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Master of Arts in Liturgical Studies (MALS)

The Master of Arts in Liturgical Studies (MALS) program at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake (USML) is the same as the MAL program, and it is designed for those who plan to work at parish, diocesan, or secondary education levels. In addition to the MAL program, the MAPS is considered an “academic” degree. It requires reading knowledge of Latin and one modern foreign language and writing an academic thesis. This program may be completed online over two academic years, on campus over five summers, or part-time.

The MALS is a prerequisite to attaining your PhD, and successful completion of the MALS opens the possibility of further studies at the PhD level. With the MALS, you will immerse yourself in a dedicated community that fosters in-depth learning and spiritual formation in the rich Catholic tradition.

Who Benefits from the MALS Program?

  • Priests and those who plan to work at the parish, diocesan, or secondary education levels
  • Director of Worship
  • People who specialize in religious art, architecture, music, and book publishing
  • Those preparing for doctoral studies in liturgy

Course Work

The Master of Arts in Liturgical Studies has everything the MAL requires, plus a thesis and two required languages. Students must demonstrate proficiency in those two languages—reading knowledge of Latin and one modern research language (French, German, Italian, or Spanish).

The language requirements are completed in one of three ways.

1. Presenting transcripts showing completion of 6 semester hours of the relevant language, with at least an A- average, taken within the last ten years.

2. Pass a USML language translation exam.

3. Complete six credits of the relevant language at Mundelein Seminary (if offered) with at least an A- average.

There are two ways that you can complete the MALS program.

1. You can take classes in the fall and spring over three years and come to the summer campus for one week, fostering community and spiritual growth or

2. Complete the program over five summers—six weeks each summer, with no fall or spring classes. If you cannot stay the full six weeks, you can take the courses you miss online, fostering community and spiritual growth.

The comprehensive examination, comprised of written and oral sections, is normally taken during the student’s final semester. Examination dates are arranged in consultation with the Liturgical Institute Director and the student. The examinations are designed to enable the student to demonstrate mastery of program material.

To complete a Master’s Thesis, students develop a topic in liturgical or sacramental theology, conduct research, and write a scholarly essay under the direction of a faculty thesis director. The Master’s Thesis must be approximately seventy-five pages in length and demonstrate a clear understanding of Catholic sacramental principles and of the Sacred Liturgy.

The Master’s Thesis is completed in the final term of study. By exception, students may extend the work for up to three academic years. They must register for “Ongoing Thesis Writing” each semester until the project is complete. After three years, guidance will no longer be provided and a diploma will not be granted. Students wishing to earn the degree must petition for re-admission to the program.


  • A bachelor’s degree
  • At least 18 hours of theology, philosophy, or religious studies coursework. Provisional acceptance may be granted upon request for applicants without these prerequisites
  • Language competency in Latin and one modern research language must be completed before the first semester of study ends
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate programs attended
  • Three letters of recommendation: from a pastor or religious superior; from a professor or academic instructor, preferably in theology or a related field; from an employer or supervisor in ministry
  • A personal statement explaining the applicant’s interest in the program and professional or ministerial goals
  • Students for whom English is a second language must demonstrate ability for research and writing in English. A minimum TOEFL score of 550 is required for admission