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Degree: Master of Arts
Semester Hours: 60

The Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) program is designed for students who prioritize academic preparation in the theological disciplines over professional preparation for ministry.   EMS accepts students who propose to complete the MAR who have completed at least 12 undergraduate hours or 9 graduate hours in their area of study/research interest prior to degree candidacy.  The emphasis in the MAR program is on concentrated study in a field of theological knowledge and on the development of analytical and reflective skills appropriate to that field. The clearest expression of the program’s academic emphasis is the thesis as the student’s capstone in the program.

Students who identify the following goals as matching their primary purpose for their seminary studies are most likely to benefit from the MAR program:

  • training for teaching or writing
  • preparation for further graduate/doctoral studies – see final sentence in this paragraph

Students preparing for ministry in congregations or church agencies are generally encouraged to consider the Master of Divinity (MDiv) or the Master of Arts in Christian Leadership (MACL). Given significant diversity in the admissions expectations for doctoral programs, students choosing between the MAR and MDiv programs as preparation to apply to such programs are urged to consult the admissions requirements of specific programs to which they aspire.

The MAR degree requires the completion of 60 semester hours of work.  See MAR director or associate dean for the process of approving and transferring previously completed graduate or undergraduate academic credit into the MAR.  A full-time student may complete this program in two years.  A minimum of 30 hours shall be taken in residency. 

Each MAR student's program of study consists of both a core taken by all students (a total of 28 hours) and a concentration which must be approved by Seminary faculty during degree candidacy.   Concentrations which may be considered for MAR studies at EMU/S are biblical studies and theology, including peace, theology, intercultural studies and Christian history.

The various procedures toward the Master of Arts in Religion are outlined more fully in the MAR program manual.

Program of Study

Each student’s program of study consists of

  1. A required core of six courses taken by all EMS degree-seeking students, totaling 18 semester hours of credit.
  2. Designated electives in four additional areas, with twelve semester hours for a combined total of 28 required semester hours.
    Biblical Studies elective 3 SH – Generally courses prefixed BVOT or BVNT and focusing on study of Biblical texts (but not the elementary or readings level Biblical languages courses).
    Context of Ministry 3 SH – CM 643 Missio Dei in Cultural Context meets this requirement.  See the CM course listings for other courses that might meet this requirement as well.
    Anabaptist/Methodist or other Denominational Studies 3 SH 
    Theological studies elective 3 SH – The courses prefixed CTT, CTH or CTE generally meet this requirement.
  3. A concentration tailored to the interests of the individual student, consisting of 20 semester hours of coursework.
  4. A thesis anchored in the concentration, worth 6 semester hours.
  5. Electives totaling 6 semester hours which may be rolled into the concentration if there is a rationale showing that these courses directly enhance the concentration, and if so compiling a concentration of 32 semester hours in specialized study.

A minimum of 30 hours shall be taken in residency.  (See residency requirements).


Core Courses (18 SH)
FS 501 Formation in God’s Story I (3)
FS 502 Formation in God’s Story II (3)
CTH 501 Christian Tradition I (3)
CTH 511 Christian Tradition II (3)
BVOT 511 Old Testament: Text in Context (3)
BVNT 512 New Testament: Text in Context (3)

Designated Electives (12 SH)
Biblical Studies elective (3)
Church & Society elective (3)
Anabaptist / Denominational Studies (3)
Theological studies elective (3)

Concentration/Electives/Thesis (30 SH)
Electives in concentration (18)
Electives (6)
Thesis (proposal) – (3)
Thesis (writing and defense) – (3)



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