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Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS)

What is it?

The Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) degree helps the University actualize its mission and vision for lay formation in the Catholic Church by providing graduate level theological education in the Archdiocese of Chicago. 

Students are formed in the Catholic tradition so they are able:

  • To evangelize and catechize the community and culture
  • Interpret scripture according to the mind of the Church, with an accurate historical awareness.
  • Learn sacramental and theological perspectives of the Catholic Church
  • Respond to questions of ethics due to the program’s emphasis on the Catholic moral tradition.

Who is it for?

  • Part time students
    • Lay students
    • Deacons
  • Students preparing for lay ministry
  • Current pastoral ministers

Deacons who have completed the Deacon Formation Program are invited to enroll in the USML MAPS degree program. These Deacons are granted a significant level of advanced standing and a tuition credit.

USML MAPS Course of Study

Key Features of the Degree Program:

  • Two evening courses each semester, and one course each summer.
  • The course of study for the MAPS degree is a total of 41 credit hours.
  • Courses are available synchronous in person or virtual.
  • Experience a focused program of human formation, to include input from social sciences as well as the spiritual sciences.

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.

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:

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: 2022-2023
LEM Year 3 Formation Calendar 2022-2023

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: 2022-23

Spiritual Direction Information

Spiritual Direction annual agreement 2023-2024
Spiritual Direction end of year report 2023-2024