Dec 01, 2022  

Religion, Church History Emphasis MA

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MA: Religion

Ranko Stefanovic, Director

The Master of Arts (Religion) is an academic program usually involving two years of specialized study beyond the baccalaureate-degree level. The program requires 48 credits of course work. However, students with advanced theological study or prior extensive undergraduate studies in religion may complete the program with a minimum of 32 credits. (See section below on degree requirements).

The MA (Religion) degree is offered with these orientations: (1) Research Orientation which requires a thesis and a modern language relevant to the student’s research (French or German are recommended); and (2) General Academic Orientation, which requires comprehensive examinations. Only 500- and 600-level courses are accepted.

The purpose of this program is to provide specialized training within the broader setting of the various disciplines of the Seminary. Students may choose an area of emphasis from those listed below:

  • Archaeology and History of Antiquity
  • Biblical-Theological Studies (Off-Campus Programs)
  • Biblical and Cognate Languages
  • Church History
  • Intercultural Studies
  • Intertestamental (Jewish) Studies
  • Jewish and Muslim Faiths
  • Mission Studies
  • New Testament Studies
  • Old Testament Studies
  • Theological Studies

The MA: Religion degree with the research orientation is designed to fulfill the needs of students planning further graduate study in biblical studies, religion, or theology. The general academic orientation should fulfill the needs of students who plan to engage in religious or secular endeavors which require a strong background in an emphasis. The MA: Religion is offered both on campus and at off-campus centers outside the United States. When offered at off-campus sites, the program may reflect context-sensitive needs in its curriculum as approved by the seminary faculty.

Program Outcomes

  1. Commit to a Bible grounded, Christ centered, and Spirit filled approach to scholarly inquiry.
  2. Promote Seventh-day Adventist identity and unity as pedagogical and scholarly inquiry.
  3. Embrace multicultural community as the context for learning, worship and service.
  4. Demonstrate understanding of the central issues of their selected specialties.
  5. Conduct effective research within their field of specialization.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the MA: Religion program is based on the following requirements in addition to the general admission requirements for all graduate students on p. 44, and the general seminary admission requirements on pp. 347–350.

  1. Applicant holds a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent, normally with a major in religion or theology with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or above.
  2. Applicant demonstrates language proficiency or shows a plan for acquiring language proficiency as determined by the selected area of emphasis. Proficiency is defined as the reading knowledge of a language at the intermediate level. Examinations may be required to demonstrate proficiency. Biblical language proficiency must be demonstrated before registration for exegesis courses. Modern language deficiencies must be made up before registering for the MA thesis. Language proficiency courses do not apply toward the 32 credits of the MA degree requirements.
  3. Complete and return the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire as directed.


Language Prerequisites. Students meet the language prerequisites for the various areas of emphasis either by completing the courses listed below or by passing a qualifying examination at the intermediate level.

Archaeology and History of Antiquity
  Intermediate Greek or Biblical Hebrew II
Biblical and Cognate Languages
  Intermediate Greek and Biblical Hebrew II
Biblical and Theological Studies
  Intermediate Greek or Biblical Hebrew II
Church History
  Intermediate Greek or Intermediate Latin
Intercultural Studies
  Intermediate Arabic
Intertestamental (Jewish) Studies
  Intermediate Greek and Biblical Hebrew II
Jewish and Muslim Faiths
  Biblical Hebrew II
Mission Studies
  Intermediate Greek or Biblical Hebrew II or a reading knowledge of a modern foreign language
New Testament Studies*
  Intermediate Greek
Old Testament Studies**
  Biblical Hebrew II
Theological Studies
  Intermediate Greek or Biblical Hebrew II

*Students who choose a major or minor in New Testament Studies must demonstrate proficiency in intermediate Greek either by passing the language-proficiency examination or by taking the Intermediate Greek course at Andrews University and earning a grade of B or above.

**Students who choose a major or minor in Old Testament Studies must demonstrate proficiency in intermediate Hebrew either by passing the language-proficiency examination or by taking the Biblical Hebrew II course at Andrews University and earning a grade of B or above.

Transfer Credits. A maximum of 6 semester hours of credit with a B (3.00) or above may be transferred from an approved seminary or university if applicable to the student’s program. Transfer courses must have been completed within the six-year time limit.

Degree Requirements. In addition to the scholarship standards in the Graduate Programs Academic Information section of this bulletin, students must fulfill the following requirements for both the research and the general academic orientation options:

  • 32–48 semester credits with a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above.
  • GSEM 620  (to be taken the first time the course is offered after enrolling in the program).
  • A major area of emphasis with 16–24 credits.
  • A minor area of emphasis with 6–12 credits chosen from a second area of interest.
  • Additional language requirements as listed under the two orientation requirements listed below.

Prior learning credit. In order to receive maximum prior learning credit, applicants must provide a transcript showing that they have taken the following courses at the undergraduate level with a GPA of 3.00 or better (on a 4.00 system). For each undergraduate credit deficiency, graduate credit must be added to the minimum of 32 credits required for this degree.

Church History 2  
New Testament Studies 2  
Old Testament Studies 2  
Theological Studies 2  
E.G. White Writings 2  
Electives in religion* 12  

Total prerequisite credits 22  

*For the emphasis in Jewish and Muslim Faiths, Church History is to be replaced with one of the following courses: Jewish History, Arabic History, Introduction to Modern Hebrew, or Modern Dialectal Arabic. An elective course must be World Religions.

Research Orientation Requirements. A foreign language (French or German is recommended) must be completed by examination or course work (FREN 505 , GRMN 505 ) in addition to the minimum 32–48 semester credits. An MA thesis with a total of 6 credits must be completed and defended. It cannot be started until all language requirements are finished. A student who has completed the required course work but has not finished the thesis (after completing 6 thesis credits) must register for GSEM 688  (no credit) until the thesis has been approved.

General Academic Orientation Requirements. Students must take an oral or written comprehensive examination after advancement to candidacy and must register for GSEM 680 - Master’s Comprehensive Exam . The comprehensive examination may be retaken only once. A student who has completed the required course work but has not finished all degree requirements must register for GSEM 688  (no credit) until all requirements are met.

Advancement to Candidacy. Upon completion of 50 percent of the course work, a student should apply for advancement to candidacy. Forms are available in the office of the director of the MA program. The forms should be completed by the student and approved by the director of the MA program and the dean of the Seminary.

Time Limits. A student must complete the requirements for the MA in Religion degree and graduate within six years of first enrolling in the program regardless of admission classification.

Academic Advisement. The director of the MA in Religion program, in cooperation with department chairs, assigns academic advisers in the student’s area of specialization. The selection of the remaining course requirements is monitored by the director.

Certification for Teaching. Students who plan to teach religion in a Seventh-day Adventist academy or in a secondary school are urged to consult as early in the program as possible with the director of the MA program and the university certification officer regarding qualifying for SDA teaching credentials. See pp. 284–285 for more information about recommended methods courses in Bible teaching designed to meet the certification requirements.

Areas of Emphasis

In the event that a required course is not offered during any given term, another course in the same area can be substituted for the required course in consultation with the chair of the department.

Church History

Up to three credits may be chosen from among:


A student may select courses approved for academic graduate degrees provided there is a correlation with the student’s chosen area of study.

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