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Graduate Program inPastoral Ministries

About the Program

Founded in 1983, the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries offers small classes in both face-to-face and online blended formats tailored to our students’ ministry goals. The program provides a strong theological foundation to an international body of students.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

  • What is the faculty makeup of the program?

    Our faculty is drawn from the excellent scholars in the Religious Studies Department at Santa Clara University as well as experts drawn from institutions worldwide.

  • What can I expect from my courses?

    Small class size and individual curricula allow each student to design a course of study that best prepares her or him for future ministerial work. All courses focus on providing students with intellectual capacity and practical knowledge to serve dynamically in their individual apostolate. The strong theological foundation required of all students, the Ignatian pedagogy, and the diverse student body all help to create a unique, vigorous, and challenging environment designed to help students better serve the people of God.

  • Can I take a course without committing to the whole degree?

    If you are not ready to commit to seeking a Master of Arts degree but you are intrigued by one or more of the courses you see listed you may apply as a non-degree seeking student. You still apply to the program using the online application and you may take a few courses for credit or as an auditor. Fees do apply.

  • How long will it take me to graduate?

    If you study full-time during the regular school year, you can finish your degree in two years. Because many of you will be working while studying you may find it easier to take one course per quarter. If you take one course per quarter it will take you five years to complete the 60 quarter units required for the degree.

  • How do I apply for financial aid?

    Generous donors to the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries have created an endowment that allows the Program to offer ample financial aid and scholarships. All students applying for financial aid must:

    Specific questions may be answered by visiting our financial aid page or by contacting the Pastoral Ministries Office.

  • What are housing options?

    On-campus housing may be arranged through the Office of Residence Life: University Housing. The Office of Residence Life also has information on available rentals close to the university.

  • What are my employment options after I graduate?

    Graduates of the Program have moved on to a variety of ministerial positions including primary and secondary education, non-profits, catechetical, liturgical, musical, and spiritual works in parishes, retreat and hospital ministries, as well as doctoral work. The Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries has a wide network of graduates who provide assistance with job searches as well as many potential employers who contact the office regularly with job openings, and we are working to publish an online directory of alumnae. In addition, we have begun using the SCU Career Center's Handshake portal to encourage employers to post there; all current students can login with their Santa Clara University sign-on.  See our Student Resources section, which has further resources for career networking.

  • Does Santa Clara University offer other theological degrees at the graduate level?

    Santa Clara University offers a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theological Studies at the Berkeley campus of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. Check out the JST website.

Since 1983 the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries has been preparing women and men to enter professional ministries in Church and society.

The program offers the Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Ministries in both face-to-face and online blended teaching formats. The degree program has five major goals:

  1. Leadership: Educate leaders dedicated to serving the Church and creating community in parish and other pastoral settings.
  2. Diverse Church: Prepare ministry professionals to function effectively in a diverse global ecclesial environment.
  3. Justice: Educate students in the Catholic and Jesuit vision of an informed faith that promotes social justice for the common good.
  4. Theological Depth: Educate students in key areas of foundational theological study relevant to Christian ministry: Fundamental Theology, Christology, Ecclesiology, Ethics, Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and Sacraments and Liturgy.
  5. Ministry Understanding and Skills: Educate students in pastoral skills, ministry knowledge, and liturgical fluency for Christian ministry.

Students and graduates of the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries serve in parishes, education, diocesan offices, and non-profits in a variety of roles such as:

The Program offers courses during the academic year from September through June. The student body is richly comprised of Roman Catholics and Protestants, international students, laity, as well as priests and religious men and women.

Our goal is to prepare women and men to be compassionate and competent professionals working to transform lives, schools, and communities.

PMIN 296: U.S. Latino Theology

This course acquaints students with the historical development of Hispanic theology in the United States. Attention will be given to the works of representative U.S. Hispanic theologians and to the themes and concerns that these works address. (Hispanic Ministry Required Course, 4 Units)

Students interested in pursuing the Restorative Justice / Chaplaincy emphasis are required to complete the seven required GPPM foundational courses as well as five additional courses:

Students take only three additional electives for the total of 15 courses (60 units).

There are two hubs for the emphasis in Restorative Justice/Chaplaincy in the MA in Pastoral Ministries. The southern hub location is in the Diocese of San Diego at the Diocesan Pastoral Center 3888 Paducah Drive in San Diego and serves students from all of the surrounding dioceses. The hub serving the dioceses in northern Californa is to be announced soon.

The Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Ministries is currently being offered in six dioceses in California.

Santa Clara University is pleased to offer an online blended Master's Degree in Pastoral Ministries in the Dioceses of Monterey, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Sacramento alongside the predominantly face-to-face program on campus in the Diocese of San José. In the Diocese of San Diego in the fall of 2019 the MA in Pastoral Ministries with an emphasis in Restorative Justice will be inaugurated. The courses are taught through a combination of face-to-face, video conferencing and online experiences. We believe that training in ministry is a personal journey that must involve personal interactions. All courses, therefore, provide live video conferencing with the professor and other students, but also at least three all-day classes held face-to-face at the diocesan sites by the professor.

Classes in adjacent dioceses are offered on staggered weekends when possible to allow students some flexibility in completing their curriculum more quickly by taking courses outside their cohort.  To increase flexibility for students, we have also begun to offer a limited number of hybrid courses based on the Santa Clara University campus (one per quarter).

Delivery of Classes

Classes are delivered in three modes in the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries.

  • First, classes are offered in the traditional face-to-face classroom experience. Students meet once a week in the evening for ten weeks in an assigned classroom.
  • Second, classes are offered in a blended format. On three Saturdays during the ten weeks of the course, students meet for an all day session in the traditional face-to-face classroom experience. For the remaining seven weeks, the students meet with the professor online in a live session (synchronous video conferencing) once a week. These courses take place in the individual homes or other chosen location of the participants.
  • Third, any class may be taken fully in the synchronous video conferencing mode with the approval of the program Director. This option is open only to students who cannot attend a traditional face-to-face classroom session. In this case, the student may join the traditional face-to-face class through synchronous video conferencing as well as the weekly sychronous video conferencing for those courses that are offered in the blended format.


  1. You go to class.
  2. You go to class and talk with the professor and other students on your computer.
  3. You participate in class by talking to the professor and other students on your computer.
 A Program with a Mission
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