Diploma Course Descriptions

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History and Principles of the Orthodox Church

  1. Judaic Sources
  2. The Church in the time of the Apostles
  3. The Churches of: Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Rome
  4. The age of Constantine and the rise of Byzantium
  5. Monasticism
  6. The early Heresies and the Seven Ecumenical Councils
  7. The Development of the Western Church
  8. Cyril and Methodius and the conversion of the Slavs
  9. The Great Schism
  10. The Turkish Yoke
  11. The Church Today
    1. Ecumenism
    2. The Calendar Question
    3. Modern Issues in the Church

The Russian Church

  1. Conversion of Russia
  2. Development
  3. Monasticism
    1. Possessors
    2. Non-Possessors
  4. The Czars and the Rise and Fall of Spiritual Life
  5. Autocephaly
  6. The Early Patriarch’s
  7. Western Influence and the Reforms of Peter
  8. The Russian Revolution and the Church
    1. Sergianism
    2. The New Martyrs
  9. The Church of Russia today

Survey of Scripture

  1. The Old Testament
    1. Books of the Old Testament
    2. Psalms
    3. Proverbs
    4. Apocryphal Books
    5. Greek vs. Jewish texts
  2. New Testament
    1. The Canonical Basis of the New Testament
    2. The Gospels
    3. Epistles
    4. Book of Revelation
  3. Translation Issues and Language

The Orthodox Church in the 20th & 21st Centuries

  1. The contemporary development of the various Orthodox jurisdictions, and the relationship between them.
  2. The role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and world Orthodoxy
  3. The Pan-Orthodox Conference in Athens in 1923/24
  4. Orthodoxy in America
  5. The Church in Russian after the fall of communism and the reconciliation with ROCOR
  6. Contemporary issues in Orthodoxy

The Mysteries of the Church

  1. Scriptural basis of the Mysteries
  2. Evolution and Meaning of the Mysteries
  3. Evolution and Meaning of the Mysteries
  4. Ministration of the Mysteries
    1. Baptism
    2. Chrismation
    3. Eucharist
    4. Anointing of the Sick
    5. Marriage
    6. Ordination — Readers, Subdeacons, Deacons, Priests, Bishops
  5. The Divine Liturgy
    1. New Testament accounts
    2. The Development of the Anaphora
    3. Early Development
    4. Present Structure
      1. Chrysostom
      2. Basil
      3. Presanctified
      4. James
  6. Confession
    1. Historical Development
    2. Connection to the Eucharist
    3. Pastoral vs. Juridical Approaches
  7. Other Liturgical Practices
  8. Administration of Baptism/Chrismation, Anointing, Marriage, Burials, Blessings, Molebens
  9. Pannyhida's and funerals

Survey of the Fathers

  1. The Apostolic Fathers
  2. Basil, Gregory and Chrysostom
  3. Maximos, Palamas, and the Later Fathers

Orthodox Apologetics

Presentation of Orthodoxy to the heterodox. A detailed discussion of the basics of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism and how they differ from Orthodoxy. Defending the Orthodox faith as the one true church founded by Jesus Christ. Catechizing and bringing those of other confessions to the Orthodox Church. Each student is required to engage in a apologetical dialogue with a non-Orthodox, and to present a paper concerning the dialogue.

Dogmatic Theology

What the Orthodox Church believes and why we believe it. Topics include the nature of God, the Trinity, and the Persons of the Trinity. The dual nature of Christ, creation, Divine Providence, and the existence of good and evil are examined, as well as theology and doctrines of the Church.

Survey of Canon Law

Both the dogmatic and normative canons resulting from the Ecumenical as well as the local councils of the Orthodox Church. A study of the interpretation and application of the canons.

The Church and the Pastor

  1. The Nature of the Church
  2. The Pastor and his relationship with his Bishop
  3. The Parish, its organization and Standard Bylaws
  4. Introduction to Homiletics
  5. Spiritual and Social relationships with parishioners
  6. Relationship with Matuska and family
  7. Relationships with other Orthodox Churches/Non Orthodox Churches


An overview of the history, structure, and meaning of the liturgical cycle in the usage of the Russian Orthodox Church based upon the Jerusalem Typicon. Students learn the nature of the four cycles in the liturgical year, and the contents and use of the books used in Orthodox worship. This is followed by detailed analysis of how to perform the major services, with particular attention to the role of the choir director and psalmist. During the first year Vespers and Matins are covered -- their components, history; in subsequent years the Divine Liturgy, the occasional services (trebi) and the services associated with the Lenten and Paschal seasons are covered.

Church Slavonic

Basics of reading Church Slavonic. The goal of this course is to allow the novice Church Slavonic reader to be able to read Church Slavonic in a minimal liturgical setting. The successful student will be able to sight read simple Church Slavonic texts and utilize appropriate resources to read and practice more complex Church Slavonic texts.

Byzantine History

Introduction to the History of the Byzantine Empire. Deacon Andrei Psarev (Ph.D. Candidate in Byzantine History). In order to understand the history of the Christian Church, we need to be informed as to the historical context. Course requirements include textbook readings, short essays, and classroom discussion.  Please have ready before the course starts A History of Byzantium (2nd edition), by Timothy E. Gregory. This is a required course manual.

*This course may be substituted for 102 The Russian Church for students who are not members of the
Russian Church.

 Non-Profit Small Business/Parish Management

This course provides an introduction to the basics of parish management and operations.  It is intended for clergy, parish leaders and parishioners involved in the administrative functions of their parishes.  Course topics emphasize the following management topics: parish organization, by-laws and governance, collaboration, personnel and volunteer management, and financial management / controls / reporting. Course activities will guide students to understanding key parish governance documents, as well as help improve students’ managerial skills by asking them to reflect upon management issues in their parishes and by linking the theory of management with actual parish practices.  Throughout the course, students will build a reference library of resources, which will prove valuable when working in the parish setting.

Thesis Writing Workshop

Guidance for thesis writing at every stage through direct mentoring and peer review to meet Pastoral School requirements with emphasis on effective argumentation.


A scholarly research paper on some aspect of Orthodoxy agreed on in advance by the student, the dean, and the students mentor. The Thesis must be completed and received in the program office by the end of the semester the student intends to graduate. The thesis must be completed in a scholarly fashion and in a format that adheres to common academic standards and style.


A project of two semesters duration usually carried on at the student’s parish. The project must make a significant contribution to the parish life and be approved by his pastor and the dean of the school.


A theological and practical introduction to homiletics, as rooted in Scripture and embodied in the preaching of the Fathers (both past and present). Particular attention will be paid to the the significance of preaching in the liturgical life of the Church and, furthermore, the inherent sacramentality of this liturgical act. Time will also be spent on the practicality of homily writing and delivery.

Introduction to Ancient Greek

Students will learn key grammatical concepts of classical Greek, with a focus on reading texts and written translation from Greek into English. The course will provide diligent and motivated students with a solid foundation for further formal or self-directed study of Biblical and Patristic Greek texts.

New Testament Latin

Learning to read and pronounce Latin. Introduction to Latin grammar: alphabet, syllables, stress; the 5 declensions; the 4 (5) conjugations; participles; syntax. Although not all the grammar will be covered, it is expected that student will be able to read and understand very basic narratives, with the help of a dictionary, grammar book and a translation. This course should be an appropriate introduction for a following more in depth independent study, should the student be so inclined.

Advanced Byzantine Canon Law

This course will introduce the textual sources, methodologies, tools, and essential concepts of Byzantine canonical scholarship. The aim of the class is to provide the foundation for future study in the field. A selection of writings from major scholars will be provided.