Religious Studies

The Religious Studies Department considers the study of religion essential to the liberal arts because of the Catholic intellectual tradition of the College. The department offers both an undergraduate major and a minor in Religious Studies, and also a Masters degree in Religious Studies. The major and the minor are designed to provide an academic foundation for graduate study in theology or religion, or for a career related to Religious Studies.

Undergraduate courses are divided according to the five areas listed below:

I. Scripture

II. Christian Thought

III. Christian Ethics

IV. Religion and Religions

V. Special Offerings

Religious Studies Bachelor of Arts Degree

Required Courses

Lower Division:

RST 15

Introduction to Christian Scriptures

(3)

RST 21

Introduction to Catholicism

(3)

RST 41

Introduction to Christian Ethics

(3)

Upper Division:

1. Scripture (3)

RST 155

3 units of upper division Scripture study

2. Christian Thought (6)

RST 131

Jesus

Another upper division course from category II, Christian Thought

3. Christian Ethics (3)

An upper division course from category III, Christian Ethics

4. Upper Division Elective (3)

An upper division course from any of the Religious Studies categories

5. Senior Thesis/Project (3)

RST 199

Senior Thesis/Project

General Elective (3)

3 units in upper or lower division

Total units in Religious Studies: 30

Plus General Studies requirements and electives totaling 124 semester units including Modern Language requirement. Majors must maintain a C or better in each of the courses taken in fulfillment of these requirements for the Religious Studies major.

Religious Studies Minor

Requirements:

  1. An Introductory Level Scripture course (3)
  2. Christian Thought (3)
  3. Christian Ethics (3)
  4. Electives: 9 units (at least 6 of which must be upper division) (9)

Total units in Religious Studies: 18

Religious Studies Courses

I. Scripture Courses

Upper Division Prerequisites: Ordinarily all upper division courses in Scripture require one (1) lower division course in the same area as a prerequisite. A waiver of this prerequisite may be granted by the instructor.

RST 11 Introduction to Hebrew Scriptures (3)

A consideration of selected themes of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), viewed from the perspective of revelation, and analyzed with the methods of modern biblical scholarship. GS-VA1

RST 15 Introduction to the New Testament (3)

An introduction to methods of modern biblical scholarship and an examination of the four canonical gospels, selected Pauline letters, and Acts of the Apostles. GS-VA1

RST 155ABCD Upper Division Scripture Study (3,3,3,3)

A, Synoptic Gospels: Advanced study of the three synoptics with special attention given to literary style, historical context, interpretation skills and the Christology contained in each.

B, Pauline Literature: Advanced study of various Pauline themes as well as the historical context of the first Christian communities that affected the future of the early Church.

C, Johannine Literature: Study of the Gospel of John in relation to other New Testament texts, with emphasis on the historical context of the Johannine community and its understanding of revelation.

D, Hebrew Scriptures: Advanced study of selected texts in the Hebrew Scriptures, with attention to literary style, historical context, interpretation skills and the understanding of God's revelation to Israel. (See statement on prerequisite.) GS-VA1

II. Christian Thought Courses

Upper Division Prerequisites: Ordinarily all upper division courses in Christian Thought require one (1) lower division course in the same area as a prerequisite. A waiver of this prerequisite may be granted by the instructor.

RST 21 Contemporary Catholicism (3)

Study of how early Christianity and contemporary Catholicism perceive representative beliefs, rites, ethics, and community structures in the Catholic tradition of Christianity. Includes discussion of some contemporary concerns and issues in light of Vatican Council II. GS-VA2

RST 23 Spiritual Journeys of Women (3)

An exploration of the spiritual experiences of women primarily from the Judeo-Christian tradition. These experiences will be probed for elements which might be transferable beyond their particular historical and personal contexts to current spiritual experiences. GS-VA2

RST 25/125 Theology of Marriage and Family (3)

Overview of Catholic theology of marriage and family from biblical, historical, cultural and ethical perspectives. (See statement on prerequisite.) GS-VA2

RST 70 Faith and Human Development (3)

A study of the phenomenon of religious belief and the importance of faith for one's further development as a person in relation to others and to God. GS-VA2

RST 131 Jesus of Nazareth, Christ of Faith (3)

A brief survey of the historical development of the Christian understandings of Jesus as the Christ from biblical traditions to the present. Discussion of key aspects of current interpretations of Jesus. Prerequisite: RST 15 or RST 21, or permission of the instructor. GS-VA2

RST 135 Women and Christianity (3)

An introduction to a variety of the major themes and issues which are engaging Christian and Catholic feminist liberation theologians including the roles of women in scripture, Christian history, and church life. (See statement on prerequisite.) GS-VA2

RST 137 Challenges in Contemporary Theology (3)

Presentation of how major changes in theology during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries not only challenged traditional Catholic thought and practice, but also influenced contemporary theology and praxis. (See statement on prerequisite.) GS–VA2

RST 170 Theology and Human Experience (3)

A survey of human psychological development and human faith development which explores how personal, social and cultural experiences influence a person's faith development. (See statement on prerequisite.)

RST 190T Advanced Studies in Christian Thought (1-3)

Advanced study of special texts, figures or topics such as Church history, sacraments, liturgy, Aquinas, Rahner. Selected themes may vary with each offering. May be repeated for credit.

III. Christian Ethics Courses

Upper Division Prerequisites: Ordinarily all upper division courses in Christian Ethics require one (1) lower division course in the same area (See exception for RST 149, which also accepts 21 as prerequisite.). A waiver of these prerequisites may be granted on approval of the instructor.

RST 41/141 Introduction to Christian Ethics (3)

An introduction to the study of moral decision-making from the perspective of Christian faith. The sources and nature of moral obligation, personal and social responsibility, freedom and sinfulness are among the topics to be covered. GS-VA3

RST 45/145 Contemporary Issues in Christian Ethics (3)

A consideration of the positions and views of Christian ethicists on selected contemporary issues. Topics may vary. Prerequisite for RST 145: A lower division course in this area. GS-VA3

RST 49/149 Biomedical Issues in Christian Ethics (3)

A study of issues and questions concerning the phenomenon of human life, the process of dying, and current developments in medicine and technology. Topics include reproductive technologies, genetic engineering, euthanasia, healthcare reform and clinical ethics. Prerequisite for RST 149: RST 41 or RST 21. GS-VA3

RST 146 The Catholic Justice and Peace Tradition (3)

An examination of Catholic Social Teaching, an ethical tradition which has developed in the past century as the church faced contemporary social problems such as structural poverty, discrimination, immigration, racism, violence and war. The course will also focus on particular groups which have been inspired by this body of teachings. (See statement on prerequisite.) GS-VA3

RST 190E Advanced Studies in Christian Ethics (1-3)

Advanced study of special figures or topics such as war and peace, liberation theology, and racism. Selected themes may vary with each offering. May be repeated for credit.

IV. Religion and the Religions Courses

Upper Division Prerequisites: Ordinarily all upper division courses in Religion and the Religions require one (1) course in the same area of study. A waiver of a prerequisite may be granted on approval of the instructor.

RST 61/161 World Religions (3)

A survey of the largest religious traditions: includes Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Other religions may be added (e.g., Confucian/Taoism at the discretion of professor). This course focuses on the following: the religion's historical development, its sacred texts, essentials in its way of life, its spiritual life and arts, and distinctive truths about ultimate realities and the unique purpose of human life and afterlife hopes. Prerequisite for RST 161: A lower division course in the same area. GS-VA4, VI

RST 78/178 Death and Afterlife (3)

A study of world religions with focus on each religion's distinctive understanding of the unique dimensions of human death and mortality, spiritual religious preparations for one's death and life, ideals for religious ways to go through bodily death and a detailed understanding of life after death and the ultimate hopes it embodies. Prerequisite for RST 178: A lower division course in the same area. GS-VA4, VI

RST 172 Jesus and the Buddha (3)

An advanced comparison of the life and teachings of Jesus and Gautama, the Buddha. Comparisons will use the sacred texts of these two religions to represent the life story and religious teachings of these founders. It will also include dialogues on the important similarities and differences which Christian and Buddhist traditions have developed, including how Buddhists understand Jesus and Christians understand the Buddha. Prerequisite: RST 61 or equivalent background in Buddhism and Christianity. GS-VA4, VI

RST 175 Myth, Religion and Culture (3)

A study of representative religious myths on a variety of sacred themes: myths of creation, myths of salvation, myths of the cycles of history, myths of the origin of human death, myths of the gods and goddesses' lives, myths of the afterlife, myths of the ends of the world. The focus of these studies is to understand the special nature of myth as a religious way of understanding these sacred realities. Where possible, the presence of these myths in cultural literature, cinema, and arts will also be illustrated. GS-VA4, VI

RST 190R Advanced Studies in Religion(s) (1-3)

Advanced study of special topics, figures, or texts. Selected themes may vary with each offering. May be repeated for credit.

V. Religious Studies Special Offerings Courses

RST 191 Seminar (3)

Advanced study and research in any of the four major areas of study. Selected themes, figures, issues or texts. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisites: A minimum of one (1) lower division course from any area of religious studies. Permission of instructor is required.

RST 193 Directed Studies (1-3)

Offered with approval of instructor and chairperson, following the published procedures for Directed Studies courses.

RST 196 Independent Studies (1-3)

Offered only with approval of instructor and chairperson, following the published procedures for Independent Studies courses.

RST 199 Senior Thesis/Project for RST majors only (3)

Written thesis or service ministry project (including written component) completed in senior year under the direction of a Religious Studies faculty member. The thesis focuses on an area of interest and results in a well-developed research paper which demonstrates the student's understanding and critical assessment of a topic in religion. The project engages the student in a theological reflection process at a predetermined service ministry site, and demonstrates the student's ability to appropriate and apply religious theories and resources to practical ministry and to correlate practical learnings from the workplace with theory.

RST 199H Senior Honors Thesis (3)

Open only to students admitted to the Honors Program.

The following courses also are eligible for Religious Studies credit:

PHI 160/RST 160 Philosophy of Religion (3)

See PHI 160 for course description. When taken under RST designation, GS-VA4, and VI.

SOC 195/RST 180 Sociology of Religion (3)

See SOC 195 for course description. When taken under RST designation, GS-VA4.

ENG 130/RST 120Faith and Fiction (3)

See ENG 130 for course description. When taken for RST designation, prerequisite applies: either a Scripture course or RST 21, Catholicism.

HIS 131/RST 130 History of Religion in North America (3)

See HIS 131 for course description.

Religious Studies Graduate Program

The Graduate Program in Religious Studies empowers students to effect social change and social justice in their communities and the world at large by providing theoretical foundations and praxis-centered learning in scripture, theology, ethics and pastoral outreach. It provides opportunities for the student to place personal faith within a theological understanding based on the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. The program challenges students to consider the interrelation between theory and praxis, and to see personal religious goals and belief systems in new and contemporary ways. Those who are already in pastoral ministry will find the studies practically based with an orientation towards local ecclesial communities. The department has a core group of faculty and visiting professors who provide both continuity for the program and theological competency in specific fields of inquiry.

The graduate program responds to the goals and objectives of all its students. It serves:

  • Students interested in academic research
  • Ministers seeking to improve pastoral skills or to become pastoral associates and directors of parish life
  • Teachers of theology
  • Those who simply wish to enhance their personal theological and spiritual understanding

The graduate program in Religious Studies offers the following:

  • M.A. in Religious Studies
  • Certificate in Advanced Studies in Youth and Young Adult Ministry
  • Continuing Education for Pastoral and Catechetical Ministry

Religious Studies M.A.

Admission Requirements

  • Satisfactory completion of other graduate division requirements

Degree Requirements

  • 24 Core Courses (Two 3-unit courses in each of the four major areas)
  • 9 Electives (Three-unit courses)
  • 3 Capstone Project
  • 36 Units Total

Learning Outcomes

Learn and employ prominent theories and methods used routinely in each of the major program areas (scripture/theology/ethics/pastoral ministry).

Demonstrate the ability to think critically by using program-specific theories and research methods to access, research, synthesize and analyze and information and ideas.

Communicate effectively both in writing and orally; master the conventions of the field's standard notation & bibliographic style (most current Chicago).

Engage a diverse society through increased awareness of race, class, gender, and socioeconomic issues that lead to systemic and distributive injustices.

Religious Studies M.A. Capstone Project:

In order to receive the M.A. in Religious Studies the student must successfully complete the Capstone Project.

The "Capstone Project" is the terminal research exercise consisting of:

  • RST_290: Thesis (4 units) or,
  • RST_291: Research Essay (1 unit)
  • During the first year of the M.A. Program in Religious Studies, the graduate student must successfully complete RST_220: Theories and Methods of Theology (3). This course will introduce the student to various methodologies encountered in theological studies and research. It will also provide the student with the resources and methods to complete the Capstone Project successfully.
  • Normally the student completes RST_290 or RST_291 within one academic semester. If, for valid reasons this is impossible, the student may file an academic petition for a continuance.
  • The Director of Graduate Religious Studies and the Graduate Dean must approve any exception to this.

Religious Studies M.A. Transfer of Credit

The student may transfer six units of graduate religious studies (theology) credit from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning towards the completion of the M.A. in Religious Studies. In order to do so, the student must first successfully complete six units of Mount St. Mary's College Graduate Religious Studies credit before formally petitioning for unit transfer. The acceptance of transfer credit is subject to the approval of the Director of Graduate Religious Studies and the Graduate Dean. Credits cannot predate admission to Mount St. Mary's College by more than seven years. The Director of Graduate Religious Studies and the Graduate Dean must approve any exception to this.

Religious Studies Certificate Programs

Advanced Studies in Youth and Young Adult Ministry Certificate

The Youth Ministry Certificate Program is a two-year training program for youth and young adult ministers. The courses and general sessions are offered by contractual arrangement with the Center for Youth Ministry Development, Connecticut, on location in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles under the co- sponsorship with the Diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The Certificate will be granted upon satisfactory completion of 12 units of course work as outlined in the Mount St. Mary's College Catalog.

Admission Requirements

The applicants for the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Certificate Program are screened and accepted in accordance with the guidelines of both the Diocesan Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office and Mount St. Mary's College (See the Director of Graduate Religious Studies for further information). The Director of the Diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry serves as advisor for students and as liaison with the Director of Graduate Religious Studies who is responsible for oversight of all graduate degree and non-degree program.

Continuing Education for Pastoral and Catechetical Ministry

The Graduate Religious Studies Program offers workshops for the continuing education of those in pastoral or catechetical ministries.

Most weekend workshops are non-credit. Occasionally, graduate credit or continuing education units (C.E.U.) can be earned. Courses and workshops that provide continuing education in the fields established by the California Bishops Conference are granted re-certification credit by the Los Angeles Archdiocesan Department of Catholic Schools, the Office of Religious Education, and the Office of Worship. Verification of attendance is provided upon request.

Conferences such as the Religious Education Congress (Anaheim, CA) are granted Continuing Education Units (C.E.U.s) and are filed with the American Council on Education, Washington, D.C.

The Director of Graduate Religious Studies is responsible for oversight of all graduate degree and non-degree programs.

Unit Designation

Please consult course descriptions in catalog for course unit designation.

Graduate Religious Studies Academic Review Board

The Graduate Religious Studies Academic Review Board is a committee that helps the Director of Graduate Religious Studies supervise the graduate religious studies programs. It reviews all student admission applications and requests. Its members are selected from current Graduate Religious Studies full and part-time faculty, former faculty and professional staff. Its decisions are subject to approval by the Graduate Dean and Provost.

Religious Studies Courses

Scripture Courses (RST 200 RST 207)

RST 200: Scripture and Social Justice (3)

This course introduces students to standard methodologies for critical understanding of biblical texts, including historical, literary, rhetorical, and social criticisms; and emphasizes themes of social justice in contemporary interpretive methodologies.

RST 203: Topics in the Hebrew Bible (3)

This course explores particular issues, approaches, or texts within the Hebrew Bible and its Ancient Near Eastern context.

RST 205: The New Testament (3)

This course introduces students to standard methodologies for critical understanding of the New Testament, including historical, literary, rhetorical, and social criticisms.

RST 207: Topics in the New Testament (3)

This course will explore particular issues, approaches, and texts within the New Testament.

Systematic Theology Courses (RST 220 RST 234)

RST 220: Theories & Method (3)

This course introduces various methodologies used in theological research. It presents the research skills required to study the Church as a living, Christian community constantly interpreting its own life within the context of an ongoing relationship with God. (Required course for all students)

RST 222: Liberation Theology (3)

An investigation of the theological literature concerned with liberation and a discussion of problematics involved in social change.

RST 223: Christology (3)

A critical-historical theological reflection on the Christian confession that Jesus of Nazareth is Christ and Savior.

RST 228: Ecclesiology (3)

Development and presentation of a working, contemporary ecclesiology through dialog with Sacred Scripture, the Tradition of the Church, Vatican II and contemporary theologies.

RST 234: World Religions/Religious Diversity (3)

An in-depth study of contemporary topics in the dialog between the major world faith traditions.

Christian Ethics Courses (RST 243 RST 249)

RST 243: Catholic Social Teaching (3)

A theological investigation of the collection of Catholic Social Teachings developed in the 20th century when Christian morality, rooted in Scripture and tradition, encountered contemporary social problems.

RST 246: Community Virtues and Values (3)

A study of issues and questions concerning the phenomenon of human life and the process of dying. Topics include reproductive technologies, genetic engineering and euthanasia.

RST 247: Sex, Gender, and Ethics (3)

A study of the uses of sexuality and gender to engage in issues of power.

RST 248: Eco-Justice (3)

The investigation of the interconnected elements of ecological sustainability and human justice with particular attention to uncovering injustice based on race/ethnicity, economic status, and gender.

RST 249: Advanced Studies in Christian Ethics (3)

An in-depth study of particular topics within the area of moral theology and Christian ethics. (e.g. ethics of globalization, sexual ethics after AIDS, political ethics, etc.) This course may be repeated for credit.

Pastoral Theology and Ministry (RST 266 RST 289)

RST 266: Leadership in Pastoral Ministry (3)

The biblical, theological, ethical and social foundations for Christian leadership in the contemporary Church.

RST 280: Pastoral Counseling (3)

An introduction to theories of counseling and psychotherapy as they apply to the pastoral setting.

RST 282: Spiritual Direction (3)

An introduction to spiritual direction, the nature of spiritual direction and the preparation and role of the spiritual director.

RST 285: Parish/Non-Profit Organizing (3)

To introduce methodologies and strategies for parish and non-profit organizations to develop short and long term strategic plans as a way for faith-based communities and justice organizations to pursue their goals for social change. Topics will include, but not be exclusive of, values of faith based business ventures, issues faced by non-profit organizations, the nature and focus of goals and directives, legal aspects, collaboration, and networking.

RST 287: Canon Law (3)

The study of the history, the theology and development of Canon Law with a particular view to its application in pastoral ministry and parish management and its relationship to civil law.

RST 289: Preaching (3)

A praxis based approach to preaching, its scriptural basis, history, theology, methods and contemporary practice. Special consideration will be given to how to best deliver the good news of God's justice and mercy from and within the margins of society.

RST 290: Capstone Proposal (1)

Preparation for Capstone Project culminating in research proposal.

RST 291: Capstone Research, Analysis, and Presentation (2)

The Capstone is a culminating project of the student's devising, with a clearly delimited research methods and goals overseen by a capstone committee (2 faculty minimum), ending in a presentation by the student, both oral and written.

RST 291ABC: Capstone Research Essay Continuation (1)

RST 295: Internship (1-3)

By special pre-arrangement with the Program Director, available by request in any term. Mount St. Mary's undergraduate norms for Academic Internship apply.

RST 299: Independent Study (1-3)

A student may apply for independent study with the approval of a faculty advisor and the program director. Mount St. Mary's College undergraduate norms for Independent Study apply. No more than six (6) units of independent study may be taken towards the M.A. Degree. Any exception to this is granted by the Director of Graduate Religious Studies with the approval of the Graduate Dean.