Associate of Arts in the Liberal Arts with a Concentration in Catholic Studies

The Associate of Arts (AA) degree program provides a high quality entry-level associate degree in liberal arts with an emphasis on the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Our AA offers a fully online liberal arts program for the professional development of catechists, parents, aspiring Catholic school teachers, professional career-seekers in the Catholic Church, and anyone else who may later seek a higher degree in liberal arts.

Upon completion of this degree, students have the option to apply the credits earned towards a bachelor's degree in theology at CDU, or at one of our partner institutions, including Belmont Abbey College and Mount St. Mary's University.

  • The AA program is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which is recognized as a national accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education (Accreditation). The university is also certified as a degree granting institution by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Community and Technical College System.
  • All courses use a distance learning format that allows students to study at a time and place that best fits busy schedules and lifestyles.
  • There are no residency requirements, so unlike many other distance learning programs, there is never the need to drive to a college campus or meeting place.
  • CDU courses provide faithful and systematic teachings of Sacred Scripture, the living tradition of the Church, and the authentic Magisterium, as well as the spiritual heritage of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.
  • CDU offers a full-time technical help desk that is available daily to answer questions and solve computer problems.
  • At CDU, distance learning is all about creating and building a faith filled learning community. The online student union provides a place for prayer and spiritual support, lively discussions and general conversation, and program-specific question and answer desks.
  • CDU’s one-of-a-kind program Academic and Research Skills online course emphasizes fundamental writing skills and test taking skills as a foundation for higher level academic work in the liberal arts.
  •  CDU has signed articulation agreements with Belmont Abbey College in Charlotte, NC and Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, MD that allow graduates of CDU's AA degree program to matriculate and pursue degrees at each of these institutions. 
  • Belmont Abbey will automatically accept all of the courses that CDU currently offers as part of its AA degree program, and transfer students should be able to finish a baccalaureate degree in theology, history or other discipline in the humanities within two years, while degrees in the sciences or professional studies will require additional credit hours.
  • Contact our Admissions Office for more information.

Lifelong Formation
Demonstrates an understanding, comprehension, and integration of the content of the general education and core courses within the context of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Exhibits an understanding of the dignity and transcendence of the human person, principles of moral living, Church history, and the central teachings in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Demonstrates a fundamental knowledge of the Old and New Testament Scriptures in light of Catholic teachings.

Faith Development
Demonstrates an understanding, comprehension, and integration of the content of the general education and core courses within the context of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Exhibits a capacity to explain and apply the relationship between faith and reason through courses in both theology and philosophy.
Communication for Community
Gives evidence through written work and online class discussion that students possess the fundamental reading, writing, and critical reflection skills required for lower baccalaureate academic work in liberal arts, particularly at CDU.

Collaboration for the Common Good
Exhibits an understanding of key elements of the family as a foundation for culture, social structures, and broader civilization.

Demonstrates an ability to bring the teachings of the Church into wider culture to promote the common good and build a society that recognizes the dignity of the human person.  

  • Program Requirements: 60 credits-33 Theology core credits, 24 General Education core credits and 3 Elective credits
  • Program time limits: 4 years
  • Application process: Submit program application; $25 application fee; official transcript (from high school degree or GED) or official transcript(s) from the most recent college(s) attended; 2 Letters of Recommendation from either your church, employer, teacher or counselor.
  • Acceptance: Students must  have one of the following: GPA of at least 2.0 from most recent school attended, acceptable SAT/ACT score, or completion of 3 credits from CDU with a minimum of a C.

For descriptions of both required and elective courses, please consult the online course catalog.

Catholic Studies Core
33 credits
Course Number Course Title Credits
CHIST 314 Church History I: Early Christians to the Middle Ages 3
CHIST 324 Church History II: Renaissance to Modern Church 3
ENG 105 Introduction to Composition for Theology 3
HUM 251 Ancient Civilization* 3
HUM 252 Christian Civilization* 3
HUM 253 A Global Civilization* 3
PHIL 235 Elements of the Human Person 3
SCRPT 303 Survey of the Old Testament 3
SCRPT 306 Survey of the New Testament with the CCC 3
THEO 101 Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part I 3
THEO 102 Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part II 3
THEO 103 The Moral Life: Living the Virtues 3

*Students must complete their choice of two of the following  courses: HUM 251, HUM 252, and HUM 253. These replace the Western Civilization courses.

Click here to see a sample course schedule

Transfer of Theology Credits: Maximum of six transfer undergraduate credits, providing they meet the requirements of the program (Catholic theology from a Catholic institution).  Credits must have been earned no more than five years prior to transfer and approved by the Academic Dean who determines if transfer credits align with the CDU theology curriculum.


In addition to the 33 credits in the Catholic Studies Core, students are required to earn 27 credits in the following areas:

General Education Requirements
English Composition II/Literature 3 credits
Natural Sciences 3 credits
Mathematics/IT 3 credits
Foreign languages 3 credits
Social sciences 6 credits
History 3 credits
Humanities 3 credits
Electives 3 credits


The general education credits must be at the 100 level or higher and one must have received a grade of C or higher from an accredited institution. Experiential credit can't be used in place of academic credit.

General Education requirements may also be fulfilled via the College Board's Advanced Placement (AP) program and College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Subject standardized Testing (DSST).
CDU offers the following courses to help students meet general education requirements:

For a description of each of these courses, please consult the online course catalog.

Course Number Course Title Credits
BIO 150 Nutrition 3
ECON 105 Elements of Economics 3
ENG 102 Basic English Grammar and Composition I 3
GREEK 101 Biblical Greek I* 3
GREEK 201 Biblical Greek II* 3
GREEK 417 Advanced Biblical Greek Lab* 1
LATIN 101 Latin I (revised)* 3
LATIN 201 Latin II* 3
PHIL 235 Elements of Philosophy of the Human Person 3

*These language classes cannot be used for both foreign language general education requirements and AA program electives.

"I can assure you of my profound gratitude and appreciation for everything the Catholic Distance University has done throughout its 29-year history and will continue to do in the future - casting the net out into the deep, in even more expansive and technologically advanced ways - for the sake of the New Evangelization."

-Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano
Apostolic Nuncio