The Catholic University of America

Early Christian Studies Program Description


This is an interdisciplinary graduate program.  Although our degrees are awarded within the School of Arts and Sciences, our students take courses in a range of schools and departments, drawing upon historical, linguistic, literary, philosophical, and theological disciplines and methods.

In addition, we emphasize the importance of ancient languages – Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac especially.  Ideally, applicants will have studied some of those languages in their undergraduate years – in the case of one language, through intermediate level.  Competence in modern languages is also desirable, in German especially.  Applicants will be asked to provide evidence of their linguistic ability at the time of application: their eligibility for admission will be assessed on a case-by-case basis (language being by no means the only criterion); and those admitted will be advised about steps they might take to improve their skills in the months remaining before their arrival.  Finally, when they do arrive, admitted students may be asked to take a language examination in at least Greek, with the intention of determining which courses they are ready for, or which other credited course or courses they may be required to take before proceeding.

Many students will proceed through the whole M.A./Ph.D. program, completing a Ph.D. dissertation in the early Christian field.  We try, as far as possible, to make the M.A. degree an introduction to the field, while the Ph.D. courses allow for greater detail and tighter focus.  It is possible, nevertheless, to leave the program with an M.A. degree (without dissertation), or to enter the program at Ph.D. level, with a suitable M.A. already achieved.

  

The M.A. Degree in Early Christian Studies (30 credit-hours)

I.  A compulsory course, ECST 600, “Introduction to Early Christian Studies.”

This course does not have to be taken at the beginning of a student’s career.  If it is unavailable prior to a student’s comprehensive examination, either the requirement will be waived and another course substituted, or another course will be specified as compulsory, at the discretion of the director.


II.  Nine other graduate courses approved by the director or his deputy and by the student's advisor.

The nine courses (taken as a whole) must
  • be drawn from at least two schools or departments,
  • involve substantial reading of Patristic texts in at least two of the original languages,
  • include at least one course, in each of those languages, taught in a language department,
  • require (in at least four of the courses) a paper or papers based on research that demands the linguistic ability implied in b) and c), and
  • represent at least two of the academic disciplines listed in the preamble to this curriculum.

III.  A modern language requirement: demonstrated reading knowledge of either German or French or Italian.  The student must pass an examination administered or approved by the center, prior to taking the Comprehensive Examination.

IV.  A written comprehensive examination based on the M.A. reading list, and including sight translations from two ancient languages.

V.  Two substantial research papers, graded by the faculty member(s) for whom they were originally written, and reviewed by one other faculty member designated by the director or his deputy.

Up to six hours of graduate credit may be transferred from another M.A. program with the approval of the director.

 

The Ph.D. Degree in Early Christian Studies (30 credit-hours)

 I.  Before their admission to the degree, students must have completed an M.A. at CUA – in either Early Christian Studies, or the Department of Greek and Latin, or the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures – or (subject to the discretion of the Director) an equivalent M.A. at some other accredited institution.

 

Students with M.A. degrees from other institutions may apply for the transfer of up to 24 hours of graduate credit – in other words, they will have to take two courses additional to those specified below.

II.  Ten graduate courses approved by the director or his deputy and by the student's advisor.

    The 10 courses (taken as a whole) must
  • be drawn from at least two schools or departments,
  • involve substantial reading of Patristic texts in at least two of the original languages,
  • require (in at least four of the courses) a paper or papers based on research that demands the linguistic ability mentioned in b), and
  • represent at least two of the academic disciplines listed in the preamble to this curriculum.  

III.  A modern language requirement: demonstrated reading knowledge of German and of either French or Italian.  The student must pass an examination administered or approved by the center, prior to taking the comprehensive examination.

IV.   A written comprehensive examination, including sight translations from both Greek (obligatory) and at least one other ancient language as approved (in each student’s case) by the director.  (This last requirement will be modified in the case of students with M.A. degrees in the relevant ancient languages.)  The examination will be based on wide reading in a field chosen by the student in collaboration with the expected supervisor of his or her dissertation and with the director.

V.  A doctoral dissertation.