Theology Degree Help!


Hello all,
I recently graduated and am taking a year off to build up some money which I plan to support myself as I enter into graduate school. I graduated with a degree in Biology and Religious Studies with my concentration in Asian religions. I was unsure of what I wanted to do after college but I know that at some point I’d like to teach religion, preferably at the collegiate level. Because I was unsure if I wanted to take a year off, I applied to Duke, Naropa, and Arizona State University in order to study Asian religions and got accepted to Duke and Naropa. After looking at costs, however, I didn’t feel I could justify the pricing. Also, I have been reconsidering the way I want to study religion and feel that God is calling me in a slightly different direction.

As of right now I have been thinking more and more of a degree in systematic theology. From this I would want to go onto a Ph.D. in systematic theology from which I couldalso study comparative theology. I was looking at Notre Dame’s programs and it looks like they have just what I am looking for. They also have a world religions concentration for the Ph.D. program which they ask grad students to pair with another concentration, which for me, as mentioned, would be systematic theology.

Although their master’s program is free it seems difficult to get into with a class of around 20 to 30 selected from around 200 applicants. Although I am hopeful for my chances to get in as I graduated with a 4.0 in my religion major and a 3.85 overall I was wondering if anyone knew of other good schools with similar programs that offered reduced or completely free tuition upon acceptance? Also any tips about getting teaching jobs or other jobs with a theology degree would be helpful. I have searched the web for this info but am having trouble finding the information I need.

Thank you!


If you’re willing to pay, there are many good options. :slight_smile: If you’re looking to receive financial assistance, your options are more limited. :o

Notre Dame is the only one I’ve heard of giving free rides to grad theology students. There may be more out there, but I’m not sure. Only a large school with a long history and a deep pool of alumni is likely to be in the financial position to offer such benefits.

I’m sure you’ll get the usual comments from people who cannot pass up an opportunity to criticize Notre Dame. But it is a good school and a good place to go. Sure, they have some professors I’d avoid, but there’s lots of solid people there, too.

If you don’t get one of the spots on your first go around, don’t give up. Take a year and work at a parish and then reapply. I know people (in other fields – not theology) who were trying to get into similarly competetive programs and it took a few years, but they eventually made it in.

Have you checked into Catholic University of America out in Washington DC? I’m not sure what types of assistance (if any) they may have, but they’d be another candidate I’d look into.

As for jobs after you get the degree, I’m sure you’ll build up some contacts once you are in your program. Catholic High Schools will always be in need of theology teachers. There are less opportunities at the collegiate level, but there are still many – particularly if you have a doctorate. If you don’t mind putting the regular teaching ambitions on hold, there are positions at the diocesan level or even within Catholic publishing companies that could utilize someone with such an educational background. and are two of the big Catholic job sites you might peruse on a periodic basis to get the sense of what is out there.


Thank you for the advice. I checked out CUA and like the programs but they are too expensive. I think I will keep applying to Notre Dame if I don’t get in as you said. I should also say that I have a backup plan of doing Peace Corps which can get me reduced tuition for graduate schools later on. I really like the idea of working for a Catholic publishing company as I read a lot and especially am getting into a lot of works of the Saints and other well known Catholic authors like Thomas Merton.


I would also recommend CUA.

I will also submit, for your consideration, the possibility of going for an S.T.B. or S.T.L., if you opt not to study Asian religions further. Degrees in Sacred Theology are highly regarded in Catholic circles, and make you a very good asset for Catholic universities.


Yes, a pontifical degree would definitely up one’s marketability considerably. There are only a handful of places in the U.S. that offer them at the moment. Sacred Heart in Detroit does. So does CUA and the adjacent JPII Institute. And Mundelein in Chicago does, too. I cannot think of any others off the top of my head.


Hmmm, thank you for the advice, I didn’t really know about the S.T.B and S.T.L. degrees so that gives me some more to think about.


I think you need to do more research in terms of having an idea of what is exactly you are wanting to do with a degree in theology. It is important to look up what can I do with a degree in.... and see what are the job options. Once you have done more research, you will have a better of your options. Furthermore, you may also realize a new calling as well. Theology is so vast and there are many directions once can travel inside theology.

For example:
*]Associate Degrees in Religion
*]Associate Degrees in Ministry
*]Bachelor Degrees in Religion
*]Bachelor Degrees in Christian and Bible Studies
*]Bachelor Degrees in Ministry and Leadership
*]Master Degrees in Religion and Divinity
*]Master Degrees in Christian and Bible Studies
*]Master Degrees in Ministry and Leadership
*]Master Degrees in Christian Counseling
*]Master Degrees in Theology
*]master of theological studies (MTS),
*]master of divinity (MDiv),
*]master of theology (ThM),
*]doctor of theology (ThD),
*]Master of Divinity (M.Div.)
*]Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry (M.A.T.M.)
*]The M.A. in Theology and Ministry i.
*]The M.A. in Pastoral Ministry.
*]Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)
*]Doctor of Philosophy, Theology and Education (Ph.D.)


This list is long but it covers many streams some which are more academic and others more pastoral. Instead of only focussing on the cost, focus on what you want to do. If your GPA is very high, you might be elgible for scholarships which will help cover the costs. You never know until you apply. I also suggest that you contact some people regarding how they used their degrees. Often a simple search or once you have a position in mind, it will be possible to look up people who work in that area as well. This will help you make some decisions.

You can also check out some of the universities in Canada as well. We have some really good ones here especially in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal just to name a few good cities.

Good luck SG


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