What Are the Different Types of Catholic Theology Degrees?

Catholic theology degrees provide students with practical and historical information about the Catholic Church, but the reasons for pursuing one — as well as the variety of degree programs available — are numerous. Some universities offer a bachelor’s degree in Catholic theology, which serves as a foundation for students. Master’s and doctoral degrees are also in demand, especially when combined with other fields such as education or nursing. The majority of Catholic theology degrees are offered religious universities, though some seminaries may offer open-to-the-public programs. Online lessons are also available on occasion.

All Catholic theology degree programs, regardless of where they are taught or the level of students, have one thing in common: they are all focused on learning theology as it is understood the Roman Catholic Church. The majority of them also encourage students to apply what they’ve learned to a broader understanding of society and culture. Students pursue Catholic theology degrees for a variety of reasons, and there are degree programs to suit almost any ambition.

The bachelor’s degree is the most fundamental and basic program. This degree is typically pursued undergraduate students. The majority of programs last four years, and students who complete them have a broad understanding of the Church’s teachings, beliefs, and practices.

Catholic theology degrees at the graduate level are usually much more nuanced. Students typically have the option of pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree. Many schools also offer combined degree programs, in which students can study theology while also taking social work, teaching preparation, or nursing classes. Students interested in advancing their careers in Catholic social justice organizations, schools, and hospital ministry programs are most likely to enroll in these degree programs.

In addition to universities, some Catholic seminaries — traditionally theology education institutions only for priests — will offer public degree programs, usually at the master’s degree level. The majority of these Catholic theology degrees are focused on a single aspect of the faith. The study of theology in terms of dogmas, as well as liturgy and scriptural understanding, are all common topics.

Some Catholic theology degrees are also available online, usually through distance learning programs at established universities. Working professionals benefit from online education because the coursework and required lessons usually have a lot of flexibility built in. Online courses may include virtual or pre-recorded seminars, as well as mandatory chat time or e-mail participation, depending on the school and program. Degrees earned through online extensions are usually equivalent to degrees earned in a college’s classrooms, though this varies location.