[quote="KGot8807, post:5, topic:204295"]
Hello!! I have just recently begun discerning whether I should study Theology after I finish undergrad, so I'm right in the middle of trying to find the same information you are!
Here are a few things to consider that I've found while inquiring/researching. (Though, since this is mostly information acquired second-hand, if anyone has anything to add/edit, I would appreciate the guidance--it will help with my own knowledge as well!)
Basically, you have to consider what you're going to do with it afterwards--where are you going to law school? (Is this institution public? Private? Church-affiliated?) What is your ultimate aim in getting the degree? Are you doing it for your own knowledge, or to make you more attractive professionally?
From what I've heard, the MA is more widely recognized by the "world at large," whereas the STB/STL/STD appear to be recognized solely/mainly by Church institutions. So if you're going to work for the Church, you can get an MA or an STB...but if you're hoping to work as a lawyer in the world, it seems like the MA would do you just as well.
It seems fairly obvious to us that getting a degree at a Pontifical University should be a pretty big deal. However, in preparations for my study abroad in Rome last semester, I mentioned the possibility of taking classes at the Angelicum, the Dominican Pontifical University, to my advisor at my public university. She responded that the school probably wouldn't be able to take my credits from the Angelicum, since they would only accept credits from "more well-known schools." Luckily, with the study abroad program I did, I got to take classes there and have them count as credits through an American 4-year university...but I still don't think they'd take them if I just went to the Angelicum without the assistance from the American university. I'm pointing out this scenario to let you know that, depending on where you do it and what degree you get, a theology degree may not make that much of a difference professionally, but especially since you said you had good grades and high GRE's, I don't think you have to worry too much, and it still would be a valuable personal experience.
All that set aside, I am most definitely not trying to discourage you! I am only sharing the information that I know--I am pondering much of this myself at the moment. If nothing else, a degree in theology would give you a firm grounding in the Catholic Faith, therefore making you a lawyer dedicated to the Truth, which is a very good thing, and I can see it helping you to serve the Lord in your profession.
As far as good schools to look at--I really enjoyed my experience at the Angelicum! Other places I am looking at right now are the Dominican House of Studies in DC (they actually have an MA-STB dual degree program) and CUA (which actually has a canon law program, I think). I've also heard that various seminaries have programs for lay students, but I don't remember whether they offer MA's or only STB's.
Hope this helps!
P.S. If you are considering studying in Rome, here's a helpful website that one of my friends published: laystudentsinrome.googlepages.com/
Thank you for your thoughtful response(s)--all and sundry--and KGot in particular. I apologize for my slow reply, as I have just moved out into the ranch-country of Texas (like the 3% of America that the major ISPs don't cover), and will have to revise the line in my initial post where I write 'breaking my back doing construction to pay for my last semester...' to 'breaking my back as a Stable Foreman to pay for my last semester...'. :)
anywho, the Dominican House of Studies really looks like my best option. I am not entirely certain about the dual degree, MA-STB program, as it looks a little pricey for so many years. The MA only requires a short 1.5-2 semesters, when last I looked.
On the other hand, I really would prefer the ecclesiastical degree to the civil MA--I know secular schools will likely be slightly more reluctant to recognize it, but it would add an interesting bulletpoint to my transcript and make people ask questions. And--of course--it is a Church degree in theology, the value of which goes without saying.
The law program at CUA, which a few of you mentioned, offers the very enticing dual canon/civil JD/JCL, but unfortunately I think CUA is a little too high above my price range. The Dominicans, on the other hand, apparently have not lost touch with a good, solid, low-cost education. :)