Master of Arts Religion

All graduate degrees

The Master of Arts degree helps prepare you for doctoral studies by developing your skills in research, writing, and independent thinking. Graduates are equipped with 36 credits and a master's degree in religion as a basis for applying for a doctoral program.

How the program works

The MA program is designed to accommodate the schedule of a full-time pastor. Courses are offered primarily as two-week intensive sessions on campus during the summer, with prior and subsequent reading and writing assignments. Some online classes are planned and will be made available as they are developed. The recommended load is two to three courses per summer.

  • Summer intensives:  Each year before registering for summer classes, students must submit an Intensives Application. The application is due no later than six weeks prior to each session, but we recommend submitting it as early as February to allow sufficient time to complete required reading assignments. The form, which lists the classes offered, will be posted here in January.
  • Southern Union pastors:  Pastors may receive a tuition waiver by submitting a signed Conference Authorization form each academic year (Summer, Fall, Winter) that they are enrolled for classes. CONFERENCE AUTHORIZATION FORM
  • International students:  Since graduate programs in the School of Religion are offered only as summer intensives, the part-time schedule does not meet student-visa requirements. International students may be eligible for other visas (such as the B1) for short-term intensive classes.

Eligibility and prerequisites

  • Bachelor’s degree:  A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • Religion courses:  A minimum of 12 semester hours in religion (waivers may be requested for some or all of this requirement, based on the applicant's full-time ministry experience).
  • GPA requirement: A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.25  OR  for an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 to 3.24, applicants may request to e admitted on a provisional basis. A formal academic paper to demonstrate academic competency may be required of the candidate.
  • Emphasis in Biblical and Theological Studies:  Applicants must have six semester hours of credit in a biblical language with a minimum grade of C. This may be counted as part of the required 12 hours in religion.

Admission process

  1. Graduate application:  Submit a graduate application (with non-refundable fee of $40). Apply now
  2. Transcripts:  Submit official college and university transcripts. Many institutions subscribe to the convenient transcript-request service at National Student Clearinghouse, or you may also contact your institution directly. Have your transcripts sent to Melodie Lopez in the Graduate Studies office (malopez@southern.edu). If you earned your prerequisite degree at Southern, you do not need to complete this step.
  3. Recommendations:  Submit two recommendation forms (completed by work supervisors or professors). This should be done as part of the online application process, or Download PDF 
    If you are employed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, one recommendation must be from a superior in the organization.
  4. Service record:  Submit a denominational service record (usually available from your SDA employer), if applicable, OR the Record of Service form. Download form
  5. Statement of Purpose:  Candidates are to submit a written "Statement of Purpose through the Application Status Page following the guidelines provided by the School of Religion. Download PDF

Application deadlines

The deadline for acceptance into the MA program is April 15; however, each year before registering for summer classes, students must submit a separate Intensives Application, which is due at least six weeks prior to each term. We recommend submitting it as early as February to allow sufficient time to complete required reading assignments. With School of Religion approval, students may take up to 12 hours of coursework on non-degree or provisional status.

INTENSIVES APPLICATION PROGRAM APPLICATION
From February 1 to no later than six weeks before the session starts. April 15

International students

Since graduate programs in the School of Religion are offered only as summer intensives, this schedule does not meet student-visa requirements for international students.

Course guide

Select an emphasis:

New Testament Studies

The emphasis in New Testament Studies is specifically designed to prepare students for entering an academic doctoral program in biblical or theological studies.

The emphasis in Old Testament Studies is specifically designed to prepare students for entering an academic doctoral program in biblical or theological studies.

The emphasis in Religious Studies is specifically designed to provide a flexible graduate program in religion for those who want to enter an academic doctoral program in religious studies or to further their religious education in a more general way.

Master of Arts Religion Core Courses Credits
  RELT 531 Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation 3
  RELT 520 Spirituality in Ministry 3
  RELT 581 Biblical Ethics and Contemporary Society 3
or RELT 525 Theology of Ministry 3
  RELT 546 Doctrine of Salvation 3
Core Subtotal   12
New Testament Studies Courses Credits
  NTST 532 Theology of Luke—Acts 3
or NTST 535 The Gospel of John 3
  NTST 553 Studies in Romans 3
  NTST 556 Studies in Revelation 3
New Testament Studies Subtotal   9
Research Courses Credits
  RELG 600 Research Methods and Writing 3
  OTST 640 Thesis Proposal and Literature Review 3
  OTST 650 Thesis in Biblical Studies (may be taken in increments of 1-6 hours) 6
Research Subtotal   12
Elective Courses Credits
    Select any School of Religion Graduate course. 3
Elective Subtotal   3
  Total   36
Master of Arts Religion Core Courses Credits
  RELT 531 Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation 3
  RELT 520 Spirituality in Ministry 3
  RELT 581 Biblical Ethics and Contemporary Society 3
or RELT 525 Theology of Ministry 3
  RELT 546 Doctrine of Salvation 3
Core Subtotal   12
Old Testament Studies Courses Credits
  OTST 510 Archaeology and Biblical Backgrounds 3
or OTST 530 Archaeological Fieldwork 3
  OTST 570 Studies in the Pentateuch 3
or OTST 575 Studies in the Psalms 3
  OTST 560 Exegesis of the Hebrew Bible 3
Old Testament Studies Subtotal   9
Research Courses Credits
  RELG 600 Research Methods and Writing 3
  OTST 640 Thesis Proposal and Literature Review 3
or OTST 650 Thesis in Theological Studies (may be taken in increments of 1-6 hours) 6
Research Subtotal   9
Elective Courses Credits
    Biblical Studies or Theological Studies

 

3
Elective Subtotal   3
  Total   36
Master of Arts Religion Core Courses Credits
  RELT 531 Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation 3
  RELT 520 Spirituality in Ministry 3
  RELT 581 Biblical Ethics and Contemporary Society 3
or RELT 525 Theology of Ministry 3
  RELT 546 Doctrine of Salvation 3
Core Subtotal   12
Biblical and Theological Courses Credits
  NTST Select any NTST course 3
  OTST Select any OTST course 3
  RELT Select any RELT course 3
Religious Studies Subtotal   9
Research and Elective Courses (Choose either the Thesis or Project Option) Credits
  RELG 600 Research Methods and Writing   3
  Thesis Option   12
  RELT 640 Thesis Proposal and Literature Review 3  
  RELT 650 Thesis in Theological Studies (may be taken in increments of 1-6 hours) 6  
  Select any School of Religion graduate course 3  
  Project Option   12
  RELT 620 Project in Theological Studies 3  
  Select any School of Religion graduate courses 9  
Research and Elective Subtotal   15
  Total   36

Faculty

Stephen Bauer
Stephen Bauer

Professor
sbauer@southern.edu
423.236.2981

Michael Hasel
Michael Hasel

Professor
mhasel@southern.edu
423.236.2986

Martin Klingbeil
Martin Klingbeil

Professor
mklingbeil@southern.edu
423.236.2983

Alan Parker
Alan Parker

Professor
parker@southern.edu
423.236.2683

Barry Tryon
Barry Tryon

Professor
btryon@southern.edu
423.236.2025

Get started

Thank you for considering Southern Adventist University for your graduate studies in Religion. We have attempted here to explain our programs and their rationale and delivery method. If after careful reading of this material you still have questions, please call or e-mail me, and I will be happy to try to answer your questions more fully. We look forward to being able to help you with your graduate studies if our programs fit your needs and situation.

Alan Parker

Graduate Program Coordinator
parker@southern.edu
423.236.2683