Catholic Studies Degree Program Summaries

Oct 14, 2019

Catholic studies programs are typically offered at the bachelor's and master's degree levels through Catholic and Jesuit universities. These programs teach students about the theory and application of religious teachings over the whole of history.

Essential Information

Those interested in Catholic studies may begin their education by enrolling in a bachelor's degree program that teaches various aspects of Catholicism and Christianity. Seminars could provide opportunities for real-world experience. Students who want to continue their studies in a master's degree program could expand their understanding of the Bible and the Catholic religion. Generally, individuals don't need to be Catholic to attend either program. Some colleges may offer students the opportunity to study in Rome.

Bachelor's Degree in Catholic Studies

Throughout this program, students explore the development and history of Christianity. They also may gain knowledge of Catholic traditions, Catholic and Christian literature and 15th, 19th and 20th century Catholic philosophies and teachings. Christianity in the East, Jewish-Christian interactions, the New Testament and Catholic revelations might also be explored.

College admission requirements typically include the completion of a formal application and the submission of high school transcripts and standardized test scores. Some schools may have grade requirements or a review process to be accepted. Additionally, some schools may require students to submit a personal essay or writing sample on a designated topic, letters of recommendation and a resume of activities.

During the Catholic studies program, some studies might include the examination of notable individuals like the Twelve Apostles, male and female companionships, Italian writings, Italian art and poetry. Students gain hands-on experience through seminars through on and off-campus preaching observations. Students might also explore courses such as:

  • Christian transformation, unity and revelations
  • Early and contemporary Catholicism and Christianity
  • Exploration of Christian serenity and spirituality
  • Medieval Christianity
  • Music and religious ceremonies
  • Social Christianity

Master of Arts in Catholic Studies

Students of the master's degree program in Catholic studies explore in-depth studies of the Catholic religion and the impact of Catholicism on society. Students discover how the various methodical and analytical methods that Catholics believe and practice enlighten religion, philosophies, societies and individuals. During studies in religious teachings of Catholic faith, students examine the functions of the Catholic Church, politics, the New Testament, Catholic mysticism and Biblical studies.

Applicants of a master's degree program must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Enrollment requirements also might include a formal application, personal essay, a writing sample and letters of recommendation.

Graduate students may take courses in religious art, literature and music, Michelangelo, St. Augustine and Shakespeare. The curriculum might include Christian theology, religious ceremonies and services and Vatican II teachings. Hands-on experience, via an internship, may be available. Other studies might include:

  • Catholic views and beliefs
  • Catholic traditions
  • Cultural and modern developments
  • Medieval and modern-day Catholicism
  • Moral theology

Popular Career Options

Bachelor's degree graduates can choose various professions related to Catholic studies. Some might work in churches, religious or non-profit organizations, nursing homes, housing agencies or for religious publications. Graduates might find positions as:

  • Church counselor
  • Outreach coordinator
  • Pastor/minister
  • Volunteer director
  • Youth group leader

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Those interested in pursuing a career in Catholic and religious studies might choose a career as a clergy member, pastor, minister, Catholic priest, children's minister or children's pastor. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), growth for clergy members was expected to increase 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, from 2018-2028 ( The BLS also noted that as of May 2018, the median salary for clergy members was $48,990.

Catholic studies degree programs are focused on the history, philosophy and theology of Christian teachings. Many graduates will take on counselling or leadership positions within the church and related institutions.

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