Beginning this fall, the Graduate Theology Program of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology will reduce the number of credits needed to earn a master’s degree.  Under new requirements, students will be able to complete the Master of Arts (Theology) degree in 36, instead of 48, credit hours, and have more flexibility in choosing courses to meet their needs.

The new degree will allow students to finish their coursework in less time.

“Many of our students are working full-time and have families. They’re balancing many things, and trying to complete a degree on top of that,” says Sister Jeana Visel, OSB, director of the Graduate Theology Program.

With the revised program, a part-time student attending weekend courses can complete the degree in three years. A full-time student will be able to complete the degree in less than two years.

It also will make the degree more affordable for students. Sister Jeana notes, “We anticipate that this change will be very welcome to students and dioceses that send them to study at Saint Meinrad.”

In the Graduate Theology Program, students can take courses in a variety of formats, attending weekdays alongside seminarians, taking classes online, coming to campus for intensive residence/hybrid courses, or attending weekend courses on campus once a month. Students must take at least 50% of their classes on the Saint Meinrad campus, located in southern Indiana.

Drew Hardesty graduated from the program in 2014. A director of religious education in Owensboro, Kentucky, he appreciated the Benedictine character of the school and the quality of the education he received.

“The challenge of the Graduate Theology Program has given me a sense of accomplishment….  Every professor has been an excellent teacher willing to work with a guy with a full-time job and a growing family,” he said.

While the earlier MA (Theology) required a substantial number of core classes, the new change requires a smaller number of core courses and gives students more flexibility. The new degree program has three core classes: The Creed and History in Theology, Early Church History, and a core course on the New Testament.

Beyond these classes, Sister Jeana will work with students to plan their studies.

“With the new degree, students will still get the solid foundation of a Saint Meinrad education, but will more easily be able to tailor their coursework to their area of ministry or interest,” she said.

For example, a student looking to become a hospital chaplain might take a series of pastoral courses. Those looking to teach high school theology might specialize in Church History or Systematic Theology. Those preparing for parish ministries might take additional courses in evangelization and catechesis. Specialization certificates are available.

“We’re known for giving a solid theological foundation for whatever you want to do. We give you a good grounding. We still stand by that, and there’s now more flexibility in the degree we offer,” said Sister Jeana.

For over 1,500 years, Benedictine monasteries have been known for their prayer and work, stabilizing culture, production of artisanal goods, and work in education. Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana, continues that tradition today.

Providing initial and ongoing formation for priests, deacons, and laypeople young and old, the school stands for quality, while giving exceptional attention to meeting the needs of the Church today.