The Master of Arts (Biblical and Theological Studies) Degree Program

OFFERED ON THE ONLINE, PORTLAND, SACRAMENTO AND SAN JOSE CAMPUSES

Program Objectives & Requirements

Western Seminary offers the Master of Arts (M.A.) (Biblical and Theological Studies) degree for students seeking specialized, graduate, theological education. In addition to the Seminary’s general educational goals, the Biblical and Theological Studies program endeavors to achieve the following objectives:

  • Cultivate skills in the efficient study and interpretation of Scripture.
  • Provide theoretical and practical skills in one area of focused specialization; and
  • Promote growth in Christian maturity demonstrated through effective interpersonal relationships.

The M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) program focuses upon graduate level education in the biblical and theological disciplines. It is ideal for students with various academic goals including individuals with a Bible school background who have been in full-time ministry for five years or more and realize the need for graduate study in theological and biblical disciplines; persons seeking a solid theological education to enhance their chosen professions and prepare them to fill a vital lay ministry role; students building a solid academic foundation for doctoral studies; and for men and women serving with parachurch organizations or other specialized ministries who desire advanced biblical/theological competency.

The program is not recommended for those preparing for a ministry where ordination is expected or required (e.g., the pastorate, chaplaincy, evangelism, and church planting) or for those who anticipate subsequent doctor of ministry studies.

M.A. Core Outcomes

In addition to the Seminary’s general educational goals, the M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) program attempts to achieve specific outcomes:

  • Applies biblical truth to life and ministry based on a thorough understanding of the biblical canon.
  • Employs mature theological thinking to evaluate competing ideas, develop a personally-integrated expression of biblical teachings, communicate theological truths clearly, and apply theological truths to life and ministry.
  • Understands a broad range of biblical and theological issues, their historical background, and the significance that they have for the life and ministry of God’s people.
  • Exhibits a Christ-like character worthy of being emulated, and integrity that imparts credibility to his/her ministry.
  • Demonstrates self-awareness and a commitment to ongoing personal and spiritual formation.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Seminary, applicants for the M.A. program are expected to present an accredited baccalaureate degree (or its equivalent) with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale), including a breadth of liberal arts. Applicants who do not meet these general academic requirements may petition the Admissions Committee for consideration. A recommendation from the applicant’s pastor and three personal recommendations regarding the applicant’s Christian character and leadership potential also are required.

Transfer Credit

Upon approval by the Registrar, transfer of up to 32 credit hours is allowed toward the M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) program from graduate institutions accredited by the Association of Theological Schools or regional accrediting associations. Students must have earned a grade of B or better for a course to be considered for transfer and coursework must have completed no more than five years prior to matriculation to Western Seminary. Alternatively, students may receive advanced standing of up to 32 credit hours of the 32 credit hours of transfer credit allowed toward their program if they are able to demonstrate current competency in required coursework based on prior study (based on parallel undergraduate work or transfer credit that is ineligible for consideration based on age). Transferability of credits earned at Western and transferred to another institution is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Consult the Registrar’s Office for information on eligibility of transfer credit and advanced standing.

Residence Requirements

For the Portland, San Jose and Sacramento Campuses:

Of the 64 credit hours required for the M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) program, a minimum of 32 credit hours must be completed through coursework at Western Seminary, with a minimum of 20 credit hours taken in resident study at one of Western Seminary’s physical campus locations. All work leading to the Master of Arts (Biblical and Theological Studies) must be completed within five years from the time of matriculation. Permission to extend the five year statute of limitation must be granted through submission of an academic petition. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree. All credits applied toward the degree requirements must be earned within ten years of the awarding of the degree.

For the Online Campus Only:

Of the 64 credit hours required for the M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) program, a minimum of 32 credit hours must be completed through coursework at Western Seminary, with a minimum of 6 credit hours taken in resident study through the following three, specific courses and program orientation:

  • During October or June of a student's first year, the student must travel to Portland for one week to attend program orientation and two threshold courses, SFS501 Learning to Love God and Others (2 credit hours) and MFM500 Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential (2 credit hours).
  • During February of a student's final year, the student must return to Portland to attend the capstone course, THS508 Integrating Ministry and Theology (2 credit hours).

All work leading to the Master of Arts (Biblical and Theological Studies) must be completed within five years from the time of matriculation.  Permission to extend the five year statute of limitation must be granted through submission of an academic petition.  Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Academic Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree.  All credits applied toward the degree requirements must be earned within ten years of the awarding of the degree.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Arts (Biblical and Theological Studies) degree is conferred upon the attainment of certain personal and academic requirements. In addition to the general seminary requirements, degree candidates must (1) give evidence of a genuine Christian character, orthodox belief, and conduct consistent with a God-given call to a position of leadership; (2) complete all courses in the prescribed M.A. curriculum with a minimum grade point average of 3.0.

Course Requirements

Students may complete their studies in as few as four semesters with a minimum of 64 credit hours required as a minimum for graduation. The program is designed around a common core of 36 hours and specialization of 28 hours. Students in either specialization may choose a concentration. Each concentration consists of six elective hours in a particular discipline, with the course selection requiring faculty mentor approval.

Specialization Options

The M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) degree is offered in two specializations: Exegetical and Theological. Both specializations require at least 64 semester hours of course work.

Master of Arts (Biblical and Theological Studies) Curriculum Plan

Spiritual and Personal Formation: 8 credits
MFM500 Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential 2
SFS501 Learning to Love God and Others 2
SFS502 Practicing Prayer and Other Key Disciplines 2
SFS504 Growing into Ethical Maturity 2
Biblical Studies: 16 credits
Please note: Biblical studies, theological studies, hermeneutics and church history courses may be offered in 4-credit or 2-credit formats, depending on the campus location.
DBS506 -or- Learning to Interpret Scripture 4
DBS506X and Learning to Interpret Scripture, Part 1 2
DBS506Y Learning to Interpret Scripture, Part 2 2
BLS501 -or- Interpreting Genesis to Song of Solomon 4
BLS501X and Interpreting Old Testament I: Genesis to 2 Samuel 2
BLS501Y Interpreting the Old Testament II: 1 Kings to Song of Solomon 2
BLS502 -or- Interpreting the Prophets and Gospel 4
BLS502X and Interpreting Old Testament III: The Prophets 2
BLS502Y Interpreting the New Testament I: Gospels 2
BLS503 -or- Interpreting Acts to Revelation 4
BLS503X and Interpreting the New Testament II: Epistles 1 2
BLS503Y Interpreting the New Testament III: Epistles 2 2
Theological Studies: 12 credits
THS501 -or- Knowing the Triune God: Theology I 4
THS501X and Knowing the Triune God: Theology I, Part 1 2
THS501Y Knowing the Triune God: Theology I, Part 2 2
THS502 -or- Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II 4
THS502X and Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II, Part 1 2
THS502Y Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II, Part 2 2
THS503 Living as the Community of the Spirit: Theology III 2
THS508 Integrating Ministry and Theology 2
Open Electives: 6 credits

Specialization: 28 credits (select one)

Exegetical Specialization
Biblical Language studies: 18 credits
NTS508 Introducing Foundation for Greek Exegesis 3
NTS509 Greek Reading and Syntax 3
NTS515 Principles of Exegesis 2
OTS508 Introducing Foundation for Hebrew Exegesis 3
OTS509 Hebrew Reading and Syntax 3
OTS515 Principles of Exegesis 2
NTS5XX -or- Greek Exegesis Elective 2
OTS5XX Hebrew Exegesis Elective 2
Please note: NTS/OTS515, NTS5XX, and OTS5XX have not yet been produced in an online format nor are they regularly scheduled on all campuses. Online Campus students may request to join these classes via web conference or may take the courses NTS510 Greek Exegesis and OTS510 Hebrew Exegesis as an alternative way to complete the language requirements.
Thesis or Restricted Electives: 4 credits (Thesis Option is available on the Portland Campus only)

Students complete either a thesis—RES500 and RES502—or four credits of restricted electives from BLS, CHS, NTS, OTS or THS courses chosen in consultation with their advisor.

Please note the following requirements of the thesis option:

  • The thesis option is only available on the Portland Campus.  Make sure to check the course schedules for the Portland Campus to determine the specific semesters when RES500 and RES502 are available for registration.  Refer to the course description section of this catalog to learn more about RES500 and RES502.
  • The thesis option is only considered for students who have proven academic excellence and have demonstrated the discipline and capacity to undertake the thesis project.  To be considered for the thesis option, the student must submit an Academic Petition with a written thesis proposal.  For more information, contact your academic advisor.  
Theological Specialization
Theological Studies: 4 credits
Students complete either CHS505, CHS505X and505Y, or CHS506 and a CHS elective.
CHS505 -or- Wisdom from Church History 4
CHS505X and Wisdom from Church History, Part 1 2
CHS505Y-or- Wisdom from Church History, Part 2 2
CHS506 and Insight and Inspiration from Church History 2
CHS5XX Church History elective 2
Restricted Electives: 18 credits

With advisor's consent, select courses from BLS, NTS, OTS, CHS or THS prefixes. Students are encouraged to consider using part of these electives for study in the biblical languages. Students may request permission from the program director to write a thesis as part of their electives.

Please note the following requirements of the thesis option:

  • The thesis option is only available on the Portland Campus. Make sure to check the course schedules for the Portland Campus to determine the specific semesters when RES500 and RES502 are available for registration. Refer to the course description section of this catalog to learn more about RES500 and RES502.
  • The thesis option is only considered for students who have proven academic excellence and have demonstrated the discipline and capacity to undertake the thesis project. To be considered for the thesis option, the student must submit an Academic Petition with a written thesis proposal. For more information, contact your academic advisor.

2016-2017 Academic Catalog