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Five-year integrated B.A./M.A. program in Theology & Religious Studies

The Department of Theology & Religious Studies offers students interested in religious education, ministry, non-profit leadership, continued academic study, and other professional careers in religious institutions and social service agencies a unique opportunity to complete both the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and the Master of Arts (M.A.) degrees in Theology & Religious Studies (TRS) in a compressed five-year timeframe rather than the traditional six years.

With only one extra year of study, students will earn two degrees while gaining advanced knowledge of the content and method of various disciplines of theology and religious studies (scripture, ethics, world religions, systematic theology, and Christian history).

Students may complete their entire course of study at the JCU (Ohio) campus—or consider a semester studying abroad in the third year.

The full-time, 150-credit-hour B.A./M.A. program provides a broad foundation in the field of theology and religious studies and can be completed in a condensed five years.

Students should register their interest in the program with the TRS department chair as soon as possible, ideally no later than spring semester of sophomore year.

The application to the graduate program includes:

  • Completed application form.
  • Transcript documenting a minimum 3.0 cumulative overall GPA and a 3.3 GPA in the TRS major.
  • Statement of purpose that outlines the applicant’s intended focus of studies for the 5-year program.
  • Two letters of recommendation from university instructors.
  • A total of 120 credit hours is required to complete the Bachelor of Arts.
  • A total of 30 credit hours is required to complete the Master of Arts.
  • Once accepted into the program, students may begin taking graduate courses in their senior year, in order to complete the M.A. in their fifth year.
  • Normally students will complete 6 graduate credits between the fall and spring of senior year, 6 credits in the summer between their fourth and fifth years, and 18 credits in the fifth year.

Theology & Religious Studies Program Highlights

Top 10

JCU has ranked in the top 10 of U.S. News & World Report, Best Midwest regional universities for 30 consecutive years.

Why is the Five-Year Integrated B.A./M.A. Program in Theology & Religious Studies advantageous?

The five-year integrated program allows students to gain the M.A. credentials in less time and with lower tuition costs than the typical six-year program. Religious Studies majors who wish to teach high school theology benefit from the professional credentials provided by the M.A. degree. They typically begin their careers at a higher pay scale, and their diocesan certification as theology teachers begins at a level superior to that of a teacher with a baccalaureate degree. The integrated B.A./ M.A. program provides an attractive option to JCU students who want to earn masters-level credentials without spending two more years in school before beginning full-time work.

picture of the bell tower with white flowers

Why choose JCU for Theology & Religious Studies?

John Carroll’s Department of Theology & Religious Studies offers a remarkable breadth of faculty expertise, with notable scholars of the Bible and early Christianity, Asian religions, Judaism and rabbinics, Islamic Studies, contemporary Catholic theology, moral theology, and the sociology of religion.

The Department of Theology & Religious Studies offers programs that are both firmly grounded in the Catholic theological tradition and radically open to engaging the diverse religious communities that shape our world today. For more than 50 years, the Tuohy Endowment in Interreligious Studies has supported study, dialogue, and understanding among diverse religious believers at John Carroll and beyond. Currently, the department boasts endowed chairs in Catholic Theology and Islamic Studies, as well as a visiting fellow in Jewish Studies. Faculty have experience on the national Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue and the national Muslim-Catholic Dialogue, both co-sponsored by the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

The Certificate of Theological Education is designed for theology teachers in Catholic high schools, with courses aligned to the U.S. Bishops’ curriculum framework, earning certification to teach religion in the Diocese of Cleveland. The program combines theological rigor and practical pedagogy, with assignments and projects designed for implementation in the classroom.

The Department of Theology & Religious Studies has a large alumni network that is especially strong in Catholic universities and in Catholic high schools in Northeast Ohio. All students are invited to participate in the annual “Theology for Teachers” workshop, which has brought to campus almost 200 teachers, campus ministers, and administrators from over 50 Catholic high schools across the region to build lasting connections.

Students in the fifth year of the integrated program are eligible to apply for scholarships available to graduate students in the Theology & Religious Studies Master of Arts program.

students in classroom sitting at desk

Our Team and Resources

Faculty in the JCU Department of Theology & Religious Studies are nationally and internationally known in the areas of contemporary systematic theology, Asian religions, Judaism and rabbinics, Islamic studies, ethics, scripture, and the sociology of religion.

Furthermore, our members are prominent in professional activities and draw their educational backgrounds from outstanding universities. They have served as officers of professional societies, as advisors to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as editors of professional journals, as members of boards of trustees. They have published numerous books and scholarly articles and bring a wealth of real-world knowledge to the classroom.

Female student studying in the library

What can I do with a Master’s Degree in Theology & Religious Studies?

There are many goals and paths for students in the Master of Arts in Theology & Religious Studies program, including:

  • To pursue careers in religious education, ministry, non-profit leadership and other professional careers in religious institutions and social service agencies.
  • To expand knowledge of theology and religion for personal enrichment.
  • To build upon previous academic studies with new and different concentrations in theology.
  • To complete a master’s degree before pursuing doctoral programs in theology.

The John Carroll program has the flexibility to allow students to take their expertise in a variety of these new directions upon graduation.

Two male students studying outside at a table in the courtyard in the fall


The five-year integrated program allows you to design a course of studies that gives a broad treatment of the field of religious studies, or one that provides depth in a particular area (e.g., Catholic Theology, Ethics, Scripture, History, World Religions), depending upon your career plans or research interests.

Working closely with an advisor, students can get a start on a Ph.D. program; prepare for a career in education, law, medicine, or ministry; and accomplish many other objectives of a liberal arts education.