Master of Arts (MA) degree in Peace and Social Transformation

The Master of Arts (MA) degree in Peace and Social Transformation at Community of Christ Seminary aims to develop personal and moral integrity for students, which is essential in the public work of peace and justice. By pairing foundational theological and scriptural courses with formational, contextual, and practical academic studies, students can deepen their experience and understanding of peace, social change, and justice work. This degree focuses on the theologies and ministries of peace while exploring social change theories, social transformation methodologies, adaptive action models, conflict resolution, and restorative justice, all with the goal of empowering movement and transformation within communities, organizations, and churches.

Program Admission

  1. Applicant must have earned a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale, or the equivalent from a non-U.S. institution. Students with a GPA below 3.0 will need to demonstrate the ability to do work at the graduate level. Applicants who have not earned a baccalaureate degree from a recognized and U.S. regionally accredited institution or its educational equivalent will be considered individually.
  2. Applicant must complete the application form that is available on the seminary website.
  3. Applicant must provide official transcripts of all course work. International students are responsible to submit a professional audit of their undergraduate transcript and GPA (Grade Point Average) equivalency by CGFNS or World Education Service (WES). The student (or sponsoring organization, e.g. the church) is responsible for the cost of this audit.
  4. Applicant should request references from three persons who can attest to the applicant’s promise for graduate study. References use the form at this link: Reference Form, and must be submitted to applicant in a sealed envelope. Recommenders should be persons who have known the applicant for more than 1 year and who have knowledge of the intellectual and ministerial abilities of the applicant.
  5. Applicant must submit an entrance essay (no longer than 500) describing why you are applying to the Community of Christ Seminary. This essay should be reflective of the following questions: Why Seminary? Why now? What is your ministry context? You may submit this essay with other relevant information.
  6. Please have all transcripts and references sent to your address in sealed envelopes to be mailed together in one packet. Send your complete packet to: Graceland University, Attn: Seminary Admissions, 1 University Place, Lamoni, IA 50140. You may also email your transcripts and references to the Graceland Admissions email at admissions@graceland.edu.
  7. International students must have proficiency in both spoken and written English. To be considered for admission, students whose first language is not English must submit a TOEFL score of 550 or higher on the written exam or a 80 or higher on the online exam. Exceptions will be granted on a case by case basis (for example, someone whose first language is not English but whose undergraduate degree is from an English speaking institution, etc.)

Graceland University Community of Christ Seminary has a rolling admissions process; students may apply at any time during the year. International student must submit TOEFL scores and the WES or CGFNS audit as part of their application packet, which is typically due by May 30 of the year in which the potential student will begin the MAR program. New MAR cohorts begin in the fall term each year.

Transfer of Credits

Students may request the transfer of a maximum of 9 semester hours of credit for the MA, provided that the courses transferred approximate courses offered by Community of Christ Seminary, were taken at a regionally accredited institution or its non-US equivalent, and that the student earned at least a “B” in those courses. The request must be accompanied by an official transcript from the institution where the credit was earned.

Degree Requirements

  1. The Master of Arts (MA) degree in Peace and Social Transformation is a 34 semester-hour graduate degree. Students must complete 25 semester hours of Core Curriculum and 9 semester hours of elective courses with a cumulative 3.0 GPA.
  2. Students must attend focus sessions in person when a course includes a focus session. Focus sessions are scheduled during the fourth weeks of January and May of each year.
  3. A maximum of nine semester hours with a grade of “C” will apply toward the MA degree. Students who earn a “C” in more than the maximum allowed number of hours will be required to repeat excess courses in which a “C” was earned. Students must repeat any course in which they earn a grade lower than a “C.”
  4. Students will normally successfully complete requirements for the MA degree in two years of parttime study; students are allowed up to four years to complete the program.
  • Master of Arts (MA) Degree - Peace and Social Transformation

    Core Curriculum (25 s.h.)

    Select three electives from the list below (9 s.h.)

    Courses Offered
    • RELG5011Christian Theology
      RELG5011 Christian Theology - 3 s.h.

      This course is an initial exploration of the discipline and methods of theology. The foundational topics of Christian theology are covered including the nature and necessity of the theological task and contemporary understandings of the doctrine of God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, humanity, the church, and Christian hope.

    • RELG5022Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
      RELG5022 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible - 3 s.h.

      A review of the sacred literature of ancient Israel, centered on its covenantal themes and Ancient Near Eastern contexts. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    • RELG5040New Testament – Gospels and Acts
      RELG5040 New Testament – Gospels and Acts - 3 s.h.

      A review of the New Testament literature focusing on the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, centered around its christological themes as they relate to other primary doctrines. Attention will be given to techniques of exegesis based on various methods of biblical criticism. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    • RELG5435Integrated Leadership
      RELG5435 Integrated Leadership - 3 s.h.

      A focus on ministerial formation through exploration of the connection between vocation, ministerial “calling”, and social context. Students will engage in critical examination of ministerial myths, narratives, and stories that shape leadership response in a variety of pastoral experiences. Attention will be given to resources and tools for critical reflection on self and vocation. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    • RELG5440Spiritual Formation and Transformation
      RELG5440 Spiritual Formation and Transformation - 3 s.h.

      A study of the historical and theological roots and implications of spiritual formation. Students will engage in critical study and practice of spiritual practices and formation models. Students will reflect on study and practices from biblical, historical, and psychological perspectives through individual experience in class as in the context of ministerial and spiritual leadership. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    • RELG5445Theology of Peace
      RELG5445 Theology of Peace - 3 s.h.

      An introduction to and exploration of peace in Christian theology. Biblical, historical, and theological perspectives of peace are central to theological narratives. Focus is given to providing students resources for building their own foundational theologies of peace for application in peace and justice ministries: RELG5011

    • RELG5450Philosophy of Peacebuilding
      RELG5450 Philosophy of Peacebuilding - 3 s.h.

      Peace is central to theological and ethical thinking. Students will explore approaches to peace, grounded in social and moral philosophy. Emphasis on evaluating ethical implications of peace, justice, and peacebuilding for individual, communal, and vocational contexts. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    • RELG6050Christology and Liberation
      RELG6050 Christology and Liberation - 3 s.h.

      Explores Christological intersections between classical interpretations of Jesus of Nazareth’s identity and various modern and post-modern liberative approaches. As well as considering the contributions of the Social Gospel Movement, the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Jürgen Moltmann, special attention will be given to Latin American, Feminist, Womanist, African American, and Eco-liberationist Christologies. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the relevance of Jesus’ life and message to situations of violence, racism, and various forms of gender, environmental and economic oppression. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    • RELG6240Contemporary Culture and Theologies
      RELG6240 Contemporary Culture and Theologies - 3 s.h.

      An examination of the nature and implications of current issues and practices found in major world cultures with emphasis on their impact on Christian ministry, particularly ecumenical and intercultural ministry. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    • RELG6245Transformational Leadership
      RELG6245 Transformational Leadership - 3 s.h.

      Exploring leadership that leads to sustainable and transformative change in community and organizations. Critical study of missional leadership through theological, sociological, biblical, and ministerial analysis. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    • RELG6250Community Building and Diversity
      RELG6250 Community Building and Diversity - 3 s.h.

      Examining essential skills in developing leaders as spiritual/sociological researchers in the context of their ministerial community for the purpose of cultivating missional transformation. Topics of social analysis will include social location, theological perspective, culture and cultural diversity, community systems, and religious pluralism. Attention will also be given to adaptive change as it relates to rapidly changing culture and context of ministry experience. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    • RELG6255Social Justice: Ethics, Ecology, and Peace
      RELG6255 Social Justice: Ethics, Ecology, and Peace - 3 s.h.

      An exploration of religious and philosophical foundations of imperatives for social and ecological justice. Examines mutual implications between interpersonal and environmental ethics as well as the scope of theories of justice as applied to human/nonhuman communities. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    • RELG6260Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice
      RELG6260 Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice - 3 s.h.

      Examining methods, concepts, and skills of conflict resolution and restorative justice paired with theological and historical perspectives. Intended to equip students with the skills to engage constructively and meaningfully with conflict and justice in personal, congregational, institutional, and community settings. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    • RELG6270Missiology and Social Transformation
      RELG6270 Missiology and Social Transformation - 3 s.h.

      A study in the imperative of mission for discipleship and its implications for social change and transformation. Students will engage a critical exploration of the theological, historical, and scriptural interpretations of mission. Attention will specifically be given to various approaches and methods of social transformation rooted in Christian mission.

    • RELG6700Practicum Internship
      RELG6700 Practicum Internship - 1 s.h.

      A summative project that engages students in praxis in order for them to utilize application of skills, methods, and approaches of peace and social transformation in their context. The practicum internships consists of a project in the field, paper, and presentation. The student will present their project and paper to a committee as a ‘final’ of their graduate work. (Evaluated on a pass/fail basis)

    RELG5011Christian Theology RELG5022Introduction to the Hebrew Bible RELG5040New Testament – Gospels and Acts RELG5435Integrated Leadership RELG5440Spiritual Formation and Transformation RELG5445Theology of Peace RELG5450Philosophy of Peacebuilding RELG6050Christology and Liberation RELG6240Contemporary Culture and Theologies RELG6245Transformational Leadership RELG6250Community Building and Diversity RELG6255Social Justice: Ethics, Ecology, and Peace RELG6260Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice RELG6270Missiology and Social Transformation RELG6700Practicum Internship
    Course Descriptions
    RELG5011 Christian Theology - 3 s.h.

    This course is an initial exploration of the discipline and methods of theology. The foundational topics of Christian theology are covered including the nature and necessity of the theological task and contemporary understandings of the doctrine of God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, humanity, the church, and Christian hope.

    RELG5022 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible - 3 s.h.

    A review of the sacred literature of ancient Israel, centered on its covenantal themes and Ancient Near Eastern contexts. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    RELG5040 New Testament – Gospels and Acts - 3 s.h.

    A review of the New Testament literature focusing on the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, centered around its christological themes as they relate to other primary doctrines. Attention will be given to techniques of exegesis based on various methods of biblical criticism. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    RELG5435 Integrated Leadership - 3 s.h.

    A focus on ministerial formation through exploration of the connection between vocation, ministerial “calling”, and social context. Students will engage in critical examination of ministerial myths, narratives, and stories that shape leadership response in a variety of pastoral experiences. Attention will be given to resources and tools for critical reflection on self and vocation. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    RELG5440 Spiritual Formation and Transformation - 3 s.h.

    A study of the historical and theological roots and implications of spiritual formation. Students will engage in critical study and practice of spiritual practices and formation models. Students will reflect on study and practices from biblical, historical, and psychological perspectives through individual experience in class as in the context of ministerial and spiritual leadership. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    RELG5445 Theology of Peace - 3 s.h.

    An introduction to and exploration of peace in Christian theology. Biblical, historical, and theological perspectives of peace are central to theological narratives. Focus is given to providing students resources for building their own foundational theologies of peace for application in peace and justice ministries: RELG5011

    RELG5450 Philosophy of Peacebuilding - 3 s.h.

    Peace is central to theological and ethical thinking. Students will explore approaches to peace, grounded in social and moral philosophy. Emphasis on evaluating ethical implications of peace, justice, and peacebuilding for individual, communal, and vocational contexts. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    RELG6050 Christology and Liberation - 3 s.h.

    Explores Christological intersections between classical interpretations of Jesus of Nazareth’s identity and various modern and post-modern liberative approaches. As well as considering the contributions of the Social Gospel Movement, the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Jürgen Moltmann, special attention will be given to Latin American, Feminist, Womanist, African American, and Eco-liberationist Christologies. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the relevance of Jesus’ life and message to situations of violence, racism, and various forms of gender, environmental and economic oppression. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    RELG6240 Contemporary Culture and Theologies - 3 s.h.

    An examination of the nature and implications of current issues and practices found in major world cultures with emphasis on their impact on Christian ministry, particularly ecumenical and intercultural ministry. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    RELG6245 Transformational Leadership - 3 s.h.

    Exploring leadership that leads to sustainable and transformative change in community and organizations. Critical study of missional leadership through theological, sociological, biblical, and ministerial analysis. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    RELG6250 Community Building and Diversity - 3 s.h.

    Examining essential skills in developing leaders as spiritual/sociological researchers in the context of their ministerial community for the purpose of cultivating missional transformation. Topics of social analysis will include social location, theological perspective, culture and cultural diversity, community systems, and religious pluralism. Attention will also be given to adaptive change as it relates to rapidly changing culture and context of ministry experience. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    RELG6255 Social Justice: Ethics, Ecology, and Peace - 3 s.h.

    An exploration of religious and philosophical foundations of imperatives for social and ecological justice. Examines mutual implications between interpersonal and environmental ethics as well as the scope of theories of justice as applied to human/nonhuman communities. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    RELG6260 Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice - 3 s.h.

    Examining methods, concepts, and skills of conflict resolution and restorative justice paired with theological and historical perspectives. Intended to equip students with the skills to engage constructively and meaningfully with conflict and justice in personal, congregational, institutional, and community settings. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

    RELG6270 Missiology and Social Transformation - 3 s.h.

    A study in the imperative of mission for discipleship and its implications for social change and transformation. Students will engage a critical exploration of the theological, historical, and scriptural interpretations of mission. Attention will specifically be given to various approaches and methods of social transformation rooted in Christian mission.

    RELG6700 Practicum Internship - 1 s.h.

    A summative project that engages students in praxis in order for them to utilize application of skills, methods, and approaches of peace and social transformation in their context. The practicum internships consists of a project in the field, paper, and presentation. The student will present their project and paper to a committee as a ‘final’ of their graduate work. (Evaluated on a pass/fail basis)