Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation

Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation

(MA degree)


The Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation is a professional degree designed for evangelical Christians who desire a deeper personal walk with Christ; a grounding in Bible, theology, and church history; and the development of ministry skills for helping others become more Christlike in their everyday living. The program provides professional ministry training for persons who desire to further their Christian understanding in a formational and academic context.

The Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation is designed for:
  • Men and women who desire training in biblical and theological studies, in spiritual formation, and in discipleship, and who want a degree
  • Spiritual directors who desire to augment their education with a degree program
  • Persons who feel called to spiritual-formation ministry in the church or parachurch settings and want a degree program
  • Professionals who desire formational experiences and training in an academic environment known for its excellence

Applicants looking toward certification by a denomination or parachurch organization must secure recommendation from the desired institution and fulfill the expected procedures and competencies required for the desired certification. MA in Spiritual Formation is not intended as preparation for pastoral ministry.

Program Objectives

As a result of completing the MASF degree program, the individual will: 

  • Describe, critically and constructively, the biblical and theological foundations of the Christian tradition in relation to formation
  • Define, implement, and assess spiritual formation processes in individuals and groups in a variety of social and cultural settings
  • Identify and evaluate his or her spiritual formation journey of conforming to the image of Christ for the sake of others
  • Develop habits of authentic disciplines for living holistically in today’s world
  • Demonstrate the character and skills necessary for spiritually guiding others in the Christian tradition
  • Practice skills of leading and teaching in the specialized ministry of spiritual formation

Admission Requirements

Applicants seeking admission to the MA in Spiritual Formation program must hold a four-year baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university†, with a minimum GPA of 2.5. In addition, applicants must complete the following to be considered for admission to the program:

  • George Fox Evangelical 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)
  • A group interview or phone interview (by invitation only)

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

MASF Online or Local

The degree is offered in an online cohort format or a local delivery format. The online cohort has hybrid courses which are a combination of face-to-face classroom experiences and online experiences. Cohort students come to campus for week-long face-to-face intensives in the fall and spring and some summers over a period of four years. A learning community is created for the transfer of information, exchange of ideas, critical-thinking development through discussions and papers posted and read online, and acquired wisdom through sharing professional experiences.
The local delivery format allows students to take the majority of their coursework in the local classroom setting at the Portland Center. The local delivery format also provides greater flexibility regarding the number of credit hours for which students may enroll each semester.

Transfer Credit

Transfer of up to 21 hours credit is allowed toward the MA in Spiritual Formation program from 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 Formation 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.

Residence Requirements

Of the 42 hours required for the MA in Spiritual Formation program, a minimum of 21 hours must be taken in resident study at George Fox University. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree.

Course Requirements

The MA in Spiritual Formation program is generally two to three years in length with 42 semester hours of course work required as a minimum for graduation. Of the total hours required for the degree, 15 are in biblical and theological foundations courses, 12 in Christian or pastoral ministries courses, 15 spiritual formation hours.

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate with the MA in spiritual formation degree students must:

  • Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 42 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.
  • Be admitted to candidacy for the degree
  • Be recommended by the seminary faculty for graduation from George Fox University.

Curriculum Plan

Biblical and Theological Foundations Core (15 hours)
BIST 506 Old Testament I (Torah/Former Prophets) 3
CHTH 562 History of Spirituality and Renewal 3
BIST or CHTH electives 6
Students must select one of the following courses:
BIST 508 New Testament I (Gospels and Acts) 3
BIST 509 New Testament II (Romans -Revelations) 3
Christian and Pastoral Ministries Courses (12 hours)
MLDR 570 Christian Ministry for Reconciliation 3
PSTD 501 Pastoral Counseling 3
PSTD 575 Internship or MLDR 575 Internship‡ 3
PSTD or MLDR elective 3
Spiritual Formation Courses (15 hours)
SFAD 510 Knowing Self, Knowing God 1
SFAD 520 Prayer 1
SFAD 530 Spiritual Life 1
SFAD 536 Spirituality, Shame, and Grace 1
SFAD 540 Images of God 1
SFAD 548 Spirituality and Personality 1
SFAD 556 Spirituality and the Writings of the Mystics 1
SFAD 561 Spiritual Direction Experience I .5
SFAD 562 Spiritual Direction Experience II .5
SFAD 580 Group Spiritual Formation 1
SFAD 591 Spiritual Leadership 1
SFAD electives‡ 2

Students must select one of the following:

SFAD 533 Personal Study in Spiritual Formation or MLDR 595 (A, B, C) Special Study 3

Concentration in Spiritual Direction‡ (4 hours)

Students choosing the concentration in spiritual direction must select the following two courses in place of PSTD/MLDR 575 Internship & one hour of SFAD elective:
SFAD 571 The Art of Spiritual Direction 2
SFAD 572 Spiritual Direction Practicum 2
Seminary Course Descriptions