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

Upon completion of this degree, students may apply their credits toward a bachelor’s degree at CDU or at one of our partner institutions, including the American Public University System (APUS), Shepherd University, Belmont Abbey College, Mount St. Mary’s University, and the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

Program Requirements

Program Time Limit: 4 years

Application Process:

  • Submit program application, $25 application fee, and two letters of recommendation from church, employer, teacher, or counselor.
  • Submit evidence of high school completion/GED with one of the following documents:
    -Official high school transcript* submitted from the school where the diploma was earned.
    -GED Certificate issued from the state where it was earned.
    -Official Homeschool Transcript* or Certificate as required by the state of issue along with graduation date. (For homeschooled students from states that do not issue official state transcripts, either a GED exam, SAT, or ACT scores may be required along with transcript. Alternatively, students may successfully complete a first course at CDU prior to program admission.)
    -Official College Transcript* that indicates HS graduation date or official college transcript along with a copy of high school diploma indicating the graduation date.
    -Foreign transcripts* that have been validated as a HS diploma equivalent.
    *Those who submit official transcripts with credits earned in the last 5 years must have at least a 2.0 GPA from the most recent issuing accredited institution. If the GPA is below a 2.0 or the transcript is more than five years old, the student must successfully complete a course at CDU with a minimum grade of 2.0 before being accepted into the program and applying for federal financial aid. CDU reserves the right to deny admission to students with more than three transcripts from different institutions.
  • Students who have completed some college should also submit official college transcripts.

Transfer Credit:  Up to 27 General Education credits earned with a minimum grade of 2.0 from an institution(s) accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education may be transferred provided that these credits meet the requirements of the program.

A maximum combination of up to 15 credits from CLEP, Advanced Placement, DANTES and/or International Baccalaureate may be accepted. These credits count against the maximum total number of allowable transfer credits. For more information, see the Credit by Exam Policy.

Transfer of Theology Credit: A maximum of six undergraduate theology credits can be transferred in. Transfer credit must have been earned no more than five years prior to transfer and grade must be at least a 3.0 and submitted via an official transcript to be evaluated for transfer. Acceptance of transfer credit is at the discretion of the academic dean who determines if transfer credits align with the CDU AA curriculum.


    • Tuition: $915 x 11 courses = $10,065
    • Technology fee: $120/course x 11 courses = $1,320
    • Proctor fee: $25/course x 11 courses = $275
    • Books: $100/course (est) x 11 courses = $1,100
    • Total: $12,760, *This total does not include the 9 required General Education courses that may be fulfilled with transfer credit

“CDU gave me a chance to study theology online in a way that would be easy for me as a working young adult. CDU gave me a chance to pursue something that has completely set my heart on fire—working with young people to show them the beauty of having a relationship with Jesus. I can’t wait to use the tools that I have gained from CDU to accomplish what Christ is calling me to.”

Mary Kate Budd, AA in Liberal Arts

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Program Goals

By the end of the CDU AA in Liberal Arts program, a student:

  • Exhibits an understanding of the central teachings in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in relation to the common good of human society, the dignity and transcendence of the human person, and principles of moral living.
  • Demonstrates a fundamental knowledge of the Old and New Testament Scriptures in light of Catholic teachings.
  • Exhibits a capacity to explain and apply the relationship between faith and reason through courses in both theology and philosophy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Exhibits an understanding of key concepts in Church history and their effect on human culture and civilization.

Course Lists

For descriptions of both required and elective courses, please consult the online course catalog. All courses listed below are 8 weeks long.

Course Number Course Title Credits
CHIST 214 Church History I: Early Christians to the Middle Ages 3
CHIST 224 Church History II: Renaissance to Modern Church 3
ENG 105 Introduction to Composition for Theology 3
HIST 201 Ancient Civilization* 3
HIST 211 Christian Civilization* 3
HIST 221 A Global Civilization* 3
PHIL 205 Introduction to Philosophy with Plato and Aristotle* 3
PHIL 235 Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Person* 3
SCRPT 103 Survey of the Old Testament 3
SCRPT 106 Survey of the New Testament 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: HIST 201, HIST 211, and HIST 221 (these replace the Western Civilization courses). 

*Students must complete their choice of one of the following courses: PHIL 205 or PHIL 235.

In addition to the 33 credits in the Catholic Studies Core, students are required to earn 27 credits in the following areas. Courses are 8 weeks long unless otherwise noted.

General education courses ensure that students cultivate the skills, knowledge, and habits of mind that are essential in every field of study. To learn more, view the General Education Outcomes.

General Education Requirements
English Language Arts 3 credits
Natural Sciences
(i.e., biology, chemistry, physics, geology)
3 credits
Mathematics/Computer Science
(i.e., mathematics, statistics, computer usage)
3 credits
Classical or Modern Languages 3 credits
Social Sciences
(i.e., history, sociology, economics, political science)
9 credits
Humanities and Fine Arts
(i.e., art, music, scripture, theology.) Additional scripture or theology courses not used for the major may be taken at CDU.
3 credits
Electives 3 credits


To see all of the general education courses offered, please see the General Education Course List.

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 cannot 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).


In a 2019 survey of CDU graduate students, 100% reported that they had achieved their learning goals.

CDU Offers:

  • Authentic Catholic teaching
  • Flexibility to study where and when you choose
  • The lowest undergraduate tuition of any U.S.-based online university offering Catholic theology
  • A global Catholic community
  • Knowledgeable and accessible faculty
  • Engaging online courses with discussion forums
  • Mobile app for study on the go
  • Online library staffed by a theological librarian
  • 24/7 technical support

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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 certified as a degree-granting institution by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.