Master of Arts in Theology Degree

The online Master of Arts in Theology program, rooted in Roman Catholic doctrine and life, and fully in accord with the magisterium, serves Catholic deacons and lay ecclesial ministers in their families, parishes, diocesan agencies, hospitals, work places, retreat/spiritual centers or social service agencies.

DeaconThe program is based on the philosophy that effective ministry requires a solid theological foundation, grounded in solid Catholic doctrine, with a deep spiritual and pastoral orientation. The program is also useful for Christians interested in deepening their faith. The curricular design of the program is in accord with the United States' Catholic Bishops, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord: A Resource for Guiding the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry (2005) and the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States(2005). Students of all faiths who may profit from the study of Catholic theology are welcome to the program.

At a Glance

Successful completion of this online theology program will allow you to:

  • Serve the Church at the parish and diocesan levels
  • Prepare to be a Catholic chaplain
  • Be a better prepared catechist or minister in your parish's RC
  • Be better informed in your faith and equip those who serve the Church as lay ecclesial ministers with an understanding of their faith
  • We are recognized by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains

How much will this program cost?

Total Cost: $14,760*

*Excludes textbooks and fees. Assumes no transfer of credit, and, at the graduate level, that all preparatory requirements have been met. Prices are subject to change. Click here for full tuition and fee details.

How long will it take?

  • Full-time, 1 yr 6 mo. Part-time, 3 yr.

* These timelines assume all prep classes have been met and that the student takes no breaks between terms. Full-time is two courses per term, part-time is one course per term.


Saint Joseph's College's Master of Theology offers three specializations.

Pastoral Theology

The pastoral theology specialization will serve those involved with parishes, religious education, diaconal preparation, diocesan agencies, hospitals, retreat and spiritual centers, and social service agencies (36 credits).

Sacred Theology

The specialization in sacred theology will serve those involved with teaching as well as all types of pastoral ministry and spiritual formation programs (36 credits).

Advanced Diaconal Studies

For Permanent Deacons and Candidates - partner with Saint Joseph’s College and receive a reduced rate on tuition. Contact Online Admissions at for a consultation.

The advanced diaconal studies specialization will provide theological and pastoral education for ordained deacons and those who are in formation in diocesan diaconal programs (30 credits).

For admittance into this program, an ordained deacon must present a letter from his diocese stating he is in good standing, and a diaconal candidate must present a letter from his diocese stating he is in formation.

Intellectual Formation for Permanent Diaconate Candidates

“The commitment to study, which takes up no small part of the time of those preparing for the diaconate, is not in fact an external and secondary dimension of their human, Christian, spiritual and vocational growth. In reality, through study, especially the study of theology, the future deacon assents to the Word of God, grows in his spiritual life and prepares himself to fulfill his pastoral ministry.” (NDFMLPD, #118)

The intellectual dimension of diaconate formation introduces the candidate to the essentials of Christian doctrine and practice. It must be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church and based on Scripture and Tradition, the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the General Directory for Catechesis. Saint Joseph’s College Online Theology Programs can provide the intellectual formation that provides these essentials and enables candidates to earn a Master of Arts degree, or an undergraduate certificate (for those not prepared for graduate study).

Course content from the intellectual formation program can be integrated into diocesan human, spiritual, and pastoral formation programs through local meetings of the candidates. The curriculum for the online courses is based on the norms from the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons, including topics and resources. Activities of the diocesan formation program can draw from and dovetail with the content the candidate is learning in the online classroom.

Candidates can go through the program together at a set pace, so as to enable the diocesan program to be planned in conjunction with it. Assignments within the online course can assess academic knowledge, while corresponding activities in the diocesan program can assess the candidate’s ability to integrate the intellectual formation into their human, spiritual, and pastoral formation.

Saint Joseph’s College works closely with the diocese to create an affordable and accessible program that serves its unique needs. Contact Online Admissions at for a consultation.

Why study theology online at Saint Joseph's College?

Are you looking for a convenient program, or need an affordable one? Then check out our frequently asked questions by clicking on the button below.

Some of our faculty

Anne Chrzan
Anne ChrzanChair of Theology Department
DMin, (cand) Conferred May, 2024, Catholic Theological Union
MDiv, Loyola University
MHS, Governor State University
BA, St. Leo College
Patricia Sodano Ireland
Patricia Sodano IrelandFaculty, Theology
PhD, Drew University
MPhil, Drew University
MDiv, Andover Newton Theological School
MA, Boston College
BA, Boston College
David Hammond
David HammondFaculty, Theology
PhD, The Catholic University of America
MA, The Catholic University of America
AB, University of Note Dame

Student stories

Anthony Fellow
Anthony FellowArcadia, CA
“Not only are my professors brilliant theologians, but they are great Christian role models. I have tremendous admiration for each of them. If God sent me back in time to my senior year in high school, I would without reservation enroll at St. Joseph’s.”
Catherine Mackey
Catherine Mackey Syracuse, NY
“The professors were second to none. They were professional, brilliant, compassionate, loving. By the end, they were my friends. I could reach out to them at any point. I ended up developing professional, educational, and personal relationships throughout this program.”
Mariann Gilbride
Mariann GilbrideCherry Hill, NJ
“I was told the Moral Theology would be the hardest, but most rewarding course. It was challenging and invigorating. It stretched me to understand what God is asking of us, morally.”

Career moves

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, directors of religious activities and religious education direct and coordinate activities of a denominational group to meet religious needs of participants. These individuals plan, direct, or coordinate church school programs designed to promote religious education among church membership. They may provide counseling and guidance relative to marital, health, financial, or religious problems. Learn more about what you can do with this major.

Related programs

Educational partners program

Tuition Discounts

You may qualify for a discount on tuition through your employer.