USML | Choosing a Degree Program

Degree Programs and Application

Choosing a Degree Program

Which Degree is Right for Me?


1. Master of Arts (Liturgical Studies) or MALS: This degree program is designed for those who plan to work at parish, diocesan or secondary education levels. The MALS program is comprised of courses entirely offered through the Liturgical Institute and covers the theoretical and practical aspects of the sacred liturgy in significant detail. It is considered an “academic” degree, and requires a reading knowledge of Latin and one modern foreign language as well as an academic thesis. Completing the MALS keeps open the possibility of further studies at the PhD level.

2. Master of Arts in Liturgy or MAL: This degree program is similar to the MALS, but is considered a terminal “professional” degree rather than an academic degree. To that end, foreign language requirements are waived and students complete a workplace master’s project rather than an academic thesis. The MAL is the degree offered in the five-summer degree sequence.

Because of their detailed coursework in liturgical studies, the M.A.L.S. and the M.A.L. are the degrees recommended for those expecting to work in a parish or diocesan chancery.

3. License in Sacramental Theology or STL: The STL is an ecclesiastical degree accredited by the Congregation for Education of the Holy See and is primarily intended for those who expect to teach at the seminary or college level. It is considered a degree beyond the MA and has been compared to an “ABD” or “all but dissertation” at the doctoral level. Entrance to the STL program requires a Bachelor’s in Sacred Theology (STB) or equivalent (66 semester hours of Roman Catholic Theology and 33 semester hours of Philosophy).
     The STL is offered in systematic theology, with most of the core coursework in the History of Christian Thought provided by the faculty of Mundelein Seminary.  The Liturgical Institute provides a sacramental theology specialization composed of 6 to 7 courses and direction of a thesis. The STL  provides a degree in Theology rather than Liturgical Studies, and as such, students take fewer courses on the practical and theological aspects of the sacred liturgy.

4. Doctorate of Sacred Theology or STD: The STD is an ecclesiastical research degree accredited by the Congregation for Education of the Holy See intended for those who plan to teach at the seminary or university level.

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