Union Theological Seminary Academics


Graduation Requirements for the Master of Arts

The program requires the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 51 points during two years of full-time study or the equivalent. For graduation, the points must be distributed as follows:

    • A minimum of 16 points in courses with broad historical or topical content, with six points each in the Biblical and Theological Fields, and at least four points in the Historical Field. At least one course taken in each field to meet this requirement must be chosen from those required courses specified for the M.Div.
    • Three points for a course in world religions, designated by the prefix WR.
    • Fifteen points in advanced courses (numbered 200 or above) which constitute a coherent program of concentration or special study as approved by the student's faculty adviser.
    • Ten or eleven points in electives(depending on whether four or five points are earned for the Historical field requirement). One of the elective courses, for a maximum of three points, may be taken for R (reading) credit in the second year of the program.
    • Six points for the thesis on a subject approved by two faculty readers.
    • The candidate must pass an examination in a modern language--French, German, or Spanish. This requirement will normally be met in the first year of candidacy.

A faculty adviser assists the candidate in planning his or her program and grants approval of each semester's program of studies. The first year should follow a sequence of foundational studies that will prepare the student for advanced and more specialized courses in the second year.

The M.A. thesis is written in the second year of the program and shall normally consist of an extended piece of scholarly writing, although exceptionally, candidates concentrating in Theology and the Arts may choose to submit a senior project instead. The rules and procedures for completing the M.A. thesis are the same as those for the M.Div. thesis, although the option to enroll for six additional points of coursework instead of the thesis project, as stated in the M.Div. program description, does not apply to the M.A.

Students concentrating their studies in the Biblical Field must demonstrate through their work in courses a knowledge of Hebrew or Greek, in addition to the modern language requirement. Introductory courses in these biblical languages may be counted toward meeting the points required for the concentration or as electives for the degree.

Students concentrating in Psychiatry and Religion must complete PS 204, PS 209, and PS 310. An M.A. student may choose to do Clinical Pastoral Education (PS 363-364 or PS 366), but the eight CPE credits are not to be counted toward the total points required for the M.A.

Students concentrating in Religion and Education, normally take their advanced courses in the Practical Theology Field and at Teachers College, chosen with the approval of the program advisor.

Transfer Students who have successfully completed graduate courses or a graduate degree in an accredited theological school prior to their admission to Union Theological Seminary may request that transfer credits be applied toward the Union Master of Arts degree. Except for courses appropriately taken on a pass/fail basis, only courses in which the student earned the grade of B or better will be accepted for transfer credit. A maximum of 50% of the required credits for the M.A. degree will be considered for transfer.  The final semester’s work for the degree is to be done at the Seminary, except by permission of the academic dean. A written request for transfer credits must be made when submitting an application. Required documents in support of a written request for transfer credits include a class syllabus and official transcript.  Normally Union requires that all introductory and required courses be taken at Union in classes taught by Union faculty, but all transfer credit decisions are made by the Dean of Academic Affairs.

Outside Credits

A maximum of nine points may be counted toward the degree for graduate courses in other institutions when approved in advance by the faculty adviser and the academic dean. Students must attain the grade of B or better in courses taken at other institutions. Such courses may not be audited or taken for R credit.

Time Limitations

All requirements for the degree must be completed within four years of admission, except by special permission of the academic dean.

Download Degree Planner for Master of Arts Degree

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