What college classes should a student take if they are interested in the Catholic Priesthood?
The requirements for entry into the major seminary where a priestly candidate (seminarian) works on the Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) degree is 30 credits of philosophy and 12 credits of theology. They should be taken at a good Catholic institution as protestant theology classes most likely will not be accepted nor will most philosophy credits from public institutions as many of them lean towards the moral relativism line in ethics.
Hope this helps.
In addition to the Philosophy and Theology courses, I'd suggest a language as well. Spanish or perhaps another tongue that is prevalent in your (arch)diocese.
A lot of philosophy classes and a few in theology does seem to be the norm as an admissional requirement among U.S. or Canadian seminaries; there are some that require less. Also, I would recommend psychology(developmental psych., theories of personality, social psych., etc.) and other social science classes(as in sociology and cultural anthropology; history is often seen as both a humanity and a social science). If you have time, learning Latin, Greek, or Hebrew is invaluable. In addition, courses in the natural sciences(especially in biology; for ethics, you might want to take Genetics and Cell and Molecular Bio., if possible) can be very useful, particularily if one leans towards the Society of Jesus or their frame of mind. And some rhetoric(usually in a Communications department; my college, for instance, has Persuasion and Argumentation, though I hated the introductory public speaking class that I had to take) would be helpful.
I'm not a priestly candidate or a priest or a deacon, but may I highly second Young Thinker's recommendation regarding natural sciences (especially upper division courses like cosmology or the like), even if you do not discern a calling to the Jesuits, since it may help in your conversation with atheists and agnostics and give you a common ground for both of you to stand on? As to whether or not it will, I don't know, but just a kind suggestion.....
Paul R. Viola
I just thought I'd mention that even though the requirements for seminary include credit hours in philosophy and theology; unless you are at a good catholic university, the diocese you are discerning for will probably still send you to do study in a pre-theology program. You study philosophy for two years to prepare you for major seminary. I don't know if this a nationwide thing but I know it's mandatory all over California and it makes sense that it would be prevalent elsewhere. So, pretty much discern while in school if you feel God wants you to get your degree but don't worry to much about what it's in. I suggest one of the liberal arts as it will help you gain a sense of what Seminary work will be life in terms of reading, writing and analyzing texts. Although I recommend it; I myself am a science fanatic and am currently majoring in Biology and Philosophy (soon). Overall, take a degree in what you can discern God calls you to get a degree in!
I know several priests who had majored in business administration as undergrads and have found that extreamly helpful in their work as pastors, which has a LOT of administrative and financial aspects to it. In fact, the two I am thinking of who had MBA's before entering the seminary were made pastors rather quickly.
However, not everyone can last through business classes(I, personally, find business rather boring and would not want to waste my time), and many would not really need an M.B.A. I certainly would not worry about it. A couple of economics classes as an undergraduate, though, would not exactly hurt you.
Thank you for your answer. As they would put in in a Philosophy and theology class in the program would Psychology and History be good choices?
Yes, in fact psychology seems to be among the more popular degrees that the priests I know had received in their undergraduate education. I'm sure the principles really help with relating to parishioners and understanding their thoughts.
The ones that are taught at a college seminary.
If you are interested in the priesthood, visit your Vocations Director and go to a college seminary. You’ll get a far better education than you would at a regular college.
Plus, you get all the spiritual formation, personal development and so forth that is crucial to the priesthood today.
You don’t have to be sure that you want to be a priest, you just have to be willing to go to the seminary and be formed. God and the Church will help you know whether you’re called to sacred orders.
There are WAY too many priests in our country who have gone through pre-theology programs. A college seminary provides far better preparation for major seminary, and far more tools for the [eventual] priest.