Theological Studies (M.T.S.)

This program is currently accepting applications from potential students for enrollment in fall 2023.

The Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) degree offers students the opportunity to engage in critical and constructive theological research as part of the department's vibrant community of inquiry. Aimed primarily at students aspiring to deep theological competence and to doctoral education at the highest level, the program provides students both comprehensive grounding in the theological disciplines and rigorous preparation for advanced studies in a concentration of the student's choice.

All M.T.S. students are required to complete 16 courses (48 credit hours). Reflecting our location in a Jesuit, Catholic university, the curriculum includes a foundation in Christian theological studies, including systematics, ethics, history, and bible. To ensure a breadth of knowledge, the program requires that students complete a core of six courses, including the program's interdisciplinary signature course, Context, Theory, and Theology (THEO 5901). In and beyond the core, students have the opportunity to work with faculty in all of the department's areas of research: biblical studies, history of Christianity, Judaism in antiquity, medieval and modern Islam, systematic theology, and theological ethics. At least two of the student's sixteen courses must primarily engage Judaism, Islam, or another non-Christian tradition.

Students immerse themselves in one of two areas of concentration: Studies in Ancient and Medieval Theology/Religion, or Studies in Modern and Contemporary Theology/Religion. Working with a faculty mentor, students select courses that best suit their interests and prepare them for further studies or other careers. They experience the camaraderie of studying with their M.T.S. cohort peers, of taking seminars with the program's doctoral students, and interacting with the faculty of the internationally recognized department.

Acceptance into the M.T.S. program will come through a successful application that includes a statement of intent, writing sample, recommendations, and GRE scores. The ideal student need not be a theology or religious studies undergraduate major, but may be those with a strong background in the humanities (from disciplines that include theology, religious studies, history, classics, philosophy, languages, or English), or even a background in the sciences (natural or social) who demonstrate the ability to conduct theological research at a high level.

Course Title Credits
Core Courses
Bible
THEO 5820Old Testament Interpretation3
or THEO 5890 New Testament Interpretation
Systematic Theology
THEO 5620Introduction to Systematic Theology3
Theological Ethics
THEO 5640Introduction to Theological Ethics3
History of Christianity
THEO 5300History of Christianity I3
THEO 5301History of Christianity II3
Interdisciplinary Course
THEO 5901Context, Theory, and Theology3
Concentration (choose one)18
Studies in Ancient and Medieval Theology/Religion
Six Ancient/Medieval or relevant language courses 1
Proficiency in French or German 2
Intermediate competency in Ancient Greek, Hebrew, or Latin 2
Studies in Modern and Contemporary Theology/Religion
Six Modern/Contemporary courses 3
Proficiency in French, German, or Spanish 2
Electives
Four elective courses 412
Final Project
THEO 0938Master's Capstone-Theology0
Total Credits48
1

See list below of Theology courses fulfilling this requirement. With departmental permission, graduate courses in Medieval Studies and Classics that are relevant to the study of ancient or medieval Christianity may also fulfill this requirement.

2

Proficiency is demonstrated through completion of a departmental exam: 

3

See list below of courses fulfilling this requirement.

4

Electives may be taken from departmental offerings (graduate-level courses with the subject code THEO). Courses from other departments, programs, or schools may also count as electives, subject to Theology Department permission.

Students in the Ancient and Medieval concentration may count ancient language courses as electives, subject to Theology Department permission.


Ancient/Medieval Courses

Courses in this group have the MTAM attribute.

Course Title Credits
THEO 5025Exodus in Hebrew3
THEO 5070Elementary Coptic I3
THEO 5071Elementary Coptic II3
THEO 5072Christian Texts in Coptic3
THEO 5075Syriac Language and Literature I3
THEO 5076Syriac Language and Literature II3
THEO 5080Introduction to Biblical Greek3
THEO 5090Biblical Aramaic3 to 4
THEO 5230Advanced Greek3
THEO 5400Topics in Islam: Texts and Traditions3
THEO 5401Introduction to Islam3
THEO 5405Teaching Buddhism3
THEO 5820Old Testament Interpretation3 to 4
THEO 5890New Testament Interpretation3 to 4
THEO 6026Ancient Judaism3
THEO 6031The Psalms3
THEO 6039Biblical Ethics3
THEO 6040The Neighbor: Biblical Witness and Contemporary Ethics3
THEO 6042The History of Jerusalem: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives3
THEO 6130Matthew Mark and Method3
THEO 6192Greco-Roman Context/Xtnt3
THEO 6194History Theory & Xtianity3
THEO 6195Inventing Christianity: Apostolic Fathers, Apologists, and Martyrs3
THEO 6196Early Christian Ritual3
THEO 6198Self in Early Christianity3
THEO 6211Paul, Prisoner and Martyr: Political Theology in Early Christianity3
THEO 6300Apostolic Fathers3
THEO 6305Introduction to Rabbinic Literature3
THEO 6360Alexandrian Theology3
THEO 6365Cappadocian Fathers3
THEO 6367Byzantine Christianity: History and Theology3
THEO 6425St. Augustine in Context3
THEO 6426St Augustine of Hippo3
THEO 6445Affect, Emotion, and Religious Experience3
THEO 6461Mystical Theology3
THEO 6463From Lollards to Luther3
THEO 6465Asceticism and Monasticism3
THEO 6466Hagiography3
THEO 6480Christianizing the Barbarians3
THEO 6490Christianity and Violence3

Modern/Contemporary Courses

​Courses in this group have the MTMC attribute.

Course Title Credits
THEO 5400Topics in Islam: Texts and Traditions3
THEO 5401Introduction to Islam3
THEO 5405Teaching Buddhism3
THEO 5500Religion and American Public Life3
THEO 5550New Methods: American Religion History3
THEO 5630Systematic Liberation Theology3
THEO 5690Graduate Seminar: Church in Controversy3
THEO 6000History, Theory, and the Study of Religion3
THEO 6214Old Testament Theology3
THEO 6444Medieval Modernists: Modern Appropiations of Medieval and Ancient Christianity3
THEO 6485Doing Theology with Gustavo Gutiérrez: 50 years (1971–2021)3
THEO 6505Histories of Colonialism, Empire, Theology3
THEO 6509Theology and Religious Pluralism: Christian Tradition in a Religiously Plural World3
THEO 6510Socially Engaged Theology3
THEO 6530Modern Catholicism & Difference: Negotiating With Cultural & Religious Others (From 1534-Present)3
THEO 6543Aesthetics, Religion, and Modernity3
THEO 6544Belief and Unbelief Tol & Into3
THEO 6551U.S. Religious History3
THEO 6553Readings in American Religion3
THEO 6600Modern Orthodox Theology4
THEO 6606Theological Anthropology3
THEO 6607Christian Theologies of Salvation3
THEO 6612New Methods in Constructive Theology3
THEO 6615Rahner, Lonergan, and Transcendental Method3
THEO 6616Contemp Theol of Trinity3
THEO 6620God in Contemp Theology3
THEO 6621God in Comparative Theology3
THEO 6630Church in Contemp Theol.3
THEO 6631Missiology: Mission of Church in Age of Turmoil and Strife3
THEO 6634Black Theologies and the Decolonial Option3
THEO 6642Political Theology3
THEO 6651The Liturgy: How Christians Worship3
THEO 6652The Liturgy: A Work of Praise and Justice3
THEO 6653Church as Sacrament: A Study in Christian Sacraments and Ecclesiology3
THEO 6657Eucharist and World Today3
THEO 6659Latinx Theology3
THEO 6671Contemporary Christology3
THEO 6674Ecological Theology3
THEO 6676Sexual Ethics3
THEO 6710Issues in Fundamental Moral Theology3
THEO 6721African American Theological Ethics3
THEO 6731Christian Ecological Ethics3
THEO 6732Ethics and Economics3
THEO 6733Theology and Science3
THEO 6735Ecological Ethics3
THEO 6736Feminist Theological Ethics3
THEO 6737God/Mystery of Suffering3
THEO 6738The Mystical-Prophetic Turn in Modern Catholic Theology3
THEO 6740Catholic Social Thought3
THEO 6745Sociology of Religion3
THEO 7222New Perspectives on Paul3
THEO 7731Religion and Revolution3
THEO 7736Bioethics3

Final Project

The Theology Department requires that M.T.S. students complete a final project as a "closure exercise" in their final year in the degree program. Students will benefit from this opportunity to reflect in a deliberate way upon the arc of their learning through the M.T.S. program, and the Department's efforts at ongoing assessment of the success of this degree program will similarly benefit from this synthetic exercise. Students may choose between these two options (see the description of Options A and B below) which they must indicate by completing a Department-generated survey form to be filled out by the end of the first week of their penultimate semester of their degree work.

Option A—The supervised revision of a research paper, combined with an "exit interview"

This option has two components, the first to be completed in the penultimate semester of a student's M.T.S. work and the second one to be completed in the final semester.

1) By the end of the fifth week of the student's penultimate semester in the M.T.S. program (typically the second Friday of October in year 2 of the student's matriculation in the program), the student will select a research paper previously written for one of their courses and begin the process of revising, expanding and further developing this paper so that the new version brings out more thoroughly valuable interdisciplinary perspectives upon the topic. For example, the content of a paper that the student wrote for an ethics course would be expanded somewhat to include further scriptural or historical insights. Additional scholarly sources might be identified and applied to improve what the paper achieves, though without adding overly much to the length of the paper (a 20-page paper might be extended in this way to a length of 25 pages, but no more than 30 pages).

The student must obtain permission for the participation in this exercise of the professor for whom the original paper was written (or, for good reasons such as faculty absence from campus due to a sabbatical, a substitute faculty member in the same theological sub-discipline) as well as one other professor in the Theology Department whose work is relevant to the revision process. The student will share the original version of the paper with both professors by the middle of that semester (typically fall of the second year in the M.T.S. program) and consult with both professors on subsequent drafts, culminating in a final version to be shared with both professors by the first day of the final month of that semester (typically December 1). The student then arranges a mutually convenient time for the three to meet for 45 minutes to engage in a colloquy on the content and merits of this revised paper. The oral exercise will explore the interdisciplinary and integrative character of the writing project, in light of the methodologies and standards of both sub-disciplines.

At the end of this meeting, each of the faculty members will submit to the Department a brief (five- to ten-sentence) report on the success of the student performance, including both written and oral components, into a combined score. Each faculty member will independently record a grade of Pass or Fail on this project. If either faculty member records a failing grade, the exercise will be repeated in the following semester, proceeding either with the same paper (presumably with substantial revisions and improvements) or with a different paper entirely and with at least one different professor. Students interested in applying to doctoral programs in theology will come away from this exercise (especially if completed in a timely way, typically by exam week in December) with a promising candidate for a writing sample that may comprise part of an excellent application to a doctoral program.

The Department Chair will oversee this process for M.T.S. students and will maintain records of faculty involvement in these exercises, so that no faculty member is unduly burdened by overly frequent service in the mentoring and reading of these final projects for M.T.S. projects. The normal maximum for a given faculty member is three such involvements each academic year.

2) M.T.S. students who select Option A and who have successfully completed item 1 described above will complete their degree closure requirement by participating in a 30-minute "exit interview" with two faculty members of their choosing (ideally, the academic advisor and a second professor who has supervised some previous work of the student) in that student's final semester of degree work. The student takes the initiative of inviting these two professors to meet at a mutually convenient time, which must fall before the beginning of the final exam week of the student's final semester in the M.T.S. program.

The faculty members will question the student regarding the overall experience of the degree program, including: 1) describing major areas of learning; 2) identifying any unanticipated outcomes and benefits of the program; and 3) proposing potential areas for improvement in the curriculum or administration of the M.T.S. degree. The student will receive a pass or fail grade from each professor, who will then submit the results to the Theology Department along with a narrative of five to ten sentences summarizing the student's oral reflections on the program.

If either professor submits a failing grade on this oral exercise (presumably because the student applied too little effort in fashioning well-considered responses to the questions asked), a new colloquy must be scheduled (unfortunately, this will probably delay the student's graduation date) with two new professors who will follow the same procedures described above. Students who fail to complete successfully either of these two components of Option A will not be awarded the M.T.S. degree.

Option B—Student reflection paper and "exit interview" based upon it

Both components of this option for a closure exercise occur in the final two months of the M.T.S. student’s degree program. Notice that there is no research component within Option B.

1) During the penultimate month of the student’s final semester in the M.T.S. program (typically in early April, since most students will graduate in May of their second year), the student will invite two professors in the Theology Department to participate in the closure exercise, which may be completed in either of the final two months of that semester (typically April or early May, but certainly before the beginning of final exams week of that semester). Ideally (but not necessarily) one professor will be the student's academic advisor, and the other professor will have supervised some previous work of the student.

The student will then write a reflection essay of 6 to 8 standard double-spaced pages (1500 to 2000 words) addressing the following lines of inquiry: 1) Describe  your major learning goals in this degree program, how well they were met and which components of your study contributed most substantially to this success; 2) Describe any shortcomings of the program as offered and propose how they might be addressed; and 3) Describe how well prepared you feel to advance toward your career goals and especially whether you encountered any unanticipated benefits or areas of enrichment in your academic program at Fordham. The student's reflection essay must be written in smooth standard prose and be presented to the two faculty members at least five days before the agreed-upon colloquy meeting.

2) The student and the two professors will participate in a 45-minute colloquy in which the student responds to lines of inquiry offered by the two professors. The content of the reflection essay is the starting point of the conversation, but the discussion may include further considerations beyond what the student has written. At the conclusion of the colloquy, each of the two faculty members will submit to the department (on an independent basis) a report of a grade (simply pass or fail), and an additional paragraph (on the scale of ten sentences) summarizing the most important insights about the program shared by the student in the reflection essay and during the colloquy meeting.

If a student does not receive a passing grade from even one of the two faculty members, a new panel of two different professors will be appointed (by the Department Chair, in conversation with the student) to supervise the writing of an improved reflection essay and to conduct a new colloquy session. If a student requires a second attempt at this closure exercise, it will most likely delay the expected graduation of that student, so careful preparation of the written essay and the oral component of this closure exercise should be a top priority.