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Theology & Religious Studies

In an increasingly fragmented world, how do we engage difference constructively? The academic study of religion provides the language and skills needed to communicate across religious and cultural divides. When we study people's deepest commitments, we study what matters most.

Dr. Hahnenberg Teaching
Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Assistants in TRS receive a full-tuition scholarship and stipend toward the M.A. degree.

Programs of Study

TRS Programs are firmly grounded in the Jesuit Catholic tradition and radically open to the diversity of religious experiences that enrich our world.





The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Theology & Religious Studies graduate program is designed to provide master’s students with advanced knowledge of the content and method of various disciplines of theology and religious studies (scripture, Christian history, ethics, world religions, systematic theology, and sociology of religion).

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Department Highlights

Students sitting in Dolan Hall

Why Study TRS?

Coursework in theology and religious studies provides a solid foundation for work in any field that involves cross-cultural communication, empathetic client relationships, critical thinking, ethical decision-making, careful writing, group collaboration, or social action. It makes great preparation for graduate programs in law, journalism, medicine, political science, sociology, and many other fields.

TRS Student Grace Blanchard speaking on panel

The TRS Major consists of 36 credit hours, half of which must be at the 300 or 400 level. Courses are to be distributed as follows:

  • 5 courses, one from each of the following areas:
    • Sacred Texts
    • Religious in History & Society
    • Catholic Theology
    • Non-Catholic Religions
    • Religious Ethics
  • TRS 400 or TRS 430
  • TRS 493: Senior Seminar
  • 5 electives

See the Undergraduate Bulletin for more information.

Don't just Coexist

The TRS Minor consists of 18 credit hours, including:

  • 5 TRS courses (at least 2 of which must be at the 300-level or higher)
  • TRS 493: Senior Seminar

All core courses listed as TRS (including EGC, ISJ, and LINK) count toward the TRS minor.

See the Undergraduate Bulletin for more information.


Archbishop Fitzgerald with Student

The Department of Theology & Religious Studies offers a 30-hour M.A. Degree, along with concentrations and certificates in Theological Education and Pastoral Ministry. All programs are offered both in person and fully online.

Group of students who participated in the Vatican City fall program, atop Rocca Calascio, a mountaintop fortress or rocca in the Province of L'Aquila in Abruzzo, Italy.

Beyond the Classroom

While having an internship is not a requirement of the TRS program, many of our students complete at least one internship during their four years at John Carroll. Student interns work at local churches, schools, and other not-for-profit organizations. Many students get job offers as a result of their internship work. We’ll work with you to customize an internship experience to meet your goals.

The religious communities in the Cleveland area are diverse and strong. You can build relationships with the people in the community, discover their needs, and then find ways to meet those needs through service and other activities. Through service-learning courses, you are able to connect this service back to your classroom learning, integrating real-life situations into your discussions.

We encourage our students to explore and learn from the world through one of JCU’s many study abroad programs. In addition to our occasional study tours, TRS students have studied in Ireland, Spain, and Rome, among others.

Andrew Cera speaking with student outside

Full-Time Faculty


Noah Bickart, Ph.D. (Mandel Chair in Jewish Studies)

Thomas Blanton, Ph.D. (Visiting Assistant Professor of Early Christianity)

Fr. James Bretzke, SJ, S.T.D. (Professor of Moral Theology)

Edward Hahnenberg, Ph.D. (Breen Chair in Catholic Theology)

Zeki Saritoprak, Ph.D. (Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies)

Kristen Tobey, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Sociology of Religion)


Full list of faculty and staff.

News & Events

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Inaugural Lecture: Zen and the Spiritual Exercises

Jardine Room, D.J. Lombardo Student Center

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October 11

Islamic, Jewish, and Catholic Chairs weigh in on the recent violence in the Holy Land

April 24

Dr. Ed Hahnenberg Receives 2023 Culicchia Teaching Award

May 18

Madison Bohacek receives Outstanding Senior Award