Theology and Religious Studies, Master of Arts

Students seeking to enroll in the Master of Arts program should have completed at least six undergraduate courses in theology and/or religious studies. Since few undergraduates major in theology per se, the department offers introductory courses in biblical studies (TRS 400) and systematic theology (TRS 430) to acquaint students with the basic themes and methods in the field, and to introduce students to standard research procedures and tools in the discipline.

Program Learning Goals

The successful Master of Arts graduate:

  1. Critically analyzes the culturally and globally diverse dimensions of religious experience as expressed in sacred texts, art, ritual practice, ethical commitments, and social structures.
  2. Appreciates how culturally and globally diverse religious traditions provide resources for responding to injustice and living ethically.
  3. Demonstrates facility with standard practices of advanced academic research in theology and religious studies and a potential for original work in the field.

M.A. Admission Requirements

Applicants to the M.A. program are required to submit the following:

  • Official academic transcript(s) of baccalaureate degree from an accredited four-year institution.
  • Two letters of recommendation from persons acquainted with the applicant’s academic qualifications. If appropriate, one letter may be from someone familiar with the applicant’s professional work.
  • A personal statement indicating the applicant’s aims and goals in pursuing the M.A. program.

In addition, applicants may submit in support of the application:

  • A research writing sample; and/or
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test or Miller Analogies Test (MAT).

M.A. Requirements

  • 30 semester hours of graduate study.
  • Four required courses:
    • TRS 400, Engaging Scriptures: Biblical Interpretation
    • TRS 430, Introduction to Systematic Theology
    • One course in Religious Ethics
    • One course in World Religions
  • At least 15 semester hours of 500-level coursework (including TRS 593 or TRS 599).
  • A culminating assessment portfolio and oral defense (= the comprehensive examination).
  • For students in
    • Successful completion of a foreign language examination demonstrating a reading knowledge of a classical or modern language consistent with the student’s plan of study.
    • Completion of a master’s thesis (TRS 599), for six semester hours of course credit.
  • For students in: Completion of a research essay (TRS 593).

Note: Students accepted under the degree requirements listed in previous Graduate School and Graduate Studies bulletins normally should fulfill those requirements, but they may petition for permission to follow the requirements introduced in this Bulletin instead.

Course of Study

Ordinarily graduate courses are three semester hours; no more than nine semester hours toward the degree may be taken in one- or two-credit courses. No more than six semester hours or the equivalent of two comparable John Carroll University courses may be transferred from another institution. A student’s program typically may include no more than two independent studies and no more than three online courses. Initial acceptance of students is made under Plan B, the essay option. A change from Plan B to Plan A, the thesis option, is accomplished by academic petition, and is contingent upon the successful completion of at least one 500-level course, and the foreign language exam.

Since the Master of Arts degree in Theology & Religious Studies is designed to provide students with the necessary background for diverse careers and ministries or for further graduate or professional study, the student and advisor will work out a program of study best suited to the student’s particular needs and goals. This program may include a concentration in a particular area. While in itself the M.A. program does not guarantee Religion Teacher or Pastoral Ministry Certification in the Diocese of Cleveland, the proper selection of courses within the program can lead to such certification.

Financial Assistance

Scholarships are available for all students enrolled in the Theology & Religious Studies M.A. program. A limited number of graduate assistantships are available, which provide a tuition waiver for 15–18 credit hours per year and a stipend for working 20 hours weekly in the department. The University’s Office of Financial Aid provides assistance with student loans.