Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies Program

Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies Program

The University of Saint Mary of the Lake is now offering an online or in-person Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) degree program for both lay students and Deacons.  The program is designed for part-time students, offering two evening courses each semester and one course each summer.  3 credit courses are held from 7-9:45 pm and 2 credit courses are held from 7-9:10 pm.  The course of study for the MAPS degree is a total of 41 credit hours.

This degree helps the University actualize its mission and vision for lay formation in the Catholic Church by providing graduate level theological education in Lake and northwest Cook counties in the Archdiocese of Chicago.  The program serves, among others, students preparing for calling as lay ecclesial ministers by the Archbishop of Chicago and current pastoral ministers and Deacons seeking to continue their intellectual formation.  Also, an online USML MAPS degree program with a rich ministerial formation component is now offered for students who reside outside of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Students are formed in the Catholic tradition so that they are able to evangelize and catechize the community and the culture, interpreting Scripture according to the mind of the Church and with an accurate historical awareness.  They learn the sacramental and theological perspectives of the Catholic Church and learn to communicate these perspectives in teaching.  The Catholic moral tradition is a particular emphasis so that students are able to respond to questions of ethics.

Students also experience a focused program of human formation which includes input from the social sciences as well as the spiritual sciences.  Elements include a psychological evaluation, meetings with the formation adviser, a formation program, and spiritual direction.

Deacons who have completed the Institute for Diaconal Studies program are invited to enroll in the USML MAPS degree program. These Deacons are granted a significant level of advanced standing and a tuition discount.  For information about the program of study and formation for Deacons, contact Dave Retseck, Associate Director, at 847-837-4553 or dretseck@usml.edu.

USML MAPS Course of Study:
  • Canon Law (2)
  • Capstone Thesis Project (1)
  • Catholic Social Teaching (2)
  • Christian Anthropology (3)
  • Christology (3)
  • Church History (3)
  • Ecclesiology (3)
  • Field Placement (2)
  • Foundations of Catholic Doctrine (3)
  • Lay Leadership of Prayer (2)
  • Moral Theology (3)
  • New Testament (3)
  • Old Testament (3)
  • Pastoral Care (2)
  • Pastoral Research Methods (1)
  • Sacramental Theology (3)
  • Spiritual Theology (2)
Application Process

The Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies program is accepting applications for the 2023-2024 academic year.  To apply please submit a complete application form, three recommendation forms, and the application fee.  Deadline: August 15, 2023.

For students who are seeking to apply for the MAPS program but do not have a bachelor’s degree, please complete the Petition for Prior Learning Assessment prior to the MAPS application. It’s helpful to use a worksheet for preparing the petition.

Apply Now!

2023-2024  MAPS LEM and/or Certification Recommendation


If you are simultaneously applying to the MAPS program at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, please note the following:

  • The recommendation forms for both the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Formation Program and the MAPS Degree are the same.  You need only complete the recommendation forms for the MAPS degree.
  • Only one application fee of $75 is required.
Director-Level Certification, Renewal of Certification, and Ministerial Practicum

Please refer to the Certification web page for detailed information.

Chaplaincy Certification

Students who feel called to becoming certified as a chaplain either in the Catholic faith or on a national level can do so by following the guidelines on the following web pages:

Certification as a professional chaplain: Association of Professional Chaplains

Certification as a Catholic chaplain: National Association of Catholic Chaplains

Participant Resources

A MAPS Handbook is provided to all participants as a way of communicating the various elements of the process and expectations of the Institute for Pastoral Leadership for all participants.  All participants are required to read the Handbook and commit to the expectations contained therein.


Academic Class Schedule and Formation Dates: 2023-2024

LEM Year 3 Formation Calendar 2023-2024

Academic Information and Forms

MAPS Academic Handbook 2023-2024

USML MAPS Course of Study

USML MAPS Curriculum

Association of Chicago Theological Schools Registration Form

Course Approval Form

MAPS Thesis Handbook: 2023-2024

Spiritual Direction Information

             LEM- MAPS SPIRITUAL DIRECTORS 2023-2024

Spiritual Direction annual agreement 2023-2024

Spiritual Direction end of year report 2023-2024


For more information, contact Dave Retseck, Associate Director, at 847-837-4553 or dretseck@usml.edu.