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How the Cohort Works

How the Cohort Works

With and for the Church

We believe in the critical importance of those serving in ministry to get theological and biblical training. We uniquely designed this Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership degree to remove the barriers that often make going to seminary difficult. A key part of Western Seminary's mission is to "provide with and for the church advanced training for strategic ministry roles." This cohort exemplifies this as it partners with mentors from churches as guides and assessors of students' ministry competency throughout the program.grk bible

How the Cohort is Different from Other Programs

The Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership degree program enables you to bring transformation to churches and parachurch organizations in a North American context through a rich biblical understanding and a refined leadership skill set. This training spans communication theory, biblical studies, theology, discipleship and spiritual formation—with the result that you'll lead and serve effectively in a wide variety of global ministry roles. You can see more about this degree as it is traditionally offered through the Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership.

A cohort is simply a group of students who go through a degree program simultaneously from start to finish. Western offers some programs in a "cohort model" and reviews prospective students for admission based on criteria for each program. In addition, cohort delivery requires that students agree to attend classes based on the proposed schedule in order to maintain continuous enrollment throughout the program. The inability to continue coursework with a cohort to which a student was admitted may necessitate arrangements to join a later cohort (if space is available and cohort emphasis is offered in the future) or to complete the remainder of program requirements in the standard (non-cohort) course offerings. Some cohorts may have additional requirements for areas of program emphasis or ministry background that students must meet before being considered for cohort admission. See below for who the emphasis is for in this cohort.

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It is not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God. 6 He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:5-6 Christian Standard Version

 This cohort integrates a competency-based educational approach in the ministry formation courses. Students work with their mentor to develop:

  1. Content (head): Reading assignments help students gain competency and knowledge from trusted subject experts.
  2. Personal Application (heart): Ministry courses are integrative and personalized to fit a student’s ministry context and educational needs, incorporating the content from the students’ Bible and theology courses. Students will be able to demonstrate that they have competency in understanding and implementing what they learn and how it impacts them personally.
  3. Local Church Application (hands): Students will not only learn subject matter intellectually; they will engage it in the practice of ministry.

Mentors will be trained by Western Seminary at the beginning of the program and receive support throughout each term to help in the assessment process.

Nuts and Bolts

Students in the cohort will take 6 units of classes each term. One Friday each month students will gather in-person all day (from 8:00am to 5:00pm) throughout the term to complete four-credit-hour course(s) of Theology and/or Bible with a professor. The cohort will check in via web-conference one hour each month during the term to complete the two-credit-hour ministry course with their church mentor. In addition to these live video check-ins for the ministry course, students will meet three times each term with their local church mentor to discuss how the student is implementing course content in their context.

This cohort will begin in the fall of 2020. The schedule for the first year all-day courses is tentatively the 2nd Friday of each month.

For Those in the Trenchesphoto 1490111718993 d98654ce6cf7

This program is designed for Bay Area local church leaders who are active in ministry. The program requires active engagement of experienced local church ministry leaders as mentors, and includes top-notch scholars from Western Seminary and beyond in Theology, Old and New Testament, Church History, and more. 


Classes may be held at various locations throughout the Bay Area, but will begin on the Western Seminary San Jose Campus, located just two blocks north of San Jose in Milpitas. The three meetings with mentors occur wherever it is best for the pair to connect face-to-face, and the one hour per month web conference class will meet over an online platform, such as Zoom.


Tuition costs of the MAML cohort program are offset by two substantial grants/scholarships. The first is a merit-based grant/scholarship, which is awarded directly to the student in the form of tuition reductions reflected on the student’s account each semester. This grant/scholarship amounts to approximately 29% of the program’s total tuition. The second grant/scholarship, which amounts to approximately 19%, is awarded by Western Seminary on behalf of the student’s sponsoring church, in recognition of the investment that the church and church mentor are making in the life of the student.

We see this as a win-win for the local church, the student, and Western Seminary. The local church for its part is strengthened by the education the student receives. The student earns a degree and is well equipped to serve the church. And Western advances its mission to serve “as a catalyst and resource for spiritual transformation by providing, with and for the church, advanced training for strategic ministry roles.”