Master of Arts in Spiritual Direction

Master of Arts in Spiritual Direction

(MA degree)


The Master of Arts in Spiritual Direction (MASD) degree program is a professional degree designed to prepare spiritual directors and spiritual direction supervisors. The program is designed for persons who feel called to spiritual direction ministry in the church or parachurch settings. The MASD does not include the study of pastoral ministry beyond skills required of a spiritual director (the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Ministry are recommended for those preparing for the pastorate).

The Curriculum

This program offers spiritual direction training that focuses on being attentive to the presence of Christ, attuned to the vulnerability of the other person, and aware of the internal dynamics that arise in a contractual relationship. One’s understanding of spiritual formation involves the intersection of Scripture, theology, psychology, and social-cultural factors.

Program Outcomes

The MASD program will: 

● Develop student's capacity for critical and constructive theological reflection regarding the content and processes of spiritual direction
● Help the student achieve an understanding of a spiritually formed life
● Enable the student to gain skill in the art and practice of spiritual direction
● Foster spiritual maturity in the student

Learning Outcomes

Students will: 

● Describe, critically and constructively, the biblical, theological, and historical dimensions of spiritual formation
● Demonstrate the character and spiritual maturity necessary for spiritually directing others and for living holistically in today’s world
● Define, implement, and assess spiritual formation processes in a variety of social and cultural settings
● Identify and evaluate the student's own formational journey of conforming to the image of Christ for the sake of others

Admission Requirements

Applicants seeking admission to the MA in Spiritual Direction program must hold a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university†, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. In addition, applicants must complete the following to be considered for admission to the program:

● Submit Portland Seminary application and application fee
● Submit one official transcript from each college/university attended
● Resumé
● Personal mission statement and statement of faith
● Three letters of reference (as specified in admissions materials)
● An interview addressing the prospective student’s discernment around preparation for the ministry of spiritual direction

†Applicants who do not hold a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university may apply to the university but will be required to submit additional documentation to be considered for admission.

Transfer Credit

Transfer of up to 18 hours credit is allowed toward the MA in Spiritual Direction program from ATS-accredited graduate schools. Students must have earned a grade of B or better for a course to be considered for transfer. In addition, only courses taken elsewhere within 10 years of the date of matriculation to the MA in Spiritual Direction program will be considered for transfer. Transferability of credits earned at this institution and transferred to another is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Consult the registrar's office for information on eligibility of transfer credit.

Credits in Residence and Program Delivery Formats

Residence, as described in this section of the catalog, does not refer to the time a student spends on campus. It refers to the portion of a degree program that students are required to earn with Portland Seminary, as compared to transfer credits and credit applied as advanced standing. With regard to the MASD program, students are required to complete half of the degree (18 semester hours) directly with Portland Seminary. A leave of absence is valid for up to one year after which the student must reapply to the program. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree.

Course Requirements

The MASD program is generally two years in length with 36 semester hours of coursework required as a minimum for graduation. Of the total hours required for the degree, 14 are in biblical and theological foundations courses, 8 are in pastoral ministries and ministry leadership courses, 6 are spiritual formation core courses and 8 are in specialized spiritual direction training with an integrated apprenticeship.

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate with the MA in Spiritual Direction degree students must:

● Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 36 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
● Successfully pass candidacy
● Successfully complete each milestone
● Be recommended by the seminary faculty for graduation from Portland Seminary of George Fox University

Curriculum Plan

Biblical Studies Courses (8 hours)
BIST 500 Biblical Foundations for Spiritual Directors 2
BIST 501 Old Testament Introduction 3
BIST 503 Engaging the Old Testament 3
BIST 502 New Testament Introduction 3
BIST 504 Interpreting the New Testament: Use and Abuse of the Bible 3
Christian History and Theology Courses (6 hours)
CHTH 507 Historical Theology: Early Church through Reformation 3
CHTH 509 History of Christianity in America 3
CHTH 508 Essentials in Christian Theology 3
CHTH 510 World Religions and Christian Thought 3
Spiritual Formation Courses (6 hours)
SFAD 510 Knowing Self, Knowing God 1
SFAD 520 Mystical Experiences and Images of God 1
SFAD 530 Christian Prayer in a Global Context 1
SFAD 540 Spiritual Life 1
SFAD 550 Shame, Grace, and Resilience 1
SFAD 560 Spiritual Leadership 1
Leadership Courses (4 hours)
MLDR 531 Reconciliation and Community Engagement I 2
MLDR 532 Reconciliation and Community Engagement II 2
Pastoral Studies Courses (4 Hours)
PSTD 521 Pastoral Counseling and Ethics I 2
PSTD 522 Pastoral Counseling and Ethics II 2
Spiritual Direction Studio Courses (8 hours)
SFAD 551 Awareness and Identity I 2
SFAD 552 Awareness and Identity II 2
SFAD 571 Becoming a Spiritual Director I 2
SFAD 572 Becoming a Spiritual Director II 2
SFAD 573 Spiritual Direction Supervision I* 2
SFAD 574 Spiritual Direction Supervision II* 2
*For students with spiritual direction experience. Requires faculty/advisor permission.
Seminary Course Descriptions