Areas of Concentration

Religion and the Arts for MA (Theology) - Program Requirements

“God is simply beautiful to everyone.” St. Thomas Aquinas

Program Requirements:

Semester in Rome

Students in the MA (Theology) program who choose "Religion and the Arts" as their area of concentration follow the normal course requirements for the MA (Theology) program, namely 42 units of course work distributed as indicated below, plus 6 units of thesis work.

All DSPT MA (Theology) students must take at least four courses in their chosen area of concentration. Those students in Religion and the Arts may fulfill this obligation in either of two ways:

  • by choosing courses which fulfill the area requirement and at the same time also focus on Religion and the Arts. Examples of such courses – which are offered on a cycled basis at DSPT and GTU – are provided for each field below.
  • through the choice of elective courses.

Core Courses


The courses listed below each required area are examples which may be used to strengthen the focus on Religion and the Arts. These courses may also be used as electives.


Back to top


Philosophy principles (1 course, 3 units)


Because the approach to theological inquiry at DSPT relies heavily upon philosophical principles, all MA (Theology) students are required to take PH 1200 Philosophy for Theology pdf in the Fall semester of their first year in the program, or to demonstrate coursework equivalent to any one of the following DSPT courses: Philosophy of Nature, Philosophical Anthropology, or Metaphysics. Those with such prior work may file a general petition with the Academic Dean requesting advanced standing for PH 1200. Students are also strongly encouraged to take ST-1710, "Theology: Method & Structure."


Back to top

Theology Requirements


Sacred Scripture (1 course, 3 units)

N.B. All upper division Scripture courses require foundational coursework, i.e. either OT 1065 or NT 1003.

Historical Studies (1 course, 3 units)

Moral Theology (1 course, 3 units)

Systematic Theology (1 course, 3 units) 

Non-Christian Religion (1 course, 3 units)

Back to top

Studio Course (1 course, 3 units)

This requirement may come from any of area of the performing arts, through coursework offered at any of the GTU schools or its affiliates, e.g. Center for the Arts, Religion & Education (CARE) care-gtu.orgor at UC Berkeley. Students may also fulfill this requirement through coursework in museum curatorship offered through CARE.

Back to top

Elective Courses (7 courses, 21 units)

In addition to the courses listed above, students may also consider any of the following:

Furthermore, many suitable electives are offered in UC Berkeley Art History, Art, and Music departments.

Back to top

Thesis (6 units of MA 5000, "In Thesis")

Students in the MA (Theology) program who concentrate in the area of Religion and the Arts will write a thesis focusing on some aspect of this discipline. The topic will be determined in consultation with the proposed thesis coordinator.

See the Student Forms page for all forms needed for the Master's thesis.

Proposal - The student must present and have approved a proposal for the thesis by the end of the third semester in the program. The proposal must demonstrate the ability of the student to organize a project of theological inquiry into a brief, coherent statement. The student writes the proposal in consultation with a proposed thesis coordinator and two readers.

Using the DSPT "MA Thesis Petition Form," the student nominates the coordinator and two readers for the thesis. These faculty must be approved by the Department, which may, at its discretion, make substitutions in light of the nature of the thesis. The coordinator cannot be changed without the approval of the Department. The "Thesis Petition Form" is submitted along with the thesis proposal to the Department chair at least one week before the meeting at which it is to be discussed.

Thesis - The thesis is to be about eighty (80) pages in length and written according to the standards prescribed in the latest edition of A Manual for the Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, by Kate Turabian external link. A comprehensive bibliography of the appropriate sources and modern treatments of the subject matter of the thesis should be included in the final copy. Each thesis is to be defended and passed by the posted GTU deadline of the intended year of graduation (see the GTU Academic Calendar external link for the specific date). Students are responsible to see that a copy of the thesis to be defended is given to the coordinator and readers at least three weeks before the scheduled defense. Members of a committee are not obliged to meet during breaks in the academic calendar. Upon approval and successful oral defense of the thesis, three copies suitable for binding and approved by the GTU Library are to be submitted to the Registrar (please see the Academic Calendar for the current deadline).

Oral Defense - The oral defense of the thesis will be conducted by the director and the assigned readers. The defense shall not exceed one and one half hours in length. A student, whose thesis and oral defense are deemed outstanding by all three examiners, may be granted the degree "with honors."

Back to top

Language Requirement

Reading and comprehension proficiency in a modern or ancient language is required. Students are expected to fulfill the language requirement by the beginning of the third semester in the program. Students who anticipate a semester in Rome might also consider study of Italian in the summer beforehand, in conjunction with further language study during the semester abroad. The DSPT policy for certifying language proficiency is based upon the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) policy for the GTU Common MA and is described in detail in the DSPT Student Handbook pdf. Foreign students whose native language is not English may fulfill the language requirement by passing the ETS/TOEFL examination.

Back to top

Study Abroad - at the Angelicum

Students in the program are encouraged to spend one semester in Rome, Italy, at the Angelicum of St. Thomas Aquinas). In addition to the academic offerings, students will experience the artistic, architectural, musical, and liturgical splendor of the Eternal City. Students should consult the procedures for study at the Angelicum pdf as early as possible because the process is somewhat lengthy.

Courses in the following areas are taught at the Angelicum on a regular basis:

Liturgical Theology and Practice (English or Italian)
Sacramental Theology (English and Italian)
Anthropology of Religion (English)
Sacred Art (English and Italian)
Sacred Architecture (Italian)
Christian Spirituality (English and Italian)

Cross-registration at other universities in Rome is also possible for other classes, for example:

Philosophical Aesthetics (Gregorianum)
Sacred Music (Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music)
Byzantine Liturgy and Music (Pontifical Oriental Institute)

Back to top

“What if man had eyes to see the true beauty — the divine beauty— thither looking, and holding converse with the true beauty simple and divine?” Plato

Back to Areas of Concentration