College of Arts & Sciences

Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Curriculum for Theology Majors

Theology majors will focus primarily on Christianity. Theology, which literally means the “study of God,” was defined by Anselm of Canterbury as “faith seeking understanding.” It entails methodical study of the faith traditions of a believing community. Christian Theology employs the methods of its sub-fields (e.g., systematic theology, ethics, biblical studies) to explore the bible, Jesus Christ, the church, tradition history, doctrinal development, liturgy, personal and communal morality, and relations with other religions. It is not catechesis, which transmits knowledge about a religion to a believer without critically analyzing the tradition’s beliefs. Theology requires a process of grappling with and critically examining particular expressions of faith in order to articulate them in contemporary contexts. In other words, theology seeks to address the “fears, hopes, griefs, and anxieties” (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, no. 1) of church and world in the present moment. As a discipline, theology converses with the academy, the church, and society. The theology faculty and their students at Saint Joseph’s University aim to assist each of these communities in appreciating the meaning and implications of the tenets and practices of Roman Catholic and other Christian traditions, as well as those of other religions.

After completing the Theology major, students will be equipped to:

  • Articulate theologically the foundations, historical development, and ethical ramifications of the basic content of the Catholic faith and how these elements relate to those in other Christian and non-Christian traditions
  • Analyze biblical, creedal, liturgical, and theological texts according to their particular literary genres and historical contexts
  • Utilize effective methods of research and argumentation within the multidisciplinary context of the academic study of theology and religion
  • Demonstrate the theological basis for the promotion of justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed
  • Produce oral and written syntheses consonant with the university’s standards for academic rigor and engagement

Theology Major Program of Study

GEP Common Courses (See Curricula): six Signature courses

GEP University Distribution (See Curricula): eight Variable Core courses, three integrative learning courses and 3 overlay requirements. These latter may or may not require students to take an additional course.

GEP Foreign Language
No foreign language unique to the department is required. But it is recommended that students consult with their advisors to fulfill the GEP foreign language requirement with a language relevant to their religious or theological interests.

GEP Integrative learning
Any three complementary courses in other departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students have considerable flexibility in choosing these courses. Students must choose three courses from the following categories, with no more than 2 from any single category:

1. Any additional approved Faith and Reason course excluding THE or REL courses
2. Any approved Diversity, Globalization, or Area Studies course excluding THE or REL courses
3. Any approved Ethics Intensive course excluding THE or REL courses
4. Any approved Faith-Justice course excluding THE or REL courses
5. Any related Historical Course excluding THE or REL courses
6. Any related Social Science Course excluding THE or REL courses
7. Any related Humanities Course excluding THE or REL courses

GEP Electives: any 14-17 courses

Major distribution: Ten courses distributed as described below. At least eight must be at the 200-level or above. GEP courses will be used to partially satisfy the major concentration.

1. THE 154 Faith, Justice and the Catholic Tradition (part of the Signature Core in the GEP)
2. Bible, any one course
3. History of Christianity, any one course, or Systematic Theology, any one course
4. Ethics, any one course
5-6. THE Course, any two additional courses
7-8. Non-Christian Religions: two courses (the two courses in this area must not cover the same religious tradition)
9. THE 495 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
10. Theology Elective: any one course in THE or REL at the 200-level or above

No one course may be counted more than once for the purposes of the overall student distribution within the major, but because of the complexity of content, some courses could be chosen to fulfill the requirements of one of several distributional categories.

Students must consult with their advisors or the department chair to determine the best distribution of a selected course relative to their own interests and needs. Graduating seniors must demonstrate that they have completed at least one significant research paper in Theology or Religious studies.