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What will I learn?

Faith-based community service programs, service immersion trips, and social justice projects attract high-minded "change agents: of great generosity and courage who want to serve economically disadvantaged communities, underserved and underrepresented populations, and people whose human dignity is under assault by social arrangements and structures. The post-Vatican II emphasis on a Church that sees working for justice as constitutive of the Christian life and that proposes an "option for the poor" as a pastoral standard has spawned a growing number of talented and educated young adults who want to integrate service, social justice, and advocacy into their life patterns and career choices. With Pope Francis, the social justice movement is gaining even more momentum.

This degree program is designed to serve these "change agents," offering a solid grounding in spiritual and theological foundations for this work, information about the key social justice issues today, the skills and told of assessment and analysis in addressing these issues, best-practice strategies for effective work in advocacy and community development, contextual education at sites where social justice work is exemplary, and the practical tools of successful leadership in addressing social justice issues.

Students in this graduate program will:

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of Catholic social teachings (and their basis in Catholic fundamental theology) and the foundational principles of liberation theology; introductory understanding of similar foundations in other denominations and religions;
  • Develop theological reflection skills which bring personal, cultural, institutional contexts together with the Christian tradition;
  • Attain in-depth information and analysis of current social justice issues: race, ethnicity, culture; poverty and its causes; immigration issues; issues and concerns around criminal justice, from policing to prisons; global politics and economics;
  • Develop the skills of social assessment and analysis;
  • Develop practical knowledge and skills: community organizing, community development, nonprofit management, advocacy in public policy, recruiting and managing volunteers.

The curriculum consists of a 12-course, 36 credit hour program. Of these courses, nine are required.

Which department am I in?

Institute of Pastoral Studies

Study options

Full Time (36 credit hours)

Tuition fees
USD $805 per credit hour
Start date

Expected January, August 2023


Institute of Pastoral Studies

Lewis Towers Suite 630,

820 North Michigan Avenue,



60611, United States

Entry requirements

For students from United States

The Graduate School welcomes applications from international students who have completed a four-year bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or its equivalent.

For international students

Students should have earned bachelor's degree or a bachelor's degree in progress.

English language requirements:

For the TOEFL, a score of at least 213 on the computer-based test or 550 on the written test is required. The minimum score for the new TOEFL IBT (internet-based test) is 79.

For the IELTS, a minimum score of 6.5 is required.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


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