Santa Clara University

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley

Master of Divinity



The Master of Divinity is a three-year academic and professional degree that meets the needs for both academic training and pastoral experience of those preparing for pastoral ministry in the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. To accomplish this purpose, the Jesuit School of Theology provides courses of instruction in theology and related disciplines, introduces students to the use of source materials and the practice of scholarly work and investigation, and provides opportunities for supervised experience in pastoral ministry. The M.Div. degree is the ordinary course of theological education and training for those preparing for ordination to presbyteral ministry.

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The Jesuit School’s Master of Divinity program is designed to enable graduates

  • to gain a broad theological foundation and hone it in light of assuming leadership roles within the church.
  • to develop a critical fidelity to the Roman Catholic tradition, in service of the faith that does justice.
  • to recognize the interplay between faith and culture in addressing theological and pastoral issues that emerge in diverse cultural contexts.
  • to develop a professional ministerial identity, which values collaborative leadership and shows commitment to ministerial ethics.
  • to grow and deepen in their relationship with God and in community, cultivating a spirituality that will sustain them in professional ministry.

Admission Requirements

The Jesuit School welcomes the application of all qualified persons who wish to pursue the Master of Divinity program.

Applicants should follow the general admissions procedures.

First Year MDiv Class


  1. The Bachelor of Arts degree or its academic equivalent.
  2. Nine semester hours or 12 quarter hours of philosophy. Typically, this prerequisite is satisfied by courses in the areas of history, ethics, and systematic philosophy. Students preparing for ordination are required to have completed 24 semester units or 36 quarter hours of philosophy.
  3. The applicant should possess the personal maturity and faith commitment commensurate with preparation for full-time ministry. To this end, preference is given to applicants who have at least one year of post-college work experience, and at least part-time, directly ministerial experience.

Advanced Standing

A student who has taken graduate courses in theology no longer than six years prior to registration at the Jesuit School may petition the Academic Dean for advanced standing in the Master of Divinity program. This petition may be included with the Application for Admission or it may be submitted at the beginning of the first semester of study. Ordinarily, the maximum amount of advanced standing that is granted is twenty-four semester hours (two semesters of full-time study). Petition forms are available from the Assistant Academic Dean or the Office of Admissions.

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Modern Language Study

Academic credit for basic modern language study is not applicable to the Jesuit School degree programs. However, students are encouraged to take advanced, ministerial language courses while they are in the Master of Divinity program. Proficiency in Spanish is recommended for all Master of Divinity students.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Divinity degree requires the completion of 81 semester units of course work, including nine units of Field Education. No more than one-third of the course work may be taken on a pass-fail basis.

The Jesuit School provides a spectrum of course offerings that enable the student to develop a solid theological foundation for future ministry. The academic advisor assists the student in the selection of courses. Together, they develop an academic plan that addresses the student’s specific needs and provides the diverse knowledge and awareness necessary for ministry in today’s Church.

The Master of Divinity curriculum is constructed around three theological syntheses. The first is comprised of foundations in Scripture, the history of Christianity, systematic theology and Christian ethics. The second emphasizes the application of theories and methods of theology for ministry. The third involves the integration of this material such that the student is able to articulate theologically informed and pastorally appropriate responses to varied ministerial situations.

Credit Distribution for Course Work

Eighty-one hours of credit must be completed according to the following course distribution: Eighty-one hours of credit must be completed according to the following course distribution:

Year One

  • Introductory Courses (24 units total)
  • Bible (6)
  • Society and Christian Ethics (6)
  • Systematics (6)
  • History (6)
  • Ministry Seminar and Immersion (4 1/2 units)

During the intersession of the first year, students are required to participate in an immersion experience either locally or internationally.

Years Two and Three

Distribution Courses and Electives (30 units total, including at least 6 units of praxis courses designed to assist students in honing pastoral skills and in reflecting on their experiences as ministers in a multicultural church. Students will be required to directly observe and/or draw upon various social contexts as part of their coursework):

  • Bible (9)
  • Systematics (9)
  • Religion and Society (3)
  • Electives (9)
Candidates for ordination will be required to take:

  • Canon Law (3)
  • Preaching (3)
  • Celebrational Style (3)
  • Confessional Counseling (3)
Other students will be required to take:

  • Canon Law (3)
  • Preaching or Lay Presiding (3)
  • Pastoral Counseling or Spiritual Direction (3)
  • A pastoral elective (3)
  • Field Education (4 1/2 units)
A field education program is designed to help students develop competence in the practice of Christian Ministry

  • Inter-religious dialogue / Ecumenism (3 units)
  • Third Year Integration Seminar (3 units
This is a requirement in the third year of the program, coordinated by the Director of the M.Div. program.  The principal focus of the Integration Seminar is to integrate students' theological pastoral and spiritual learning.

Ministerial Formation

The primary goals of the three years of Ministerial Formation at the Jesuit School of Theology are as follows. First Year: focus on each student’s ministerial identity and the development of individually tailored formation plans. Second year: focus on pastoral praxis, supervision, and mentoring. Third year: focus on the integration of theology with ministerial and pastoral experiences. (See extended descriptions of the three-year cycle below.)

Three Year Cycle of Integration Seminars for the JST M.Div. Program:

Year One Integration Seminar: Ministerial Identity

The first year seminar currently meets every other week for three hours during the entire school year. The Intersession is used for the immersion program to Mexico, which lasts about 12 days. The goals of this course are:

  • continuing development of ministerial identity through familiarity with appropriate documents listed above;
  • cultivation of the identity as a public person and awareness of limits and responsibilities inherent in this;
  • formulation of a formation plan for the balance of the MDiv program, including the 2nd year pastoral placement;
  • mastery of social analysis and theological reflection using the immersion experience as a key source for analysis and reflection);
  • preparing for the immersion experience, debriefing it upon returning to JSTB, and integrating that experience with other course work.

Year Two Integration Seminar: Pastoral Internships

Currently meets weekly for one year. About three sessions per term the Jesuits meet with the rector of the community and the other students meet with the course facilitator to address vocation specific issues. The goals for the course are:

  • mastery of theological reflection and social analysis by using material from current ministerial placement;
  • mastery of case study model as method for learning and analysis of ministerial context and response;
  • implementation and assessment of formation plan (including the possibility of the proposed “mid-program review”);
  • emphasis on ministerial identity within the context of current placement.

Year Three Integration Seminar: Theology and Ministry

Currently meets weekly for one semester. The focus will be on integrating ministerial experience and course work using the tools of social analysis, theological reflection, and case study models. One of the capstone experiences for the M.Div. program, the Comprehensive Exam, is held at the end of the third year and tests both for theological and pastoral competence. The goals for the course include:

  • fostering connections across theological disciplines and course work in preparation for comprehensive exams;
  • making more explicit the integration of theological studies in ministerial experience;
  • enlisting the theological disciplines to address the challenges and engage in the practice ministry today.

The Comprehensive Examination

At the conclusion of their program, students will be required to successfully complete a comprehensive examination comprised of both written and oral components. It will employ the same case method as developed in the Integration Seminar in that students will be expected to bring their academic and pastoral knowledge to bear in thinking through hypothetical ministerial situations.

Spiritual Preparation

In pursuit of its mission to help candidates prepare for ordained and non-ordained ministry in the Church, it is a goal of the school to facilitate students’ development for building up the Church as a community of faith, of worship, and of justice and love.

The attainment of this goal means:

  • That they be men and women of faith, familiar with the Word of God in Scripture and with the Catholic tradition in interpreting and understanding that Word; contemplative in their personal assimilation of this faith in a life of prayer.
  • That they be prepared to exercise leadership in Christian worship, through planning liturgies, preaching, administering Sacraments, and presiding at Eucharist and other community liturgical celebrations, according to the gifts each has received.
  • That they be prepared to counsel, guide, encourage and instruct in the Christian way of life, with special attention to issues of justice and human dignity, to lead in the formation of the just society and to exercise ministries of reconciliation, according to their gifts.

An important dimension of preparation for pastoral ministry consists of theological reflection upon contemporary human concerns, a contemplative reflection requiring time, disciplined training, communal experience, study, dialogue, and prayer. The Ministerial Formation component of the Master of Divinity program provides opportunities for growth in this process.

Contact Information

Please refer all inquires, including requests for application forms, directly to:

Admissions Department

Maureen Beckman

Assistant Dean of Enrollment Management and Marketing
Phone: 510-549-5016

Grace Hogan
Associate Director of Enrollment Management
Phone: 510-549-5013


Mailing Address:
1735 LeRoy Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709