Master of Arts

The Master of Arts degree in theology is an academically rigorous degree designed for students preparing for teaching at the secondary level or in two-year college programs. The M.A. also serves as an appropriate graduate research degree in preparation for a doctoral program.


Master of Arts (MA): Specialization in Franciscan Studies

This M.A. degree specializes in Franciscan studies, especially Franciscan spirituality, theology, history, and social vision. Such specialization is useful for those preparing to work in programs of religious formation, in translation and publication of theological and historical texts, and preparation of printed and electronic resources to enhance awareness of significant authors, texts, and themes in the Franciscan Tradition

Master of Arts (MA): Specialization in Franciscan Studies

The student successfully completing the MA program will be prepared to:

  1. Demonstrate basic knowledge of major theological disciplines (Scripture, Systematic Theology, Historical Studies, Moral Theology/Ethics)
  2. Exhibit focused knowledge in an area of specialization within the Franciscan tradition (theology, history, spirituality)
  3. Conduct research and construct a theological argument
  4. Use a foreign language in conducting graduate-level research
  5. Communicate coherently, effectively, and persuasively in writing and speaking
  6. Construct in a thesis a coherent, sustained theological argument in an area of specialized study

Goals of the MA Program

The goals of the MA program are to prepare students to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic documents and heritage of the Roman Catholic Church through instruction in Scripture, church history, systematic theology, liturgy, and moral theology within diverse cultural contexts
  • Demonstrate advanced graduate skills in research, multiple languages, sustained augmentation of a thesis, and skills in communicating a position in both oral and written form
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge in the sources and themes of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition

MA Program Requirements

Credit Hours: All students are required to complete 42 cr. hours for the degree including coursework, online and in-person, and thesis preparation.  Students are required to maintain a GPA of 3.0 while enrolled in the MA program.

Credit-Hours of Instruction (at least one course to be taken at USD):


Each student must demonstrate competency in a second language, to be used for research in preparation of the thesis.  Competency will be determined by passing of courses at the appropriate level (at USD or other approved institution), or by written or oral examination.  Not more than 3 units of language study may be applied to the degree requirements.  The language requirement must be completed before the beginning of the second year in the program, to aid in the preparation of the thesis.

Writings of Francis & Clare (SP 501); Franciscan Christology (ST 607); Franciscan Contemplative Tradition (SP 505); Themes in Franciscan Spirituality (SP 503); Image of God: Christ, Creation, Humanity (ST 503); Social Entrepreneurship & Franciscan Economic Justice (SPST 606); The Life and Writings of St. Clare (SP 504); Francis of Assisi and Francis of Rome: Perspectives on the Church (ST 605); Why Sacraments? Bonaventure Responds (LS 601). Special Reading Courses may be designed by a student in collaboration with a faculty member to allow deeper investigation of an individual author, theme, or work. FST faculty members are also available to work with students using Franciscan research materials in Latin, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, and English.