therefore, is built into each course. Opportunities for planning and participating in liturgical celebrations as well as for group discussion and sharing are incorporated into the program.

Admission Criteria

The applicant for the Master of Arts in Religious Studies must fulfill the general requirements for admission to Graduate Studies. In addition, applicants must present three letters of recommendation and a personal statement of ministerial and educational goals. Applicants should consult the Director for further directions regarding the letters of recommendation.


At least twelve semester hours in Theology or Religious Studies at the under-graduate level, taken after 1985, to include introductory courses in the study of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Documented non-credit studies will be evaluated on an individual basis upon request, for example, diaconal studies or diocesan certification courses.

Requirements for the Master of Arts in Religious Studies:
The degree plan requires thirty-six (36) semester hours, distributed as follows:

  1. 6 semester hours in Scripture, to include a course in the Hebrew Scriptures and one in the Christian Scriptures.
  2. 10 semester hours in Theology, to include a course in Sacraments, Liturgy, Morality, and Ecclesiology.
  3. 10 semester hours in Ministry, to include a two-credit pastoral project preceded by RSPI 6285: Program Planning and Evaluation. Upon request, a thesis option may be considered in special circumstances, but in general is not recommended due to the pastoral nature of the degree.
  4. 10 hours of electives, selected according to the student’s educational and ministerial goals. Part or all of these units may be taken in one of the areas of specialization. With the approval of the Director of the Pastoral Institute, a student may elect to complete up to nine hours of graduate credit in another graduate degree program offered by the University of the Incarnate Word.

Optional Specializations:

Specialization in Spirituality (10 hours)

For the Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies with a specialization in Spirituality, the following courses are required:

  • RSPI 6273 Introduction to Spirituality
  • RSPI 6274 Introduction to Prayer

Also, the Pastoral Project (RSPI 62CS) must be completed in the area of spirituality.

Specialization in Catechesis (8 hours)

This specialization focuses on the techniques and environment of contemporary catechesis. Course offerings include:

  • RSPI 6236 Family Catechesis
  • RSPI 6239 Adulthood and Christian Maturity
  • RSPI 6240 Theory and Methods of Catechesis
  • RSPI 6242 Administration and Program Planning in Religious Education
  • RSPI 6244 Culture and Catechesis
  • RSPI 6251 Adolescent Catechesis

Also, the Pastoral Project (RSPI 62CS) must be undertaken in the area of Catechesis.

Specialization in Ministry with Hispanics (minimum of 8 hours)

Through a cooperative program with the Mexican American Catholic College (MACC), the Master of Arts in Religious Studies may be obtained with a specialization in Ministry with Hispanics. Up to 12 credit hours from MACC programs can be applied towards the Master’s degree.

General requirements for admission to the M.A. in Religious Studies program must be met before a student may enroll in the cooperative program. While enrolled at MACC, students pay 40% of the University’s regular tuition (to the University) in addition to tuition and fees required by MACC. Further information on requirements may be obtained from the Director of the Pastoral Institute or from MACC. Credits earned through MACC must be arranged individually with the Director of the Pastoral Institute.

Specialization in Youth Ministry (8 hours)

For the Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies with a specialization in Youth Ministry, candidates take the following courses:

  • RSPI 6155 Foundations of Ministry Leadership
  • RSPI 6156 Principles of Youth Ministry
  • RSPI 6157 Skills for Christian Leadership
  • RSPI 6158 Practices of Youth Ministry
  • RSPI 6159 Faith Growth of Youth through Pastoral Care
  • RSPI 6160 Faith Growth of Youth through Evangelization and Catechesis
  • RSPI 6161 Faith Growth of Youth through Prayer and Worship
  • RSPI 6162 Faith Growth of Youth through Justice and Service

Also, the Pastoral Project (RSPI 62CS) must be completed in the area of Youth Ministry. All applicants should consult with the Director of the Pastoral Institute to establish their course of studies and their area of specialization where appropriate.

Requirements for a Certificate in Pastoral Studies

A non-degree certificate recognizing 16 semester hours of graduate course work offers the opportunity for students to enhance their knowledge in the field of pastoral theology and ministry. Course choices are based on the individual’s previous studies and future plans for ministry. Certificate enrollment is open to all persons who meet the general admission requirements for admission to the M.A. in Religious Studies.


The Master of Arts degree in Multidisciplinary Studies allows a student, with approval from the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research and Program Advisors, to design a degree plan that builds on personal interests, academic strengths, and career opportunities. The degree plan is made from courses in up to three academic disciplines that offer graduate programs. For example, a degree plan may be arranged thematically: a student might focus on contemporary American problems, combining courses in Education, Communication Arts, and Religious Studies. Another student might wish to combine courses from Nutrition, Education, and Biology in a degree that would enhance his or her career opportunities. The Dean of Graduate Studies and Research will serve as Program Advisor for this degree and will consult with the Program Advisors in the three fields that make up the MDS

Admissions Requirements

In addition to meeting the general admissions criteria, the applicant must submit the following:

  • An official notice of a satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE: Combined score of 800 on the Verbal and Quantitative sections, Analytical Essay, 3.5), Miller Analogies Test (MAT, 40 or better), or Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT, 450 or better) as determined by the Dean.
  • A statement of rationale for the proposed degree plan

Degree Requirements

The degree plan must be approved and signed by the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research and the Program Advisors for all disciplines involved before initiating any work toward the degree. The degree will include:

  • At least 9 semester hours in each discipline of focus
  • Any support courses taken outside the chosen disciplines need the approval of the Program Advisor
  • At least one research course
  • A thesis or a capstone experience in one area of focus which incorporates the integration of all disciplines from which work is taken