SpIRE Spirituality Institute

MA in Applied Spirituality

Jesuit Library

The MA in Applied Spirituality is full for 2021-22 , but a waiting list has been created in case vacancies arise. Contact Noelia: [email protected] 

For information on the schedule and modules for the MA in 2021-22 click on 

2021-22 Modules & Schedule

For additional information about the MA, email Michael at [email protected]

The MA in Applied Spirituality, awarded by Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), takes place in Milltown Park, Milltown Road, Dublin D06 V9K7. The programme began in WIT in 2016 and it was the first time in Ireland for an Institute of Technology to run and accredit a postgraduate programme in applied spirituality.

The Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE) hosts and supports the programme. The Director of SpIRE, Dr Michael O’Sullivan, SJ, is also the Programme Leader for the MA. He and the Chair of SpIRE, Prof. Bernadette Flanagan, did a great deal of the work to write the original programme when it ran at Milltown Institute from 2001-10 and she was the Head of the Dept of Spirituality and the first Director of the programme there.. She and Michael, who became Director in 2005, wrote the adapted programme when it moved to All Hallows College as a DCU award in 2010 following the decision to close the Milltown Institute. The programme then went through the customary process of institutional approval before it could proceed as a WIT programme and award, following the decision to close All Hallows College. Michael did a great deal of the writing for the WIT approved programme drawing on the version of the programme that ran at All Hallows College/DCU . The programme has the benefit of an internationally leading library in the field of spirituality studies, namely the SpIRE Library, which is supported by the Irish Jesuits. It is also served by a very experienced and distinguished team of lecturers, research supervisors, and spiritual accompaniers.

A photo further down the page shows the inaugural, and therefore historic, class of 2016-17 on the day of their graduation, 1 November 2017 (3 of the 20 graduates were unable to attend). A second cohort with 18 students graduated on 1 Nov 2018 and a photo of those able to attend the ceremony is further down the page. The third cohort began their studies on 3 September. They come from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Canada, the UK, a Maltese working in South Sudan, a South African-Irish citizen working in Ireland, and an Irish citizen resident in the UK. The Irish students working in Ireland come from Dingle to Donegal. The photo immediately below is of the fourth and current cohort of 18 adult learners..

MA in Applied Spirituality

The MA in Applied Spirituality, awarded by Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), takes place in Milltown Park, Milltown Road, Dublin D06 V9K7 and is hosted and supported there by the Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE).

This MA is unique in its blend of theory, skills, personal process, and research modules, and has been described as “life-transforming”, “life-enhancing”, and “world-leading”. It is also presented in the context of its participants being a community of co-learners.

As well as the class-contact time for the delivery of modules, there are also 10 meetings with a spiritual director spread throughout the year and arranged between you and your spiritual director (we have a list of recognised spiritual accompaniers and will assist you in choosing one) and several meeting in triads (groups of 3) for the purpose of personal and theoretical integration regarding the programme.

Time also needs to be set aside for a series of meetings with your research supervisor once you start work on your research dissertation in January and for the likelihood of interviewing a small sample of people to gather data from lived experience for the dissertation. While the classes finish in May, assignments continue until the beginning of August.

Unique Aspects of the Programme
The teaching and learning associated with the programme has four unique aspects:

  • Participants learn about spirituality as a new higher education discipline, which is also playing an increasingly important role in diverse professions, and every field of study.
  • Personal Skills and Personal Practice are integrated with theoretical foundations
  • Programme Participants are guided and supported in the critical self-appropriation of their own spiritual journey
  • Research is integrated into the programme methodology and is informed by the methods of contemplative inquiry

Titles of Dissertations Titles of some research dissertations by graduates as part of their MA studies are available under the Research tab on the website. We are also currently assembling publications by graduates since the programme began in Milltown Institute in 2001.

For additional information about the MA, email the Programme Leader at [email protected]

There was no class graduation ceremony in 2020 because of the Covid-19 virus. The image immediately below shows the 2019-20 Class with the programme leadership team (Michael, Bernadette, and Noelia)

Some testimonies about the 2019-20 MA in Applied Spirituality as a Waterford Institute ofTechnology (WIT) award. The MA is hosted and supported by SpIRE at the Jesuit Centre, Milltown Park, Dublin, Ireland.

  • “I thank God for leading me onto what has been a truly enriching year with such valuable teaching from all the staff. Very many thanks to each of you for guiding me through this thought-provoking and nourishing year. Every blessing”.
  • “The MA program is a rich and meaningful and complex program which led to a thought-provoking and life-enhancing year. Huge thanks and gratitude to everyone on the staff – Michael, Bernadette, Noelia, David, Anne-Marie, Amanda, Brian, Padraig, and Kathleen. It has been a rich, intense and rewarding year. Much respect and Love”.
  • “Thanks to everyone who made my MA year so special, I have enjoyed every moment and the year has changed my life forever”.
  • “With thanks to Michael and Bernadette for facilitating the MA program; to Kathleen (in the library) for all her assistance; and the faculty team for their generous teachings. A special thanks to Noelia for her heartfelt supervision. Blessings to all”.
  • “To Michael, Bernadette, Noelia, Kathleen and all the wonderful lecturers who shared their wisdom this year. I am eternally grateful. Thank you so much for such a wonderful year. My soul feels grounded and my life expanded after it”.
  • “Thank you so much for an amazing experience”.
  • “Dear Michael, Bernadette, and Noelia (the leadership team), I write in deep gratitude for all your efforts over my MA in Applied Spirituality experience. Each of you, in your unique and lovely ways, have made such important contributions to my time in the programme. You set great examples, been a continued resource and shared so much knowledge and wisdom.”
  • “It was a great experience and I feel a better sense of myself and of my purpose in life. I feel stronger and happier in myself”.
  • “I have expanded both mind and spirit and know this experience will forever give deeper meaning to my life. I will continue to think of you all in prayer and with great gratitude”.
  • “To the Director, Dr. Michael O’Sullivan, whose attention to detail made for a smooth running of the programme. His lectures and his embodying of what he taught were a wonderful example of authenticity of life”.

Below 9 of the 2018-19 MA in Applied Spirituality class who were able to take part in their conferring ceremony on Oct 30th pictured with the programme leadership team, Michael, Bernadette, and Noelia.

Some testimonies about the 2018-19 MA in Applied Spirituality in its form as a Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) award. The MA is hosted and supported by SpIRE at the Jesuit Centre, Milltown Park, Dublin, Ireland.

“I knew from the outset that the course content would be engaging, inspiring and incredibly informative, but I underestimated the cumulative effect of the layers and layers of learning that go on not just in lectures, but also in peer learning groups, in the corridor over a cup of coffee and while reflecting on teaching and conversations in my own time. This is a life-enhancing programme.”

“A wonderful year of study, reflection, discourse, wisdom and fun!”

“The M.A program has been a transformative experience for me. I not only deepened my understanding of spirituality, but also discovered an academic field full of challenges and opportunities.”

“Excellent programme and process. An amazing experience of learning and reflection.

“I have a new perspective on life and spirituality.”

“Buiochas for an amazing experience in spirituality!”

“It has been a wonderful and profound year. A program that enables personal growth and the search for meaning in life.”

“The course has been, remains, and will continue to be rich nourishment.”

“Life changing lectures with life-giving fellow students”.

“It has been a real privilege and joy to be part of the MA.”

“2018/19 has opened a wonderful landscape in my spiritual trajectory incorporating new dimensions, expanding knowledge, breaking the boundaries of my own perceptions, welcoming a multitude of new approaches to life, and many other experiences.”

“So many things to say. Thanks doesn’t begin to cover it!”

“Don’t do this course….unless you are open to it changing your life and want to meet some amazing, inspirational people”.

“The MA course was brilliant from start to finish”.

“Thank you to Dr Michael O’ Sullivan, Dr Bernadette Flanagan and all the lecturers and staff on the MA programme in Applied Spirituality at Milltown Institute for your challenging, inspiring and rewarding classes that has helped to make the year truly transformative. This is a course that I would highly recommend for those wishing to deepen and grow in their understanding of Spirituality and how it can be applied in our context”.

Below: 12 of the 18 graduates of the MA in Applied Spirituality 2017-18 on 1 Nov 2018 with the Programme Leadership Team



A few testimonies about the MA in Applied Spirituality in its form as a Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) award, hosted and supported by SpIRE, at the Jesuit Conference Centre, Milltown Park, Dublin in 2017-18

“The MA was a wonderful life-enriching process that will reverberate through the rest of my life”.

“Learning from experience, academic rigour, inspirational teachers and companionship on the spiritual journey have made my year of study on the MA Applied Spirituality programme one of transformation and great joy”. 

“It has been (and is) a truly amazing time of learning, growth and experiences!”

“The level of input was excellent, the opportunities to share and grow were amazing.  The friendships I have made are very precious. It has been a truly life-changing year for which I am profoundly grateful”.

“I particularly enjoyed chatting over tea with other students and adapting to the academic study of spirituality. I now feel more confident in developing my own interest in the field of spirituality and mental health”.

“Being supported throughout underpins the ethos of this unique course, and is fully implemented by lecturers, programme leaders, spiritual directors, and library staff alike. I am transformed utterly: now having a new voice with which to greet my world”. 

“The MA in Applied Spirituality has had a life-changing effect on me”.

“My learning and personal transformation from the M.A. continues to influence my life”.

Historic Conferring of inaugural class on 1 Nov 2017 / MA in Applied Spirituality 2016-17

Historic Conferring of MA in Applied Spirituality

A few testimonies regarding the MA in Applied Spirituality in its form as a Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) award at the Jesuit Conference Centre, Milltown Park, Dublin in 2016-17

“I had already taken my first steps in a renewed spiritual life when I discovered the MA in Applied Spirituality. It presented itself just when I needed support for my personal journey of renewal and transformation. It was a challenge but I found the balance of academic and experiential learning uplifting, especially the support of tutors, spiritual advisors and classmates”.    

“I can honestly say it is hard to put into words the positive experience this past year on the MA programme has been for me.  It has been a wonderful opportunity for growth and awareness, an opening to explore the meaning of my relational worlds and those around me, family, friends, community. It has expanded my thinking, opening up my listening, widening my view to be more inclusive of all that there may be, with compassion”.

“I learnt so much during the year and I enjoyed the course immensely”.

“I did the MA in Applied Spirituality during my sabbatical year and it was a very inspiring and fulfilling experience. The academic input was excellent, enlightening, thought-provoking and challenging. Great support and guidance were given at all times. The course called for personal reflection on lived experience and I have developed new skills and received many new insights for both my personal spiritual life and in my ministry. I have no hesitation in recommending this course to others to help them on the spiritual journey”.

“There were many graces on this MA and unexpected gifts”.

“It is an amazing journey”.

“I want to acknowledge the inspirational presence of Dr Michael O’Sullivan who made my study of spirituality a transformative gift through the Holy Spirit. I will treasure our time together in Milltown for the rest of my life”.

Testimonies about the inaugural graduation day on 1 Nov 2017

Today was a wonderful success. It was truly a lovely ceremony. It was simple and appropriately celebratory, honouring what people have done. In that sense it was better than TCD (where I received two degrees, one of which was handed to me by Mary Robinson, then the Chancellor of the university!). During the ceremony, I was able to look up at the fifth station of the cross, Simon helps carry the cross, and it prompted me to think, pray really, how much the help of countless people on the course (and in wider life) has been so important in getting me to this point. To be graduating like that was particularly wonderful, when you consider that a few years back the medics were recommending nursing homes, thinking that I’d never be fit enough for independent living. And here I am!

It was a very graced day all round and a real privilege to meet up with peers and staff again – we certainly shared a very special journey.  Here’s to the next leg of the journey – wherever that may lead!! Thanks again, Michael, for all you have done for us and for the whole programme.

Dear Michael and Bernadette, many thanks for making yesterday such a wonderful, thoroughly enjoyable day. I found it a wonderful thing that you were there on the feast of “All Hallows”, leading us in for our Conferring ceremony, acknowledged publicly as Leaders of this Course. In a way it was your “Conferring” also!