Religious Studies

Chairperson: Kevin B. McCruden
M. Cook, S.J. (Emeritus), J. Dallen (Emeritus), H. Doohan (Emerita), L. Doohan (Emeritus), J. Downey (Emeritus), P. Hartin (Emeritus), R. LargeK. McCruden, P. McCormick, J. Milos, C.S.J (Emerita), A. Nigro, S.J. (Emeritus), M. Rindge, L. Schearing, J. Sheveland, C. Siejk (Emerita), C. Skok (Emeritus), B. Tyrrell, S.J. (Emeritus)
Associate Professors:
E. Clark, S. DunnE. Goldstein, R. HauckS. Kuder, S.J.J. Mudd, A. Wendlinder
Assistant Professors: G. Chien, M. McCabe, R. Siebeking, K. Vander Schel
Senior Lecturer: P. Baraza
Lecturers: J. Nguyen, S.J., S. Starbuck, Q. Tran, S.J. 

Master of Arts in Theology and Leadership

The Department of Religious Studies at Gonzaga University offers the Master of Arts in Theology and Leadership degree to meet the needs of persons seeking greater understanding and practical knowledge of theology and leadership. This program is designed as a terminal degree. Students enter the program as members of a cohort and progress through the program together. Students gather on campus during the summer for two residency experiences. Courses usually required for a degree can be waived by a Graduate Program Director when these areas have been previously studied in depth.

This program provides graduate theological education and leadership formation for teaching, consulting, research, and development of theological resources for ministry, adult education programs, and other services to the church and the wider civic community. Graduates of these programs have combined their theological work with diverse career commitments, including church ministry, journalism, medicine, community service, chaplaincy, business, and law, among others.


Applicants must submit the following materials:

  1. A completed Gonzaga University Master of Arts in Theology and Leadership application.
  2. $50.00 non-refundable application fee.
  3. Two confidential letters of recommendation sent by the recommending persons directly to Gonzaga University using the official Religious Studies Confidential Recommendation Form.
  4. A three to five page piece of the applicant's written academic work (in English). A complete paper is not required; it should be a piece of what the applicant considers a good example of his/her writing/research ability.
  5. A one page statement of purpose (in English) responding to the following:
    a. Describe your interests in Theology and Leadership.
    b. Assess your current strengths and describe what you hope to gain from the Master of Arts in Theology and Leadership program.
  6. Two official transcripts from each college or university attended. International applicants must submit foreign transcripts in the original language and also in English. Only degrees and courses from a regionally accredited institution will be accepted.

International students must also provide the following:

  1. Proof of English proficiency which can be satisfied by one of the following options:
    a. TOEFL score of 550 or more if graduated from foreign college and where the native language is not English.
    b. Proof of undergraduate studies (transcript) in the United States
  2. Completed Financial Declaration with original supporting bank statements.


An application is not complete and will not be evaluated until all materials have been received by the Office of Graduate Enrollment Management.  Materials or fees submitted to another party do not constitute application to the program.  Applicants must fill out the application online at

Applicants should have a B.A. in Religious Studies, Theology, or related area.  Applicants with a B.A. in other areas should show some experience in a religious or mission-related organization, such as, for example, volunteer work.

Applicants may be eligible for advanced standing of up to 6 credits for related graduate work as determined by the graduate Program Director(s). Applicants seeking advanced standing must petition the graduate director(s) in writing at the time of application.

Program Requirements

Students enter the program as members of a cohort and register for six credits per semester.

All work accepted toward a degree is to be completed within a five year period from the date of acceptance into the program, or from the date of the earliest course accepted transfer credits, whichever occurs first.

Students in a degree program are required to maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0. Students who fail to maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average may be put on probation or dismissed from the program. Credits which carry a letter grade of C-, D, F, AU, X, V, IP, RD or I, will not be counted toward a graduate degree.

Only authorized courses for a degree will be counted in computing the grade point average. Courses not authorized will appear on the transcript with a letter grade awarded but will not affect the graduate grade point average.

Residency Experiences

  • Students will participate in two residency experiences during the summer.
  • During the first residency experience students will participate in the intensive residency portion of the 3-credit Christian Leadership foundational course.
  • During the second residency experience students will participate in a 1-credit Leadership Seminar.

Electronic Portfolio

  • Students who have completed their main courses will take a comprehensive exam.
  •  Students will be required to create a comprehensive electronic portfolio integrating their academic work.

Financial Aid

The department has a limited amount of financial aid available in the form of scholarships. They are awarded based on financial need and academic performance.

Program Outline: 30 credits
RELI 505 Introduction to Christian Leadership
  (Summer on-site)
3 credits
RELI 506 Systematic Theology I: God, Humanity, Christ 3 credits
RELI 507 Systematic Theology II: Spirit, Church, World 3 credits
RELI 510 Hebrew Bible: Old Testament 3 credits
RELI 519 New Testament 3 credits
RELI 530 Christian Moral Theology 3 credits
RELI 545 Church History 3 credits
RELI 581 Ignatian Spirituality 2 credits
RELI 606 Mission/Ministry Leadership Seminar 1 credit
Two elective courses in Organizational Leadership
6 credits
Note: Students may take an additional Thesis course or independent study. This will entail additional credits. See your Academic advisor for more information.
RELI 500 Resrch Mthds-Religious Studies
.00 credits
An orientation to techniques and resources for research and writing in religious studies. Taken on a pass/fail basis.
RELI 505 Intro to Christian Leadership
3.00 credits
Taken during summer orientation at the beginning of the student's entry into the program, this course provides an introduction to foundational theological questions related to Christian leadership and organizational theory. Summer.
RELI 506 Sys Theol I:God, Hmnty, Christ
3.00 credits
The first of a two course sequence, this course explores systematic questions regarding the nature of God, God's relationship with humanity, and the person and mission of Christ. Beginning with a consideration of theological method, the course introduces students to both classical texts and contemporary approaches to theological reflection, with a special emphasis on theologies of liberation and social justice. Fall.
RELI 507 Sys TheoII:Spirit,Church,World
3.00 credits
The second in a two-course sequence, this course explores systematic questions regarding the mission of the Spirit in the church and the world, including theologies of history and eschatology, but with special attention to the liturgical life of the church. The course provides a foundation for further studies in ecclesiology, liturgical theology, and ministry through an examination of classical and contemporary texts, paying particular attention to theological methods. Spring.
RELI 506 Minimum Grade: C
RELI 509 Foundn Theology-Special Topics
3.00 credits
RELI 510 Hebrew Bible: Old Testament
3.00 credits
Examines the theological issues, major themes and development of the Hebrew scriptures.
RELI 514 Hebrew Scriptures Special Topc
3.00 credits
RELI 519 New Testament-Special Topics
3.00 credits
RELI 520 Trends in Contempry Theology
3.00 credits
A selective engagement of current themes and authors who are setting the course for theology in the 21st century.
RELI 526 Comparative Theologies
3.00 credits
This course explores comparative theologies as 'faith seeking understanding' in the context and presence of the persons, texts and wisdom of one or more other religious traditions, with the aims of enacting solidarity with others and encountering fresh theological insights. The course rehearses the history of Christian views of other traditions (Theologies of Religions) and promptly moves forward with concrete experiments in comparison. Possible dialogue partners include Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim texts and persons.
RELI 529 Systemic Theology Specl Topics
3.00 credits
RELI 530 Christian Moral Theology
3.00 credits
How does theological ethics inform a Christian understanding of our practical moral life? This course will examine the fundamental concepts of Christian theological ethics and study their application to specific ethical issues and problems.
RELI 539 Contemporary Ethical Issues
3.00 credits
RELI 545 Church History
3.00 credits
The historical origins of Christianity and its development to the Reformation.
RELI 549 Church-Special Topics
3.00 credits
RELI 569 Liturgy-Sacrments-Special Topc
3.00 credits
RELI 579 Spirituality-Special Topics
3.00 credits
RELI 581 Ignatian Integration
2.00 credits
This course functions as the MATL capstone. Following the life and Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, students reflect on their significance for effective leadership in the contemporary context. At each point in the journey, students integrate material from previous MATL courses, particulary as it relates to key themes in Ignatian spirituality. In the final assignment, students will create a project for their program portfolio which brings practices of Ignatian spirituality to bear on emerging challenges in their own lives and ministries.
RELI 606 Mission Leadership Seminar
1.00 credit
This seminar brings together graduate faculty and professionals in the field of mission leadership to discuss the challenges and strategies for mission integration in complex mission-based organizations including Health Care, Education, and Non-profit organizations. Students earning credit for the seminar will produce a major paper during the following Fall semester in consultation with the instructor. Summer.
RELI 505 Minimum Grade: C and RELI 506 Minimum Grade: C and RELI 507 Minimum Grade: C and (RELI 510 Minimum Grade: C or RELI 519 Minimum Grade: C)
RELI 607 Ministry Leadership Seminar
1.00 credit
This seminar brings together graduate faculty and ministry professionals to explore challenges and opportunities in ministry leadership in the fields of liturgical ministry, parish ministry, and teaching. Students earning credit for the seminar will produce a major paper during the following Fall Semester in consultation with the instructor. Summer.
RELI 505 Minimum Grade: C and RELI 506 Minimum Grade: C and RELI 507 Minimum Grade: C and (RELI 510 Minimum Grade: C or RELI 519 Minimum Grade: C)
RELI 611 Continuing Research
1.00 credit
Required of all graduate students to maintain continuous enrollment in the program while completing their final project.
RELI 690 Directed Readings
1.00- 3.00 credits
Topic to be determined by instructor.
RELI 698 Thesis I
2.00 credits
The Thesis will be either a substantial work of theological scholarship or a detailed project (e.g., curriculum, program grant, mission integration initiative) related to the student's particular interest in ministry or leadership in the community. During fall semester, the student will develop a thesis/project outline in consultation with a faculty advisor.
RELI 699 Thesis II
2.00 credits
The Thesis will be either a substantial work of theological scholarship or a detailed project (e.g., curriculum, program grant, mission integration initiative) related to the student's particular interest in ministry or leadership in the community. During spring semester, students will complete their thesis/project and participate in an online peer review forum.

In addition to their major and minor areas of study, all undergraduate students follow a common program designed to complete their education in those areas that the University considers essential for a Catholic, Jesuit, liberal, and humanistic education. The University Core Curriculum consists of forty-five credits of course work, with additional designation requirements that can be met through core, major, or elective courses.

The University Core Curriculum is a four-year program, organized around one overarching question, which is progressively addressed through yearly themes and questions. Hence, core courses are best taken within the year for which they are designated. First year core courses encourage intellectual engagement and provide a broad foundation of fundamental skills. Second and third year courses examine central issues and questions in philosophy and religious studies. The fourth year course, the Core Integration Seminar, offers a culminating core experience. Taken at any time throughout the four years, broadening courses intersect with the core themes and extend students’ appreciation for the humanities, arts, and social and behavioral sciences. Finally, the designation requirements (writing enriched, global studies, and social justice) reflect important values and reinforce students’ knowledge and competencies.

Overarching Core Question: As students of a Catholic, Jesuit, and Humanistic University, how do we educate ourselves to become women and men for a more just and humane global community?
Year 1 Theme and Question: Understanding and Creating: How do we pursue knowledge and cultivate understanding?

  • The First-Year Seminar (DEPT 193, 3 credits): The First-Year Seminar (FYS), taken in the fall or spring of the first year, is designed to promote an intellectual shift in students as they transition to college academic life. Each small seminar is organized around an engaging topic, which students explore from multiple perspectives. The FYS is offered by many departments across the University (click here [PDF] for list of FYS courses).  
  • Writing (ENGL 101, 3 credits) and Reasoning (PHIL 101, 3 credits): The Writing and Reasoning courses are designed to help students develop the foundational skills of critical reading, thinking, analysis, and writing. They may be taken as linked sections. Writing (ENGL 101) carries one of the three required writing-enriched designations (see below).
  • Communication & Speech (COMM 100, 3 credits): This course introduces students to interpersonal and small group communication and requires the application of critical thinking, reasoning, and research skills necessary to organize, write, and present several speeches.
  • Scientific Inquiry (BIOL 104/104L, CHEM 104/104L, or PHYS 104/104L, 3 credits): This course explores the scientific process in the natural world through evidence-based logic and includes significant laboratory experience. Students pursuing majors that require science courses will satisfy this requirement through their major.
  • Mathematics (above Math 100, 3 credits): Mathematics courses promote thinking according to the modes of the discipline—abstractly, symbolically, logically, and computationally. One course in mathematics, above Math 100, including any math course required for a major or minor, will fulfill this requirement. MATH 100 (College Algebra) and courses without the MATH prefix do not fulfill this requirement.

Year 2 Theme and Question: Being and Becoming: Who are we and what does it mean to be human?

  • Philosophy of Human Nature (PHIL 201, 3 credits): This course provides students with a philosophical study of key figures, theories, and intellectual traditions that contribute to understanding the human condition; the meaning and dignity of human life; and the human relationship to ultimate reality.
  • Christianity and Catholic Traditions (RELI, 3 credits). Religious Studies core courses approved for this requirement explore diverse topics including Christian scriptures, history, theology, and practices as well as major contributions from the Catholic intellectual and theological traditions (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses) .

Year 3 Theme and Question: Caring and Doing: What principles characterize a well lived life?

  • Ethics (PHIL 301 or RELI, 3 credits): The Ethics courses are designed to help students develop their moral imagination by exploring and explaining the reasons humans should care about the needs and interests of others. This requirement is satisfied by an approved ethics course in either Philosophy (PHIL 301) or Religious Studies (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • World/Comparative Religion (RELI, 3 credits): Religious Studies courses approved for this core requirement draw attention to the diversity that exists within and among traditions and encourage students to bring critical, analytical thinking to bear on the traditions and questions considered. These courses carries one of the required two global-studies designations (see below) (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

Year 4 Theme and Question: Imagining the Possible: What is our role in the world?” 

  • Core Integration Seminar (DEPT 432, 3 credits). The Core Integration Seminar (CIS) offers students a culminating core experience in which they integrate the principles of Jesuit education, prior components of the core, and their disciplinary expertise. Some CIS courses may also count toward a student’s major or minor. The CIS is offered by several departments across the University (click here [PDF] for list of CIS courses).

The Broadening Courses

  • Fine Arts & Design (VART, MUSC, THEA, 3 credits): Arts courses explore multiple ways the human experience can be expressed through creativity, including across different cultures and societies. One approved course in fine arts, music, theatre, or dance will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • History (HIST, 3 credits): History courses are intended to develop students’ awareness of the historical context of both the individual and the collective human experience. One course in History (HIST 101, HIST 102, HIST 112, HIST 201, HIST 202) will fulfill this requirement.
  • Literature (3 credits): Literature courses foster reflection on how literature engages with a range of human experience. One approved course in Literature (offered by English, Classics, or Modern Languages) will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Social & Behavioral Sciences (3 credits): Courses in the social and behavioral sciences engage students in studying human behavior, social systems, and social issues. One approved course offered by Criminal Justice, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, or Women and Gender Studies will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

The Designations
Designations are embedded within already existing core, major, minor, and elective courses. Students are encouraged to meet designation requirements within elective courses as their schedule allows; however, with careful planning students should be able to complete most of the designation requirements within other core, major, or minor courses.

  • Writing Enriched (WE; 3 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the WE designation are designed to promote the humanistic and Jesuit pedagogical ideal of clear, effective communication. In addition to the required core course, Writing (ENGL 101), which carries one of the WE designations, students must take two other WE-designated courses (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Global-Studies (GS; 2 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the GS designation are designed to challenge students to perceive and understand human diversity by exploring diversity within a context of constantly changing global systems. In addition to the required core course, World/Comparative Religion (RELI 300-level), which carries one of the GS designations, students must take one other GS-designated course (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Social-Justice (SJ; 1 course meeting this designation): Courses carrying the SJ designation are designed to introduce students to one or more social justice concerns. Students must take one course that meets the SJ designation (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

Major-specific adaptations to the University Core Curriculum

All Gonzaga students, regardless of their major, will complete the University Core Curriculum requirements. However some Gonzaga students will satisfy certain core requirements through major-specific programs or courses. Any major-specific adaptations to the core are described with the requirements for the majors to which they apply.