Master of Arts in Religion
Who should consider an MAR?
The MAR program is designed for students who prioritize academic preparation in the theological disciplines over professional preparation for ministry. Theological study, research and reflection skills combine with opportunities for formational development and mentoring. MAR students have the option of taking courses in other graduate programs at EMU. Interdisciplinary study is encouraged.
The MAR prepares students for
- teaching or writing
- further graduate/doctoral studies*
- integration of theoretical underpinnings for practical ministry
*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.
What is the curriculum?
60 credit hours completed over 2 or more years
- 16 credits of core requirements
- 4 elective courses, one each in biblical studies, church and society, theological studies and Anabaptist studies*
- 20 hours of course work in the student’s concentration
- 6 hours of thesis writing credit
- 6 hours of additional electives
*Anabaptist studies for Anabaptist-affiliated students. Students from other traditions take one of the four courses above or a course in the history/theology of their tradition.
Students may craft MAR concentrations within the classical disciplines of the seminary curriculum or pursue interdisciplinary approaches. Interdisciplinary programs of study may draw from the various programs of the seminary as well as the university’s other graduate programs.
A unique strength of Eastern Mennonite Seminary is our formation program. We believe that focusing on one’s own formation is the best way to prepare students to be healthy and whole in their vocations, this is true for those pursing an academic degree no less than it is for those whose seminary degree will focus on the practice of ministry. For this degree, two formation courses, Formation in God’s Story I & II (2 credits each), are required. These courses are designed to help students understand their own lives in conversation with and connection to God’s story as found in Scripture and being written in the present in their own lives through spiritual practices. For more information, please visit the formation page.
Creative or scholarly thesis options
MAR students have published scholarly works using the MAR thesis as a starting place. Some have also used the MAR thesis to explore a discipline creatively through art. Both creative thesis options and scholarly thesis options are available with approval from the MAR director.
- Formation in God’s Story I and II
- Christian Tradition I and II
- Old Testament: Text in Context
- New Testament: Text in Context
- Biblical Studies elective 3 semester hours – Generally courses prefixed BVOT or BVNT and focusing on study of Biblical texts (but not the elementary or readings level Biblical languages courses).
- Church & Society elective 3 semester hours – Any of the following three courses meet this requirement: Missio Dei in Cultural Context, Christian Faith and Inter-Religious Encounters, or Churches and Social Transformation.
- Anabaptist / Denominational Studies 3 semester hours – Anabaptist-affiliated students take one of four courses: Believers Church, Mennonite History, Anabaptist Theology, or Anabaptism Today. Students from other traditions take one of the four courses above or a course in the history/theology of their tradition
- Theological studies elective 3 semester hours – The courses prefixed CTT, CTH or CTE generally meet this requirement.
- 20 semester hours of course work in a concentration tailored to the interests and thesis plans of the individual student.
- 6 semester hours dedicated to thesis writing
- 6 semester hours of additional electives beyond the thesis. These electives may be rolled into the concentration if there is a rationale showing that these courses directly enhance the concentration.
Advising and the thesis process
Students must follow a careful process of academic advising and program approval in this program. The director for the MAR program serves as Academic Advisor to all MAR students throughout their program of study. After completing 30 credit hours, the successful student prepares a thesis proposal which gains the approval of the seminary’s Academic Committee. When approving this proposal the committee also appoints a thesis advisor from the academic discipline to which the thesis relates. The thesis culminates in an oral defense before an Examining Committee consisting of the MAR director, academic advisor, the thesis advisor, and one or two additional readers. The various procedures toward the Master of Arts in Religion are outlined more fully in an MAR program manual.