Master of Arts in Religion Degree (MAR)

The Master of Arts in Religion degree is intended for students seeking a basic understanding of theological disciplines for further graduate study or general educational purposes. The MAR serves in the ELCA as a basic degree for recognition as diaconal minister, associate in ministry, or deaconess.


Duration of this program for a full-time student is normally two years. Models of part-time study vary considerably.  The degree is to be completed within ten years from the onset of the first course at LTSP that is applied to the degree program.


  1. A bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from a regionally accredited college or university.
  2. Satisfactory completion of 20 course units. One unit is equivalent to three semester hours. These 20 course units are to include
  • A minimum of 2.0 units in the Bible
  • A minimum of 2.0 units in Church history
  • A minimum of 2.0 units in systematic theology
  • A minimum of 2.0 units in integrative theology
  • A minimum of 2.0 units in interdisciplinary/integrative courses, including Introduction to Public Theology, taken in the student's first year of study or equivalent, and a senior seminar on public theology, taken in the student's final year
  • Other requirements as dictated by the student's choice of track and specialization (see below)

3.  Satisfactory completion of the following non-credit requirements:

  • Completion of required institutional assessment processes
  • Participation in the anti-racism/multicultural awareness workshop offered annually at the seminary
  • Eight hours of training in the areas of sexual ethics, boundaries, and wellness.  Students may participate in seminary-provided programs, offered annually, or submit proof of having completed equivalent training through a qualified institution or agency within three years of entering seminary

4.  A cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or above.

5.  Minimum residence at LTSP of one year. Residence of less than two academic years in the MAR program is permitted only when candidates are admitted to advanced standing by transfer from other recognized seminaries. Residence is defined as the satisfactory completion at this seminary of at least ten units of required and elective courses. Courses for which credit is earned through test-out do not count toward the residency requirement.

Each MAR student is to choose either a Professional Ministry track or a Theological Studies track. Additional requirements beyond the core requirements above are as follows:

Professional Ministry Track - At least five courses in the student's program, plus a senior project, are to comprise a specialization, appropriate to the student's professional ministry goals. Course selections are to be made in consultation with the student's advisor to ensure adequate breadth of competence to meet the student's vocational needs. Additional course requirements include:

  • Denominational Polity courses appropriate to the student's own tradition
  • Denominational History or History of Tradition (which can be one of the student's two required history courses above)
  • Spiritual Formation
  • At least two additional courses in Bible
  • At least two additional integrative ministry courses, as appropriate to the student's ministry goals
  • Contextual Education (minimum of two semesters; non-credit)
  • A senior project, evaluated by the student's advisor and one other faculty member, in the area of specialization

Theological Studies Track - The student is required to select an area of specialization, comprised of a minimum of seven courses (five beyond any core courses above), including a senior thesis or senior comprehensive examination in the area of specialization.

Areas of specialization that an MAR student might choose include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Black Church
  • Interfaith
  • Latino Ministry
  • Metropolitan/Urban Ministry
  • Multicultural Ministry and Mission
  • Public Leadership
  • Bible
  • Church History
  • Systematic Theology
  • Integrative Theology
  • Christian Education
  • Pastoral Care
  • Liturgy and Music
  • ELCA Diaconal Ministry
  • Episcopal Diaconate

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Learn more here.