Master of Divinity

Degree Requirements

The degree of Master of Divinity is a first professional degree, designed to foster basic theological understanding and develop initial pastoral competence on the part of students preparing for ministry. Accordingly, the M.Div. curriculum involves an in-depth study of the Christian, and especially the Roman Catholic, theological tradition, and a supervised practice of ministry.

The degree conforms to the revised standards of the Association of Theological Schools, as well as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Program of Priestly Formation. Integral to the Master of Divinity program, accenting our Dominican tradition, is the emphasis given to the preaching ministry and to ministerial formation (PFE).

Learning Objectives

Upon the successful completion of this degree students should be able to:

  • Speak in the name of the Church in harmony with the tradition through the lens of open Thomism.
  • Engage pastoral issues from a Thomistic perspective and effectively integrate academic studies with pastoral work.
  •  Integrate doctrinal and effective communication skills in his preaching.
  • Administer the sacraments in fidelity to the rites of the Church with a clear understanding of sacramental theology and with sensitivity to the pastoral needs of those to whom they minister.
  • Exercise effective ministerial leadership in the pastoral and catechetical formation of the lay faithful at a parish or diocesan level.


The following prerequisites for admission will be evaluated by the Committee on Admissions which may, in individual cases, allow the student to remedy particular deficiencies during the first year of the program:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  • Superior achievement and the ability to pursue graduate work as indicated by the transcript of previous studies (with a minimum GPA of 3.00).
  • Three letters of recommendation by persons who are in a position to judge the applicant’s ability in this academic area, along with a current photo and a completed application form.
  • Results of the graduate Record Examination (GRE) indicating aptitude for graduate studies in theology if one has no previous graduate work. The PFIC is listed under Dominican House of Studies, code 2498.
  • An undergraduate foundation in philosophy, consisting of a minimum of 18 credit hours drawn from the following areas: history of philosophy, logic, philosophy of being, philosophical ethics, philosophical anthropology, natural philosophy, and philosophy of knowledge.
  • A reading knowledge of Latin.

Philosophical Preparations for Theology

Dominican Students. In order to prepare Dominican students according to the standards of the Ratio Studiorum Generalis of the Order and the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana for ecclesiastical faculties, Dominican students will be required, unless they present an unusually strong preparation in philosophy, to follow two full years of courses in historical and systematic philosophy.

Non-Dominican Students. Students who are not Dominicans are required to demonstrate familiarity with the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas before beginning the degree programs.

Language Requirement

Reading proficiency in Latin may be demonstrated either by successfully completing two semesters of graduate coursework in the language or by passing a written proficiency examination, offered twice per semester. Since Latin is considered a prerequisite, this requirement must be satisfied within the first year of study. “The study of Latin and biblical languages is foundational and should be given the emphasis that Church teaching accords it” (PPF, 178).

Course Work

A minimum of 105 credit-hours of graduate courses is required according to the following distribution:

Systematic Theology (21 credits)

  • Nature and Method of Theology (3);
  • Triune God (3)
  • Creation and the Human Person (3)
  • Theology of Grace (3)
  • Basic Elements of Christology (3)
  • Ecclesiology (3)
  • Elective in Systematic Theology (3)

Liturgical Studies and Sacramental Theology (18 credits)

  • Liturgiology (3)
  • Sacraments: Theology and Initiation (3)
  • Sacrament of the Eucharist (3)
  • Sacrament of Orders (3)
  • Sacrament of Marriage: Theology and Canon Law (3)
  • Sacraments of Penance and Anointing (3)

Moral Theology (15 credits)

  • Principles of Christian Moral Life I and II (6)
  • Theological Virtues (3)
  • Cardinal and Moral Virtues (3)
  • Christian Social and Sexual Teaching (3)

Scripture (18 credits)

  • Three courses from Old Testament offerings (9)
  • Three courses from New Testament offerings (9)

Church History (6 credits)

  • Two courses chosen from the appropriate offerings

Preaching (6 credits)

  • Communicating God’s Word (3)
  • Preaching: Preparation and Presentation (3)

Canon Law (6 credits)

  • Two courses from the appropriate offerings

Pastoral Theology (6 credits)

  • Introduction to Pastoral Ministry (3)
  • Supervised Ministry (3)

Electives (9 credits)

  • Three courses chosen from the appropriate offerings

Grade Point Average

The student must maintain a grade point average of 3.00 or above throughout the M.Div. program.

Field Education

Supervised field education offers a realistic and broadly based experience of ministry both within the Church and in secular settings. It allows students to develop professional competence, typically in parishes or social service organizations, and to explore theological issues in these contexts. M.Div. degree candidates are required to complete at least two units of supervised field education. Each unit involves a planned, specified commitment of hours that are spent on site as well as in preparation, reflection, and travel. A field education unit may take place over the academic year or during the summer. Field education choices are expected to be congruent with the student’s academic and vocational goals.

Comprehensive Examination

To qualify for the comprehensive examination, the student must have satisfied the language requirements and have a grade point average of 3.00 or above. The awarding of the M.Div. degree depends upon the successful completion of the comprehensive examination and a cumulative grade point average of 3.00 or above from all required courses. Usually the student takes the comprehensive examination during the sixth semester of study. The subject matter is material covered in the courses in systematic and sacramental theology, moral theology, and Scripture. In order to pass the comprehensive exam, a student must receive an average grade of 2.5 on the exam. A candidate for the M.Div. degree may not continue candidacy after two failures in the comprehensive examination.

This examination consists of two parts:

Written Component. A three-hour written examination in which the candidate for the M.Div. will be asked to write on three themes (theses), one each from the assigned areas of sacred scripture, systematic theology, and moral theology. In each area the candidate will be able to choose from three possible questions. The principal purpose of the written component of the M.Div. examination will be to test the candidate’s ability to expose theological materials, with the special emphasis (as appropriate) on the pertinent contributions of historical and positive theology. The candidate must receive a 2.50 on the written component of the exam before being admitted to the oral component.

Oral Component. A three-quarter-of-an-hour examination before three faculty members who will examine the candidate in the three assigned areas. Questions may be drawn from any of the twenty-six themes. The principal purpose of the oral component of the examination will be to test the candidate’s ability to order these materials towards a reasoned theological judgment or conclusion.

The themes for the Master of Divinity comprehensive exam can be found here.


The residency requirement for the M.Div. degree is eight semesters.

Model Curriculum

I Philosophy (Fall Semester)

  • Ancient Philosophy
  • Logic
  • Introduction to the Life and Works of St. Thomas Aquinas
  • Philosophy of Nature (Cosmology)
  • Elementary Latin I

I Philosophy (Spring Semester)

  • Medieval Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Knowledge
  • Philosophical Anthropology
  • Communicating God’s Word
  • Elementary Latin II

II Philosophy (Fall Semester)

  • Modern Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Being (Metaphysics)
  • Ministries Practicum
  • Early and Medieval Church History
  • Elementary Greek I (for dual MDiv/STB candidates)

II Philosophy (Spring Semester)

  • Recent Philosophy
  • Philosophical Ethics
  • Elective in Philosophy
  • Reformation and Modern Church History
  • Elementary Greek II (for dual M.Div./S.T.B. candidates)

I Theology (Fall Semester)

  • Pentateuch
  • Nature and Method of Theology
  • Principles of Christian Moral Life I
  • Synoptic Gospels
  • Introduction to Pastoral Ministry

I Theology (Spring Semester)

  • Prophets of Israel
  • Triune God
  • Principles of Christian Moral Life II
  • Johannine Writings
  • Catholic Social and Sexual Teaching

II Theology (Fall Semester)

  • Wisdom Literature
  • Creation and the Human Person
  • Theological Virtues
  • Sacraments: Theology and Initiation
  • Basic Elements of Christology

II Theology (Spring Semester)

  • Ecclesiology
  • Theology of Grace
  • Cardinal and Moral Virtues
  • Sacrament of the Eucharist
  • Supervised Ministry

III Theology (Fall Semester)

  • Introduction to Church Law
  • Sacrament of Orders
  • Preaching: Preparation and Presentation
  • Deacon Practicum
  • Elective

III Theology (Spring Semester)

  • Pauline Letters
  • Sacrament of Marriage
  • Liturgiology
  • Elective (Systematic)
  • Elective
  • Comprehensive Exam

IV Theology—Pastoral Year (Fall Semester)

  • Teaching and Learning (Elective)
  • The People of God in Church Law

IV Theology—Pastoral Year (Spring Semester)

  • Sacraments of Penance and Anointing
  • Priesthood Practicum

Additional Requirements

  • Latin Reading Comprehension Test (1st Year of Matriculation)
  • Comprehensive Exam (3rd Year of Matriculation)

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