The Master of Religious Education (MRE) Program

§1. The Overall Purpose of the Master of Religious Education Program

The Professional Specialization of the Religious Educator

The chief aim of the MRE program at Holy Spirit College is to prepare degree candidates to assume roles of ministerial leadership in the professional specialization of religious education. By working toward fulfillment of the degree requirements, students will the acquire knowledge and skills needed to fulfill the task of the religious educator with great competence.

§2. Goals of the Master of Religious Education Program

The MRE program at Holy Spirit College is a professional program rather than an academic program. In accordance with the professional nature of this degree, the College has established a number of general goals which it strives to help students meet.

(1) Theological Reflection regarding the Task of Religious Education

A primary goal of the MRE program is for students to develop the ability to reflect theologically upon the task of religious education. Degree candidates will come to understand the process of religious education and the principles which regulate this unique form of pedagogy. Students will also be prepared to evaluate program content and curriculum, as well as to respond constructively to problems encountered during program evaluations.

(2) Professional Skills

A second goal which the College maintains for students enrolled in the MRE program is that they obtain skills which will contribute to their efforts to assess religious education programs, either when helping to design and implement new programs, or to revise existing programs.

(3) Theological Foundations

The MRE program at Holy Spirit College also maintains the goal for degree candidates that they come to understand the various theological disciplines with which religious education is concerned and upon which it is founded.

(4) Personal and Spiritual Growth

A fourth goal for students is that they grow both personally and spiritually while studying for fulfillment of the MRE degree requirements.

(5) Ability to Fulfill Various Ministerial Roles

The College also seeks that through coursework and the experience acquired in the program, degree candidates will come to understand the ministerial roles which they may be asked to fulfill after graduation.

§3. Student Learning Outcomes in the Master of Religious Education Program

In association with the general goals listed above, the MRE program at Holy Spirit College seeks to help students realize several specific learning outcomes when completing the degree requirements.

First, with respect to the program goal of obtaining an ability to reflect theologically upon the task of religious education, degree candidates will possess a broad understanding of the philosophy of Catholic education, both by way of historical examples and by engaging in a current dialogue with contemporary theories of education. Students will also be familiar with the contextual nature of religious education. Such familiarity is attained through the experiences degree candidates acquire when participating in various instructional settings, whether at a parish or at an existing Catholic school. These settings exemplify the diverse pedagogical contexts in which religious education occurs, as well as the social contexts of the learners with whom religious educators interact. By this participation, students will come to understand religious education as a ministry which is realized in (and adjusts to) various cultural and linguistic contexts. Participation in student colloquium sessions after work in the instructional settings further facilitates degree candidate understanding by way of peer learning opportunities.

Next, with respect to the program goal of developing the professional skills needed to design, implement, and assess religious education programs, focused coursework and participation in the same structured learning environments enables degree candidates to discover the practical procedures of religious education. With the practicum component, students interact firsthand with veteran teachers who exhibit the skills necessary for successful religious pedagogy. Through coursework and practical observation, students recognize, develop, and maintain effective practices as religious educators, whether by adopting the methods they observed to be pedagogically successful or by innovating personal approaches under the guidance of a faculty member.

Third, with respect to the program goal of proceeding on the basis of theological foundations, a portion of the MRE coursework is dedicated to exploring the religious heritage of the Catholic intellectual tradition. By taking required courses in Scripture and in Catholic doctrinal theology (namely, in theological foundations and in dogma, as well as in practical doctrines pertaining to the moral and sacramental life), MRE students explore more deeply the theological content which they will communicate through religious education programs.

Fourth, with respect to the program goal that students grow personally and spiritually through their work toward fulfillment of the degree requirements, the MRE program provides various opportunities for individual development and formation. In addition to a focused course in the spirituality of the educator, students are able to grow by way of liturgical participation, to benefit from sacramental practice and spiritual direction, to form relationships with faculty mentors, as well as to participate in the devotional events and service projects promoted by the parish associated with the College. In conjunction with MRE coursework, these opportunities facilitate growth in personal faith, emotional maturity, moral integrity, and recognition of the value of public Christian witness.

Finally, with respect to the program goal that degree candidates are prepared to assume the various potential roles which they might be asked to fulfill after graduation, students are familiarized with the ministerial and public leadership opportunities found in Catholic parishes and dioceses, as well as with the characteristics needed by persons assuming these tasks and positions.

§4. Outcome Assessment Strategies

The College assesses whether the specific learning outcomes listed above have been attained.

Whether a student has met the first program goal and its associated outcomes is assessed primarily by the degree candidate’s successful completion of RLED 500 – The Philosophy of Catholic Education and RLED 670 – Settings of Religious Education (Practicum).

Next, whether a student has met the second program goal and its associated outcomes is assessed primarily by the degree candidate’s successful completion of RLED 655 – Curriculum and Assessment and RLED 665 – Classroom Management.

Whether a student has met the third program goal and its associated outcomes is assessed primarily by the degree candidate’s successful completion of the various core theology courses, including but not limited to THEO 510 – Scripture and THEO 570 – Trinitarian Theology and Christology.

Whether a student has met the fourth program goal and its associated outcomes is assessed primarily by the degree candidate’s successful completion of RLED 550 – Spirituality and Development of the Catholic Educator.

Finally, whether a student has met the fifth program goal and its associated outcomes is assessed primarily by the degree candidate’s successful completion of RLED 600 – Theories of Religious Education.

The overall educational effectiveness of the program is assessed primarily by the degree candidate’s successful completion of the capstone course, RLED 670 – Settings of Religious Education (Practicum). The practicum supervisor will evaluate the degree candidate’s understanding in light of the student’s summative paper and practicum journal, as well as in light of feedback provided by the designated mentors who interacted with the degree candidate throughout the practicum course. The practicum journal may be understood as field notes leading to the student’s authorship of the summative paper. In the paper itself, the degree candidate explains how the diverse topics encountered previously in various MRE courses were synthesized, applied, and realized in the instructional setting experiences of RLED 670. The degree candidate will also explain how participation in the instructional settings has contributed to his or her development of effective educational practices.

The College assesses whether student needs and institutional goals are being met by review of institutional evaluations administered annually to students who are graduating. Part of the institutional review process includes discernment of the percentage of students who complete the program as well as the percentage of students who find desired placement after graduation (either occupational placement or academic placement). This statistical data is publicized each year in the College Catalog.

§5. Program Content

The Holy Spirit College MRE program involves the study both of Catholic sacred theology and of the principles, methods, and procedures unique to the task of the professional religious educator.

The program is not simply an accumulation of coursework but concerns the professional formation of students as religious educators. While the program is primarily professional in nature, it contains a significant academic component and exposes students to a wide-range of theological and educational resources. Required theology coursework enables MRE students to investigate the religious heritage of the Catholic tradition, while the practicum component serves to exemplify how religious educators mediate this tradition within particular cultural contexts. Required religious education courses enable students to deepen their understanding of their chosen area of professional specialization, while the College’s integration with parish life (as well as focused coursework) provides opportunity for personal and spiritual formation.

§6. Location of the Master of Religious Education Program

Courses for the Holy Spirit College MRE degree are offered primarily on the main campus of the College which is located at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in north Atlanta. At times, individual courses may be scheduled at satellite classroom facilities associated with other Catholic parishes in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. By pursuing graduate education in a traditional classroom setting, students at the College participate in a community of learning where faculty and students have regular opportunities for substantive and personal interaction. With approval of the academic dean, a student may also pursue a directed reading under the guidance of a faculty member in order to obtain elective credit toward the MRE degree.

§7. Duration of the Master of Religious Education Program

The normal duration for the completion of the MRE degree at Holy Spirit College involves two years of coursework when registered with a full-time load of 9 credit hours per academic term.
Please review the Holy Spirit College “Advanced Standing Policy for the MTS and MRE Programs” for additional information regarding accelerated completion of the degree requirements. The program must be completed within ten years.

§8. MRE Degree Requirements

Credit Distribution

36 hrs. Total
15 hrs. Theology Core Courses*
15 hrs. Religious Education Core Courses
  6 hrs. Electives
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Recommended Full-Time Course Sequence Including Core Courses

Year One        Fall          RLED 500 The Philosophy of Catholic Education (3) 
                                          THEO 505 Introduction to Sacred Theology (1.5)** 
                                          THEO 510 Introduction to Scripture (3)  
                                          THEO 515 Fundamental Theology (1.5)  

Year One       Spring     RLED 550 Spirituality and Development of the Catholic Educator (3)
                                         THEO 570 Trinitarian Theology and Christology (3)
                                         THEO 650 Moral Theology (3)
   
Year One       Summer  **  
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Year Two      Fall          RLED 600 Theories of Religious Education (3)
                                        THEO 600 Liturgy and Sacraments (3)
                                        Elective (3) or (1.5 x 2) 
     
 Year Two     Spring    RLED 655 Curriculum and Assessment (1.5)  
                                       RLED 665 Classroom Management (1.5)
                                       RLED 670 Settings of Religious Education (Practicum) (3) 
                                       Elective (3) or (1.5 x 2)

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Electives  
    THEO 500 Philosophy for Theology (3)
    THEO 550  Theology of Creation and Eschatology (3)
    THEO 560 Theological Anthropology (3)
    THEO 610 Canon Law (3)
    THEO 615 Patristics (1.5)    
    THEO 630 Ecclesiology (3)   
    THEO 635 Mariology (1.5)   
    THEO 665 Marriage and Family – Theology of the Body (1.5)
    THEO 675 Bioethics (1.5)     

* Please note that (a) not all core courses recommended here may be available each semester pending adequate student registrations and faculty member availability, and (b) other exigencies may require the College to deviate from this sequence when scheduling courses. For specific scheduling details, please refer to the course offering list publicized for the academic term under consideration.

** Any course may be offered during the summer term pending faculty member availability.
 

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