Loyola University Maryland

Department of Pastoral Counseling


M.A. Spiritual and Pastoral Care Program

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The Pastoral Counseling department will no longer be accepting new student applications. All currently enrolled students will be offered the opportunity to complete their degree within the limits of a “teach out” plan. For more information please visit the Program Closing FAQ.

What Is It?

The Master of Arts in Spiritual and Pastoral Care consists of 45 credits and focuses on contemporary ministry and pastoral conversation.

Whether you want to build on previous pastoral experiences or respond to a new call, the Master of Arts in Spiritual and Pastoral Care's four tracks (chaplaincy, spiritual direction, pastoral ministry, and faith and social justice) allow the student to choose a specific focus of personal or vocational interest. The program’s holistic approach invites you into a creative interplay of contemporary science and ancient wisdom, leading you into pastoral conversations that are sensitive to the deepest matters of the heart. Calling forth the ancient tradition of the cura animarum (care of the soul) and joining contemporary conversations relevant to the integration of the body, mind, and spirit, the M.A. seeks to be holistic in scope and yet specialized in content.

Focusing on:

  1. The art of theological reflection and pastoral conversation.
  2. Preparing qualified persons for ministries in local religious communities or establishing a foundation for work in social justice ministries, chaplaincy, or spiritual direction.
  3. A grounding in spirituality, pastoral care, and the social sciences.

Student laughingWhat Are Possible Career Paths?

    • Spiritual Direction—spiritual direction services, retreat settings, private spiritual direction practices, nonprofit holistic health centers, church staffs. 
    • Chaplaincy—hospital settings, hospice setting, prison ministries, retirement centers, or other institutions. 
    • Ministry—variety of parish, congregational, or parachurch contexts.
    • Faith and Social Justice - community organizing, nonprofit organizations, advocacy, volunteer management, and congregation- and community-based justice work.

Introducing the New Faith and Social Justice Track

Starting in the Fall of 2014, the M.A. program will offer a track in faith and social justice, focusing on developing the skills necessary for contemporary justice-oriented ministries.

The four additional courses in the Faith and Social Justice Track include:

  • Foundations of Social Justice explores the philosophical, ethical, and theological foundations for social justice toward the development of students’ personal faith-based theo-ethic of justice.
  • Transformational Leadership explores the role of leadership in efforts to transform thinking, communities, systems, and policies. Particular attention will be given to leadership in community organizing and nonprofit management.
  • Theologies & Ethics of Social Justice introduces students to religious social ethics, as well as moral and liberation theologies. Students will apply these skills to contemporary issues, such as immigration, consumerism, globalization, and world poverty.
  • Class & Poverty:  Scriptures, Theologies, and Praxis assists students in developing an understanding and awareness of the social issues related to poverty, homelessness, and social justice in American society. The course entails an optional service-learning component that offers students the opportunity to directly engage in dialogue between theory and practice.

As in all tracks of the M.A. in Spiritual and Pastoral Care, the internship offers students 75 hours of critical supervised ministry in a plethora of justice-seeking contexts.

How Long Does it Take?

The M.A. degree requires completion of 45 credits and consists of a core concentration of 30 credits, a 9-credit specialized, professionally minded track of study and internship, and a 6-credit focus on integrating theory and practice with research. The core courses focus on the acquirement of skills in the areas of crisis intervention, the pastoral helping relationship, pastoral diagnosis, spiritual formation and guidance, theological reflection, and praxis.

Full Time: just over 2 year
Part Time: Self-paced, flexible

To learn more about the M.A. program, please review the typical course of study as well as the learning goals.

Is this Program Accredited?

Association of Professional Chaplains (APC): The M.A. program is affiliated with APC but it is not accredited by APC. Our courses are approved as graduate education by the Association of Professional Chaplains for those working to become board certified chaplains.

Spiritual Director International (SDI): Although there is no formal institutional arrangement, many of our students in the spiritual direction track are affiliated with SDI.

American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC): The MA program is approved by AAPC as a Pastoral Care Specialist (PCS) training program allowing for PCS membership in AAPC.

How Many Credits Are Required?

45 credits. Browse the financial aid website for University tuition and fees.