Program Overview

Interested in the 7 themes of Catholic Social Teaching or always wondered how to integrate social justice with your love for the Catholic Church? Get your master’s degree in Theology with a concentration in Catholic Social Teaching. CDU’s graduate programs are ranked best by Forbes magazine, so you know you’re getting a rigorous academic experience taught by top-tier faculty. You’ll get a full online CDU master’s in Theology degree while focusing intently on the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching:

  • Life and dignity of the human person
  • Call to family, community, and participation
  • Rights and responsibilities
  • Option for the poor and vulnerable
  • The dignity of work and the rights of workers
  • Solidarity
  • Care for God’s creation

The master’s in theology with a concentration in Catholic Social Teaching is a great option if you’d like to teach, serve in parish or diocesan leadership, work in the non-profit sector, grow personally and professionally, or just expand your heart for creating a more just society.

Program Goals

Articulate and apply principles of Catholic theology and God’s relationship to the created order to the problem of authentic happiness and the edification of the human community.

Demonstrate how the New Testament fulfills the Old Testament with regard to Jesus Christ, the Church as the People of God, and its sacramental life.

Explain the role of philosophy in theological controversies in Church history and in the development of Church doctrine.

Synthesize the development of the Catholic Church’s understanding of the relationship between Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium, and their significance with respect to historical and contemporary challenges.

Demonstrate an understanding of the sources of CST

Identify and explain the principles of CST as developed in key magisterial documents

Integrate the principles of CST in discussion and analysis of contemporary social issues

Apply knowledge of CST to identify and respond to the ministerial needs of specific constituencies

Program Requirements

  • 36 Credits (24 Core Credits, 9 required CST courses — CST 500, 510, and 520 — plus 3 Elective Credits, which may include an optional 3-credit thesis).
  • One comprehensive exam (COMP 699) to be taken when all coursework is complete.

Program Time Limit: 3 years

Application Process

  • Complete the free online application for admission.
  • Have an official transcript from the accredited institution where you completed your undergraduate degree sent to
  • Have someone who is familiar with your academic or professional work submit a letter of recommendation to
  • Submit a brief statement of purpose (250 words or less) to on why you are pursuing online graduate study in theology.

Credits earned are transferable to the MA degree programs as students may decide later to pursue a full degree.

Program Costs

Tuition and Fee details can be found here.

For more information on aid visit our Financial Aid Office.

Course Preview

Fill out the form to begin the application process if you plan to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree or certificate.

Graduate Application

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

*We value your privacy. By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails, texts, and calls from Catholic Distance University (CDU). You may withdraw your consent at any time.

Course Lists

Course Number Course Title Credits
THEO 503 The Catholic Theological Tradition 3
THEO 510 Revelation and Faith: Fundamental Theology 3
THEO 541 Theology of Church 3
THEO 552 Sacraments and Liturgy 3
THEO 560 Fundamental Moral Theology 3
THEO 632 Christology 3
PHIL 508 Philosophy for Theology 3
SCRPT 530 Introduction to Scripture and Salvation History 3

Courses are 8 weeks long unless otherwise noted.

Students will earn a total of nine credits from the following selection of courses:

Course Number Course Title Credits
CST 500 Foundations of Catholic Social Thought 3
CST 510 Social Doctrine of the Church, 1891-1965 3
CST 520 Catholic Social Teaching: John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis 3
Course Number Course Title Credits
CHIST 514 Church History I: Early Christians to the Middle Ages 3
CHIST 524 Church History II: Renaissance to Modern Church 3
CHIST 544 History of the Catholic Church in America 3
CST 500 Foundations of Catholic Social Thought 3
CST 510 Social Doctrine of the Church, 1891-1965 3
RELED 560 Principles of Catholic Education 3
SCRPT 615 History of Biblical Interpretation 12 weeks 3
SCRPT 520 Pentateuch 3
SCRPT 640 Isaiah and the Prophets 12 weeks 3
SCRPT 570 The Letter to the Romans 3
SCRPT 581 The Gospel of St. John 3
SCRPT 662 The Synoptic Gospels 3
SPIR 501 Applied Catholic Spirituality 3
THEO 590 Theology of Sacred Architecture 3
THEO 598 Holy Land: The Fifth Gospel 3
THEO 599 Italy: Crossroads of Christendom 3
THEO 617 Father Spitzer’s Evidence for God 12 weeks 3
THEO 619 The Thought of Thomas Aquinas 3
THEO 640 Presenting the Faith in the Modern World: Dealing with Hard Questions 3
THEO 682 Forming a Catholic World View: Catholic Social Teachings 3
THEO 698 Thesis Direction 16 weeks 3

Courses are 8 weeks long unless otherwise noted.

Course Number Course Title Credits
CST 550 Rome Summer Institute 3
CST 560 Practicum 3


A series of 1-credit, 4-week “pop-up” courses will offer an integrated approach to timely social and political issues such as the death penalty, immigration, human trafficking, gender identity, incarceration, the death penalty, the environment, marriage and family, business, and the common good. Credits from these courses can be applied toward the certificate.


In a 2022 survey of CDU graduate students, 100% reported that they had achieved their learning goals.

CDU Offers:

  • Authentic Catholic teaching
  • Flexibility to study where and when you choose
  • The lowest undergraduate tuition of any U.S.-based online university offering Catholic theology
  • A global Catholic community
  • Knowledgeable and accessible faculty
  • Engaging online courses with discussion forums
  • Mobile app for study on the go
  • Online library staffed by a theological librarian
  • 24/7 technical support

Get started today!

The certificate program is offered through the Graduate School of Theology, which is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools. The CDU Graduate School of Theology aims to provide a transformative learning experience in the digital space and to develop leaders for the new evangelization in the 21st century.