Academic Programs

M.A. in Religion

The Master of Arts degree is a two-year full time academic program. The actual time required will depend on several factors such as previous studies in religion, work needed to satisfy the language requirement (if any), adequate time to develop, research, write, and revise the thesis, and other obligations on one’s time and energy. This degree is available in both a residential and a distance-learning format, ESR Access.

As contrasted with the professional M.Div./M.Min. degree, the M.A. is primarily an academic degree. As a terminal degree, it may be pursued by those with a view to secondary level teaching in Quaker or other parochial schools or some other form of educational ministry. It may also serve those called to Peace and Justice ministries or other vocations in which the study and research skills of this degree are enabling. Students planning to continue toward a doctoral program in religious studies may appropriately enroll in either the M.A. or the M.Div./M.Min. program.

The M.A. at ESR allows for concentration in one of four areas: Biblical Studies, Christian Theology, Quaker Studies, or Peace and Justice Studies. Course work in the areas of practical theology and spirituality normally does not count toward the degree. M.A. students may take work in these areas, and many do, but it is above and beyond the requirements for the degree. For this reason, students who are planning to engage in ministry that requires the experience and skills gained in these areas are encouraged to pursue the M.Div./M.Min. program. Likewise, students who plan toward a peace and justice ministry that draws on abilities other than those of research and writing should normally follow a peace and justice ministry emphasis in the M.Div./M.Min. program.

Progress toward a successful completion of this degree requires considerable initiative and discipline on the part of the student. M.A. students or persons enrolled at ESR who are considering the program should acquire from the Director of Academic Services a copy of the Guidelines for Students in the M.A. Program (available on the Academic Services web site). These guidelines contain important information about the requirements, procedures, and deadlines. The student is responsible for all information and deadlines contained in the “Guidelines.”

A student’s work on the M.A. is overseen first by the student’s advisor, and after approval of an M.A. Committee for the student, by the chairperson of that Committee, who then becomes the student’s advisor. Students are also encouraged to develop a peer support group, especially during the time of thesis writing.

Residency requirements affecting transfer students stipulate that at least twelve semester hours must be taken at ESR, and that the thesis must be done under the guidance of ESR.