The study of theology and religion involves the academic exploration of humanity's relationship with God and the nature and role of religion as a response to that relationship. Departmental courses examine beliefs, rituals, ethics, sacred writings, spiritualities, and the meaning and application of faith in students' lives. Theology and Religious Studies concentrations allow students to focus on areas of special interest in preparation for advanced graduate or seminary study as well as non-ordained careers in ministry, including religious education at the parish/congregation level, youth ministry, pastoral ministry, and lay ministry in churches and other religious agencies. Because they are trained to reflect critically in the theological disciplines, however, Theology and Religious Studies graduates are able to pursue successful careers in other fields as well, e.g., law, health care, public service, and education.
The Theology and Religion concentration involves a general and critical examination of issues in the theological disciplines (i.e., historical, philosophical, biblical, and moral/ethical scholarship). In addition, it introduces students to the beliefs and practices of the world's other major religious traditions, which also attempt to address foundational questions about the relationship between God and humankind and which influence the lives of billions of people. Students gain a broad understanding of the historic faith of Catholic Christianity, including its doctrines, traditions, spirituality, and scriptures. The concentration prepares students for advanced theological studies at the graduate (M.A.) or seminary (M.Div.) levels, and also serves nicely as a complementary major that enriches students' understanding of another discipline in or outside the humanities.
The Pastoral Ministry concentration responds to the need for a holistic, Christian ministry of the layperson in the Christian community. To this end, the concentration is designed to prepare persons to serve their faith community, Catholic and Protestant, in its development as a responsible community in fulfilling the mission of the church. To achieve this goal, the holistic emphasis of the program prepares students in the broad areas of theological and faith development, service, and leadership skills, and the personal/spiritual growth. Since ministry is not merely an orientation to a task, but a lifestyle, the result of the preparation is a worldview that assists students in understanding the personal and institutional wounds of the modern world, and enables them to bring a variety of skills to bear on the healing and reconciliation necessary. This concentration gives students a broad-based formation in ministry to prepare them for professional positions in church ministries, such as adult educators, pastoral assistants, pastoral ministers, parish visitors, directors of religious education, directors of lay ministry, etc.
The Youth Ministry and Religious Education concentration prepares students to coordinate and/or teach in parish religious education programs and to teach religion in denominationally affiliated private schools. The goal of the concentration is to prepare qualified, dedicated, competent, and effective teachers of religion in preschool, elementary, secondary, and adult parish settings. This concentration gives students a broad-based formation in religious education to prepare them for professional positions in church education, such as director of religious education, as well as to qualify them to teach religion in a variety of educational settings.