Theology and Religious Studies (TRS)

Professors: J. T. Bretzke, S.J., S. E. McGinn, P. K. Nietupski, E. P. Hahnenberg (Chair), Z. Saritoprak; Assistant Professor: K. Tobey; Visiting Assistant Professor and Tuohy Felllow: N. Bickart; Anisfield-Wolf Postdoctoral Fellow: K. Stevens

John Carroll University considers the study of theology and religion an integral part of a liberal education. As a Jesuit and Catholic university, John Carroll provides the opportunity for students to choose courses designed to give them an understanding of their faith commensurate with their other learning. The University Core requirement in theology and religious studies is satisfied by two appropriately designated 3-credit TRS courses, one lower-division and one upper-division.

TRS courses at the 100, 200, and 300 levels are open to all students except where prerequisites are specifically stated. Course numbers indicate subject areas more than the level of difficulty of a course. Lower-division courses (100- and 200-levels) involve broad surveys of one or more issues and topics fundamental to the field while 300- level Core courses allow students to engage in more in-depth study of one or more of the issues and topics significant to a contemporary understanding of theology and/or religious studies. Note that only 100-, 200-, and 300-level TRS courses may be used to fulfill a requirement of the JCU Core Curriculum.

Enrollment in 400-level courses typically is restricted to TRS majors, minors, and graduate students; other students with special interests may seek permission of the department chair.

The Department of Theology and Religious Studies offers a major and minor. The major in theology and religious studies may serve as partial fulfillment of the requirement for the certification of elementary and high school teachers of religion in the Diocese of Cleveland.

The department is privileged to offer courses with the support of several endowments: the Walter and Mary Tuohy Chair of Interreligious Studies, the Bediüzzaman Said Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies, the F. J. O’Neill Charitable Corporation Fund (for the Ignatian Spirituality Institute), and the Jack and Mary Jane Breen Chair in Catholic Systematic Theology.

The department also collaborates with the Borromeo Seminary Institute (BSI) in offering undergraduate theology courses for pre-seminarians and other interested undergraduates. For details on the BSI program including the current list of BSI adjunct faculty, see BSI program.

Five-Year Integrated B.A./M.A. Program

The five-year integrated B.A./M.A. program in Theology and Religious Studies is designed for undergraduate theology and religious studies majors who wish to earn the master’s degree with an additional year of study beyond the baccalaureate degree. Undergraduate students majoring in theology and religious studies may apply for admission to the M.A. program in their junior year. Once accepted, they may begin taking graduate courses in order to complete the M.A. in their fifth year. The master’s degree is a 30-credit-hour program. Normally students will complete 6 graduate credits between the fall and spring of senior year, 6 credits in the summer between their fourth and fifth years, and 18 credits between the fall and spring of the fifth year. More information about this program is available on the department website:

Program requirements and course descriptions for the master of arts in Theology and Religious Studies are published in the Graduate Studies Bulletin and are available on the Theology and Religious Studies website at

Program Learning Goals in Theology and Religious Studies

Students will:

  1. Critically analyze the religious dimensions of human experience as expressed in sacred texts, art, ritual practice, ethical commitments, philosophy/ theology, and social structures.
  2. Appreciate how religious or ethical traditions provide resources for responding to injustice and living ethically.