Through the Pastoral Institute, University of the Incarnate Word offers a Master of Arts in Religious Studies and a sixteen hour graduate or undergraduate Certificate in Pastoral Studies. These academic programs are designed to prepare participants to serve competently and effectively in contemporary ministries including Catholic education, lay ecclesial ministry and leadership, especially in parish settings, religious education on all levels, catechetical leadership, and campus and youth ministry. An integral dimension of the Pastoral Institute is an emphasis not only on solid Catholic biblical and theological foundations but also on the pastoral application of theory and research to concrete situations in ministry and to the development of the role of the laity in the church.
Initiated in 1968 as an undergraduate certificate program and expanded in 1972 to the graduate level, the Pastoral Institute has consistently responded to the educational needs of individuals in or preparing for professional or volunteer lay ministries and service to the Church. Within a flexible curriculum, the program encompasses three areas of study: Scripture, Theology (including the historical, sacramental, liturgical, moral and ecclesial dimensions) and Ministry. While Roman Catholic in its orientation, the program is open to applicants from other faith traditions.
In keeping with the spirit and direction set by the Second Vatican Council and subsequent ecclesial documents, including Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, the Pastoral Institute promotes integrated personal growth and spiritual formation through workshops and other opportunities for theological reflection, personal and professional development, liturgy, and student activities. To date, over 2350 students from almost every state and a number of foreign countries have participated in the Pastoral Institute at UIW.
Graduates of the Pastoral Institute serve in a wide variety of settings including Catholic education and religious education on all levels; parish, school, organizational and diocesan program administration; parish, diocesan, campus, jail, migrant, social justice, Native-American, Hispanic, chaplaincy, liturgical and youth ministries; lay and religious formation programs; and various leadership positions. A number of graduates have subsequently earned doctoral degrees.
The Master of Arts in Religious Studies program reflects an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to Catholic biblical and theological studies and encourages practical and critical application of theory to ministry. Our resident and visiting faculty represent decades of experience as teachers and scholars with a commitment to preparing students for ministerial competence in accordance with USCCB guidelines.
The thirty-six semester hour degree plan includes a core curriculum in Scripture, Theology, and Ministry courses, electives, and normally culminates with an individually designed, supervised, Pastoral Project. Requirements for the degree can be completed in four or five summer sessions, or in two to three years of combined summer and full or part-time fall/spring study. Upon approval, up to twelve semester hours of course work applicable to the degree may be transferred from regionally accredited institutions. With approval of the Institute director, CPE units completed in a USCCB certified program may be applied to the Pastoral Project requirement.
Students may earn the Master's degree with an optional focus in Spirituality, Ministry with Hispanics (in cooperation with the Mexican American Catholic College), Youth Ministry, or Religious Education. A focus requires the completion of designated courses within the total degree plan. Participants may also incorporate a second field in their degree plan through other UIW graduate departments, particularly education, administration, communication arts, and business.
The Certificate in Pastoral Studies requires sixteen semester hours of study, distributed over the three areas of the Institute's core curriculum—Scripture, Theology and Ministry. Students select their courses with reference to their previous studies and educational, ministerial, and personal goals.
Normally an undergraduate, non-degree-seeking program, the Certificate may also be earned through graduate course work. Specializations on the certificate level require six semester hours of course work in the focus area.
Qualified persons interested in Pastoral Institute courses for personal enrichment may enroll on a credit or audit basis. For credit, applicants must complete the admissions process. Housing and student services are available to auditors.
Situated on a beautiful campus in historic San Antonio, University of the Incarnate Word provides an ideal location for study and the experience of a multicultural and vibrant local church. Campus recreational facilities include a natatorium, tennis courts, jogging and walking trails in the Headwaters Sanctuary, track, playing fields and Wellness Center. The airport, bus terminal, downtown Riverwalk, historic areas, museums, art galleries, Sea World, Fiesta Texas and suburban malls are within fifteen to thirty minutes of the campus. A three-hour drive from San Antonio will take you to the Gulf of Mexico or into the Texas Hill Country.