Master of Arts: Theology

Master of Arts: Theology

The principal course of studies in the Graduate School of Theology leads to the Master of Arts degree in Theology and is available on campus in Denver or through distance education.

The Master of Arts degree is awarded upon the completion of twelve courses of three credit hours each and a comprehensive examination. Nine of the courses are required and three are electives. Students may choose to use one of their three electives to write a master’s thesis. Full-time students may complete the degree in four semesters over two academic years. Part-time students typically complete the program in four years.

Students are eligible to take the comprehensive examination after their fourth semester of full-time study or in their last semester of part-time study. Week-long intensive courses are typically offered in January and June. In addition, a summer term is offered to distance education students.

Full-time theology students studying at the Institute’s campus in Greenwood Village are also invited to participate in a weekly seminar, led by one of the Institute’s faculty, that situates their theological studies within the life of ecclesial service.

It is recommended and expected that students take the required courses in the following order:

1. SCRP 501: Salvation History
2. THEO 502: The Creed: The Trinity, Christ, and the Church
3. HIST 501: Evangelization of the Ancient World
4. SCRP 502: Jesus and the Gospels
5. THEO 503: Mystagogy: Liturgy and the Sacraments
6. HIST 502: The Church and Modernity
7. SCRP 504: Pauline Literature
8. THEO 504: Moral and Spiritual Theology
9. THNE 501: Theology of the New Evangelization

Elective courses are regularly offered in specialized areas of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Doctrine, and other topics of theological, philosophical, and pastoral interest. Students in the M.A. in Theology may take courses from the M.A. in Leadership as electives and may also choose to write a master’s thesis as one of their three elective courses.


SCRP 501 Salvation History
This course helps students to understand the unity of God’s plan of salvation from Creation to the Second Coming. By a thorough overview of the Old and New Testaments, this course introduces Catholic exegetical approaches and theological interpretation, aiding students in reading Scripture as the Word of God. Students engage some comparative primary texts and grapple with historiographical questions that help them to demonstrate the reliability of the Bible. With a special focus on the themes of covenant and mission, the course illustrates how Jesus fulfills God’s promises and how He invites His followers to share in His work of evangelization.

THEO 502 The Creed: The Trinity, Christ, and the Church
This course presents a synthetic summary of the symbolum fidei, the Christian Creed, with particular reference to its effective presentation in catechesis. The presentation follows that of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, making reference to other statements in minor creeds and magisterial documents, with particular emphasis given to the relevant portions of the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas. Throughout the course the unity and coherence of the fides quae are stressed.

HIST 501 The Church in the Ancient and Medieval World
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “[t]he Church is in history, but at the same time she transcends it” (CCC 770). This course invites students to pursue deeper understanding of this teaching by means of an introduction to the basic contours of the Church’s historical pilgrimage from the Ascension of Christ to the fourteenth century. Taking political, cultural, and social circumstances into account, the course approaches this history primarily in terms of evangelization, that is, the reception, embodiment, articulation, and transmission of the inexhaustible Mystery of the Gospel. The course focuses on Christianity’s initial expansion, the emergence of distinctively Christian modes of thought and life, and reconfigurations of Christian culture in response to new challenges.

SCRP 502 Jesus and the Gospels
Among all the books of the Bible, the Gospels have “a special preeminence,” according to the Second Vatican Council, “for they are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word” (Dei Verbum, 18). This course examines Jesus’ life and mission in light of the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. Students engage insights from historical research into the life of Jesus and the world of first-century Judaism as well as gain a deeper understanding of the Gospels as narrative. In addition, the Gospels are also studied for their perennial theological and spiritual significance.

THEO 503 Mystagogy: Liturgy and the Sacraments
Mystagogy is the ancient practice of learning to “see” the invisible Mystery made present in the visible signs of the sacraments. In this course, the Catechism and other sources of mystagogical practice serve as guides for a deeper knowledge of the plan of God made present in these wonderful gifts. After a theological and liturgical study of Christian worship, we gaze into each of the seven sacramental mysteries, learning to decode the signs they employ to dispose us better to receive what they reveal and communicate. In addition to the Catechism, texts considered include Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy, and Corbon, Wellsprings of Worship.

HIST 502 The Church and Modernity
The fall of Constantinople (1453), the publication of Gutenberg’s Bible (1454), and the discovery of the Americas (1492) signaled the end of the era of Latin Christendom and the beginning of the age we call modern. This period has been shaped by the founding and steady growth of a secular replacement for Christendom, first in Europe, then in North America, and, concurrently, the spread of the Gospel and the growth of the Church in the East and the Global South. This course will offer a narrative of the modern period down to the present, with special emphasis on the progress of evangelization, the saints and martyrs as teachers and models of Catholic thought and life, and the Church’s response to secularism.

SCRP 504 Pauline Literature
This course considers the life and writings of St. Paul, exploring his Jewish origins, life-changing conversion, and vocation. Students encounter St. Paul’s writings in context and understood both as essential to the Church’s teaching and in light of varying exegetical approaches through the centuries. Students see St. Paul as a rabbi and a theologian, and also as a catalyst in the early Church, who simultaneously criticizes and utilizes the Greco-Roman and Jewish worldviews in his proclamation of the gospel. This course treats St. Paul’s mastery of rhetoric and his pastoral sensitivity in a way that prepares students to formulate effective strategies for evangelization.

THEO 504 Moral and Spiritual Theology
Through an investigation of human personhood and the vocation to love and beatitude, this course helps students to understand moral action and the habits of character it establishes. Students examine the Biblical foundation of Catholic moral teaching with particular attention given to the Sermon on the Mount, the new life realized in us by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the virtues of Christian living. The course treats the dynamics of the moral law, sin, repentance, and grace, as well as prayer and the stages of the spiritual life.

THNE 501 Theology of the New Evangelization
This course examines the magisterial texts from Vatican II and the post-Conciliar pontificates in view of identifying the theological principles of the New Evangelization. Analysis of these principles focuses on: the Church’s missionary nature; holiness as the source and goal of evangelization; conversion as the condition for evangelization; and witness as the primary mode of evangelization. The course includes some pastoral indications based on these principles. Key texts include: Gaudium et spes, Ecclesiam Suam, Evangelii nuntiandi, Redemptoris missio, Tertio millennio adveniente, Ubicumque et semper, Porta fidei, Evangelii Gaudium, and the documents of the Synod on the New Evangelization.

THEO 701 Theology Seminar (Distance): Rejoicing in the Truth
*An optional zero-credit audit seminar for any Augustine Institute students, made available through Canvas.
This seminar offers periodic lectures by the Institute’s faculty and guests as a complement to the theological curriculum. Topics are at the discretion of the presenter, but the common practice is to present the life and thought of a Father or Doctor of the Church as an illustration of the place of theological study and reflection in the life of charity.

Comprehensive Examination
During their final semester of course-work, students in the M.A. Theology program take a three-hour comprehensive examination that tests their readiness to make their learning available to the broader Church and challenges them to make a personal synthesis of their studies.
The examination consists of two essay questions, with new prompts determined periodically. The first question is doctrinal and centers upon the person and mission of Jesus Christ. The second question is pastoral and concerns the Church’s mission of evangelization. In their responses to both questions, students are expected to draw upon their studies in Sacred Scripture and in the history and tradition of the Church, in addition to Sacred Doctrine.
In preparation for the examination, students are encouraged to reread significant portions of the following works, all of which are parts of the core curriculum of the M.A. program:

  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • St. Augustine, Confessions (especially books VII-X)
  • St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life (especially parts I and III)
  • Vatican II, Lumen Gentium; Dei Verbum; Gaudium et Spes, Sacrosanctum Concilium I
  • St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor; Redemptoris Missio
  • Joseph Ratzinger / Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, volume 1
  • Anthology of Magisterial texts on the New Evangelization

Master of Arts Thesis
Students may elect to write a thesis in place of one of their elective courses. The M.A. thesis is a work of 8,000 or more words in which a single declarative proposition is defended. The thesis is expected to manifest a high level of scholarly competence and significant engagement with the Catholic theological tradition. Students who have attained (and maintain) a cumulative grade point average of 3.70 or better after six courses may petition the Dean for permission to write a thesis. Should the Dean so grant and a faculty advisor agree to direct the project, the student may proceed.
Prior to registering for the thesis in a given semester, the student must have submitted—and received approval from the director—a thesis proposal, including a thesis statement (in a single proposition), a summary of the argument (approximately 500 words), a provisional outline of the whole, and a bibliography. The viva voce or live defense of the thesis will be scheduled for the last two weeks of the term. The viva voce consists in a 10-minute presentation by the writer followed by a half-hour of question-and-answer with the director, the second reader, and any other faculty who wish to attend.

Master of Arts: Theology with a concentration in Sacred Scripture

Students in the Master of Arts in Theology degree program have the option of pursuing the Concentration in Sacred Scripture. The concentration is available to on-campus and to distance (online) students. Students are eligible to apply to the concentration once they have completed two (or more) courses with a cumulative grade point average of 3.70 or higher. To apply, you may send an inquiry to

If a student does not maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 or higher, he or she may be asked to withdraw from the concentration.

The concentration requires the normal eight-course M.A. Theology core curriculum and six additional courses, for a total of 42 credit hours (46 for on-campus students due to the Theology Seminars):

  • Old Testament Elective
  • New Testament Elective
  • Teaching Scripture for the New Evangelization
  • A course in Biblical interpretation or an additional Scripture elective
  • Elective (in any area)
  • The Fifth Gospel* or an additional Scripture Elective

M.A. Thesis: By invitation of the faculty, a thesis may be completed and substituted for an elective.

*The Fifth Gospel is a three-credit graduate course that includes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land led by the Augustine Institute along with several extra days in Jerusalem with an Institute professor. Significant reading will be assigned in preparation for the pilgrimage, and the course involves a writing component, as well. The course and pilgrimage are offered at a reduced rate for up to four scholarship candidates (application required); any M.A. Theology students who have already been accepted to the Concentration in Sacred Scripture are able to take the course and pilgrimage (i.e., even if not offered a scholarship). There is one price for the pilgrimage, which includes the cost of tuition.

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