Moral Theology & Christian Ethics
Moral theology/Christian ethics is that branch of theological inquiry that studies in a systematic way the practical implications of God's revelatory intervention in Jesus Christ. It is concerned with the kind of people we ought to be and the kinds of actions we ought to perform or avoid. In pursuing its task, moral theology must draw upon every available source of understanding: scripture, tradition, relevant human sciences (such as psychology, sociology, economics), and human reason.
Therefore, any adequate study of moral theology, in elaborating "the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world" (Vatican II, Decree on Priestly Formation, 16), must be not only "thoroughly nourished by scriptural teaching," but also broadly interdisciplinary. Furthermore, it will take ecumenism seriously because it is clear that what the Spirit works in the hearts of others "can contribute to our own edification" (Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, 4).
At Notre Dame, the doctoral program in moral theology responds to these broad mandates in several ways. It studies a number of subdisciplines, including social, medical, and foundational ethics. The program encourages interaction with philosophical ethics. While the program concentrates on the Roman Catholic tradition, it engages and is open to a variety of traditions. It demands course work outside of the field of moral theology (e.g., systematic theology, scripture).
How to Apply
Notre Dame uses an online application. For instructions please consult the Application Instructions link from within the application itself once you have received your PIN and logged in.
Requirements for Admission
A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and a master's degree in theology, or the equivalent
Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, with an expectation of at least 4.5 on the analytical section and 310 cumulative on the other two sections (1200 for GRE exams prior to 8/2011), the score for the verbal component being the more important of the two
Facility in some of the languages required for study in the department
The following materials must be submitted via the online application system:
- A statement of intent (300 to 600 words) and a C.V.
- Official transcripts from each post-secondary institution attended • GRE scores (and, for all nonnative speakers of English, TOEFL scores)
- Three letters of recommendation
- A Waiver of Access form for each letter of recommendation
- A Writing Sample with a recommended length of 4,000 to 6,000 words
Graduate Fellowships and Assistantships
Full-time students in good standing are eligible to receive a 12-month annual stipend (an amount of $23,000 for students starting in 2018-2019) for up to five years and a full-tuition scholarship for up to eight years.
5 + 1 Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
Students who complete the program in five years are eligible for a one-year teaching postdoctoral fellowship at Notre Dame.
The Graduate School awards premier fellowships on a competitive basis. These fellowships provide full tuition, an increased stipend, and full coverage of the university's health insurance premium. For more information see the Graduate School website.
In cases where students are funded by an extramural source (e.g., a religious order), the University normally covers tuition costs.
Students are not responsible for any service to the Department during their first and fourth years.
During their second and third years, graduate students are assigned to a member of the faculty as Graduate Assistants (c. twelve hours per week during the academic year).
In their fifth year, students teach two independent courses (one of which may be deferred to a sixth year).
The Department provides travel grants for students to present papers at conferences, network with colleagues, and interview for jobs. The Graduate School and Graduate Student Association also provide grants for travel to conferences, archives, on a competitive basis.