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MTS student accepted to medieval theology PhD program at Boston College

Andrew Belfield, a graduate student in the Master of Theological StudiesAndrew Belfield, a graduate student in the Master of Theological Studies at Loyola with anticipated graduation in May 2017, has been accepted to his first choice Ph.D. program for medieval theology at Boston College. The MTS program is designed to give students broad exposure to Christian tradition and a variety of theological specialties, preparing them for beginning a Ph.D. or pursuing work in other fields. Andrew’s admittance to Boston College’s medieval theology Ph.D. program is a testament to his rigorous studies and the solid foundation built during his time at Loyola.

Q&A with Andrew Belfield, MTS, Loyola University Maryland ’17 (anticipated)

What attracted you to the MTS program at Loyola?

The MTS program at Loyola stood out to me for two reasons. First, the program is quite carefully designed to offer students a solid foundation in theology, equipping them with the skills necessary to engage with a wide range of theological topics and issues, while still leaving room for students to pursue their particular interests. This curriculum thus provides a thorough theological education unto itself, but it also positions one to pursue further studies at the doctoral level. I knew I wanted to apply to Ph.D. programs after completing a master's degree, and Loyola's MTS program seemed like the place that could best prepare me for doctoral studies in theology. Second, I was attracted to the spirit of collegiality that characterizes the theology department. Members of the theology department—professors, undergraduates, and graduate students alike—enjoy a supportive and encouraging community that engages in rigorous and often challenging scholarship. Even when disagreeing or disputing over questions of theology, we always do so in a spirit of charity and respect. I knew this was the kind of place where I could grow intellectually, personally, and spiritually.

What was your favorite part of the MTS program at Loyola?

My favorite things about the program are the relationships I have formed with both my fellow classmates and my professors. Through classroom discussions, individual meetings with professors, and personal conversations with my classmates, these relationships have enriched my own intellectual and professional development as a theologian. I would not be the theologian I am today without these relationships. Moreover, I am certain I would not have made it through the Ph.D. application process successfully without the steady support of my classmates and the insightful advice from my professors. For the encouragement of my classmates and professors, I am immensely grateful (and eternally indebted to them).

What attracted you to study medieval theology?

I was first introduced to medieval theology as an undergraduate student at St. Bonaventure University. While my studies there focused more on patristic theology, I still read some of the giants of the medieval period, including especially Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, and John Duns Scotus. I was in awe of and inspired by the careful precision with which these theologians articulated their claims and the passionate love for God that grounded their thought. I knew then that I wanted to study these medieval theologians more, especially Franciscans like Bonaventure and Scotus. I've been able to do so here at Loyola, especially in an independent study on Franciscan theology with Dr. Pomplun. I have also written a thesis on the motive for the incarnation—a question in medieval theology that is often taken to be a dividing line between Thomas and Scotus, under the direction of Dr. Bauerschmidt. These two studies have only deepened my appreciation for the union of faith and reason in medieval theology, and I'm eager to continue similar research at the doctoral level.

What attracted you to Boston College and their program?

Boston College has an excellent program for students interested in medieval theology, especially as articulated in the Franciscan intellectual tradition. The outstanding faculty engages in innovative and exciting research in all areas of theology, and my own research interests match especially well with those of the historical theology faculty. I am also impressed with the attention BC pays to forming its students not only as researchers, but also as educators. Students admitted to the program will serve as teaching assistants in their second and third years of the program, and they eventually teach their own courses in the fifth year of the program. This formation points to BC's commitment to both research and education, a commitment that I share.

Have you thought about what is after your PhD? Do you have a specific goal in mind?

After earning a Ph.D., I hope to continue researching and teaching at an institution of higher education, perhaps at a place like Loyola. As anyone who knows me can testify, I can (and often do) discuss theology all day (some may even say ad nauseam!), and having the opportunity to share with undergraduate students my passion for theology would be immensely fulfilling. Of course, I will remain a lifelong student even after earning a doctorate, so I will continue researching and writing as well.

Join us in congratulating Andrew and wishing him the best in his future endeavors!

Learn more about the graduate programs in Theology at Loyola.