SJU Offers New Graduate Degrees in Theology and Education

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Saint Joseph’s University is expanding its graduate programs in fall 2012 with a Master of Arts in Theology and Society and an Online Master of Science in Educational Leadership with a focus on Catholic school education.

A master’s degree in theology has been an on-going conversation for the University. “I think the questions were that if we had a program, what kind of focus should it have, what would be useful to the community, and what is not already available,” explains Millicent Feske, Ph.D., assistant professor of theology and director of the new graduate program.

The focus of the program will be study and reflection about the relationship between theological expression in word and action, on the one hand, and important issues in contemporary culture, on the other. “All of the courses are designed to promote a back and forth conversation between what is going on in the world and our experience of God,” says Feske.

The master’s degree is designed for men and women in professional and volunteer ministries, and for those who wish to study theology more deeply and at an advanced level. “The mission of the University is about the relationship between intellect and justice,” Feske adds, “and that is at the core of this program.”

The Online Master of Science in Catholic School Leadership comes at a stressful time for Catholic schools. “Considering the flux the Catholic schools are in right now we believe it’s important to take care of and educate their leaders,” Robert Palestini, Ph.D., assistant professor of education and Executive Director of the Center for Catholic and Urban Education, says in reference to the recent closings of many Catholic schools in the area. Palestini continues to explain the importance of strong leadership in schools and how that directly correlates with student achievement. “It’s imperative that the leadership of the schools be strong, well educated and well trained, and that’s what this program is about. If we can provide strong leadership, then it only stands to reason that the academic dimension of the school will improve, and this is Saint Joseph’s University’s way of addressing this situation.”

Anne Marie Borneman, Ed.D., senior fellow at the Center for Catholic and Urban Education adds, “We see it as a moral imperative to train the next leaders for these schools as it is becoming more challenging to maintain and sustain Catholic schools.”

A distinguishing feature of the program is that it is solely online.  “Accessibility is important,” Palestini says. “It widens the reach of SJU in that the sky is the limit with regard to the teachers in schools we can impact by offering completely online coursework.”

In addition to providing the knowledge to become a principal or leader within a Catholic school, students have the ability to receive the Pennsylvania Principal and Curriculum Supervisor certificates, and obtain credentials required by public schools and the State Department of Education. “Taking this curriculum walks you through budgeting, law and curriculum development,” Borneman explains, “We think this program is going to really help that next generation of Catholic school leaders.”

For more information or to register for the upcoming July 26th Open House, visit

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