The Catholic University of America

M.A. Degree in Medieval and Byzantine Studies (Effective Fall 2010)

The M.A. degree program in Medieval and Byzantine Studies offers students broad and interdisciplinary training in various components of medieval civilization, providing both perspective and tools for specialized research. The program recognizes the complex intertwining of religious studies, philosophy, history, languages, literatures, and cultures for advanced study in any field. Thus it draws upon course offerings from the School of Arts and Sciences, Canon Law, Music, Philosophy, and Theology and Religious Studies. Students must choose one of three possible regional and civilizational foci:

I. The Medieval West
II. Byzantine and Orthodox Studies
III. The Islamic World

Permutations of these regional divisions—such as studies of borders and intersections of these areas—can also be accommodated with the approval of the MBS director. The program requires 30 hours of academic credit taken from three broad categories: History and Social Structures; Thought and Worship; and Cultural and Artistic Expressions.

Admission: Students applying to the M.A. program in MBS should have a solid foundation in one or more aspects of medieval studies and substantial training in languages (medieval and/or modern research languages). While many students come with a B.A. in history, English, languages, religious studies, and philosophy, other programs may also provide sufficient background. Promising students who lack the appropriate level of language proficiency are encouraged to complete a certificate program in Greek or Latin or other language training prior to beginning the program.

Advising: Students will have two advisers: the MBS director and a faculty adviser in the primary area of focus. The MBS director will guide students through the general requirements of the program. The second adviser—to be determined at the latest by the end of the second semester of studies—will assist in determining that the student’s progress with research languages and methodology is adequate for the research focus and goals of the student.

Overview of Requirements:

Course work: Ten approved graduate courses (30 credit hours) in a distribution determined by the primary area (see below). For students choosing the thesis option, two of those ten courses (6 credit-hours) will consist of thesis advising.

Academic standing: All MA candidates must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 in order to continue in the program.

Language requirements:

  • Demonstrated competence in M.A.-level Latin, Greek, or Arabic, depending on the focus area.
  • Demonstrated reading knowledge of one modern research language.
  • Competence in additional medieval languages may be required if necessary for research purposes.

Comprehensive examinations: Written examinations jointly administered by the MBS director and the faculty adviser. For information about the structure of the exam click here (pdf).

Research requirement:

  • Non-thesis option: Two substantive research papers submitted for review and approval by a faculty committee appointed by the MBS director.
  • Thesis option: Successful completion of the M.A. thesis.

Requirements by area of focus:

I. THE MEDIEVAL WEST

A. Non-Thesis Option

1. Course Work

a) Four approved graduate courses (12 credit-hours) selected from the following three categories (no more than two from any one category):

(1) History and Social Structures;

(2) Thought and Worship [NB: Students are strongly encouraged to take PHIL 602: Introduction Medieval Philosophy and/or TRS 727: Introduction to Medieval Theology, unless they have already completed equivalent courses.];

(3) Cultural and Artistic Expressions.

b) Two approved graduate courses (6 credit-hours) in one or two medieval languages/literatures (Latin, Old English, Old French, etc.) and/or in palaeography/manuscript studies.

c) Four graduate courses (12 credit-hours) in the area of specialization as approved by the faculty adviser.

2. Language Requirements

a) Demonstrated competence in M.A.-level Latin as determined by examination or grade (no lower than “B”) in designated course.

b) Demonstrated reading knowledge of one modern research language (French, German, Italian, or Spanish) and of any medieval language(s) if required for research purposes.

 

3. Comprehensive Examinations

Written examinations jointly administered by the MBS director and the faculty adviser.

4. Research Requirement

Submission of two research papers completed in courses for review and approval by a committee of the MBS faculty. 

B. Thesis Option

1. Course Work

a) Four approved graduate courses (12 credit-hours) selected from the following three categories (no more than two from any one category):

(1) History and Social Structures;

(2) Thought and Worship [NB: Students are strongly encouraged to take PHIL 602: Introduction Medieval Philosophy and/or TRS 727: Introduction to Medieval Theology, unless they have already completed equivalent courses.];

(3) Cultural and Artistic Expressions.

b) Two approved graduate courses (6 credit-hours) in one or two medieval languages/literatures (Latin, Old English, Old French, etc.) and/or in palaeography/manuscript studies.

c) Two graduate courses (6 credit-hours) in the area of specialization as approved by the faculty adviser.

2. Language Requirements

a) Demonstrated competence in M.A.-level Latin as determined by examination or grade (no lower than “B”) in designated course.

b) Demonstrated reading knowledge of one modern research language (French, German, Italian, or Spanish) and of any medieval language(s) if required for research purposes.

3. Comprehensive Examinations

Written examinations jointly administered by the MBS director and the faculty adviser.

4. Research Requirement

M.A. thesis (6 credit-hours) supervised by faculty adviser.

II. BYZANTINE AND ORTHODOX STUDIES

A. Non-Thesis Option

1. Course Work

Five approved graduate courses (15 credit-hours) selected from the following two categories (at least one from each category):

(a) Byzantine history, history of the Christian Near East, and other medieval history;

(b) Eastern Patristic theology, Eastern liturgy, and ancient/late antique Greek Philosophy.

2. Language Course work

a) Either: The Graduate Certificate in Greek (15 credit-hours) offered through the Department of Greek and Latin at CUA

b) Or:

• Three approved advanced courses (9 credit-hours) in Greek and

• Two approved advanced courses (6 credit-hours) in one of the following medieval languages: Latin, Arabic, Coptic, or Syriac.

3. Language Requirements

a) Demonstrated competence in M.A.-level Greek as determined by examination or grade (no lower than “B”) in designated course.

b) Demonstrated reading knowledge of one modern research language (French, German, Italian, or Spanish) and of any medieval language(s) if required for research purposes.

4. Comprehensive Examinations

Written examinations jointly administered by the MBS director and the faculty adviser.

5. Research Requirement

Submission of two research papers completed in courses for review and approval by a committee of the MBS faculty.

B. Thesis Option

1. Course Work (including Language Course Work)

Students are required to take a total of eight approved graduate courses (24 credit-hours) selected from the following categories:

(a) At least one course (3 credit-hours) in Byzantine history, history of the Christian Near East, or other medieval history;

(b) At least one course (3 credit-hours) in Eastern Patristic theology, Eastern liturgy, or ancient/late antique Greek Philosophy;

(c) At least three approved advanced language courses (9 credit-hours) in Greek, Latin, Arabic, Coptic, or Syriac.

The exact distribution of courses is subject to approval by the MBS director and the faculty adviser.

2. Language Requirements

a) Demonstrated competence in M.A.-level Greek as determined by examination or grade (no lower than “B”) in designated course.

b) Demonstrated reading knowledge of one modern research language (French, German, Italian, or Spanish) and of any medieval language(s) if required for research purposes.

3. Comprehensive Examinations

Written examinations jointly administered by the MBS director and the faculty adviser.

4. Research Requirement

M.A. thesis (6 credit-hours) supervised by faculty adviser.

III. THE ISLAMIC WORLD

A. Non-Thesis Option

1. Course Work

a) Four approved graduate courses (12 credit-hours) selected from the following three categories (no more than two from any one category):

(1) History and Social Structures;

(2) Thought and Worship;

(3) Cultural and Artistic Expressions.

b) Two approved graduate courses (6 credit-hours) in one or two medieval Semitic languages/literatures (Arabic, Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, or Georgian) or in Greek or Latin.

c) Four graduate courses (12 credit-hours) in the area of specialization as approved by the faculty adviser.

2. Language Requirements

a) Demonstrated competence in M.A.-level Arabic (equivalent to SEM 541-542).

b) Demonstrated reading knowledge of one modern research language (French, German, Italian, or Spanish).

3. Comprehensive Examinations

Written examinations jointly administered by the MBS director and the faculty adviser.

4. Research Requirement

Submission of two research papers completed in courses for review and approval by a committee of the MBS faculty.

B. Thesis Option

1. Course Work

a) Four approved graduate courses (12 credit-hours) selected from the following three categories (no more than two from any one category):

(1) History and Social Structures;

(2) Thought and Worship;

(3) Cultural and Artistic Expressions.

b) Two approved graduate courses (6 credit-hours) in one or two medieval Semitic languages/literatures (Arabic, Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, or Georgian) or in Greek or Latin.

c) Two graduate courses (6 credit-hours) in the area of specialization as approved by the faculty adviser.

2. Language Requirements

a) Demonstrated competence in M.A.-level Arabic (equivalent to SEM 541-542).

b) Demonstrated reading knowledge of one modern research language (French, German, Italian, or Spanish).

3. Comprehensive Examinations

Written examinations jointly administered by the MBS director and the faculty adviser.

4. Research Requirement

M.A. thesis (6 credit-hours) supervised by faculty adviser.

 

M.A. Degree in Medieval or Byzantine Studies - Old Version (Prior to Fall 2010)

The M.A. degree, like the certificate, is designed as an interlocking program which recognizes the complex intertwining of theology, philosophy, languages, and history for advanced study in any medieval field. In particular, students interested in acquiring the linguistic background necessary for advanced work in patristics and in medieval studies need a structure which permits the widest possible latitude.

The course work required for this degree is the same as that required for the certificate. An additional six hours must be taken for research, and a written comprehensive examination is required. There are thesis and non-thesis options.

I. Required Courses

Students must take 21 hours of required courses, as indicated below, whether selecting the thesis or the non-thesis option:

  • Medieval Civilization I, II (HIST 609, 610) 6 hrs.
  • Introduction to Medieval Latin Language and Literature I, II (LAT 541, 542) 6 hrs.
  • History of Medieval Philosophy (PHIL 602) 3 hrs.
  • Introduction to Medieval Theology (TRS 727) 3 hrs.
  • Introduction to Medieval Studies (MDST 601) 1 hr.
  • Research in Medieval Studies (MDST 603) 2 hrs.

II. Electives

Non-Thesis Option: Three 3-credit-hr. courses, with two chosen from fields in Group A and one from fields in Group B, excluding required courses.

Thesis Option: One 3-credit-hr. elective course chosen from Group A, excluding required courses.

GROUP A:

  • 1 or 2 courses in Medieval vernacular languages and/or literatures
  • 1 or 2 courses in Medieval Music
  • 1 or 2 courses in Medieval Art/Architecture
  • 1 or 2 courses in Latin Palaeography
  • 1 or 2 courses in Medieval Liturgy
  • 1 course in Patristic or Medieval Latin
  • 1 or 2 courses in Law

    GROUP B:

  • 1 course in Medieval Philosophy
  • 1 course in Medieval Theology
  • 1 course in Medieval History

N.B: Other courses may be substituted as electives with the permission of the director

III. Modern Languages

The student is required to exhibit reading competency in one modern language. The student may fulfill this requirement either by taking and passing the 500-level course offered by the Department of Modern Languages or by passing the Princeton Language Exam in one of the following languages: French, German, Spanish, or Italian.

IV. Comprehensive written examinations

All candidates must pass a written six-hour comprehensive examination. This examination will be given during a period of two days in the final semester of the candidate's study. During the first meeting of the "Introduction to Medieval Studies" course (MDST 601), candidates will be given a list of questions from which the comprehensive examination questions will be selected.

V. Research Papers

Non-Thesis Option: Two substantial research papers using the language skills appropriate for the topic and revised in accordance with the instructor's recommendation are required of non-thesis candidates. The papers are written according to the following guidelines:

  1. Research in Medieval Studies (MDST 603)

This is a course for which students register but for which there is no regular meeting time. The course requirement consists of an interdisciplinary seminar-length paper (25-35 pages) written under the direction of two faculty members affiliated with the Center who are members of two different departments. These two faculty members must agree to be the readers for the paper prior to its inception, and, once the paper has been completed, they confer on the grade to be assigned to the student for the course. Most students take this course the fall of their second year in the Masters program and spend significant time on it over the previous summer. For these students, the final draft of the paper is due on November 30. In rare cases, a student may take this course in the spring semester, in which case the final draft of the paper is due on April 20. If these dates fall on a holiday, the paper is due the first day of classes after that holiday. 

  1. Extended Paper

This requirement is fulfilled by writing a seminar-length paper (20-30 pages) for any other course taken in pursuit of the Masters degree. The professor of the course must sign a form affirming that a paper of the appropriate length and competency has been completed.

Thesis Option: The traditional Master's Thesis is required of thesis candidates and includes 6 hours.

VI. Transfer of graduate course credits

Transfer of graduate course credits earned at another accredited institution may be arranged in accordance with CUA's regulations.