Institute of Education

MA in Chaplaincy Studies and Pastoral Work

Course Code:
DC980 (FT and PT)
Course Type:
NFQ Level:
Delivery Modes
Full Time 1 Year; Part Time 2 Years
call programme contact
+353 (0) 1
700 9297

The MA in Chaplaincy Studies and Pastoral Work course provides the academic, pastoral, spiritual, personal and professional development for those already working or wishing to work in the contexts below who seek to enrich their skills in the areas of Faith Development, Chaplaincy and Chaplaincy Coordination.

  • Primary Schools
  • Post-Primary Schools
  • Third Level Institutes
  • Prisons / Young Offenders
  • Parish Communities
  • Youth and Young Adult Groups
  • Community / Voluntary Sector

DC980: one year full time programme, Monday evenings and Tuesday lectures and a placement of 18-20 hours per week of the academic year.
DC 981; two year part time programme, Monday evening lectures and a placement of 6 hours per week of the academic year.
Both programmes require attendance on 8 Saturdays during the academic year.

The MA in Chaplaincy Studies and Pastoral Work aims to develop graduates who:

  • Understand, and are able to apply knowledge from theological, and educational disciplines to the work of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work
  • Apply current thinking concerning pastoral work, faith formation, spiritual accompaniment, inter-religious dialogue and interculturalism in different pastoral contexts
  • Exhibit the personal, professional and spiritual skills and sensibilities necessary to work as a chaplain/pastoral worker and as a member of a pastoral team.
  • Manifest the ability to plan, execute and report on a research project of relevance to the work of a chaplain/pastoral worker
  • Engage sensitively in faith formation and faith development initiatives in an invitational and inclusive manner which is appropriate to the characteristic spirit of the pastoral setting and to the cultural and religious diversity present in the community
  • Develop Pastoral Counselling and Spiritual Accompaniment skills that are appropriate to the work of the chaplain/pastoral worker in the particular context
  • Exhibit readiness to assume the role and responsibilities of a chaplain/pastoral worker
  • Demonstrate the ability to manage their own work as a chaplain/pastoral worker and to integrate this with the work of others in order to provide an effective pastoral presence
  • Work collaboratively with others in order to enhance the pastoral, religious, spiritual and moral dimensions of the designated community
  • Exhibit competence as a 'Reflective Practitioner' and openness to continuing professional development
  • Exhibit a depth awareness of contemporary culture
  • Will be able to respond creatively, appropriately and sensitively to the 'moments' in people's lives in which there is an openness to the invitation to full human development and religious, moral and spiritual awakening.
View the current course structure

It is the only course of its type currently offered on the island of Ireland.You will study at the largest and most innovative Institute of Education in Ireland and the UK. Programmes are designed to meet the personal and professional needs of chaplains/pastoral workers and delivered by academic and practising experts. We focus on creating a rich, collaborative and safe learning environment where the student voice is central.

You will have full access to our first class facilities, including an extensive library with remote access for on-line students.

Dr Aoife McGrath - MA in Chaplaincy Studies and Pastoral Work Graduate 2012

'The classroom learning experience enables postgraduate students to grow personally and professionally in a friendly and supportive environment. Students are encouraged to be more culturally aware, to be innovative in planning activities and liturgies, and to reflect personally and theologically on our ministry. The forum provides for sharing our experiences of ministry with other students. The learning experience is integrated and therefore helps enrich my parish placement'.

Stephen O' Hara - MA in Chaplaincy Studies and Pastoral Work Graduate 2012

'The MA in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work in MD was the only course I wanted to do. It offered me the chance to do a Masters over 1 year which I found ideal. Participation in the course encourages you to become tuned into your own faith and your own life story, so that you can be a truly authentic presence for others who require you to listen to their story. This course combines the practical reality of chaplaincy and pastoral work in modern Irish society.'

Life on Campus

We have three academic campuses close to Dublin City centre - they are located in Glasnevin and Drumcondra, and can be reached by public transport (Dublin Bus).

Each campus has libraries, study spaces, restaurants, and on-campus residencies. Sports facilities are located on two of the academic campuses. We also have a dedicated sports campus in the form of St Claire’s. 

Exceptional facilities

DCU students have access to exceptional teaching and learning facilities across our three academic campuses. 

These include modern learning theatres, research centres, new media and TV studio, radio/podcast studios, classrooms, computer suites and advanced labs in the areas of languages, engineering, physics, chemistry and biotechnology, as well as a sports performance centre and training hospital ward. In 2021, we opened our first virtual reality ‘Leadership Lab’, which is located in our Business School.

Construction on our FutureTech building on the Glasnevin campus will get underway in 2022. Once completed, this facility will advance DCU’s international reputation for excellence in science and health, computing and engineering disciplines. It will have the capacity to accommodate an additional 3,000 STEM students on the university’s Glasnevin campus.

Campus life

DCU student facilities boast a fully equipped sports complex with a 25-metre pool, three libraries and The Helix, our renowned performing arts centre.

Our purpose built, state-of-the-art new student centre known as 'The U' serves the needs of a rapidly growing student body of 18,500. It is home to the Student Leadership and Lifeskills Centre, performing arts and cultural spaces for students and the wider community, and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub.

There are more than 140 clubs and societies for students in DCU, with ‘Clubs & Socs’ days taking place on both the Glasnevin and Drumcondra campuses at the start of the academic year.

Student Supports

We have a number of academic, professional and social supports for students.

Student Advice Centre: Offers a wide range of supports and services to students and advice.

The Writing Centre - drop-in writing workshops for students through the academic year.

Maths Learning Centre - provides maths support for students of all ability levels with maths modules.

Student Learning: facilitate the transition from passive to active learning for students at DCU, by teaching study skills, nurturing critical thinking and building student confidence. 

Careers work with students to help them on their professional journey into graduate employment.

Our student support team offers a comprehensive support programme, helping students make that all important transition into university life and focusing on building confidence and skills which are key to success at third level.

Graduates of the Master of Arts in Chaplaincy Studies and Pastoral Work are currently employed as chaplains in the post–primary school and university sector, in parishes, prisons and community facilities.


The general criteria for entry to this taught postgraduate programme is :


• An honours primary degree (any discipline) or equivalent

60 ECTS credits in Theology

• Applicants must have secured a suitable placement

• Applicants must submit Letters of reference (Academic OR Professional).

• Applicants with appropriate combinations of professional qualifications and experience may also be considered (Irish / EU applicants only)

• International candidates who are non-native speakers of English must satisfy the University of their competency in the English language. 

• Applicants will be required to undertake an interview before any offer is issued for this programme.


Note:  All candidates who are accepted to this programme must undergo Garda Vetting.  All offers will be conditional until successful completion of the Garda Vetting process.


Full time

EU Status Fee
€7,800 per annum
Non EU Fee.
€15,000 per annum

Part time

EU Status Fee Part-time
€3,900 per annum
Non EU Fee Part time
€8,100 per annum

Next Steps

To apply for this programme:


All Applicants must apply through DCU's Student Application Portal which is available here.  Here's a quick step by step guide if you need help with your application.


  • Provide a personal statement of not more than 300 words outlining the journey that has led you to apply to this programme.
  • Provide confirmation that you have secured a suitable placement (18 hours per week for 12 weeks in both semesters (432 hours). Placement Form for DC980 (Full Time and Part Time) click here to be fully completed and uploaded to DCU's Student Application Portal.
  • Provide an academic reference attesting to your suitability for this Postgraduate study (see application portal).
  • Provide a Pastoral reference attesting to your suitability to work with vulnerable persons (see application portal)
  • If applicable, evidence of competence in the English language as per DCU entry requirements.  Please see link


Application Deadlines

Closing date for non EU applicants is 1st July 2024.

Closing date for EU applicants is 31st July 2024.

Note applicants who require a study visa for the purposes of studying at DCU, are advised to apply as early as possible.


Application Queries

For EU applicant queries, please visit or email

For non EU applicant queries, please visit or email


Commencement of Programme

The programme commences in September 2024.