Humanities & Fine Arts | MPT Program
Master of Pastoral Theology Concentrations

Permanent Diaconate Education

The Diaconate Education Track is a cohort program specifically designed to meet the requirements for ordination of permanent deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. While it accomplishes the aspirations of the MPT degree, it allows for more depth of reflection and specific applications to the ministry of the permanent deacon in the Church. Students in the Diaconate Formation Program may opt for either the Diaconate Education Track, the traditional MPT degree, undergraduate credit (not applicable to the graduate degree), or for a non-credit Certificate in Pastoral Ministries.

Description of the Course of Study within the MPT
The Master of Pastoral Theology Permanent Diaconate Education track is designed to provide the academic preparation that is required for ordination of a permanent deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. The course of study will provide a strong foundation in Scripture studies, theology and philosophy, as well as provide training in the homiletic, counseling, stewardship skills that are necessary for success in the role of a permanent deacon serving in this diocese. The scope of study greatly expands the normal requirements for the Master of Pastoral Theology degree, but remains consistent with the general learning outcomes of that degree.  Because of the varying academic preparations of the candidates and their wives (who also are required to attend the deacon preparation program), the academic program is set up to award graduate, undergraduate, or continuing education credits, based on three distinct levels of requirements in the courses.

Courses for this track are offered as part of the formation program for permanent deacons.  In order to match the structure of the overall program that prepares candidates for ordination to the permanent diaconate, the course of study is scheduled in three trimesters that run from January to March, March to May, and September to November each year. Courses are set up in “hybrid” format including face-to-face and online instructional experiences. Instructors meet with students during each three-month trimester at the scheduled formation weekends. Candidates seeking graduate or undergraduate credit continue the education process online during the three-month session.
In addition to the overall Program Outcomes for the MPT degree, the Diaconate Education Track includes two further program outcomes:

Students completing the MPT Diaconate Education Track will demonstrate:

  • an understanding of the western philosophical themes and movements and how they impacted theological thinking in the Christian community; and
  • an understanding and application of skills required for successful ministry as a permanent deacon.

Students pursuing the MPT along with the Diaconate Education track must take the courses required for the MPT program and 9 additional courses specific to the Diaconate Education program.

Diaconate Education Courses

Pre-Requisite Courses

PH 550 Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas

2 credits

Ministry Specific Core

RE 730/404 Homiletics

3 credits


PH 650/481 Philosophy I

3 credits

Systemic Theology

RE 616/416 History and Theology of Vatican II/Catholic Catechism

3 credits

RE 621/416 History of the Early Church

3 credits

RE 622/422 Interreligious Dialogue/Ecumenical Ministry

3 credits

RE 628/428 New Evangelization/Small Christian Communities

3 credits

RE 647/417 Theology of Liturgy

3 credits

RE 740/418 Mary in the Christian Tradition

1 - 3 credits


23-25 credits

Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction

Students will explore the foundational issues underlying effective counseling, particularly as it impacts on pastoral counseling and spiritual direction in a multicultural environment. This certificate requires a minimum of 8 courses/24 credits. Counseling psychology courses may require prerequisites, and the required courses may not be offered during a single academic year. However, the two Religion courses (RE 685 and RE 687) will be offered to cohorts on consecutive summers.

It is recommended that students in the certificate program take PSY 524 Abnormal Psychology if they do not have a psychology course in their academic history. While learning the basics of pastoral counseling and spiritual direction, one of the outcomes of this program is a clear understanding of when and to whom referrals must be made in the context of everyday lay ministry.

Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction Courses >

Counseling Psychology Core

PL 670/PSY 521 Personality

3 credits

PL 671/PSY 601 Issues in Counseling

3 credits

PL 673/PSY 603 Introduction to Counseling Skills

3 credits

PL 675/PSY 611 Group Processes

3 credits

PL 771/PSY 736 Cross-Cultural Counseling

3 credits

PL 775/PSY 773 Spiritual Dimensions of Counseling

3 credits

Summer Intensive I

RE 685 Pastoral Counseling

3 credits

Summer Intensive II

RE 687 Spiritual Direction

3 credits


24 credits


Upon completeion of the Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction courses, students will demonstrate:

  1. an understanding of the foundational issues and skills in the profession of counseling;
  2. an understanding of the principles of managing counseling sessions within a cross-cultural setting and recognize cultural clues essential for understanding the client’s situation;
  3. an understanding of the spiritual dimensions within the counseling encounter and suggest strategies for successful integration of these dimensions into pastoral counseling;
  4. an understanding of the relationship between theological reflection and psychological theory and how psychology approaches the religious experience and consciousness;
  5. basic counseling skills and understanding of  when a client requires professional care beyond this basic care;
  6. basic strategies in spiritual direction through in-class role playing;
  7. integration of basic theories of spiritual direction with her or his own personal spiritual reflection and journey; and
  8. a model of pastoral counseling and spiritual direction that integrates prayer and active engagement with their faith communities.