Chairperson: Conor Kelly, Ph.D.
Department of Theology website


The Department of Theology concentrates on theological studies as distinguished from a purely empirical study of religion and from professional training for the ministry. Theology at Marquette explores faith and what it has to say about the fundamental purpose and meaning of all things, including our own existence. It seeks the deeper unity underlying all reality, its common origin and ultimate purpose.

The Department of Theology aims to help educate undergraduates by bringing them to an understanding of their respective faith commitments and traditions in harmony with their overall intellectual, critical and cultural development. The department also incorporates into Catholic theology an ecumenical and inter-religious dimension, that is, an openness to all faiths, which was made normative by the Second Vatican Council, and which is regarded by the department as an essential service to the Church and the world. Theological questions evoke distinctive responses from the various religious perspectives represented in contemporary society. The department respects the various faith traditions of its students and works for mutual understanding among different faiths.

Program Goals

Students are able to take courses in Scripture, the history of Christian thought, Christian doctrine and world religions. They explore the relationship between faith and justice in accordance with the recent General Congregations of the Society of Jesus.

In the undergraduate program students will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic categories of theological reflection: Biblical, historical, systematic and ethical.
  • Analyze texts for their theological content according to their particular literary genres and historical contexts.
  • Use effective theological methods of research and argumentation.

Theology Curriculum

The comprehensive educational goal of the theology curriculum is theological literacy at the level legitimately expected of graduates of a Catholic university. Through investigation of various theological sources, this intellectual formation habituates students to approaches, responses and critiques appropriate to the academic discipline of theology, which is “faith seeking understanding.” Three specific objectives guide the theology curriculum. Every course is designed, first, to increase the student’s awareness of the mystery and religious dimensions of human life, particularly as conveyed in the basic narrative outline of salvation history — which characterizes the Christian worldview — from creation to fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

This objective takes precedence in the first course, THEO 1001 Foundations in Theology: Finding God in all Things. This first-level course investigates the principle that God can be found in all things.  How are we to envision God and the virtuous life in light of the theological and scriptural understanding of the prophets, Jesus, and human existence from which that Catholic, Jesuit conviction springs? What differentiates a faith understanding from other academic, scientific, and secular ways of thinking and drawing conclusions? How are we to assess the merits of theological truth claims? How can the Ignatian imperative to see God in all things translate into an obligation to promote justice in the world?  What distinctive tools for advancing justice emerge from such an understanding? Upon completion of this course, students will be able to

  1. express a conception of God and the virtuous life in terms of the understandings of the prophets, Jesus, and human existence articulated in the Christian tradition, and in relation to at least one other religious or humanistic tradition;
  2. distinguish theological ways of asking and answering questions from those of other disciplines, analyze theological arguments, and articulate some foundation for assessing the merits of theological truth claims;
  3. describe how Christian theological convictions translate into an obligation to promote justice in the world and articulate a distinctive set of tools with which to do so.

While cultivating the student’s growing base of factual knowledge, courses go on to provide the student with training in theological understanding, primarily through the reading and interpreting of significant texts. Subsequent courses are designed to develop the skills required for such understanding, to investigate particular theological topics with discipline-specific methods, and to develop in students the critical habit of seeing into the depth-dimension of reality in light of religious faith and its historical effects on human societies. A wide variety of classes, all building on THEO 1001, develop these critical habits in the student. These offerings include interdisciplinary courses to investigate theological questions; courses that focus on a particular person, time period or topic; courses that examine the impact of religion on our daily lives and courses that explore non-Christian religious traditions. These courses aim to produce Jesuit university graduates who are able to discern the perennially significant in the complexity and conflicting values of modern life, “men and women for others,” intellectually prepared to “find God in all things.” Upper division courses aim in a special way to encourage students to become responsible citizens, drawn to the intellectual life, knowledgeable about their own religious traditions and appreciative of the religious beliefs and practices of others in the human community.

In all courses, theological issues are introduced and discussed with respect for others in keeping with the Declaration on Religious Liberty of the Second Vatican Council.