Resources for Current Students

Dear MA-Theology Students,

It is with great pleasure that we introduce a few changes to the MA Program, which will come into full effect for students beginning the Program in Summer 2017. The changes are listed below. If you have questions about how they affect your progress within the Program, do not hesitate to contact Katie.

1. The Program is now a 36-credit Program. This is in effect for all students! However, being able to reduce the Program to 36 credits also meant eliminating Advanced Standing. Credits waived through Advanced Standing can no longer be applied to the 36 credits needed for completion.

2. The Program is going to move to a set of Core course requirements. These courses will begin to be offered in Summer 2017, and then continue to be offered on-line during the Academic Year. If you have started the Program under the Distribution Requirement, you may complete the Program under this same requirement.

3. Beginning in Fall 2017, we will double our on-line courses. One Core course and one elective will be offered each semester of the Academic Year.

4. Summer 2017 is the LAST summer for Comprehensive Exams. We will also pilot the first Capstone Course in Summer 2017. This will replace the Exam beginning in Summer 2018. The Capstone course is a 3-credit course, and will count toward the 36 credits needed for graduation. It should be taken as your final course. It is only offered in the summers. And is offered as a “hybrid”: 5 weeks of online work, 1 week of a residential seminar on Notre Dame’s campus. This residential seminar will be the final week of summer session each summer.

5. In sum, beginning this summer, one’s progress through the MA Program will look like this: 15 credits through Core Courses, 18 credits in elective courses, 3 credits from the Capstone. We require at least 12 of these credits to be taken on campus (including the final 3-credits for the Capstone). Summer Session will remain as robust as ever, and so you are also welcome to take more than 12 credits on campus as your progress through coursework to your degree.

See the links below for find more information on policies regarding the M.A. – Theology program.


For academic advising, please contact Program Director, Katie Cavadini


All degree and non-degree graduate students must both register and complete the ND Roll Call process each semester during the dates and times announced by the University Registrar. Any admitted student who fails to register and complete the ND Roll Call process for one semester or more must seek re-instatement from the department and then from the Graduate School upon return. (See section 3.5 Continuous Registration in the Academic Code of the Graduate School.) 


Please remember that these will remain tentative until 3-weeks prior to the start of the semester. Still, they may help you in thinking about your coursework in the coming months.  The academic year on-line courses work like this: 2 course are offered in the Fall semester and 2 in the Spring semester. One core course and one elective each semester.  We have two other options during the school year: 1. A two week course in Tucson, Arizona during our winter break. 2. A two week course in Israel every other year in late May/early June (the next course is in 2018 with Prof. Gabriel Reynolds).

Adding/Dropping Courses:

If you need to drop a course mid-semester after the 6th day of class during the Academic Year or the 2nd day of class during Summer Session, please contact the Program Director for approval to do so, and the MA Administrative Assistant for paperwork assistance. There will be a tuition charge on your student account for a course that is dropped after the 6th day of class during the Academic Year or the 2nd day of class during Summer Session.

Incomplete Policy:

Students will only receive an Incomplete grade with the instructor’s approval. Once given, the Incomplete grade will average as an “F” into the students’ GPA until it is changed upon successful completion of course requirements. If those requirements are not successfully met within 30 days after the semester ends, the Incomplete grade will be changed permanently into an F.

Leave of Absence:

For MA students requiring a Leave of Absence, here is a summary of options as laid out by the Graduate School. For exceptional reasons and on the recommendation of the program, a student in good academic standing may request a leave of absence for a maximum of two consecutive semesters. A request for a leave of absence must be made before the semester in which the leave is taken, and all leaves of absence must be approved by the Graduate School. If, for some urgent reason, a student is allowed to leave the University after the beginning of the semester, the withdrawal procedure must be followed. If the student does not return at the end of the leave of absence period, he or she is no longer considered a student at Notre Dame and must apply for readmission if he or she wishes to complete the program. The Academic Code of the Graduate School can be found here.

Comprehensive Exams
The M.A. Comprehensive Exam is the Program's capstone through Summer 2017. Note that this is the last time Exams will be offered as the capstone exercise. In Summer 2018 we will begin to offer the 3-credit Capstone Course as the sole summative exercise. The exams are designed to allow students to explore specific theological issues in more depth than may have been possible during course work, often also asking the student to apply what they have learned to various contexts. The M.A. exams are based on five topics chosen by the student, in light of hers or his unique theological interests. The topics and their bibliographies are chosen from the standard set of exam topics developed by the summer M.A. faculty in conjunction with the summer curriculum. If you chose to concentrate your studies in one theological area, no more than three topics should be in your area of concentration. If you are a General Studies student, no more than two topics should be in a single theological area of study. View a list of exam topics here. This set of topics for the Comprehensive Exam was revised in January, 2016. Two new topics were added: on the Apologetics of Love, and on Ignatian Spirituality. 
The only exception to this process of developing an exam is the student concentrating in Liturgical Studies. In this instance, the student will choose their exam topics from the Liturgical Studies Bibliography rather than the standard set of topics based on our general M.A. curriculum. For more information, please refer to this  or e-mail Prof. Michael Driscoll.  For the LS Bibliography, see attachment here, ma_theo_ls_bibl_update.docx
The Comprehensive Exam has two components: a written exam and an oral exam. During the 4-hour written exam, students will be asked to write essay answers to three of the five questions appearing on their exam.  This portion is given on the Monday of exam week. These written answers will then be distributed to the board (made up of 3 examiners), and will form the basis of the forty-minute oral exam on Wednesday or Thursday of the same week. During this oral exam, questions not answered by the student on the written exam may be addressed. Evaluation of the student’s performance will be made on the basis of both the written and oral exams.
Your chosen topics & bibliographies must be approved by the area advisor (and/or the Summer M.A. Director) no later than one month before you hope to take the exams.
M.A. exams are given 3rd week of July each summer. Students must be enrolled and registered for the “Comprehensive Review” course (Theo 68802) during the summer session in which they take their exam. However, it is a very good idea for students to sit in on the comprehensive review class sessions (as listed on Class Search) the summer before they are scheduled to take their exams, to gain a clearer idea of the exam process.  In this way, the “Comprehensive Review” serves as the beginning of your preparations through class sessions attended without registration, and culminates in the Exam the following summer when registered.
The exam board, to be chosen by the M.A. Director, will be made up of two faculty from the area of concentration, and one faculty from another area. Students pursuing the general M.A. degree may have an exam board chosen from three different areas. The student may confidentially choose the inclusion of one member of the board (subject to availability), and the exclusion of one faculty member. Each member of the exam board will submit three questions, framed in light of the five topics proposed by the student, to the area advisor, who will then “populate” the Exam itself with five of those questions.  You will receive these 5 questions on the day of your written exam, but you will only be asked to write answers to 3 of them, as above.
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