This program is intended for college graduates who desire a holistic, inter-disciplinary theological program to form them to participate in the Christian mission in the Black community and the Church at-large as theologically and culturally competent ordained, religious or lay ecclesial ministers. It is also intended for graduate students or ministers on sabbatical who wish to enrich their general theological studies by exploring the Catholic theological tradition and its particular meanings for the social and spiritual experience of Black peoples in the United States and the broader Pan African World. The program is also preparation for graduate students who plan to pursue terminal degrees in theology or other disciplines.
The Th.M. program blends rigorous academic work with community-based learning to equip students with methodological tools for critical study, understanding, analysis, and evaluation. At the same time, the program assists students in integrating theory and praxis, theology and pastoral ministry. Such integration should lead to an intellectually grounded faith, holistic personal growth, and effective ministry skills that contribute to the continual building up of the faith community.
The Master of Theology (Th.M.) degree program currently offers two tracks that enable students to focus their studies within a specific academic discipline: Track 1 - Urban Catholic Education/Catechesis. This track prepares students currently working or seeking future employment and or ministry opportunities as teachers, religious educators, or directors of religious education. Track 2 - Word & Worship (Liturgy & Preaching.) This track prepares students lay and ordained, to serve as liturgists, pastoral ministers, pastoral musicians or preachers within ecclesial or academic settings.
As an integral part of its programs, the Institute expects students to fully participate in all aspects of community life, liturgical experiences, the formation program, cultural events, shared meals, and collaborative study groups which are all part of the Institute “experience.” To facilitate the realization of these goals, all participants are strongly encouraged to live on campus during the summer session.
- WRITTEN QUALIFYING AND COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATIONS
A written qualifying examination is required of every candidate for a master’s degree. Ordinarily students must take this exam after successfully completing IBTH 5010 and two to three additional core courses in the Master’s Program. The qualifying exam serves as an opportunity for a detailed review of material encountered in those courses designed as the Core and Area Requirements for the Th. M. Degree Program. An oral examination may also be required if the faculty deems it necessary.
Comprehensive examinations are taken after the completion of all degree requirements, i.e., course work, research paper and practicum. The comprehensive is an oral exam that reviews the student’s comprehension of his/her theological studies and their implication for pastoral practice. It is usually administered during the term in which the candidate for the degree is registered for graduation and/or the last three hours of credit. In the latter case, the student must have completed all core courses in the area of concentration. The written comprehensive examination is designed to test the candidate’s mastery of his or her major field as indicated by his/her research topic and practicum.
THESIS (MAJOR RESEARCH PAPER)
The thesis should be an in-depth study by the student on a topic agreed upon with the Research Advisor. It is an independent project, but the Degree Faculty recommends strongly that, whenever possible, it be related to the Practicum. Students are strongly encouraged to design and prepare the thesis or major research paper so that it provides the theological and theoretical foundation for the Practicum project. The signed comments of two (2) readers awarding the grade are to be filed in the Office of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies. The student should refer to the IBCS Handbook of Policies, Procedures, and Information for the Master’s Degree, An Interdisciplinary Degree in Pastoral Studies for specific details on planning and completing the major research paper.
Students may do two types of praxis projects:
- Practicum Plan A entails supervised work in the Black community, and it represents an initiative directed toward systemic change in pastoral ministry among Black Catholics.
- Practicum Plan B requires the student to complete an historical essay integrating oral history and archival research.
The student should refer to the IBCS Handbook of Policies, Procedures, and Information for the Master’s Degree in Theology, An Interdisciplinary Degree in Pastoral Studies for specific details on planning, completing and evaluating the Practicum.
- ORAL COMPREHENSIVE EXAM
The purpose of the Oral Comprehensive Examination is to provide a structured opportunity for the student to demonstrate her or his integration of learning and insights form course work, the Practicum Project, and the Major Research Paper. More broadly, the goal of the Examination is to allow the student to illustrate how the Practicum experience is related to the educational work of the IBCS. At the same time, the student must be prepared to demonstrate the practical effect and benefits of the project for the larger Black community, and for other ministers serving the Black community. The student should refer to the IBCS Handbook of Policies, Procedures, and Information for the Master’s Degree in Theology, An Interdisciplinary Degree in Pastoral Studies for specific details on the Oral Comprehensive Examination.