The Dominican House of Studies

Master of Divinity

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

Master of Divinity

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.

Program Facts


Enrolled Students


Average Duration


Average Total Cost*

Learning Objectives

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 (pastoral field education).

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.
Getting Started


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:

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

  • 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 of Preachers and the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium 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 111 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)
  • Catholic 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)

  • Introduction to Church Law (3), Book II: The People of God in Church Law (3)

Pastoral Theology (6 credits)

  • Introduction to Pastoral Ministry (3)
  • Parish Administration Skills (3)

Practica (7 credits)

  • Ministries Practicum (1)
  • Deacon Practicum (2)
  • Priesthood Practicum (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.

Students who fail the first attempt of either their written or oral exam will be able to take the exam a second time. However, they will only be able to receive the minimum required passing average grade of 3.0 on their second attempt and will be ineligible for academic honors. If a student receives below a 2.0 in any of the three areas on the oral exam, the entire oral component of the exam will need to be taken again in all three areas.


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

Model Curriculum

I Philosophy (Fall Semester)

  • Ancient Philosophy
  • Logic
  • Communicating God’s Word
  • Philosophy of Nature (Cosmology)
  • Elementary Latin I
  • Ministries Practicum

I Philosophy (Spring Semester)

  • Medieval Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Knowledge
  • Philosophical Anthropology
  • Introduction to the Life and Works of St. Thomas Aquinas
  • Elementary Latin II

II Philosophy (Fall Semester)

  • Modern Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Being (Metaphysics)
  • 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
  • Pauline Letters

III Theology (Fall Semester)

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

III Theology (Spring Semester)

  • Sacrament of Marriage
  • Liturgiology
  • Parish Administration Skills
  • Elective (Systematic Theology)
  • Elective
  • Comprehensive Exam

IV Theology—Pastoral Year (Fall Semester)

  • Teaching and Learning (Elective)
  • Book II: People of God in Canon 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)

*Total or average cost does not include books, materials, or living expenses. This cost also assumes that appropriate philosophy studies have been completed.


Life and Education at the Dominican House of Studies

Catholic theology in the Thomistic tradition for Dominican students and all who are interested in serving the Church, evangelizing the world, and growing in virtue, wisdom, and holiness.