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Undergraduate Program

theology

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Undergraduate Program Description

The undergraduate program in Theology is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for a reasoned reflection on their own values, faith, and tradition, as well as on the religious forces that shape our society and world. As a broad liberal arts discipline, theology encourages and guides inquiries into life's most meaningful issues from such diverse perspectives as ethics, Biblical studies, history, psychology, social studies, philosophy, and comparative religion. There is a strong, although not exclusive, emphasis on Christianity, especially as manifested in the Roman Catholic tradition.

The major in Theology has proven to be excellent preparation for vocations requiring careful reasoning, close reading, clarity in written expression, the ability to make ethical decisions, and a broad understanding of cultures. It provides a solid background for graduate study in the humanities and for such professional schools as medicine, business, and law. For those wishing to pursue a career in ministry or religious education, of course, Theology is still a prerequisite. Long gone, however, is the time when Theology was considered the exclusive domain of seminarians and the religious. Many students now elect Theology as a second major to balance and to broaden their education and to provide perspective on such first majors as biology, political science, or English literature.

Students who elect to major or minor in Theology are encouraged to meet with the Department's Director of Undergraduate Studies to review their opportunities as well as pertinent departmental policies.

The Theology Department boasts a large, internationally known faculty with expertise in areas as diverse as systematic theology, ethics, biblical studies, church history, liturgy, psychology of religion, and the dialog between Christianity and major religious traditions. A prestigious graduate program leads to the Ph.D. degree in several specialties. Nevertheless, the Department as a whole remains fully committed to the teaching of undergraduates and to the education of Theology majors.

Please Note: The University has converted from a course to a credit-based system beginning with the Class of 2014. Therefore, for students in the classes of 2014 and beyond, special information on course requirements is included in bold face type and in [brackets].

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Course Offerings

The Department distinguishes five levels of course offerings:

(1) Core—introductory, designed for the fulfillment of the University's basic Theology requirement

(2) Level One—introductory, but not fulfilling the Core requirement

(3) Level Two—advanced undergraduate, more specifically aimed at minors and majors

(4) Level Three—addressed to advanced undergraduates (usually majors) and graduate students who are more theologically proficient

(5) Graduate—offered exclusively for professionally academic theological formation

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Core Options

The Theology Core requirement is a two-semester sequence (six credit hours). Students must first take Part I, then Part II of the same Core course (preferably with the same instructor and in the same academic year) to fulfill the requirement and receive Core credit. Students shall select one 2-course sequence from the following:

  • THEO1001–1002 Biblical Heritage I and II
  • THEO1016–1017 Introduction to Christian Theology I and II
  • THEO1023–1024 Exploring Catholicism: Tradition and Transformation
  • THEO1161–1162 The Religious Quest I and II

Twelve-credit courses. Students may take these courses to fulfill the Theology requirement. There are two of these Philosophy/Theology courses: PHIL/THEO1090-1091 Perspectives on Western Culture (for freshmen only) and PHIL/THEO1088-1089 Person and Social Responsibility (for PULSE Program students only).

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Major Requirements

The major curriculum in Theology incorporates both structure and flexibility, intensive focus and breadth of scope. Majors take a combination of essential, required courses and electives from within and outside the Department of Theology. Programs are designed in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Theology majors must choose one of the following two curricular tracks:

I. The Standard Theology Major (30 hours) is relatively unstructured and flexible, easily tailored to various motivations and goals for theological study and adaptable to the diverse paths and timetables by which students come to the major. It offers a theological enrichment and complement to a student’s BC education, through the following requirements:

  1. Theology Core (2 courses; 6 credits)
  2. Majors Course: “Conciliar Traditions” (1 course; 3 credits)
  3. Majors Seminar: “Key Theologians and Texts” (1 course; 3 credits)
  4. Electives (6 courses; 18 credits)*/**

II. The Honors Theology Major (36 hours) is designed for Theology as a 1st major, especially for students with an interest in further study of theology or related fields. Both rigorous and comprehensive, it provides an integrated introduction to the discipline and a broad foundation for further study. With its comprehensive distribution requirements across all areas it exposes students to the entire breadth of the theological discipline. With increased credit hours and an optional thesis, it is capacious enough for students to focus on a particular sub-discipline in which to pursue and demonstrate theological excellence. As an Honors Program it would also allow students to be recognized for their achievement, both within and outside the university, thus facilitating admission to the next level of study. Students are expected to maintain a 3.5 GPA. Requirements:

  1. 1. Theology Core (12 credits)
    a. Biblical Heritage (2 courses; 6 credits)
    and
    b. Either Introduction to Christian Theology or Exploring Catholicism or Religious Quest or Perspectives/Pulse (6 credits)
  2. Majors Course: “Conciliar Traditions” (1 course; 3 credits)
  3. Majors Seminar: “Key Theologians and Texts” (1 course; 3 credits)
  4. Honors Distributions (3 courses; 9 credits): 1 upper-level course (Level 3 or above) in each of the sub-disciplines not already covered by the Theology Core.
  5. Honors Electives (4 courses; 12 credits), including an optional Honors Thesis (6 or 12credits)

*Only one Level 1 course may count toward the Theology Major (Standard or Honors) requirements.

**2 courses/6 credits from another discipline (including the first major) may also count toward the Standard Theology Major, provided that they have sufficient theological relevance as determined by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

The Department's membership in the Boston Theological Institute (BTI) allows advanced Theology majors to cross-register into some 7000 courses taught by 150 faculty members at eight other BTI schools. Students thus have access to the resources of one of the world's great centers of theological study.

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Minor Requirements (21 hours)

The theology minor consists of the theology core requirement (1 two-course core sequence) plus 5 three-credit courses (only one of which can be Level 1).

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Information for First Year Majors and Non-Majors

Theology is the academic discipline concerned with the realities that are the center of religious faith and with the traditions of belief and worship that inform the life of communities of faith. Historical, biblical, psychological, ethical, pastoral, comparative, philosophical, and doctrinal studies are all included within the scope of Theology at Boston College, which introduces the undergraduate to a mature, critical approach to religious knowledge and experience. There is a strong, but by no means exclusive, emphasis on Christianity, and more specifically, on the Roman Catholic tradition.

The courses offered are grouped in four categories: (1) Biblical, (2) historical, (3) ethical and social-scientific, and (4) comparative and systematic or doctrinal. All courses, particularly those taught at the Core level, aim at fulfilling certain goals:

  • A liberal arts goal of fostering awareness of the religious roots and background of our culture—for example, by giving students a coherent view of religion and its development, a groundwork for moral decision, and an awareness of their own existence as religious persons
  • A specifically theological goal of introducing the materials and methods of one or more approaches to the academic study of religious faith and tradition
  • A religious or confessional goal, explicit in some—though not all—courses, of exploring a particular tradition from the inside, healing negative encounters with religion, inviting commitment and belief, and the like.

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Information for Study Abroad

There are no formal requirements stated by the Theology Department, but it is presumed that students will have completed at least one Core course [or three credits of the Core] before going abroad. The Department will allow six credits or two courses taken abroad to count toward major credit. A maximum of one Core course (three credits) may be taken abroad.

The international programs at the University of Durham and Oxford University are both recommended by the Theology Department. All Theology majors should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies while planning their study abroad program.

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Fifth Year B.A./M.A. Program

Undergraduate Theology majors may opt to enter a 5-year B.A./M.A. program. Application to the program must take place during junior year. The deadline for applications is February 1st. Interested undergraduate Theology majors must apply to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Applicants should have achieved an overall GPA of at least 3.33 and a major GPA of at least 3.5. Students admitted to the program will follow the curriculum for regular Theology majors, except that all of their electives must be upper level courses (level three or above). Furthermore, these upper-level electives must be chosen in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who will evaluate their appropriateness for graduate education. Two (2) of these courses will count towards the MA as well as the BA. The remainder of the MA may thus be completed by taking eight (8) additional graduate courses (BTI included) and fulfilling the comprehensive and research language requirements.

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Lonergan Center

Studies related to the work of the Jesuit theologian and philosopher Bernard Lonergan (1904–1984) have a focus in the Lonergan Center at Boston College. The Center houses a growing collection of Lonergan's published and unpublished writings as well as secondary materials and reference works, and it also serves as a seminar and meeting room. Kerry Cronin is the Director of the Lonergan Center, which is located on the fourth level of Bapst Library and is open during regular hours as posted. Information about the Center or the Lonergan Institute is available at www.bc.edu/lonergan.

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