MA Program

The GTU Common Master of Arts is an exciting opportunity for you to explore theology and religion in response to the challenges posed by contemporary cultures.

Program Description

The Master of Arts is an academic degree offered in cooperation with the member schools and centers of the GTU. The program provides ecumenical and interreligious learning opportunities, and students have access to courses offered throughout the consortium, and to many courses at UC Berkeley. The purpose of the program is to provide a basic understanding of theological or religious studies as preparation for doctoral study or as an academic foundation for secondary school teaching, educational or social justice ministries, or religious leadership in the non-profit sector.

Students who complete the MA program will be able to demonstrate focused knowledge in the field of study represented by a chosen concentration; demonstrate general knowledge of several different approaches to theological and religious studies; engage in respectful dialogue with practitioners of another religious tradition; and produce research projects, each with a clearly formulated thesis statement that is supported by appropriate evidence from primary and secondary sources and communicated in an effective scholarly presentation.

The MA student is required to affiliate with one of the following: 

  1. The GTU in the Interreligious Studies Concentration
  2. A GTU Member School (See a listing of MA concentrations supported by each GTU school and center.)
  3. A GTU Academic Center or Affiliate (See a listing of MA concentrations supported by each GTU school and center.)

The primary academic base for the MA is the student's school, center, or affiliate, chosen according to study interests and/or denominational or religious ties. Students select a specific academic concentration as the focus of their MA work. Study options include studying fully on-campus, a mixture of on-campus and online classes, or fully online depending on the academic concentration of study selected.

The GTU MA is a two-year degree program requiring a total of fourteen or fifteen 3-unit academic courses, plus three to six units of capstone work. Early in the second year of residence, all MA students are required to demonstrate proficiency in at least one modern foreign language relevant to their field of study, as determined by their advisors, with the approval of the member school dean or center/affiliate director. Non-native speakers of English may, with permission, certify English as their second language. Two courses must be taken outside the student's school of affiliation. The capstone must be in the student's chosen concentration. The three-unit capstone is a 30–40 page paper, and the six-unit capstone is a 75–90 page thesis. Students should consult their advisor when choosing which capstone option they want to pursue. Students are required to complete the following courses:

  • 1 course on Research Methods
  • 1 course in Interreligious Studies
  • 1 course in Sacred Texts & Their Interpretation
  • 1 course in Historical & Cultural Studies of Religion
  • 1 course in Theology & Ethics
  • 1 course in Religion & Practice
  • 4 courses (at least 2 at the 4000 level or above) in the chosen concentration
  • 4 elective courses 

Students in tradition-specific concentrations must fulfill the departmental distribution requirements by taking courses in that tradition. Accelerated degree options are possible with previous coursework from an accredited institution. Dual enrollment in degree programs at multiple institutions is strictly prohibited. Contact the Admissions Office for more information. 

Academic Concentrations and Modality Options

Students entering the in-person MA program at the GTU can choose their fields of study from among more than thirty concentrations grouped into four interdisciplinary departments: Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation, Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion, Theology and Ethics, and Religion and Practice. Students entering the online MA program can choose their fields of study from nine concentrations across various topics.

Each MA student affiliates with a GTU member school, academic center or affiliate during their program. See a listing of MA concentrations supported by each GTU school and center. 

Students in the MA Program seek to understand the issues and make a difference with their pursuits. By studying with faculty and students from across the participating schools of the GTU community, our MA students experience true dialogue – talking with each other across what might be entrenched or insurmountable differences. The GTU provides students with the opportunities to pursue intensive study, both in-person and online, of many religious traditions including various forms of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and Judaism, as well as interdisciplinary topics such as art and religion or theology and science. 

In addition to the options at the member schools, centers, and affiliates, MA students can affiliate with the GTU to pursue an MA with a concentration in Interreligious Studies or enroll in a fully Online MA. The MA in Interreligious Studies will offer students an opportunity to customize a degree path in conjunction with their GTU affiliated advisor that will draw on the resources offered across the academic centers, affiliates, and member schools of the GTU. The Online MA will provide students with access to the vast resources of the GTU from the comfort of their home.  Click here to learn more about the MA with a concentration in Interreligious Studies and the Online MA.  

The GTU is a religiously and culturally diverse environment, and students can incorporate exploration into their program through Certificate options in Hindu Studies, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, and Orthodox Christian Studies,

Please see the most up to date Masters (per credit) tuition rates HERE

We would love to discuss your interests with you and explore the best options for your study at the GTU. You are welcome to email GTU Admissions or call 800-826-4488 to start a conversation.


Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation

This department provides a strong foundation for research and teaching in the fields of Hebrew/Old Testament, New Testament, Hindu Sacred Texts, Islamic Sacred Texts, and Rabbinic Literature. Beginning with the acquisition of appropriate language skills, a student’s study of primary texts includes a variety of methods, including transdisciplinary, and contextual approaches. Students may focus their work on a single religious tradition or engage in a comparative study of texts and their interpretations. Department Chair: Professor Rebecca Esterson


Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion

The Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion department concentrates on the place of religion, spirituality, and theology in society and everyday life, from ancient times to the present. Students develop broad skills in the historical, cultural, social-scientific, comparative, and interdisciplinary study of the world’s sacred and secular traditions, and they gain expertise in a specific field of concentration. Students may focus their work in a single tradition (e.g. Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism), a single time and place (e.g. medieval Europe, the contemporary Middle...


Theology and Ethics

Students in the department of Theology and Ethics acquire knowledge and skills to engage in the ongoing task of interpreting religious and cultural traditions in ways that are responsive to modern and post-modern culture. Students may focus on analysis of these traditions by tracing influences on the development of theology, comparative religion, or interreligious dialogue. Students may also specialize in theological and social ethics, or focus on issues related to particular topics such as health care or the environment. These explorations are pursued in ecumenical and interreligious...


Religion and Practice

The Religion and Practice department fosters interdisciplinary studies of the lived experience, communal and individual, of faith practitioners and communities, including the history, theology, and phenomenology of particular faith expressions – ritual, liturgical, homiletical, formational, and educational. Students in this department hone critical skills in the interpretation and development of religious practice and leadership, while drawing from a broad array of disciplinary fields and methodological approaches – including history, theology, anthropology, communication theory, sociology of...

GTU Affiliates