Master of Arts in Religion

Master of Arts in Religion

The Master of Arts in Religion (31 graduate semester hours) provides a strong academic foundation in biblical studies, Christian history, and theology. These subjects offer essential preparation for Christian ministry and/or doctoral study in religion.

The Master of Arts in Religion provides a unique blend of religious theory and practical studies that can meet the needs of students with a variety of learning objectives. The classes in the program will be offered either totally online or online with a face-to-face session at the Community of Christ Temple in Independence, Missouri during the fourth week. The faculty is composed of scholars and professionals in the field of religion with the academic and applied backgrounds to make the study of religion stimulating and worthwhile.

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. 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, Independence Campus Attn: Seminary Admissions, 1401 West Truman Road, Independence, MO 64050.
  6. 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.

Degree Requirements

  1. The Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) is a 31 semester-hour graduate degree.  Students must satisfactorily complete all 10 courses of the curriculum 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 MAR 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 MAR degree in two years of part-time study; students are allowed up to four years to complete the program.

M.A.R. Degree - Religion

  • RELG5011 Christian Theology 3 s.h.
  • RELG5022 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible 3 s.h.
  • RELG5040 New Testament - Gospels and Acts 3 s.h.
  • RELG5050 New Testament - Letters and Apocalypse 3 s.h.
  • RELG5060 History of Christian Thought I 3 s.h.
  • RELG5070 History of Christian Thought II 3 s.h.
  • *RELG5350 Community of Christ History and Scripture 3 s.h.
  • *RELG5360 Community of Christ Theology and Scripture 3 s.h.
  • RELG6240 Contemporary Culture and Theologies 3 s.h.
  • RELG6500 Portfolio 1 s.h.
  • RELG6900 Advanced Topics in Practical Ministry  1-3 s.h.

*Students from other denominations may substitute approved denomination-specific course work.

Transfer of Credits

Students may request the transfer of a maximum of 9 semester hours of credit for the MAR, 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.

Courses in Religion (Graduate)

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.

RELG5050 New Testament - Letters and Apocalypse 3 s.h.
A review of the New Testament literature focusing on Paul,  the General Epistles, and the Apocalypse of John, 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: RELG5040.

RELG5060 History of Christian Thought I 3 s.h.
This course traces the theological and doctrinal development of the Christian church from the biblical period to the period immediately preceding the Reformation. Attention will be given to the historical context in which this development occurred. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

RELG5070 History of Christian Thought II 3 s.h.
This course traces the theological and doctrinal development of the Christian church from the Reformation into the 21st century. Attention will be given to the historical context in which this development occurred. Prerequisite: RELG5011.

RELG5350 Community of Christ History and Scripture 3 s.h.
This course traces the historical development of Community of Christ, from its origins in the setting of revivalism and democratization on the American frontier of the 1820s to the challenges the church faces as it negotiates the 21st century’s global, postmodern context. The course will also explore how the unique sacred texts of this movement have reflected the tradition’s ongoing engagement with culture. Special attention will be given to helping students learn how to apply critical historical methodology to the study of a religious tradition. Prerequisite: RELG5011

RELG5360 Community of Christ Theology and Scripture 3 s.h.
This course will explore the main themes, key issues, and seminal thinkers in Community of Christ theology, from its emergence on the American frontier (1820-1844) through its recontextualization into Reorganization theology (1851-1960) to the radical transformation of beliefs and denominational identity since 1960. The methods of both critical historiography and systematic theological analysis will guide our quest to understand this tradition. Central to our explorations will be how the church has responded to the intellectual, social, and cultural challenges of each age. We will devote special attention to the ways the church’s engagement with its own sacred texts has contributed to the denomination’s metamorphosis, especially as it has embraced its unique place within the wider Christian tradition and its vocation as a peace and justice church. Prerequisite: RELG5011

RELG6115 Ministry Practicum 3 s.h.
An opportunity for students to gain experience in the practice of ministry in their chosen area of specialization. Students will experience ministry in a supervised setting where they will benefit from feedback by an experienced minister. Students design their practicum in consultation with the practicum director. (Graded on a Pass/Fail basis.)

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.

RELG6500 Portfolio 1 s.h.
A summative project that encourages students to reflect on their experience and the directions it may take them as a disciple or minister. The Seminary Graduate Portfolio consists of a beginning paper, gathering of graduate work,and self-assessment. The student will review her/his portfolio with a committee as a “finale” of her/his graduate work. (Evaluated on a pass/fail basis.)

RELG6900 Advanced Topics in Ministry 1-3 s.h.
An in-depth study of topics selected from various areas of practical ministry such as church leadership, Christian ethics, mission, pastoral care, public ministry, spiritual formation, and disciple education. Students should have taken all of their other coursework prior to this course as this is a capstone course. The course is designed to guide students to integrate their learning into practical ministry application. Prerequisite: RELG5011.