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Central theological themes and traditions

Reflect on the lived faith experiences of people and communities.

Explore the underpinnings of religion—one of the strongest forces in human experience—with Mount Mercy University’s theology degree.

As a major in theology, you’ll research Christian theological tradition while solidifying your understanding of social justice issues.


Employ social teaching and moral theology—in-person or online.

As a Mount Mercy student, you’ll meet amazing people and gain valuable experience through service opportunities. Our close-knit, community-supporting campus family is made up of students, faculty and staff of all faiths—and those of no particular religious faith at all.

Theology students are often involved with clubs like Core Campus Fellowship and Peer Ministry which acts as an advisor to Campus Ministry.

What courses will I take?

Theology Major

RS 110Christian Moral Life3
or PL 269 Introduction to Ethics
RS 111Introduction To The Bible: Old Testament3
RS 113Introduction To The Bible: New Testament3
RS 114Introduction to Christianity3
RS 370Church in Contemporary Society3
PL 375Faith and Reason3
RS 445Independent Study3
or RS 461 Senior Field Instruction
Choose Three Electives 19
Total Hours30

 Chosen in consultation with the theology advisor

theology Minor

RS 110Christian Moral Life3
or PL 269 Introduction to Ethics
RS 111Introduction To The Bible: Old Testament3
or RS 113 Introduction To The Bible: New Testament
RS 370Church in Contemporary Society3
RS 284Topics in Religious Studies3
or PL 310 Special Topics: Applied Ethics
Choose One of the Following:3
RS 111
Introduction To The Bible: Old Testament
RS 113
Introduction To The Bible: New Testament
RS 114
Introduction to Christianity
RS 115
Introduction To World Religions
One course 200-level or above from student's major *3
Total Hours18

 Must be approved by theology advisor

The following is the typical sequence of courses required for the major*:

RS 1113Domain3RS 1133
Portal3 Domain3
Writing Competency4 Domain3
Elective3 Elective3
 13 3 15
RS 1143Elective3RS 110 or PL 2693
Domain3 Elective3
Domain3 Domain3
Elective3 Domain3
 15 3 12
RS 3703Domain3PL 3753
Religious Studies Elective3 Religious Studies Elective3
Domain 3 Elective3
Domain3 Domain3
 15 3 12
Religious Studies Elective3Elective3Capstone1
Elective3 RS 445 or 4613
Elective3 Elective4
Elective3 Elective3
Elective3 Elective3
 15 3 14
Total Hours: 123

Note: Elective courses could be used for a second major, a minor, a course of interest, internship or study abroad experience. We strongly encourage Theology majors to earn a second major. This 4-year plan assumes a second major with ten required courses.

Note: See the Curriculum section for more information on Portal, Competency, Domain, and Capstone courses.


The course offerings, requirements, and policies of Mount Mercy University are under continual examination and revision. This Catalog presents the offerings, requirements, and policies in effect at the time of publication and in no way guarantees that the offerings, requirements, and policies will not change.

This plan of study represents a typical sequence of courses required for this major. It may not be applicable to every student. Students should contact a department faculty member to be sure of appropriate course sequence.


RS 110 Christian Moral Life: 3 semester hours

‘Christian Moral Life’ will enable students to think systematically about the Christian (including Catholic) moral life, while more broadly engaging current issues concerning Christian ethics and morality. This introductory course will explore the foundational sources of ethics (Scripture and Tradition), as well as theology, philosophy, and ecumenical conversations. It will show how these foundational sources guide ethical understanding concretely by examining pressing issues of the day. A service learning component will be required. Fulfills the Religious Studies requirement in the Core Curriculum.

RS 111 Introduction To The Bible: Old Testament: 3 semester hours

This course provides a survey of the origin, development, and principal themes of the Old Testament to gain a basic understanding of the foundations of Israelite faith. Methods of contemporary biblical interpretation will be explored and applied in the process of analyzing various types of Old Testament writings. Fulfills the Religious Studies requirement in the Core Curriculum.

RS 113 Introduction To The Bible: New Testament: 3 semester hours

A survey of the New Testament, presented within the historical and cultural perspectives of the first-century Christian communities. Methods of contemporary biblical interpretation will be explored and applied in the process of analyzing Paul's letters and the gospels. Fulfills the Religious Studies requirement in the Core Curriculum.

RS 114 Introduction to Christianity: 3 semester hours

This course provides an analysis of the phenomenon of Christianity in both its Roman Catholic and Protestant forms in terms of history, major doctrines, rituals and the contributions of seminal theologians. Fulfills the Religious Studies requirement in the Core Curriculum.

RS 115 Introduction To World Religions: 3 semester hours

This course provides a consideration of each of the great religions in the context of contemporary society. Variations in the structure, organization, and function of the religions are systematically examined. Fulfills the Religious Studies requirement in the Core Curriculum.

RS 176 Liturgical Worship: 3 semester hours

An analysis of the origin and development of Christian liturgies, designed to place in perspective the current liturgical reforms taking place in Catholicism and other Christian churches. Practical approaches for implementing various liturgical rites and expressions are presented.

RS 181 Introduction to the Bible: 3 semester hours

This introductory survey of both Testaments of the Bible includes the basic elements of historical and critical Biblical studies as well as treatment of the Bible’s major theological themes. Topics include inspiration and inerrancy, a survey of critical methods and an introduction to the various schools of Biblical interpretation. The theological portion of the course will consider such themes as election, covenant, promise, kingdom, justice, salvation, and faith.

RS 211 Who Is Jesus?: 3 semester hours

An exploration of results of modern historical study of the gospels, which provide a better picture of the facts of Jesus' life that Christians have had for the past 19 centuries. This course also analyzes the significance of such historical information for evaluation past and present expressions of Christian belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Prerequisite: Fulfillment of core curriculum requirement in Religious Studies.

RS 217 Catholic Biomedical Ethics: 3 semester hours

‘Catholic Biomedical Ethics’ will study biomedical and health care ethics in light of Catholic theology and the philosophical tradition of natural law. The course will cover basic principles of moral theology and ethics as tools for understanding the moral nature of health care itself. Flowing out of these principles, the course will investigate a series of particular biomedical issues including beginning-of-life and end-of-life questions in and through the foundational Christian claim of intrinsic human dignity. The course will provide students with both a speculative understanding of these issues and knowledge necessary to meet adequately the challenge of ethical questions for those pursuing employment in health care and related fields. Fulfills the Religious Studies requirement in the Core Curriculum.

RS 238 Sacraments And Worship: 3 semester hours

A consideration of the sacramental or incarnational approach to worship and to the other elements of Christian faith and practice: Christology, ecclesiology, morality, and ascetical practice. The course will include an analysis of the origin and development of Christian liturgies, designed to place in perspective the current liturgical reforms taking place in Catholicism and other Christian churches.

RS 284 Topics in Religious Studies: 3 semester hours

Students will explore a particular topic in the western religious tradition. The topics can be in areas such as the following: the writings of an important thinker (e.g. Thomas Aquinas or Martin Luther), or the religious dynamics of a historical period (e.g. the impact of the reformation or Vatican II on Christian doctrine, practice and organization), or the development of theological or moral doctrines or religious practices (e.g. Women in the Church), or a particular topic in the academic study of the Bible using modern methods of interpretation (e.g. a single book like Genesis, a set of books like the letters of Paul, or a biblical theme like "Covenant" or "Prophecy". This course may be taken a second time with a different topic. Prerequisites: Fulfillment of core curriculum requirement in Religious Studies.

RS 312 Modern Christian Thought: 3 semester hours

An examination of how Roman Catholic and Protestant Christian theologians have responded to the many challenges presented by the modern world. Such challenges include those posed by the Enlightenment, historical consciousness, modernism, the Industrial Revolution, totalitarian regimes, and socio-economic disparity. The course will also consider theological responses to modern forms of atheism, socio-economic criticisms (Marx), psychological criticisms (Freud), gender inequality, ethnic and racial injustices and the awareness of other religious traditions. Prerequisite: fulfillment of core curriculum requirement in Religious Studies and Philosophy.

RS 370 Church in Contemporary Society: 3 semester hours

‘Church in Contemporary Society’ critically examines how the Church engages different cultures through sacramental life and social mission for the spiritual and material wellbeing of all persons. Key understandings to be explored include the Church’s role in public life in general, the Church as a Eucharistic community, the Church as the people of God, the Church as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, the Church as sacrament, and the Church in solidarity with the poor. Prerequisite: fulfillment of the core curriculum requirement for religious studies.

RS 400 Senior Thesis: 3 semester hours

This is the senior thesis course for the major in Theology. Students are required to do independent.

RS 445 Independent Study: 3 semester hours

Directed readings and research; topics determined by the student and faculty member.

RS 461 Senior Field Instruction: 0 semester hours

Field instruction includes educationally directed practical experiences. Guidance by an experienced catechist or pastoral leader will be arranged and supplemented by weekly individual and group conferences with a faculty member. Students will be expected to do related readings and recording of field experiences. Students will spend eight hours a week in their field placement. The course will be graded pass/fail and must be taken concurrently or subsequent to RS 370. Prerequisite: Permission for the department chairperson.

Mount Mercy helped prepare me for my career by catering the classes to what I wanted to do with my degree.

Coordinator of Youth Ministry, St. Giles Parish

Careers in theology

Use your degree to pursue an area that fits your needs.

Students majoring in the program are well prepared to pursue many career opportunities inside or outside of the church, or pursue graduate study in a variety of disciplines.

Theology majors find church-related careers as teachers of religion, directors of religious education programs, youth or family-life ministers, directors of volunteers or of social justice activities, liturgical ministers and pastoral associates.

They also may enter law school, study politics, or become journalists or chaplains in campus or hospital settings. Our Theology program graduates are now working as:

  • Director of Religious Education
  • Associate Director of the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministries
  • Church Rector
  • Pastoral Associate

What are the next steps?

Mount Mercy offers competitive tuition and generous scholarships.

We also encourage all students to apply for federal, state, and other kinds of financial assistance.

Learn more about:

We make it easy by accepting applications year-round! No deadline, no fee, no pressure.

  1. Create your application
  2. Apply under standard admissions criteria or go "test optional"
  3. Request official transcripts from all institutions previously attended. Mail to:

* Mount Mercy University Admissions
  1330 Elmhurst Drive NE
  Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402

* If you are applying for an accelerated program, please mail to "Accelerated Programs"

For more detailed instructions on how to apply, see our Admissions page.