The Master of Arts program is a two-year degree designed for maximum flexibility. Students custom-design their program in consultation with an academic advisor assigned on the basis of the student’s academic interests. M.A. students with one or more of the following goals will find Drew Theological School a uniquely supportive environment in which to pursue them:

  • Acquiring a solid foundation for further studies at the doctoral level in a religious studies discipline
  • Acquiring a solid foundation for teaching religion at the secondary (high school) level
  • Exploring a religious studies discipline, or religious studies in general, for personal interests or personal “seeking”
  • Equipping oneself for undertaking non-traditional ministries, such as ministries centered on social justice or ecological justice
  • Deepening one’s education in religion in order to enter into spaces of public conversation about religion and ethics in local communities or wider arenas
  • Adding additional dimensions to the work one already does in a profession, such as law, medicine, journalism, community organizing, not-for profit management or other forms of business, or library science

Drew Theological School has one of the most diverse and progressive theological faculties in North America. Many of the Theological School faculty have national or international reputations as leaders in their respective fields. These faculty resources make Drew an exciting place in which to pursue an M.A. degree.

The M.A. program has a unique identity within the Theological School. The first-semester M.A. Seminar creates an integrated cohort of M.A. students. There is also an M.A. Student Caucus within the Theological School, with elected officers and periodic meetings and special events.

Yet M.A. students can also draw heavily on the superb resources of the Ph.D. program or the Master of Divinity program, depending on their individual interests. M.A. students   primarily interested in traditional academic study can formally affiliate, if they wish, with one of the Ph.D. areas (Biblical Studies and Early Christianity; Historical Studies; Theological and Philosophical Studies; Religion and Society), and participate in numerous Ph.D.-oriented events (e.g., area colloquia, special lectures, workshops, social events).  M.A. students whose interests lie primarily in spiritual and/or practical outcomes can participate fully in the vibrant community life of the large M.Div. student body and tilt their M.A. experience toward engagement with issues of transformative social justice, cross-cultural exchange, spirituality, neighbor and self, and toward conversations and experiences with ethical and creative implications, without necessarily seeing themselves as preparing for Christian ministries.  (See further under “Curriculum” on Optional Concentrations.) The M.A. is not specifically designed to lead to ordination, nor does it presuppose any particular faith stance.

Program Duration and Transfer Credit

The program is designed to be completed in two years or four semesters of full time study. All requirements must be completed within five years from the date of initial matriculation.  M.A. students must complete a minimum of 32 credits at Drew Theological School. Students with credits earned elsewhere at the graduate professional level and not applied toward another earned degree may apply for a maximum of 12 credits of advanced standing. (If a student has already completed an MDiv, for example, credits from that degree may not be applied to the M.A. But if a student has transferred from an MDiv program to the M.A., then credits from that uncompleted MDiv may be eligible for transfer to the M.A.)  Transfer credit is not granted for credits earned earlier than 10 years prior to the date of matriculation.

Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, or from an equivalent international institution. Academic work should have been rich in the liberal arts, offering general knowledge of human culture through studies in the humanities, including religion, languages, and the natural and social sciences. Applicants must be able to write clearly and effectively.

Applicants should have demonstrated the capacity to do above average academic work, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above (on a 4.0 scale) in a previous degree program. This capacity may also be indicated by “B” work in a selected group of courses pertinent to theological study. The student may choose to submit GRE scores to further indicate academic capabilities. Applicants whose credentials fall outside these criteria are welcome to speak with an admissions representative about their individual circumstances. Although not required, applicants may request interviews with an admissions representative.

The applicant must present transcripts for all academic study beyond secondary school.

The completed application form must be accompanied by a statement of purpose by the applicant explaining the reasons and goals for pursuing the MA degree and by three letters of reference from persons qualified to evaluate the applicant’s intellectual competence and promise.


Program Curriculum

The M.A. is a flexible program with minimal requirements. The student determines the specific goals of his or her program in consultation with his or her academic advisor. Students generally opt either to attain a broad knowledge of various religious studies disciplines or to develop a focused knowledge in a specific discipline.

Credit Requirements

44 credits are required for the M.A. The program is normally completed in four semesters of full-time study. This typically yields the following semester-by-semester course load:

  • 1st semester: 10 credits (including the required 1 credit course, M.A. Seminar)
  • 2nd semester: 12 credits
  • 3rd semester: 13 credits (including the required 1 credit course, Research Skills II)
  • 4th semester: 9 credits (typically, 6 credit thesis plus one course; or [no credit] extended paper plus three courses; or 3 credit internship plus two courses).

All requirements must be completed within five years from the date of initial matriculation.

The Integrative Project

All M.A. students work out an appropriate course of study in consultation with their academic advisor, which culminates in an integrative project.  The project may take any one of the following forms:

  1. A traditional academic thesis of 60-70 pages, directed and examined by a committee of two faculty members. The thesis option earns 6 credits in the final semester of study, and is strongly recommended for those who intend to apply for admission to a doctoral program.
  2. An extended paper linked to a course. No additional credits are given for the paper. It is normally 35-40 pages and goes through several drafts, each draft receiving critical feedback from the instructor.
  3. A 3-credit internship, concluding with a substantial written reflection integrating the experience with the student’s academic work. Students electing to do an internship should begin planning in the first year of study. Both the advisor and the office of the Dean for Contextual Learning should be consulted. 

Optional Interdisciplinary Concentrations

M.A. students have the option of developing any one of five interdisciplinary concentrations. Each concentration entails completing in-depth work related to the concentration in a specified number of courses (typically, four), and the selection of a topic appropriate to the concentration for the student’s Integrative Project (whether a thesis, an extended paper, or an internship). Successful completion of the concentration is recorded in the student’s academic transcript.

The five interdisciplinary M.A. concentrations are as follows:

Africana Studies: The M.A. concentration in Africana Studies invites students to engage the histories, experiences, religions, and intellectual and artistic contributions of peoples of African descent both within Africa and across the African Diaspora as its starting points of scholarly reflection. Concentrating in Africana Studies entails critical analysis of the sociological, political, historical, economic, and religious factors, as well as the structures of oppression and modes of resistance, that have created, shaped, and continue to inform African and African-Diaspora experiences throughout the world.

Arts/Creativity/Imagination: The M.A. concentration in the Arts, Creativity, and the Imagination allows students the opportunity to study the arts in close proximity to one of the art capitals of the world, while at the same time relating these arts to the life of spiritual growth and the exciting realms of the imagination. Arts, such as painting, music, theater, dance, poetry, fiction, and sculpture, among others, not only enrich life but stand at the very heart of what it means to be an actualized spiritual being.  This M.A. gives students a chance to celebrate and explore this creativity within a rigorous academic setting where scholarship goes hand in hand with the life of the imagination. This concentration offers students the option to pursue a substantial creative project (e.g., a play, a poem cycle, etc.) in fulfillment of the Integrative Project requirement.

Religion and Ecology: The M.A. concentration in Religion and Ecology encourages students to explore the many facets of this emerging interdisciplinary field. Students can combine exploration of theological, philosophical, historical, psychological and biblical perspectives on religion, nature and the ecological potentiality of the world religions and emergent eco-spiritualities, with sociological and ethical study of environmental justice, climate change, and the multiple religious responses. Themes of gender, race, the animal, global politics, and activism can intersect in this concentration. Students also have opportunity to take courses in environmental studies in the College of Liberal Arts, adding economic, anthropological, scientific and literary dimensions to their course of study.

Social Justice: The M.A. concentration in Social Justice invites students to think critically and be engaged as agents of change concerning matters of social inequality. Students working on this concentration can draw from the range of fields of study available at Drew: biblical studies, history, theological and philosophical inquiry, psychology, sociology, religious ethics, environmental studies, and gender studies, among others, mobilizing these resources for the critical analysis of structures of oppression, with the goal of contributing to a more just society. Through theoretical and practical engagements, students can develop tools essential to scholarly research and advocacy in matters of social justice. This concentration requires that students take a PREP [Partnership for Religion and Education in Prisons] course.

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: The M.A. concentration in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies allows examination of the diversity of women’s lives as they are informed not only by gender and religion but also by class, race/ethnicity, sexuality, age, ability, social location, and cultural and national identity. It also invites study of the diversity of masculinities and sexualities. This concentration requires that students take the Women’s Studies Interdisciplinary Seminar (WMST 712), offered every other fall.

Optional Language Study

M.A. students, especially those with their sights set on doctoral study, are strongly encouraged to achieve reading proficiency in an approved modern language of scholarship (other than English). Drew does not, however, offer graduate language classes. Instead M.A. and Ph.D. students utilize various local programs, including the summer programs offered by Princeton University and the year-round courses offered by the CUNY Graduate Center in NYC. Students also use the online program offered by the Erasmus Academy ( Drew’s Graduate Division of Religion offers language testing for M.A. and Ph.D. students four times a year (for details, contact the GDR Office: If students pass the Princeton or CUNY program, or another approved program, with a grade of B or better they do not have to take the Drew language exam, but the language result is entered in their Drew transcript.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

The specific goals of the Master of Arts degree will be worked out in consultation between the student and the academic adviser. Students will generally opt either to attain a broad knowledge of various theological disciplines or to develop a focused knowledge in a specific discipline. It is expected that all students in the MA program will develop:

  • The ability to reflect critically on both primary and secondary source materials
  • The ability to use research methods and resources appropriately to the task at hand
  • The ability to formulate productive scholarly questions