Masters of Theology

New Online Master’s Degree Connects Faith to Career

The Franciscan School of Theology at USD launches a unique program grounded in faith-based service

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — What does compassionate service look like in today’s remote world? And how does someone with a need to serve others figure out where to start? 

As St. Francis of Assisi would say, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

This fall, the Franciscan School of Theology will launch a new Master of Theological Studies – Franciscan Theology program — 100% online. This unique graduate program is designed so that anyone, anywhere can take advantage of FST’s world-class faculty and accredited theological instruction to inform their career or life goals and find their voice.  

We’ve seen so many students successfully graduate from the on-campus MTS program and go on to have fulfilling and impactful careers,” says Christine Avella, the Associate Director of Admissions & Recruitment at FST. “We wanted to make the program available to potential applicants beyond the San Diego area, to really speak to those all across the country who feel called to service — whether that’s in social justice, community action or liturgy.” 

The all-online, two-year program is designed for working professionals and recent undergraduates alike. The FST admissions team says a Master of Theological Studies – Franciscan Theology is ideal for anyone pursuing careers in religious education, parish support or ministry, or as preparation for further academic work, among others. 

This program is ideal for anyone wondering ‘what’s next?’” says Avella. “We teach from the Franciscan spiritual and intellectual tradition, but students don’t have to be practicing Catholics. Our students come from various faith traditions and bring their experiences, education, and compassion to the discussion. The teachings of the Franciscan brotherhood apply to any pursuit that emphasizes compassion and asks ‘how can you be of service to others?’” 

The Franciscan School of Theology takes a practical approach to theological instruction by contextualizing faith-based service in a world of religious and cultural diversity. Students of this master’s program — ranging from clergy-bound seminarians to established professionals searching for meaning — will learn from instructors with decades of lived experience how to put Franciscan principles into action. The school’s academic mission is to connect the head and the heart, so each student learns to use course content to answer their call to compassionate service.

Classes will cover topics including:

  • Ecclesiology: Being the 21st-Century Church
  • History: Unity, Diversity, Change Over Time
  • Moral Theology: Conscience and the Common Good 
  • Spirituality for the Digital Age 
  • Theology in an Intercultural Context  

Students of the MTS – Franciscan Theology program online will have the same access to experienced faculty as the on-campus students,” says Gigi Betancourt, FST’s Marketing and Recruitment Coordinator. “Any questions about practical applications of these concepts — our instructors have the experience to answer.” 

The Franciscan School of Theology welcomes all applicants who wish to build deeper connections to their work or life’s pursuits, particularly when it comes to helping others. Applicants and graduates of the Master of Theological Studies – Franciscan Theology program are:

  • Educators and teachers
  • Parish, church, campus/college ministry
  • Business professionals  
  • Counselors/medical professionals
  • Aspiring theologians 
  • Military personnel or veterans 
  • Community leaders
  • Seekers
  • Career changers
  • Individuals looking for something more
  • Individuals looking to integrate their faith into their respective careers 

The online format of the new Master of Theological Studies – Franciscan Theology program makes it convenient and accessible to those who don’t live in the San Diego area, as well as those who work a full-time job. Best of all, students can log in to their virtual classroom at any time, so accessing coursework and resources does not interfere with other daily commitments.

Students wishing to apply for the Fall 2021 semester must submit their applications by August 12. Classes will begin on September 7 and will take place over 24 months. Students will earn a total of 36 credits and will conclude their program with a capstone presentation. This capstone will demonstrate the student’s ability to develop a coherent theological argument on a topic about which they feel passionately. This is perhaps the most meaningful and tangible component of this master’s program, as graduates will be able to apply their capstone work (which may include an experiential component) directly to their next step after graduation.

Many students come into this program searching for their next steps,” says Avella. “They know they feel a call to serve, but they don’t know how. By the time they complete their capstone, they have the practical tools to connect their faith life with the daily events of their lives, whether that be at work, volunteering, or at home. It’s a remarkable transformation, every time.

If this new online program sounds like the perfect fit for your service-oriented goals, an enrollment advisor is available to discuss. Reach out to start a conversation today, and open a new window into your future of service.