Master of Divinity
The Master of Divinity (MDiv) program is designed to prepare clerical candidates for general apostolic, ministerial, pastoral, and administrative leadership in the Church. This encourages the candidate’s development of communion with Christ and participation in His mission.
DSPT works with the primary formation community of the student’s religious institute to ensure an integrated approach to formation.
As a center of studies for the Western Dominican Province, DSPT aligns the MDiv program with the requirements articulated in the Dominican Formation Documents for Student Friars and with the general requirements of the Program of Priestly Formation of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
At DSPT, philosophy and theology are partnered to form a system of inquiry to help address the current needs of both Church and society. Even though many individual courses and areas of study in theology do not necessarily rely upon this partnership, DSPT theology programs do.
For this reason, the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree presumes a strong foundation in philosophy, specifically 18-semester units of prerequisite philosophy coursework.
As a center of studies of the Dominican Order located in the Western Dominican Province, DSPT is obligated to the requirements articulated in the formation documents of these two entities, namely the Ratio Studiorum Generalis and Ratio Formationis Generalis from the Order, and the Ratio Studiorum Particularis and Ratio Formationis Particularis from the Province.
In addition, the DSPT curriculum also follows the general requirements of the Program of Priestly Formation, which governs the preparation of clerical candidates for dioceses in the United States.
The MDiv program is a three-year program that requires 72-semester units of coursework, as outlined below. In order to fulfill the requirements of the RSP, students of the Western Dominican Province must take an additional 18 units of coursework (Complementary Curriculum).
Students who are from other religious communities or dioceses must follow the specific directives of their community superior or bishop. Qualified students may wish to apply this additional year of coursework towards a concurrent MDiv/MA (Theology) option.
The goal of the MDiv program is to prepare clerical candidates for general apostolic, ministerial, pastoral, and administrative leadership in the Catholic Church of the United States.
As the PPF calls for a priestly formation that is “in communion with Jesus,” enabling “participation in his mission” (see PPF nos. 7-9), the outcomes for the MDiv program express how the candidates will develop this communion with Christ and participation in his mission. A mission that is understood under the aspect of the three-fold office of Jesus Christ the High Priest, who is Prophet, Priest, and King.
Furthermore, as a Center of Studies of the Order of Preachers, DSPT places emphasis on fostering the prophetic element while also developing the priestly and kingly aspects. The outcomes also relate to the four pillars of formation for clerical candidates articulated in the Program of Priestly Formation (PPF), namely:
d) Spiritual (see also RFIS, n. 1, 3).
At DSPT, these pillars are viewed through a lens that encourages a human and graced discipleship with Christ in the context of the ordained priesthood.
The overall focus of these outcomes is to inculcate knowledge of the religious, particularly theological heritage of the Roman Catholic Church; to foster the human and cultural contexts of priestly life; to nurture evangelical characteristics of the priestly following of Christ; and to instill a capacity for ministerial and public leadership.
By the end of the program, students will demonstrate ministerial and pastoral competency through the ability:
1. [communication] to communicate simply, accurately, and effectively the theological tradition of the Roman Catholic Church through preaching, teaching, and writing;
2. [evaluation] to analyze, assess, and critique theological perspectives and situations through scriptural, historical, systematic, and pastoral theological methods and to assist others in doing the same;
3. [application] to apply Catholic teaching and theology, especially as exemplified by St. Thomas Aquinas, to pastoral situations, recognizing both the difficulties and the opportunities they present;
4. [collaboration] to lead and to work collaboratively with others in a just, charitable, and generous manner, respecting the relevant cultural, social, and ecclesial circumstances, all the while maintaining professional, ethical boundaries;
5. [Church-uniting] to foster Church communion, demonstrated through consistent dedication to community life, participation in prayer, and leading others in worship and theological reflection.
The Learning Environment and the Primary Formation Community
The MDiv program presupposes a dynamic learning environment that supports the holistic development of each clerical candidate. DSPT faculty work collaboratively with other entities to ground the discipleship of Christ of the clerical candidate in personal maturity, intellectual accomplishment, and pastoral leadership. In addition to the academic learning community found at DSPT and across the GTU, MDiv students are assigned a Primary Formation Community according to their own particular vocation.
The MDiv program presupposes a basic foundation in philosophy as well as an introduction to Scripture. Consequently, all applicants should have completed 18-semester units of philosophy. Applicants lacking these prerequisites may enroll in a Certificate Program (CPhS or CTS) while completing them.
Sacred Scripture – 18 units
- Intro to Sacred Scripture (3)
- Old Testament
- Pentateuch & Histories (cycled) (3)
- Prophets (cycled), Wisdom (cycled), or other thematic course offerings (3)
- New Testament (any two of the following three courses)
- The Gospels (cycled) (3)
- Pauline Literature (cycled) (3)
- Acts, Catholic Epistles, & Revelation (cycled) (3)
- Old or New Testament Elective (3)
History of the Church – 6 units
- History of Christianity I (3)
- History of Christianity II (3)
Systematic & Moral Theology – 27 units
- Systematic Theology
- Theology: Nature & Method (3)
- Trinity (cycled) (3)
- Theological Anthropology (cycled) (3)
- Historical Development of Christology (cycled) (3)
- Theology of Sacraments (cycled) (3)
- Ecclesiology (cycled) (3)
- Moral Theology
- Fundamental Moral Theology (3)
- Roman Catholic Sexual Ethics (cycled) (3)
- Roman Catholic Social Teaching (cycled) (3)
Pastoral Theology – 21 units
- Foundations of Preaching (3)
- Pastoral Counseling (3)
- Field Education Level I (1.5)
- Pastoral Ministry Internship (Field Ed. Level II) (3)
- Field Education Level III (1.5)
- Liturgical Theology (cycled) (3)
- Canon Law/ Marriage (cycled) (3)
- Confessional Ministry (1.5)
- Celebration of the Sacraments (1.5)
Ministry and public leadership are essential to the role of the Catholic priest. While many courses provide opportunities to integrate theological principles with practical apostolates or ministry situations, the pastoral theology courses focus closely on this integration.
More specifically, the Field Education program helps students build these fundamental skills in three ways:
1) Direct ministry experience,
2) Regular onsite supervision,
3) Regular theological reflection.
The Field Education curriculum organizes this three-fold work according to the following norms: approximately 40 hours total of work from these three areas is equivalent to 1 credit unit. Students normally engage in 4-6 hours of ministry per week, plus regular onsite supervision.
In the first year, students also participate in regular class sessions. These sessions introduce basic skills for theological reflection and provide peer opportunity to practice those skills.
The second year of Field Education is fulfilled through a year-long pastoral ministry internship (FE 2150).
Students in the MDiv program are required to pass three examinations in order to fulfill the program requirements. These include:
a) Diaconate exam, b) Priesthood exam, and c) Faculties exam.
These exams are developed and administered by the Primary Formation Community of the seminarian/candidate. Results are reported to the Academic Dean by the formation person responsible for administering the examinations, and a record is kept in the student portfolio.
DSPT Faculty review the exam format regularly as part of the general program review.
Study guidelines for each exam are available on the website.
The Complementary Curriculum is offered to allow clerical students to complete the four years of theological study. This study is canonically required for ordination in the Roman Catholic Church as outlined in the Program of Priestly Formation (PPF) and the formation documents of the Western Dominican Province.
Students take an additional 15 units as follows:
- Sacred Scripture (3 units)
- Systematic Theology (9 units)
- A preaching course (3 units)