Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Pastoral Studies

MA in Social Justice


As disparities along ethic/racial, economic, gender and religious lines gain prominence in the national conversation, there is a growing need for trained "change agents" to carry out the work of community development, social justice and human rights advocacy.

Faith-based community service programs, service immersion trips, and social justice projects attract high-minded "change agents: of great generosity and courage who want to serve economically disadvantaged communities, underserved and underrepresented populations, and people whose human dignity is under assault by social arrangements and structures. The post-Vatican II emphasis on a Church that sees working for justice as constitutive of the Christian life and that proposes an "option for the poor" as a pastoral standard, has spawned a growing number of talented and educated young adults who want to integrate service, social justice, and advocacy into their life patterns and career choices. With Pope Francis, the social justice movement is gaining even more momentum.

This degree program is designed to serve these "change agents," offering a solid grounding in spiritual and theological foundations for this work, information about the key social justice issues today, the skills and told of assessment and analysis in addressing these issues, best-practice strategies for effective work in advocacy and community development, contextual education at sites where social justice work is exemplary, and the practical tools of successful leadership in addressing social justice issues. 

Students in this graduate program will:

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of Catholic social teachings (and their basis in Catholic fundamental theology) and the foundational principles of liberation theology; introductory understanding of similar foundations in other denominations and religions;
  • Develop theological reflection skills which bring personal, cultural, institutional contexts together with the Christian tradition;
  • Attain in-depth information and analysis of current social justice issues: race, ethnicity, culture; poverty and its causes; immigration issues; issues and concerns around criminal justice, from policing to prisons; global politics and economics;
  • Develop the skills of social assessment and analysis;
  • Develop practical knowledge and skills: community organizing, community development, nonprofit management, advocacy in public policy, recruiting and managing volunteers.

Related Programs

To learn more about the master's degree in social justice, please visit our request for information form or attend an online information session.