Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies

The Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) degree program is designed to educate students for active ministry in the Church. It provides intellectual formation of the highest caliber in a wide range of subjects from Scripture and Theology to specialized ministries such as parish administration, prison chaplaincy, and pastoral leadership.

While the JDI’s courses have been specifically tailored to the guidance in the USCCB’s National Directory, the MAPS program is open to all those preparing to serve the Church as deacons, lay ministers and educators. The MAPS curriculum helps students develop a true ministerial professionalism, and supports them in completing a Master’s thesis or pastoral project.

MAPS Program Objectives

The purpose of the MAPS program is to improve diaconal leadership (teaching and learning), ministerial professionalism (applied expertise), and ecclesial collegiality with priests and bishops.
The Student learning outcomes reflect these concerns and are evaluated according to the criteria and using the artifacts listed below.


1. MAPS students will acquire the learning and interpretive skills necessary for diaconal leadership within the parish context.

  • MAPS students will achieve a mastery of the sources of scripture study in English.
  • MAPS students will show a mastery of theology at a graduate level of instruction.

2. MAPS students will develop professional ministerial expertise in at least one specialized area.

  • MAPS students will apply their coursework in specialized ministry in a non-academic setting.
  • MAPS students will share their experience in a chosen area of specialty within an advanced ministerial seminar.

3. MAPS students will demonstrate an enhanced ability to serve within the clerical order as colleagues and helpers to the bishops and priests in the fulfillment of the apostolic mission.

  • MAPS students will demonstrate a professional standard of homiletic skills (preaching and writing about scripture).
  • MAPS students will articulate their specific preparation for ministerial service within the context of their diocese under the obedience of their bishop.

Artifacts of assessment for Student Learning Outcomes:
– Deacon Director/Bishop survey (direct, annual)
– Ministry project supervisor rubric (direct, timed for each project)
– Student survey (indirect, annual)
– Seminar speaker’s rubric (direct, at the end of the degree coursework)

MAPS Degree Requirements

36 total credit hours in courses offered by the JDI or accepted as equivalent by the Academic Dean. Within these 36 credit hours, each student must earn:

  • 8 credit hours in Scripture (BI course codes);
  • 8 credit hours in Theology (including at least one course in Moral Theology (MO course codes), one in Pastoral Theology (PA course codes), and one in Doctrinal Theology (DO course codes));
  • 6 credit hours in the Master’s thesis-writing process (Capstone Writing Seminar, Summer Pro-seminar workshop, and Thesis Direction); and
  • 14 additional elective credits.

The Master’s Thesis-Writing process begins with the Capstone Writing Seminar, where students work in a small group to develop the thesis draft. Once the draft is complete, students will be registered in the Thesis Direction course, where they will work with a thesis director to complete the paper. After a student has completed the Capstone seminar, he or she will be expected to make a presentation of their work as part of the Summer Pro-seminar. Since the Capstone Writing Seminar is usually in the Spring, the finishing process may look like this:

Spring term:                Capstone Writing Seminar

Summer Term:            Thesis Direction and the Summer Pro-seminar