Master of Arts

The Life of the Mind, the Passions of the Heart, and the Master of Arts

The life of the mind is freely celebrated in Bethany’s master of arts (MA) program, because the mind, like the heart, is also a passionate organ. The work of MA students centers in an area of concentration that results in either a thesis or a portfolio on a topic of passionate academic interest. The MA program strives to foster growth of the whole person—spirit, mind, and body.

Bethany’s MA program consists of  55 credits (eighteen 3-credit-hour courses and one 1-credit course) and may be done as a residential student or through our distance education option via the MA Connections track.

Earning an MA from Bethany will prepare you for
  • PhD programs across the country, in preparation for careers in teaching and writing;
  • work with faith-based agencies or organizations, especially nonprofits;
  • personal, theological, and professional enrichment.

Program Objectives

The master of arts (MA) program is designed to prepare persons for theological reflection and research. This program provides general theological enrichment and serves as the basis for further graduate study in religion and for developing a theological perspective for a variety of vocations that embody the reconciling love of God incarnate in Christ and that bear witness to the fullness of God’s shalom and Christ’s peace. It is not designed to prepare persons for ordained ministry in the Church of the Brethren. This purpose informs the entire educational program and shapes the following educational objectives.

Graduates from the MA program will

  1. interpret skillfully the Christian sources, including scripture, history, and theology and church practices, with special attention to the Anabaptist-Pietist heritage;
  2. integrate learning from the disciplines identified in the overall program of study;
  3. communicate religious faith and values effectively, listen well, and express faith with clarity in ways that are theologically informed and culturally persuasive;
  4. articulate a commitment to building intercultural competency, engagement with people of various cultures, and attentiveness to the diversity and intersection of cultures;
  5. utilize creative approaches to scholarship that engage the realities of local contexts, drawing on both the content and format of educational opportunities in the MA program;
  6. develop a self-understanding that brings a calling to the life of scholarship into conversation with models of ministry and vocational vision;
  7. demonstrate competency in an area of concentration chosen by the student;
  8. analyze a selected area of research, resulting in an original thesis or portfolio;
  9. establish a commitment to learning as a life-long process.

MA Areas of Concentration

Each student chooses one of the following areas of concentration that supports their thesis research or portfolio:
  • Biblical studies
  • Brethren studies
  • Historical studies
  • Peace studies
  • Theological studies

MA Program Emphases

In addition to an area of concentration, MA students can add one of twelve emphases using general electives. See the Program Emphases List for more information.

Recent MA thesis topics have included the following:
  • Brethren history, focusing on 1968 as a cultural case study
  • Peace studies
  • Theology
  • Biblical studies
  • Theopoetics
  • Ecotheology
  • An inclusive church
  • Feminist theology
  • The Underground Railroad in Wayne County, Indiana

For more information about a master of divinity at Bethany, refer to the Bethany Academic Catalog.

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