Marquette Offers New Masters Degree
in Christian Doctrine
Oct. 21, 2005
In an effort to provide a greater educational
background for parochial school teachers and church lay people,
Marquette is offering a new master of arts in Christian doctrine
(MACD) this fall. The degree is designed specifically to develop
theology teachers for Catholic grade schools and high schools,
as well as others working in the Christian tradition.
"The new degree is intended primarily for those who at
the grade school and high school levels will teach the basic
history and doctrines of the Catholic Church,” says
Rev. John D. Laurance, S.J. “The degree will also meet
the needs of individuals planning to work in religious education
programs, preparing to serve their religious communities,
or simply looking for deeper theological enrichment.”
Linda Johnson, a theology teacher at Catholic Memorial High
School, knows from 23 years experience as an educator the
special challenges involved with teaching religion classes.
“Religious instruction demands an extensive knowledge
base,” she says, “scripture, morality, Church
doctrine and history, medical ethics and social justice, to
name just a few topics. If the teacher also commits to helping
students grow into a more adult spirituality, you can appreciate
the extensive educational background a person needs to bring
students into the full beauty of our Catholic tradition.”
Dr. Patrick W. Carey, professor of theology at Marquette,
recounts that during his nine years as department chair, he
received many requests from people who wanted a master’s
degree that enriched faith and understanding of Catholicism.
Though the department already offered a master of arts in
theology, the existing degree was intended for students seeking
research-based careers. Many adults expressed a desire for
a less academic, more comprehensive master’s curriculum.
High school parochial teachers especially saw a gap between
their personal knowledge and their class content.
The MACD is designed to fill the void, touching on all aspects
of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Catholic Education Curriculum.
The curriculum itself takes on a creedal form, says Carey,
“starting with God and ending with eternal life.”
According to Father Laurance, the existing graduate curriculum
was already so balanced that only two new courses were added
to include scripture and historical tradition, the two issues
most cited as weaknesses for educators.
However, application of the MACD extends far beyond the scope
of the parochial classroom. Directors of religious education
programs and church laypersons can directly apply the curriculum
to their daily work. The degree also provides an outlet for
alumni and retirees looking for personal theological enrichment.
Carey cites hospital staff and people who deal with care,
death and ethics on a professional level as also benefiting
from the degree’s Christian understanding of life, suffering,
At Marquette, many students regularly engage in worship and
faith-formation activities. However, like other Catholic young
adults, there’s still room for further education: On
average, out of 100 questions on basic issues in Christian
doctrine, students answer only about 47 percent correctly.
“This issue of religious illiteracy has focused attention
on a better doctrinal preparation of those who are responsible
for the religious education of Catholic young men and women,”
The push to educate Catholic students and their teachers ties
in strongly with the Jesuit mission to serve the Catechetical
needs of the church and take part in the catechesis of the
young. “Since there is a demonstrable need for the MACD
and no other Catholic university we know of is presently attempting
expressly to meet that need, the very fact that we are offering
it makes it to some degree 'successful' already,” says
For more information please visit http://www.marquette.edu/about/news/stories/macd031405.shtml
or contact Anne Broeker in the Office of Marketing and
Communication at (414) 288-0286.
Office of Marketing and Communication Contacts
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: (414) 288-1988