Master of Arts (Theology)
The Master of Arts (Theology) is an academic degree distinct in purpose from the Master of Divinity degree, which is a professional degree oriented to ministry. The M.A. is more appropriate for one whose work will focus on research or teaching, whether at the elementary, secondary, community college, or seminary level. This degree is more restricted in scope than the M.Div. and requires greater academic proficiency. The M.A. may be attained in one of the following areas of concentration: Systematic Theology, Sacred Scripture, Church History, Moral Theology, Spirituality, and Liturgy. More specific topics are possible within these general areas by agreement among the student, the thesis director, and the Academic Dean.
Application for Admission into the M.A. Program
Seminarians may apply for admission midway through the spring semester of First Year Theology at the earliest; by the beginning of Third Year Theology at the latest.
Prerequisites for Admission
A. B.A. or B.S., with a GPA of 3.0 or above; and a 3.0 GPA in the regular seminary program.
B. Twelve undergraduate level hours of theology or religious studies, having earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 for these 12 hours.
C. Twelve undergraduate level hours of philosophy from among the topics listed below, having earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 for these 12 hours.
1. Coursework in the History of Philosophy
3.Metaphysics/Philosophy of Being
4.Ethics/Philosophy of Morality
5.Philosophy of Nature/Human Person
6.Philosophy of God
D. One letter of recommendation speaking to the applicant's aptitude for academic work, particularly research and writing skills. Concerning seminarians, the letter must be submitted by a faculty member at American University.
E.Personal statement explaining applicant's interest.
F. International students must take the TOEFL: minimum score of 550, paper-based exam; 215, computer based exam; 80, Internet based.
The M.A. program consists of 48 total academic credits. Of these 48 credits, 42 credits of coursework (taken from 5000-9000 level courses in Sacred Scripture, Systematic Theology [includes Liturgical and Historical Theology] and Moral Theology) are required; and either (i) the writing and oral defense of a full-length thesis, for which 6 additional credits are granted (=M.A. Thesis Option) or (ii) 6 additional credits of coursework (with special research and writing requirements) plus written and oral comprehensive exams (=M.A. Coursework Option).
A minimum requirement of credits must be earned in all four of the theological disciplines:
.Sacred Scripture (at least 6 credits)
.Systematic and Liturgical Theology (at least 6 credits)
.Moral and Spiritual Theology (at least 6 credits)
.Historical Theology (at least 3 credits)
A. For those students earning M.A. and M.Div. degrees concurrently at Stau, up to 24 credits may be transferred from the M.Div. program to the M.A. program (excluding pastoral Studies courses).
B. M.A. students are allowed to transfer up to 12 credits of graduate level theology courses from an accredited outside institution.
For students enrolled concurrently in the M.A. and the M.Div. programs, credits transferred to the M.A, program from an outside institution count among the total of 24 transferable credits.
The M.A. Thesis Option
A. This option allows the student to intensify and refine research skills. It is an especially appropriate program for anyone who would like to teach or pursue further graduate studies after seminary training.
B. In addition to 42 credits of coursework (both faculty designated courses [12 credits] and student designated courses [30 credits], the student earns 6 credits for the research, writing and successful oral defense of a full-length thesis (65-90 pages).
C. The student selecting this option should propose a thesis topic and director before the end of the second year, and upon approval by the Director of the M.A. Program the student should begin research as soon as possible thereafter.
D. The thesis must be submitted within two years of the completion of all coursework.
E. The review committee evaluates the writing and oral defense of the M.A. thesis. The committee consists of the thesis director and two professors who will be appointed by the Director of the M.A. program in consultation with the thesis director and the student.
The M.A. Coursework Option
A) The choice of this option must be made at the time of official enrollment in the M.A. program. The student choosing this option will work with the Director of the M.A. Program to verify regular progress.
B) In addition to 30 credits of required coursework, the student must take 6 elective courses of three units each. Four of these electives must be the faculty Designated Courses in Sacred Scripture, Systematic/Historical Theology and Moral/Spiritual Theology. The other two electives are Student Designated ones in the aforementioned areas. These courses require an extra project chosen in consultation with the instructor and with the approval of the Director of the M.A. program. This arrangement must be made at the beginning of the semester in which the course so designated is being taken.
C) The student must achieve at least a B in these courses for successful completion of the requirement. An unsatisfactory grade will require a retake of the course or a comparable substitute.
D) The Coursework Option also requires successful completion of oral and written comprehensive examinations (the S.T.B. comprehensive) with a grade of B or better. If a student receives an unsatisfactory grade (lower than a B or 3.0 GPA), the individual has one opportunity for a retake of the examination.
There is a fee for the diploma after successful defense of the thesis. There is also a per credit hour continuance fee in the M.A. program for all seminarians who do not successfully defend their theses by the end of their Fourth Year of Theology. This continuance fee also applies to non-resident M.A. students after completion of all coursework requirements. The current fee is $625.00 per credit hour (total for 6 credits is $3750.00). The current fee for an M.A. diploma is $50.00.
The M.A. and the S.T.B. Degrees at a Glance
If a seminarian is enrolled concurrently in the M.A. and the M. Div. programs, and is in the M.A. Coursework Option Track, he can transfer 24 credits from the M.Div. to the M.A. degree (excluding Pastoral Studies courses). Of the remaining 24 credits required for the M.A., 12 are earned by taking the Faculty Designated M.A. Courses and 12 more by taking Electives.
If a seminarian is in the M.A. Thesis Track, he can transfer 24 credits from the M.Div. to the M.A. degree (excluding Pastoral Studies courses). Of the remaining 24 credits required for the M.A.: 6 are earned by writing/defending his M.A. thesis, 12 by taking the Faculty Designated M.A. Courses, and 6 more by taking Electives.
If a student is enrolled concurrently in the M.A. and the S.T.B. programs, and is in the M.A. Coursework Option Track, he can apply all 48 credits from the M.A. toward the S.T.B., including the 12 credits earned by taking Faculty Designated M.A. Courses; these can serve as Electives in the S.T.B. program.
If a seminarian is in the M.A. Thesis Track, he can apply 42 credits from the M.A. toward the S.T.B., including the 12 credits earned by taking Faculty Designated M.A. Courses; these can serve as Electives in the S.T.B. program. (The six credits earned by writing/defending the M.A. thesis cannot apply to the S.T.B.)