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.

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

Our students 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 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.

The GTU is a religiously and culturally diverse environment, and students can incorporate exploration into their program through Certificate options in Women’s Studies, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Orthodox Christian Studies, and new options in Hindu Studies, Asian and Oceanic Cultures and Faith Traditions, and in Black Church/Africana Religious Studies.

One of the unique components of the program is the opportunity to affiliate with one of the GTU schools or Centers and work with a faculty advisor as your mentor from that school.  We would love to look with you at your interests and where you might best want to focus your study.  You are welcome to email GTU Admissions or call 800-826-4488 to start a conversation.

Some of the paths our MA graduates take include advancing to doctoral study to teach at a seminary or university, teaching at the high school level, and managing nonprofit agencies and departments.

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 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 or secondary school teaching, educational or social justice ministries, or religious leadership in the non-profit sector.

Students who complete the MA program wil be able to demonstrate focused knowlege 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 a member school, or a participating academic center or institute. The primary academic base for the MA is the school of affiliation, chosen according to study interests and/or denominational ties. Students select a specific academic concentration as the focus of their MA work.

The GTU MA is a two-year degree program requiring a total of fourteen 3-unit academic courses plus six units of thesis 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 thesis must be in the student's chosen concentration and is required to be 75-90 pages in length. 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
  • electives needed to make up a total of 14 courses

Students in tradition-specific concentrations must fulfill the departmental distribution requirements by taking courses in that tradition.

Department

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 Aaron Brody

Department

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...

Department

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...

Department

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...

GTU Affiliates