Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS)

Program Overview

Aquinas Institute of Theology’s Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) program is designed to prepare students for service to the Church in a variety of Christian ministries. The 48 credit hour degree provides students with the opportunity to integrate a foundation in academic theological studies with pastoral and ministerial study and practice. Coursework exposes students to the major areas within the academic field, including Scripture studies, historical theology, systematic theology, ecclesiology, and moral theology along with coursework in liturgical studies, and pastoral and ethical care.

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Have questions about the program or want to learn more? E-mail the Director of Recruitment and Admissions at or click here to schedule an appointment for a phone or Skype conversation.

  Fall Applications Spring Applications
Priority & International Deadline March 1 October 15
Final Deadline August 1 December 1

Program Details & Length

This flexible degree includes 11 credits of electives and two semesters of ministry experience in Supervised Practice of Ministry or Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), allowing students the ability to tailor the program to their ministerial interests. Attentive to ministers’ own need for spiritual formation, the curriculum includes four units of human and spiritual formation designed to not only form students spiritually, but provide them with the tools and skills necessary to flourish in their future ministries.

The community at Aquinas Institute of Theology offers a wealth of programs within theology and ministry. The experience of Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies students is enriched by engagement with these diverse communities of learners through theological reflection and reciprocal learning.

Full-time students (12+ credit hours per semester) can complete the MAPS degree in two years, while part-time students can take up to six years to complete the program. 

Who is the Program For?

The MAPS program is designed for both lay and ordained students from all Christian traditions seeking to integrate academic study of theology and pastoral studies in a holistic way. Aquinas offers multiple opportunities for students to engage in spiritual reflection, public service, and community engagement that are a vital part of the educational experience in the MAPS program.

Career Opportunities

Students who hold a MAPS degree from Aquinas are prepared to serve in a number of ministerial careers in a wide range of settings. Graduates have gone on to serve as high school and college campus ministers, catechists, directors of religious education or adult faith formation, parish pastoral associates, liturgy directors, chaplains in hospitals or hospices, and in many other ministries.

MAPS Course Requirements

The 48 hours and 4 credits of course work required for the MAPS degree are distributed as follows:

Course Title Credit Hours
Integrative Studies
Proseminar 3
Introduction to Theology and Theological Method 3
Integrative Seminar 1
Scripture Studies
Biblical Interpretation 3
Scripture Elective 3
Systematic Theology
Ecclesiology 3
Christology 3
Moral Theology
Foundations of Catholic Morality 3
Historical Theology
Church History I or Church History II 3
Pastoral & Liturgical Theology
Theology of Worship 3
Foundations of Pastoral and Ethical Care 3
Pastoral elective of student’s choice 3
General electives of student’s choice 8
Ministry Experience
Supervised Practice of Ministry (SPM) I 3
SPM II or Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) 3-4
Human and Spiritual Formation  4 units

Ministry Experience

The MAPS degree offers two opportunities to engage in field education: Supervised Practice of Ministry (SPM) I and II, taken in sequence. The successful completion of a Basic Unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at an ACPE Certified institution can—with the permission of the Director of Field Education—be taken in lieu of SPM II. The field education curriculum at Aquinas Institute assists the student in developing a pastoral leadership style that is marked by effectiveness, service, integration, and a special commitment to the ministry of the Word.

Program Format

The Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies is a residential program and requires that students attend classes in person at Aquinas.

Application Requirements & Admission Criteria

Below is a summary of application requirements and admission criteria. For detailed information on these requirements, click here.

Application Requirements

  • Online application
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume/CV
  • Personal assessment
  • Reflection paper
  • Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
  • Interview
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • $50 application fee

Admission Criteria

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • 12 credit hours in theology, philosophy, behavioralsciences, or the liberal arts