Master's Degree in Vocational Discernment and Pastoral Care

The Institute offers a private Master's Degree in Vocational Discernment and Pastoral Care, in collaboration with the School of Formators at the San Ignacio Spirituality Center in Salamanca. The aim of this MA is to comprehensively prepare students to provide formation within religious congregations and other current ways of life in the Church, helping them to discern and fostering in them a strong sense of loyalty to their respective vocational commitments. As such, it is designed for priests, religious brothers and sisters and laymen, and laywomen who play a direct role in vocational promotion, formation or care. It is also aimed at people who are involved in personal formation processes through leading Spiritual Exercises, offering spiritual direction or providing formation in pastoral care.


Who is it intended for?

This Master’s Degree is designed for priests, religious brothers and sisters and laymen, and laywomen who have or plan to take on a direct role in vocational promotion, formation or care.

It can also be of use for educators of the Faith or people who are involved in personal formative processes through leading Spiritual Exercises, offering spiritual direction or providing formation in pastoral care.

Regular admission requirements are:

  • Preferred age: between 25 and 35
  • Study background: licentiate (five-year) degree or diploma (three-year degree) with proven experience of at least two years of work
  • That the candidate commits to three consecutive years of study.

The admission process to the Master's Degree is as follows:

  • Students must complete and send in their applications to the Registrar’s Office of the School preferably before the end of October each year.
  • Application forms are provided by the School and include an application sheet and two letters of reference:
    • One letter should be written the Major Superior, recommending the applicant for working as a formator of the Faith, and the other should be written by someone who knows the applicant well and can attest to their suitability for the program.
    • The applicant should also include a copy of their CV.
  • Applicants will perform the personality evaluation and colloquia on vocational growth with a lecturer from the School. Completing the evaluation and beginning the colloquia is not a guarantee of admission.
  • Successful candidates will be chosen by a committee of lecturers, taking into account all the relative information. The number of students will be capped each year, given that each student will be personally guided through their vocational growth and in their practical activities.
  • Students will be informed of the Admission decision before the end of April each year. At that same time, successful candidates will be informed of the fees and the immediate preparation required for the course.
  • As candidates accepted onto this course will go on to assume a delicate task and a great deal of responsibility working in the area of formation and personal and vocational guidance, the School reserves the right to reconsider if any given student should continue onto the next year of the course

Methods & Objectives


The program covers two areas of formation:

  • The theoretical formation takes place over three consecutive summers during a six-week program each summer. Classes begin on the first Monday of July each year and are held in the morning from Monday to Saturday. The afternoons are dedicated to private reading to explore the topics covered in class. The studies related to the Master's Degree are not compatible with other activities during this summer period.
  • The practical formation takes place from September to June and is compatible with other activities. During a period of two or more years, each student will have frequent colloquia on vocational growth with one of the lecturers of the school. In addition, practical application of the academic formation will be supervised by lecturers. Students will perform six cases of vocational evolution and the guidance they devise may be supervised.


First year

  • Personality Theories
  • Anthropology of Christian Vocation I and II
  • Formation according to Church Documents
  • Infant and Adolescent Development
  • Moral Development
  • Psychological Difficulties I
  • Practical Formation: Colloquia I

Second year

  • Psychological Difficulties II
  • Psychodynamics of Family Life
  • Test Study
  • Vocational Interview
  • Personality Evaluation
  • The Experience of Faith in Modern Cultural
  • Practical Formation: Colloquia II
  • Practical Formation: Interview I

Third year

  • Social Psychology and Group Dynamics
  • Clinical Practice
  • Spiritual Direction and Vocational Care
  • Personal, Community and Apostolic Discernment
  • Personality Evaluation Cases
  • Notes on Vocation from Canon Law
  • Practical Formation: Colloquia III
  • Practical Formation: Interview II

Grants and financial aid

The University, as an institution of the Catholic Church dedicated to all members of society, offers a range of grants and financial aid to its students, to help with study costs and to ensure equal opportunities based on the individual needs of each student.

This aid comes directly from the University, from contributions made by the Comillas-ICAI University Foundation, the Fund of Church Grants, the non-autonomous foundation for candidates to the priesthood and from other organizations and individuals.

Students at the University are eligible for the same benefits as other Spanish university students with regard to school insurance, official grants and other grants.

Program taught in:

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3 years
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