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MA in History of Church and Theology

Course Description

Master's specialisation in History of Church and Theology

This course involves analysing historical developments of Christian traditions and discipline, in order to better understand Christian beliefs in contemporary society.
How have Christians through the ages given meaning and expression to their ideas and expectations? How have they explained the meaning of Jesus Christ’s life, both within their own community and to outsiders? Students of the Master’s specialisation in Church History are trained to investigate historical developments with a critical and analytical eye. A historical analysis is important as it can also expose the “roots” of current issues and situations. That knowledge, in turn, can help us understand the present better and even help find solutions to problems contemporary societies face today.
The Radboud University’s Master’s specialisation in History of Church and Theology is unique in that it combines the study of the history of Christianity with the study of the juridical system of the Roman Catholic Church. What happens when people do not comply with societal norms? Students are trained in systematic historical research. They will learn how to interpret historical sources from throughout the ages, by analysing them in the context of the culture and values of the era in which they were produced.
Graduates of this Master’s specialisation can become researchers, policy makers, educators or spiritual caregivers. Careers as journalists, museum curators, librarians and archivists are also possible.

See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/historyofchurchandtheology

Why study History of Church and Theology at Radboud University?

- Radboud University’s specialisation in History of Church and Theology distinguishes itself by combining the study of the history of Christianity with Canon Law. Thereby creating a unique outlook on the interrelatedness of the development of Canon Law and both formal and informal practices.
- This programme is not just geared towards Europe but also places developments in a global perspective.
- . Taking a few seminars from the other theology disciplines of choice (Biblical Exegesis, Practical or Systematic Theology) is mandatory to broaden students general knowledge on Theology. However, with electives, students have plenty of room to choose a direction that meets their professional and academic interests
- The third year is aimed at training students for a specific profession. Students can choose research (English), education (Dutch), religion and policy (Dutch) or spiritual care (Dutch).
- Teaching takes place in a stimulating, collegial setting with small groups, allowing ample opportunities for questions and discussions.
- Radboud University and its Theology department are Roman Catholic in origin, but its Master’s programme in Theology is open to all students. Our students have very diverse religious and cultural backgrounds.

Change perspective

History is not a fixed entity. Re-examining long-existing sources could lead to new insights on the course of events. Students will understand that what we now consider a significant event was not always so, and students are given the tools to discover "axioms of the past" so they can better understand pivotal moments in history. Students will learn to make sound historical analyses by taking asking new questions concerning familiar sources, by analysing long forgotten sources and by re-examining sources within the relevant cultural context. Their analyses could shed new light on historical events and give us new insights on current societal and cultural issues.

Career prospects

In a globalising world, more and more institutions require skills in theological communication and hermeneutics. Church historians have in-depth knowledge of Canon Law and the history of Christian beliefs and doctrines. They can analyse historical developments and are able distinguish when people use historic events to suit their purpose and contradict them when necessary. In addition, the programme teaches students how to think independently and critically about the way Church History and Canon Law can give meaning to contemporary issues.

Job positions

The Master’s programme in Theology strongly enhances career prospects by allowing students to focus on one professional path in their third year, of the following options: research, education, spiritual care or religion and policy.

Our approach to this field

How has Christianity gained stability and continuity as a religion? How has the religion sustained itself during changing social and cultural contexts? The answers to these questions can be found in the history of Christianity – in all of its diversity. This course delves deeper than the ‘official’ developments. and lesser known interpretations of history are investigated in this Master’s specialisation. Special attention is also given to ‘suspicious’ Christians as well as how the Church authorities dealt with dissenting ideas and practices. The interplay between authority and religious practices teaches us about how we got to where we are today.

A complex conjunction of events
Students are not limited to analysing a unidirectional, causal reconstruction of events . No single factor determines the course of history, as it is often a complex conjunction of events. Thus, students are encouraged to situate historical texts and developments in their cultural context – an issue often forgotten in public debates. Methodologically, students are encouraged to connect discourse analysis and a historically sound hermeneutic source criticism. To this effect, students are trained in systematic historical research, by using both diachronic and synchronic research methods.

Master’s students are encouraged to elaborate their own ideas and proposals within our research programme. The number of possible research topics is endless. Students may look at any historical religious conflict or a political conflict and its effect on religion. Topics that have been researched in the past include the forced baptisms of Jews, Augustine and infant education, the development of the sacrament of confession and the role of women in Cathar communities, to list a few.

See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/historyofchurchandtheology

Visit the MA in History of Church and Theology page on the Radboud University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Samuel Ekpo

I got to know about Radboud University from Nuffic scholarship publication when I was in search of a university I could study for a master’s programme. I checked the university’s webpage to know more and that triggered my interest to apply for admission. I choose Radboud University, based on the track records; offering quality research studies.

I joined the Orientation week. It was quite relaxing to know that I can find interesting places around the campus and the city of Nijmegen. I noticed that the Dutch society has an individualistic culture. I felt bored initially but with time I got to meet new friends and interacted with them. The food was also a challenge and a new experience too.

I mostly had contacts with other international students. In my view, this is a good way to have cultural exchange. At a point, I picked up interest to learn some Dutch words. I also learnt to have coffee and chocolate cookies at break time which is an interesting habit I cultivated here too.

The programme is quite intensive and mind broadening. Studying theology in Radboud University makes you a critical thinker, having deep reflections on issues relating to societies, religions and cultures. This will develop the individual to approach inter-religious debates from a balanced point of view.

Initially I wasn’t comfortable with the course contents because it wasn’t biblical theology in focus, but I later realised that this is a new learning experience for me. So I decided to motivate myself more to engage in my studies to have a new theological reflection from public/secular domains. I understand that Radboud University has a Roman Catholic tradition, but I would appreciate if attention is given to Biblical teachings that will help individuals both professors and students to develop an intimate relationship with Christ and give room for an evangelical approach of engaging in theological debates.

My plans for the future are broad; I have a better platform to operate as an educational consultant in theological matters and my studies in Radboud University is serving as a preparatory ground for such future job.

In conclusion, my stay in Nijmegen is a success so far. I also enjoy using the university’s sport facilities to keep body and soul fit for personal well being.

(Student Profile)

Dona - India

'It enabled me to explore the richness and beauty of being intercultural.'
The Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany, Mangalore, India chose me for the Master's Intercultural Theology at Radboud University, Nijmegen as I belong to this Congregation. India is a vast country consisting of many cultures, languages, and religions. Since I am engaged in religious formation in India, the knowledge of intercultural theology will enable me as a Formator to meet the needs of the present day youth for religious life.

The studies at the Radboud University have broadened my vision and gave me a new perspective of Christian faith in a religiously and culturally-diverse world. What I specifically liked about my study programme is the importance given for the scholarly study of theology, critical thinking, scientific research, the expertise and experience of the professors in their respective subjects, and the individual supervision of students are a few positive elements among many. The space and time allotted for students enabled me to be creative, responsible, and independent.

Studying and living with intercultural atmosphere taught me to appreciate diverse cultures and the experience of interconnectedness and interdependence. It enabled me to explore the richness and beauty of being intercultural.

The initial challenges with regard to study structure, getting acquainted with the students from different countries and denominations, Dutch culture, and climate were learning experiences for me. I appreciate the dedicated staff at the faculty, the administration, and the library. The gentle and kind approach in dealings, freedom to express views, punctuality, and openness inspired me very much. Having completed my Masters, I am happy to pursue my PhD at the Faculty of Theology at RU.


Fullbright-Radboud Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

The Fulbright Center, sponsored by Radboud University, is offering scholarships to excellent American students for study and research purposes at graduate and PhD levels at Radboud University Nijmegen. The Fulbright Center's mission is to promote mutual understanding between Dutch and American citizens by providing financial assistance for study, research and teaching. To qualify for a scholarship, applicants must have American nationality, have excellent academic marks, engage in extracurricular activities and be admitted to Radboud University Nijmegen.The grant will be paid in 12 monthly instalments of €1050. International travel will be reimbursed up to a maximum of €900. The cost of the residence permit (approximately €350) will be covered as well. An extra allowance of €1150 will be paid on arrival, and can be used to cover the cost of the tuition fee or the costs of settling in. Tuition fees are not waived, and differ per program.
Application for 2016-2017 opens on 1 May 2016 and closes on 13 October 2016.

Value of Scholarship(s)

12 monthly instalments of €1050 + extra allowance for travel and additional costs


For American students.
The Fulbright Centre, sponsored by Radboud University, is offering scholarships for talented American students to study at Radboud University.

Application Procedure

For more information please see the Fulbright website.

Further Information



Orange Tulip Scholarship - Russia Programme - 8 Awards

For the first time, Nuffic Neso Russia has launched the Orange Tulip Scholarship (OTS), a special programme for talented Russian students to study in Holland. It is available for all English-taught Master's programmes at Radboud University (with the exception of Erasmus Mundus Master's programmes, joint or double-degree Master's programmes and the Master's programme in Theology).Instead of the institutional tuition fees, non-EEA students pay the legal tuition fees (€2,006 in 2016/2017). Also, visa and residence permit costs, liability insurance and health insurance are covered .

Value of Scholarship(s)

legal instead of institutional tuition fees


For Russian students, Radboud University offers eight Orange Tulip Scholarships.

Application Procedure

The deadline for applications for the Orange Tulip Scholarship Russia is 1 April. In order to apply for the scholarship, you must have already applied for a Master's programme at Radboud University. In order to receive the scholarship, you must be admitted to a Master's programme.

Further Information



Orange Tulip Scholarship - Vietnam Programme - 3 Awards

The Orange Tulip Scholarship Programme gives excellent students coming from one of these countries the opportunity to study at Radboud University. Radboud University participates in the OTS programme with several benefits for international students. Instead of the institutional tuition fees, non-EEA students pay the legal tuition fees (€2,006 in 2017/2018). Also, visa and residence permit costs, liability insurance and health insurance are covered .

Value of Scholarship(s)

legal instead of institutional tuition fees


For Vietnamese students, Radboud University offers three Orange Tulip Scholarships.

Application Procedure

The application deadline for the Orange Tulip Scholarship Vietnam is 1 April. For more information about how to apply, please visit Nuffic Neso Vietnam's website.

Further Information



The Holland Scholarship Programme - 12 Awards

The Holland Scholarship (HS) gives excellent students the opportunity to study at Radboud University. The HS is open to students with the following nationalities: Canadian, American, Indian and Turkish. All English-taught Master’s programmes are eligible for the HS and amount to € 5,000.-

Value of Scholarship(s)

The scholarship amounts to £ 3.700


The HS is open to students with the following nationalities: Canadian, American, Indian and Turkish. All English-taught Master’s programmes are eligible for the HS.

Application Procedure

You can apply for the Holland Scholarship at Radboud University when you apply for a Master's programme in Osiris. That means that the application for admission and the application for the scholarship are fully integrated.
The application deadline is 1 February. If not all scholarships will be given out, the second deadline is 1 May.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

(1) A Bachelor's degree in Theology from the Radboud University Nijmegen or an equivalent degree from another Dutch university. Students that do not meet these requirements should have taken a set of courses that corresponds to the Radboud B.A. programme.(2) An adequate command of English. This requirement is satisfied if the student can submit the results of a TOEFL test, certifying a minimum score of 575 (paper test) or 232 (computer test), plus an Essay Rating of at least 4.5, or an IELTS with a minimum required overall score of 6,5 and 5,5 for Writing.

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