Catholic High School Theology Curriculum: What's Included?

St. Agnes Academy
Curious about what a Catholic high school theology curriculum entails? Learn more about Catholic high school curriculums in Texas and what resources are called upon to create them.
A Catholic school will include Catholic teachings, but what does that entail? While you might be familiar with Catholic education, are you also aware of the governing bodies that approve curricula in Catholic schools or where specific mandates come from?

Alternatively, perhaps you are curious about what your non-catholic child might learn if they enroll in a Catholic institution. While every diocese is different, all maintain a form of Catholic high school theology curriculum.

Curriculums may vary from region to region as multiple resources are available from the Pope, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), or religious societies or institutions to create a well-rounded curriculum. Let’s dive into how the curriculum is decided.

Q&A: The Basis for Catholic High School Theology Curriculum

Find out more about the construction of the curriculum by reading the answers to three informative questions below.

What Do the Church's Leaders Say About Catholic Education?

Lectures from as high up as the head of the worldwide Catholic Church to the archdiocese of a metropolitan city encompass the same message stressing the importance of Catholic education to instructors, students, and parents. Some examples include: 

"Indeed, you are in the front line, educating so as to move from a closed world to an open world; from a throwaway culture to a culture of care; from a culture of rejection to a culture of integration; from the pursuit of vested interests to the pursuit of the common good." 
- Pope Francis, May 2022, to the De La Salle Christian Brothers

"I pray that you too will feel encouraged to practise virtue and to grow in knowledge and friendship with God alongside your Catholic classmates."
- Pope Benedict XVI, September 2010, to Pupils at St. Mary's University 

"Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth."
- Pope Benedict XVI, April 2008 to Catholic Educators

"The legacy of a Catholic education is more than the knowledge imparted to our students; it is the development of a deep and abiding sense of faith, the realization of the value of moral character and the inspiration of a life-long journey of learning."
- His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston

Who Decides What Will Be Implemented in Houston Catholic Schools?

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) guides the content of catechetical instruction within a high school curriculum. This guidance offers a big-picture view to help encourage young people to face real-life questions and situations through the lens of their Catholic faith (if practicing) or their developed moral compasses.

The accreditation of Catholic schools usually falls under a Conference of Bishops. In Houston schools like St. Agnes, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops Education Department (TCCB ED), in partnership with the education offices at the Archdiocese of Galveston Houston, is responsible for accrediting Catholic schools.

TCCB ED provides requirements that all schools must adhere to for instructional planning and delivery. As a result, Catholic schools maintain a balanced curriculum that includes the following subject areas:

  • Religion
  • Language Arts
  • (English grammar and composition, reading, vocabulary, spelling, and handwriting)
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social studies
  • Health
  • Guidance
  • Physical education
  • Technology application.
  • Also, many Houston Catholic schools include fine arts, foreign languages, and other electives.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has adopted the Catholic Curriculum Standards, developed by The Cardinal Newman Society, to help integrate the Catholic Identity into all content areas such as English language arts, math, science, and history. Standards within the program are tied to five principles of Catholic Identity: 

1. inspired by Divine mission;
2. models Christian communion and identity;
3. encounters Christ in prayer, scripture, and sacrament;
4. integrally forms the human person;
5. imparts a Christian view of humanity.

These standards involve the formation of character, beliefs, attitudes, values, and interpersonal skills. 

What Do Four Years of Courses Look Like in a Catholic High School?

The time has passed when the Catholic Church can assume every student in the Catholic school has a personal relationship with Christ. Catholic high schools, at a minimum, work to educate students on the history of the Church, Church doctrine, scripture, the life of Jesus, and the relevance of our Church in the 21st century. 

For example, consider the following list of required credits needed to graduate from St. Agnes Academy:

  • 4 English
  • 4 Mathematics
  • 4 Natural Science
  • 4 Theology (All students, regardless of faith tradition, participate in theology classes throughout their high school career.)
  • 3.5 History and Social Sciences
  • 2 World Languages
  • 1 Physical Education
  • 1 Fine Arts
  • 0.5 Speech Elective
  • 1 Health/P.E.
  • 0.5 Community Service (includes a community service project totaling 100+ hours)
  • 0.5 Elective

Catholic schools have the resources available to offer exciting and thought-provoking electives in core subjects and theology courses. Explore our Curriculum Guide today to see what these electives look like at St. Agnes.

Discover Our Catholic High School Theology Curriculum

Are you interested in knowing more about the subjects offered to students at our school? Learn more about our Catholic high school theology curriculum by visiting the St. Agnes website.

You can also speak with faculty and staff from the admissions or Campus Ministry departments today!