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Philosophy and Theology for Ministry, M.A.

Saint Louis University’s Master of Arts in Philosophy and Theology for Ministry, offered through the College of Philosophy and Letters, provides the interdisciplinary foundations for intelligent ministry in the Church and further divinity studies required for ordination. For future priests, the degree also offers the opportunity to satisfy one year of the four years of graduate theological studies required for ordination.

Curriculum Overview

The Master of Arts in Philosophy and Theology for Ministry consists of 47 credits: 12 credits of graduate philosophy, 18 credits of graduate theology, 12 graduate credits of electives (which may include up to six credits of philosophy and six credits of theology), and five graduate credits devoted to a two-semester, integrative capstone project. In the capstone, students integrate their ministerial experience with philosophical, theological, and other disciplinary knowledge as appropriate for their capstone topic.

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

To complete the M.A., students must integrate studies with their ministerial engagements or life experiences relevant for reflection on ministry. The St. Louis area offers a wide range of opportunities for such engagement. In addition, students may engage in the many service opportunities offered through Saint Louis University, which is a national leader in student service.


Saint Louis University’s Master of Arts in Philosophy and Theology for Ministry provides the intellectual foundations for intelligent service of the Gospel and further studies in divinity. Together with suitable prerequisites in philosophy, the program allows students to complete the philosophical coursework and one year of theological coursework required for ordination in the Catholic priesthood, as stipulated in the Program of Priestly Formation (PPF).


Tuition Cost Per Credit
Graduate Tuition $1,310

Additional charges may apply. Other resources are listed below:

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Admission Requirements

Acceptance into the program requires approval of the dean. For those preparing for ordination, approval of the appropriate religious superior or bishop is also required. In addition to an undergraduate degree or equivalent, prerequisites in undergraduate philosophy and theology may be required at the discretion of the dean.

  1. Students will be able to assess relevant literature in philosophy and theology.
  2. Students will be able to discuss connections among major thinkers and ideas that have shaped the history of philosophy and theology. 
  3. Students will be able to analyze challenges in the contexts of ministry using philosophy, theology, and other relevant sources of knowledge (personal experience and other disciplinary knowledge if pertinent). 
  4. Students will be able to evidence professional integrity in their reflection on challenges in contexts of ministry.

Course requirements are met by courses that fall within the stipulated subject areas below, as approved by the dean.

Elective courses in theology and philosophy should be selected with a view to the capstone, the student’s ministerial engagements, or the requirements in the "Program of Priestly Formation." With the approval of the dean, area requirements in theology may be adjusted in view of course availability and the student’s individual situation.

Theology Courses
Church History3
Pastoral Theology 3
Spiritual Theology 3
Theology Electives6
Philosophy Courses
Electives in areas of philosophy 12
General Electives
General Electives §12
Capstone Sequence
Capstone Preparation2
Capstone Project 3
Total Credits47

Pastoral and Spiritual Theology are understood to include both theological and practice-oriented courses in these areas. A course in liturgical theology may substitute for either the Pastoral Theology or Spiritual Theology requirement.

Students preparing for eventual ordination are expected to complete additional PPF philosophy courses as pre- or co-requisites of the M.A. program.


General Electives may be satisfied by up to two additional philosophy courses and two additional theology courses, or by courses in other disciplines that are relevant to the student’s capstone or ministry.

Undergraduate Prerequisites

Philosophy and theology courses as needed; nine credits of contextual analysis courses, unless taken as general electives in the M.A. Generally speaking, contextual analysis courses should be selected with a view to their relevance for the student’s capstone project.

Non-Course Requirements

  • Capstone Idea Proposal: Students must submit a preliminary sketch of their envisioned capstone topic area by the end of their first year of graduate studies toward the M.A.; for Jesuits, this requirement is met by successful completion of the Capstone Method course, taken in the spring of the first year.
  • Successful defense of the capstone paper in an oral exam.

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in all graduate/professional courses.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester. Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

In addition to the required graduate courses, the roadmap below includes undergraduate prerequisites for a student without previous background in philosophy.

The roadmap includes the nine credits of Cultural Horizon and Cultural Context courses that are required of Jesuit students only; these courses are meant to expand the students’ liberal arts background and help fill gaps in their general education. Other than the Introduction to Philosophy, all philosophy courses listed as prerequisites or as M.A. philosophy electives are chosen to satisfy ordination requirements in the "Program of Priestly Formation (PPF)," as interpreted by the Society of Jesus.

Students not pursuing ordination have greater latitude in the selection of philosophy courses.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
CORE 1700 Ultimate Questions: Philosophy 3
PHIL 2050 Ethics (PPF) 3
PHIL 3250 Philosophy of Religion (PPF) 3
Cultural Context: Arts (Jesuits only) 1
THEO 5270
or HST 5000
Christian Tradition I
or Church History I
PHIL 4400 History of Ancient Greek Philosophy (PPF) 3
Philosophy of Human Nature (PPF) 3
THEO 5000
or THEO 5100
or BIB 5020
Introduction to the Old Testament
or Introduction to the New Testament
or Biblical Interpretation
Contextual Analysis I 3
Cultural Horizon Course 3
Capstone Method 1
Formation Requirements or Language Study  
Year Two
Cultural Horizon Course 3
Cultural Context: Sciences (Jesuits only) 1
PHIL 5500 Medieval Philosophy (PPF) 3
THEO 5790 Special Topics: Spirituality 3
PHIL 5930Science and Religion 3
Contextual Analysis II 3
Cultural Context: Humanities (Jesuits only) 1
PSTH 5000 Foundations of Pastoral & Ethical Care 3
PHIL 5930History of Modern Philosophy 3
THEO 5####Theology Elective 3
THEO 5####Theology Elective 3
Year Three
Graduate Elective: Contextual Analysis III) 3
Graduate Elective § 3
PHIL 5###Contemporary Philosophy (PPF) 3
Capstone Prep 2
Graduate Elective § 3
Graduate Elective § 3
Capstone Project 3
 Total Credits78

Contextual Analysis courses may be taken as undergraduate prerequisites or as graduate courses that count toward the M.A.

Undergraduate pre-requisite, which Jesuits satisfy by a one-hour seminar; may also be satisfied by a reading course arranged with an instructor approved by the dean or by the dean’s approval of a Capstone Idea proposal.


General electives may be satisfied by up to two additional philosophy courses and two additional theology courses, or by courses in other disciplines that are relevant to the student’s capstone or ministry.