St. Joseph’s Seminary to Offer Online Degree, Certificate Programs

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Starting this fall, St. Joseph’s Seminary and College in Dunwoodie will offer an online master of arts in theology degree and an online post-baccalaureate certificate in theology to qualified laity, religious and clergy.

First-time students will receive a 50 percent tuition discount on their first class.

“These new fully online offerings fulfill the need for convenient access to our celebrated programs of study,” said the seminary rector, Auxiliary Bishop James Massa of Brooklyn. “We are delighted to offer students, both local and now nationally, the opportunity to study Catholic theology with our renowned faculty.

“I invite anyone who is interested in exploring the riches of the Catholic faith in a welcoming and collegial atmosphere to consider joining us for these exciting new programs,” the bishop added.

Referring to the Covid-19 pandemic, Father Matthew Ernest, the seminary’s academic dean, said, “We’ve learned over the past year that remote students can attend real-time classes with their on-site peers and learn effectively in that setting. 

“Some of our students are preparing for future academic or ministerial careers, while others wish to grow intellectually and spiritually in their Catholic faith as a means of personal enrichment. Our new online degree and certificate programs aim to satisfy both pursuits.”

Although the master of arts in theology degree has been offered for many years, what’s new is that it is now also available online. The post-baccalaureate certificate in theology is a brand new certificate, offered both in person and remotely.

The master of arts in theology is a 39-credit program meant for those who are seeking to prepare for either an academic or ministerial career, or to grow intellectually and spiritually in the Catholic faith for personal enrichment, Father Ernest explained.  “So it’s a more robust program.”

The post-baccalaureate certificate in theology is 18 credits and designed for people to engage in personal enrichment, or who may not have the time to undertake a full study of the master’s in theology.

Father Ernest said the post-baccalaureate certificate is “perfect” for religious education teachers, teachers of religion in Catholic schools and directors of religious education.

Father Ernest noted that Pope Francis recently instituted a new lay ministry of catechist, “and in calling for these instituted catechists, he says that it’s important that they receive theological formation. 

“We think the post-baccalaureate certificate in theology would be a perfect fit for that.”

Father Ernest indicated that the seminary’s online and in-person degree and certificate programs are fully accredited by state, regional and national agencies.

“What perhaps stands out most about our program is that our online students attend live classroom lectures, also known as synchronous learning,” Father Ernest said. “Online students interact with professors and fellow classmates in real time, asking questions and contributing to discussions just as they would if they were attending class in-person.”

While the seminary is centrally located in the 10-county archdiocese, Father Ernest said, prospective students from the upper counties and Staten Island would still often have to drive over an hour to attend in-person classes. “But with this new online learning program, these same students can now attend classes from home and after work.”

The hope, Father Ernest continued, is also that students from the tri-state area and throughout the country, “can now take advantage of the seminary’s excellent theology degree and certificate programs.”

Theology means “the study of God, and that’s what we’re all about,” Father Ernest concluded, “learning more about our faith, learning more about who God is. That, in turn, enables us to pray better, to serve others better and to come together as a Catholic community in one faith.

Information: St. Joseph’s Seminary at sjsacademics@dunwoodie.edu or dunwoodie.edu.

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