Master of Arts (Theological Studies)

Master of Arts (Theological Studies)

(MA[TS] degree)

Purpose

The Master of Arts (Theological Studies) program is designed for women and men who desire graduate study in the field of theological studies with an emphasis in biblical studies, Christian history and theology, or the integration of the two. The MA(TS) does not include the study of pastoral ministry (the Master of Arts in Ministry and the Master of Divinity are recommended for ministry studies). The MA(TS) serves the purpose of shaping students as theologians, and is ideally suited for those wishing to pursue a vocation in teaching or writing.

The Curriculum

The MA(TS) curriculum includes courses in Christian history and theology, biblical languages, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. The curriculum begins with core courses that lay a foundation in these academic disciplines. The selected academic track (Biblical Studies, Christian History and Theology, Creation Care, Intercultural Studies, or the Integrative track) requires courses that will further build on the core courses, offering the student the opportunity to gain expertise in a preferred discipline. The apprenticeship requirement offers a unique and important opportunity for MA(TS) students to learn about pedagogy in theological studies, with real-life experience in classroom teaching. A mentor guides students through the apprenticeship courses. The spiritual formation courses give the student exposure to development of deep moral and spiritual values, spiritual disciplines, and self-awareness and self-management skills. The thesis/project courses provide the opportunity for the MA(TS) student to learn advanced research and writing skills and potentially prepare for doctoral study.

Program Outcomes

The MA(TS) program will:

● Foster students' understanding of Christian history and theology, biblical studies, and spiritual formation
● Equip with advanced learning in a chosen area of concentration

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

● Grow in the ability to analyze pertinent texts and materials
● Develop the capacity to think critically
● Learn research, writing, and communication skills
● Integrate and demonstrate these learnings through a summative project/thesis
● Be formed holistically, both academically and spiritually

Admission Requirements

Applicants seeking admission to the MA (Theological Studies) 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 or Curriculum Vitae
● Personal mission statement and statement of faith
● Three letters of reference (as specified in admissions materials)
● An interview

Transfer Credit

Transfer of up to 28 hours credit is allowed toward the MA (Theological Studies) 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(TS) 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 MA(TS) program, students are required to complete half of the degree (28 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 MA(TS) program is generally three years in length, with 56 semester hours of coursework required as a minimum for graduation. Of the total hours required for the degree, 12 are in prescribed biblical studies courses, 12 in Christian history and theology, 4 in ancient language study, 4 in spiritual formation and discipleship, 4 in a teaching apprenticeship, and 4 in thesis/project study (or additional coursework if so desired). The remaining 16 hours are in a chosen subject track. The subject tracks offered are Biblical Studies Track, Christian History and Theology Track, Christian History and Theology/Creation Care Track, Christian History and Theology/Intercultural Studies Track, and Integrated Studies Track.

Language Requirement

MA(TS) students are required to take 4 credit hours of language study. Additional language study is permitted through the chosen track of study.

Thesis/Project Courses and Requirements

The MA(TS) degree requires a thesis/project studio comprised of two two-credit courses. The student may choose either to write a traditional academic thesis or to produce a project. The project is recommended for those students wishing to focus on a particular subject of interest, but who are not intending to go on to doctoral studies.

1. Students are eligible to register for thesis/project once they are about midway through the MA(TS) program, and with the approval of their advisor.

2. Students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 to be eligible to write a thesis or project.

3. With approval of the academic advisor, the student will register for BIST/CHTH 581/582 for two consecutive semesters. A student wishing to produce a project instead of a thesis will still register for BIST/CHTH 581/582. Project students will follow a different set of instructions, deadlines, and rubric than the thesis students.

4. In consultation with the MA(TS) thesis director, each student will choose faculty advisors/readers.

a. Thesis Option (two advisors/readers): The primary thesis advisor is normally a member of the seminary faculty and has primary responsibility for overseeing thesis work. The second reader may be chosen from a wider field of qualified academics with expertise in the thesis topic.

b. Project Option (one advisor/reader): The faculty project advisor is normally a member of the seminary faculty.

5. Thesis/Project Description

a. The primary advisor will work with the student to define the thesis topic or the nature and scope of the project.

b. Theses should be 15,000-18,000 words in length & should demonstrate the ability to

i. Formulate and research a narrowly defined problem

ii. Master a well-defined issue in academic study

iii. Interact equitably with other scholars and positions

iv. Write in a clear manner consistent with scholarly standards

c. Projects may include, but are not limited to, media presentations, course curriculum, or website development

6. Thesis/Project Proposal

a. Thesis Proposal: the student must submit a formal thesis proposal for acceptance by the primary advisor (elements found in course syllabus).

b. Project Proposal: In consultation with the faculty project advisor, the student must submit a project proposal for formal approval by the advisor.

7. All work submitted, from proposal to final draft, must adhere to the form and style guidelines as described in the most recent edition of K. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

8. A thesis requires a one-hour oral defense before the primary thesis advisor and the second reader. This defense will occur following submission of the final draft of the thesis and at least one week before the final day of the semester.

9. Following the oral defense, the student must complete any additions or changes requested by the faculty advisor/reader.

10. Each copy of the final thesis or project will include an original (not photocopied) approval sheet signed by the advisors/readers.

11. All theses and projects will receive a letter grade.

Thesis Schedule

Thesis registration should be BIST/CHTH 581 (2) for the first semester and BIST/CHTH 582 (2) for the second semester. If needed and approved by the instructor for BIST/CHTH 581/582, thesis writers may be granted one additional semester for completion of the thesis without grade penalty. In this case the student must register for BIST/CHTH 585 Thesis Continuation, 1 hr. for this third semester. Arrangements for an additional (third) semester must be made prior to the deadline for first draft submission and must be accompanied by a new schedule of completion with deadlines. Theses requiring more than three semesters will normally suffer a grade penalty.

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate with the MA (Theological Studies) degree students must:

● Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 56 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above within five years after advancement to candidacy
● Achieve no grade lower than a B in all core courses. If a grade of a B- or lower is received in a designated course, that course must be retaken (for more specific information, please refer to the student handbook)
● Successfully complete each milestone
● Be admitted to candidacy for the degree
● Be recommended by the seminary faculty for graduation from Portland Seminary of George Fox University

Curriculum Plan (56 hours)

Biblical Studies Courses (16 hours)
BIST 501 Old Testament Introduction 3
BIST 502 New Testament Introduction 3
BIST 503 Engaging the Old Testament 3
BIST 504 Interpreting the New Testament: Use and Abuse of the Bible 3
Biblical Language Courses (select one of the following sequences):
BIST 511 Introducing Biblical Hebrew 2
BIST 512 Interpreting the Hebrew Testament 2
Or
BIST 521 Introducing New Testament Greek 2
BIST 522 Interpreting the Greek Testament 2
Christian History and Theology Courses (12 hours)
CHTH 507 Historical Theology: Early Church through Reformation
3
CHTH 508 Essentials in Christian Theology
3
CHTH 509 History of Christianity in America 3
CHTH 510 World Religions and Christian Thought 3
Spiritual Formation and Discipleship Courses (4 hours)
SFAD 510 Knowing Self, Knowing God 1
SFAD 520 Mystical Experiences and Images of God 1
SFAD 560 Spiritual Leadership 1
And one of the following:
SFAD 530 Christian Prayer in a Global Context 1
SFAD 540 Spiritual Life 1
SFAD 550 Shame, Grade, and Resilience 1
Apprenticeship (4 hours)
BIST/CHTH 568 Teaching Apprenticeship I: Internship and Pedagogy 2
BIST/CHTH 569 Teaching Apprenticeship II: Internship and Pedagogy 2
Thesis (4 hours)
BIST/CHTH 581 Thesis I: Research/Thesis 2
BIST/CHTH 582 Thesis II: Research/Thesis 2

MA(TS) Tracks (16 hours)- Select One

Biblical Studies Track (16 hours)
BIST 523 Old Testament Book Study 2
BIST 524 New Testament Book Study 2
BIST 533 Scripture in Context: Old Testament, Ancient Near East, Today 2
BIST 534 Scripture in Context: New Testament, Early Judaism, Today 2
Studio courses (8 hours): Students may select any two studios in Biblical Studies (select part I and II for each studio selected). 
BIST 551 Advanced Seminar in Northwest Semitics I  2
BIST 552 Advanced Seminar in Northwest Semitics II 2
BIST 555 Seminar in Biblical Studies I 2
BIST 565 Seminar in Biblical Studies II 2
BIST 556 Bible and Contemporary Culture I: Methods 2
BIST 557 Bible and Contemporary Culture II: Theology and Film 2
BIST 562 Advanced Seminar in Greek I 2
BIST 563 Advanced Seminar in Greek II 2
Christian History and Theology Track (16 hours)
CHTH 530 Gender and Christian Thought 2
CHTH 533 Christian Ethics 2
CHTH 534 Poverty and Restorative Ecojustice 2
CHTH 537 The Postcolonial Church 2
Studio Courses (8 hours): Students may select any two studios in Christian History and Theology (select part I and II for each studio selected). 
CHTH 528 Intercultural Studies I: Cultural Anthropology 2
CHTH 529 Intercultural Studies II: Indigenous Peoples & the N. American Church 2
CHTH 546 Ecotheology I: Theology & Stewardship of Creation 2
CHTH 547 Ecotheology II: Hope and New Creation
2
CHTH 548 Ecopraxis I: Keeping the Garden 2
CHTH 549 Ecopraxis II: Greening the Church
2
CHTH 550 Indigenous Studies I: Indigenous Spiritualities 2
CHTH 551 Indigenous Studies II: Theology and Place 2
CHTH 558 Quaker Studies I: Hist & Polity of the Quaker Movement 2
CHTH 559 Quaker Studies II: Christian Pract. of the Quaker Movement 2
CHTH 560 Wesleyan Studies I: Theology and Context of John Wesley 2
CHTH 561 Wesleyan Studies II: The Wesleyan-Holiness Movement 2
CHTH 562 Pentecostal Studies I: Theologies & Practices in Hist. Context 2
CHTH 563 Pentecostal Studies II: Thinkers, Trends, and Innovations 2
CHTH 555 Seminar in Christian History and Theology I 2
CHTH 565 Seminar in Christian History and Theology II 2
Christian History and Theology/Creation Care Track (16 hours)
CHTH 530 Gender and Christian Thought 2
CHTH 533 Christian Ethics 2
CHTH 534 Poverty and Restorative Ecojustice 2
CHTH 537 The Postcolonial Church 2
CHTH 546 Ecotheology I: Theology & Stewardship of Creation 2
CHTH 547 Ecotheology II: Hope and New Creation 2
CHTH 548 Ecopraxis I: Keeping the Garden 2
CHTH 549 Ecopraxis II: Greening the Church 2
Christian History and Theology/Intercultural Studies Track (16 hours)
CHTH 530 Gender and Christian Thought 2
CHTH 533 Christian Ethics 2
CHTH 534 Poverty and Restorative Ecojustice 2
CHTH 537 The Postcolonial Church 2
CHTH 528 Intercultural Studies I: Cultural Anth for a Postmodern World 2
CHTH 529 Intercultural Studies II: Indigenous Peoples & N. Am. Church 2
CHTH 550 Advanced Intercultural Studies I: Indigenous Spiritualities 2
CHTH 551 Advanced Intercultural Studies II: Theology and Place 2
Integrative Studies Track (16 hours)
Biblical Studies Focused Courses (4 hours):  Select two of the following courses (suggested sequence BIST 523 or 524 and then BIST 533 or 534).
BIST 523 Old Testament Book Study
2
BIST 524 New Testament Book Study
2
BIST 533 Scripture in Context: Old Testament, Ancient Near East, Today 2
BIST 534 Scripture in Context: New Testament, Early Judiasm, Today 2

Christian History and Theology Focused Courses (4 hours): Select two of the following courses.

CHTH 530 Gender and Christian Thought 2
CHTH 533 Christian Ethics 2
CHTH 534 Poverty and Restorative Ecojustice 2
CHTH 537 The Postcolonial Church 2
Studio Courses (8 hours)  Select any two studios in BIST or CHTH not yet completed. 8
Seminary Course Descriptions