The Christendom Graduate School offers the Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree, which is designed to prepare students for various ministries within the Church and also for further graduate study in theology. Students may choose to concentrate their studies in the disciplines of Systematic Theology, Moral Theology, Evangelization and Catechesis, Spirituality, or Consecrated Life. The student successfully completes a minimum of forty-two (42) graduate credits in theology, including 24 credits of core required courses, 12 credits of special required courses for his concentration, and 6 credits of elective courses. The student may submit a thesis in lieu of six credits of electives. Courses for the MA program may be taken on campus or online, or by a combination of both formats. The student must maintain a “B” (3.0) average throughout the program. Candidates for the MA degree must pass a Comprehensive Exam including both written and oral portions.
The Christendom Graduate School’s Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree is available online to distance students. The online courses are the same challenging courses that are taught on the Christendom campus, with the same professors. Many of the courses are delivered in pre-recorded, asynchronous video format which allows students to work on their courses whenever they wish. Several courses are also offered in live online format, for which the students log on at a certain time each week and can interact with the professor and with each other. Students may combine online courses with classroom courses in any combination that works for them. Many students find that attending the six-week residential Summer Program while taking online courses over the winter combines the great experience of the Christendom community with the advantage of finishing the degree in a shorter time. Degree requirements are the same for on-campus students and for distance students. At the end of their course of studies, distance students must travel to Virginia to take the comprehensive exam. Admissions requirements and procedures are the same for online/distance and on-campus students. Online students have the same easy access to academic advisement, to the graduate school administrative staff, and to the grad school professors as on-campus students have, usually via telephone and email. The Christendom Libraries are committed to accommodating distance students and providing them full use of the library resources and services for their studies and research.
The Christendom Graduate School is authorized by the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy to award both the Advanced and the Basic Apostolic Catechetical Diplomas. These catechetical diplomas are distinct from the academic Master of Arts degree in Theological Studies, although the two may be earned simultaneously. The diploma is awarded by authorization of the Holy See in recognition of the catechist’s competence in the field of catechesis and his or her personal commitment to teach Catholic doctrine in communion with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. To receive the Advanced Apostolic Catechetical Diploma, a student must have a bachelor’s degree and successfully complete forty-two (42) graduate credits of course work, including the core requirements of the MA and the special requirements for the evangelization and catechesis concentration. The Basic Apostolic Catechetical Diploma may be awarded to those students who do not possess a bachelor’s degree but who complete the forty-two credits of required courses. Either Apostolic Diploma maybe earned online. Research papers are not required of students in the basic diploma program, and comprehensive exams are not required for either catechetical diploma. Students must maintain a “B” (3.0) average in order to be eligible to receive these Apostolic Diplomas.
Christendom College offers a residential Graduate Summer Program for those students who wish to pursue graduate theological studies during the summer. It is held at the main Christendom College campus just outside of Front Royal, Virginia, enabling people from all over the United States and abroad to attend the Christendom Graduate School. This program is popular with students who are not able to move to the Northern Virginia area for the regular (fall/spring) graduate program, and with teachers and others who have summers off from work. Many of the fall/spring graduate students also attend the Summer Program, accelerating their studies by going year-round; similarly, many online/distance students attend the Summer Program in order to experience the Christendom academic community.
The Christendom Graduate School Summer Program runs for six weeks, ending the last week of July. A full cycle of courses is offered each summer. Both the Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree and the Apostolic Catechetical Diploma may be earned at the Summer Program, over the course of at least four summers. Some summer students supplement the summer program by taking online courses during the fall and spring semesters. The beautiful riverside campus with its full range of recreational possibilities provides a perfect milieu for the study, prayer, and good times that make up Christian academic community life.
The Vita Consecrata Institute is a summer program of theological study and spiritual renewal for religious, priests, and other consecrated persons. It is part of the Graduate School Summer Program and is co-sponsored by the Institute on Religious Life. Professors who themselves exemplify the consecrated life teach courses in spirituality and in the theology of the consecrated life, as reflected in the mission and life of the Church. The program is designed to assist participants to grow in a deeper understanding and appreciation of the consecrated life as “a gift of the Father to His Church through the Holy Spirit,” to grow in their own spiritual lives, and to be able to act as spiritual mentors or guides for others. The program is ideal for religious in formation, those preparing for perpetual vows, consecrated persons looking for a sabbatical or period of renewal, in addition to those who are preparing for formation or leadership roles within their institutes. Although most participants do not take the courses for academic credit, it is possible to earn graduate credit towards the Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree, with a concentration in the theology of the consecrated life or in spirituality, or towards a certificate in spirituality or in theology of the consecrated life. Students may take all of the courses for the MA degree (Consecrated Life or Spirituality concentration) over the course of four consecutive summers, or they may elect to take some of their core requirements either online or on campus during the fall and spring semesters. The spirituality and consecrated life courses are offered only during the summer program in conjunction with the Vita Consecrata Institute. The spirituality courses of the VCI are open to lay persons with approval, but the consecrated life courses are restricted to those living or discerning the consecrated life.
For those students who are not interested in a master’s degree, but who want to do more than just take courses, the Christendom Graduate School offers several certificate programs. Students may earn certificates in dogmatic theology, moral theology, evangelization/catechesis, consecrated life, spirituality, and scripture studies. Certificate students take the same challenging and informative courses as degree-seeking students. Certificate students take the same challenging and informative courses as degree-seeking students. Even students without a bachelor’s degree can earn a certificate, although graduate credit for the courses can only be granted to those who have submitted proof of a bachelor’s degree. Usually 12 – 15 credits are required for each certificate, a GPA of at least 3.0 (B average) must be maintained, and all courses for the certificates must be taken for credit. All certificates except consecrated life may be earned completely online.
Students may enroll in both on-campus and online courses as casual students without working towards a degree, or may audit courses, both campus and online, without earning graduate credit. Credits earned as a casual student automatically apply toward the degree program if a student later decides to earn a degree, certificate or diploma. Christendom courses qualify for catechist certification in many dioceses, and for teaching licensure and re-certification in most states. Many students take them for adult Faith formation or for personal enrichment. Casual students seeking graduate credit for transfer to another graduate school must provide proof of a bachelor’s degree.
The Christendom Graduate School provides theological formation to the candidates for the permanent diaconate of its home diocese, the Diocese of Arlington. These courses are also available online to other dioceses who may wish to entrust the academic formation of their deacon candidates to Christendom. A program of twelve to sixteen courses is adaptable to the particular needs of each diocese. For more information, please contact the Christendom Graduate School.
The Christendom Graduate School offers a foundational catechist formation program online to interested individuals, parishes, and dioceses who wish to deepen their understanding of the teachings of the Faith. The program is divided into two, semester-long courses, each of which includes thirty hours of online video. The comprehensive courses cover the principles of evangelization and catechesis and guide the student through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, with special emphasis on the Scriptural foundations for Catholic teachings. Reflections from the professor’s personal experiences in catechesis suggest ways to teach doctrinal concepts to various age groups. The student who completes both of the catechist formation courses receives catechist certification from Christendom. Catechist formation courses are not taken for graduate credit, nor do they apply towards the MA degree.
Students looking for further education in evangelization and catechesis beyond the catechist formation program may earn the Christendom Certificate in Evangelization and Catechesis, the MA in Theological Studies degree with the concentration in evangelization and catechesis, or the Apostolic Catechetical Diploma.