M.A. in Early Christian Studies

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The M.A. degree in Early Christian Studies (ECS) is a two-year interdisciplinary program offered jointly by the Departments of Classics and Theology, with the participation of faculty in several other departments.

Our aim is to provide students from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds with the fundamental orientation, information, and aptitudes needed for the advanced study of early Christianity in their chosen disciplines. Historically, graduates of the ECS program have entered doctoral programs in a large number of different fields of study, including Ancient History, Armenian Studies, Classics, Early Christianity, Historical Theology, History, History of Christianity, Late Antiquity, Literature, Liturgical Studies, Medieval Studies, Near Eastern Studies, New Testament, Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, Patristics, Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies, Syriac Studies, and Theology. Among the universities where ECS alumni have earned doctoral degrees or are currently students are Brown, Catholic University of America, Chicago, Duke, Marquette, New York University, Oxford, Princeton, Princeton Theological Seminary, UCLA, and, of course, Notre Dame. 

The program’s goals, more concretely, are twofold: to develop the student’s abilities in at least two ancient Christian languages and literatures (Latin and/or Greek and/or Syriac) and to impart a broad background of knowledge and method in the intellectual, historical, and social contexts of early Christianity.

The program offers beginning graduate students basic training in philology, theology, history, liturgy, art history, and philosophy. Each student develops a curriculum to meet individual needs in consultation with the director of the ECS program and other faculty advisers. All curricula are designed to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary language skills and have a sturdy grasp of the intellectual, historical, and social contexts of early Christianity and the methods and resources for studying them.

The program, therefore, is multidisciplinary in its course offerings but interdisciplinary in its basic orientation—so that each student’s program is the result of integrative collaboration between the student, the faculty members who direct the student’s program of study, and associated members of the teaching-and-research and library faculties in the areas of classical, biblical, early Christian, Byzantine, and medieval studies.

For more information about the program, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

You can also go to the Graduate School website for more information or to apply online

John T. Fitzgerald
Director of Graduate Studies