M.A. (Religion)

M.A. (Religion)2018-12-05T17:46:04+00:00

Program Overview

The Master of Arts (M.A.) is a 48-unit degree that combines academic excellence and opportunities for vocational exploration with the goal of preparing students for further graduate study, various forms of religious leadership and ministry, for general education and enrichment. Students must complete a summative exercise at the end of their program which takes the form of a master’s thesis, a major paper, or a paper/project.

The Claremont School of Theology M.A. program is informed by the history of Christian reflection and practice, by deep and open dialogue between religious traditions, and by the quest to understand and respond constructively to the contemporary world.

It presupposes the need for scholars and religious leaders who are able to positively engage the needs of the world through an understanding of past traditions, present dialogue, and a continuing quest for understanding and wisdom.

The Master of Arts curriculum combines training in academic content and methods, in the research skills appropriate to the study of religion and the various theological disciplines, and in the knowledge and sensitivity necessary for teachers and ministers to engage in dialogue across cultures and religions.

All graduates are expected to acquire both breadth and depth of preparation in relation to their overall degree objectives. Breadth is established by taking a wide range of survey courses in the theological disciplines. Depth is probed in the final summative exercise.

The M.A. is divided into three options.

The M.A. with a concentration in Theological Studies is a 48-unit degree.

The Islamic Studies and Leadership track is for students interested in positions of leadership in Muslim contexts, particularly in North American Muslim communities. This track provides room for students to personalize their studies to their own areas of interest. The culmination of this degree is a summative exercise which usually takes the form of a Master’s thesis.

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This degree provides depth of study in a particular theological discipline and offers ideal preparation for persons who plan to pursue future Ph.D. studies.

Students may complete concentrations in the following disciplines:

Islamic Education
Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy

Each concentration has specific requirements plus electives that are clustered in the student’s specific theological discipline and related fields, as approved by his or her advisor.

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The M.A. with a concentration in Interdisciplinary or Comparative Studies is a 48-unit degree program for those who desire to study the integration of two or more fields. It is a flexible degree that allows students to personalize a course of advanced study in multiple areas of interest, one of which must be religious in nature.

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Nina Fernando, M.A. ’13,

serves as the Operation and Outreach Manager with an organization called Shoulder to Shoulder, in Washington, D.C. Shoulder to Shoulder is a national multi-faith coalition of 35 religious denominations and faith-based organizations committed to countering, interrupting, and ending anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States.

Nina says, “CST helped to prepare me for my work in multi-faith justice organizing. I see faith communities and faith leaders as powerful change agents who hold a great responsibility to live up to their traditions. More than ever, our Muslim neighbors are unfairly and wrongly under attack. The problem is great, and our work at Shoulder to Shoulder helps faith communities and individuals step up alongside the Muslim community.”

In addition to Nina’s work with Shoulder to Shoulder, she is an accomplished musician who integrates music into her advocacy efforts. This Fall, she will begin work with OneBeat, an organization that brings together civically engaged musicians from around the globe. She says, “As someone who works to live out the intersection of social change through music and multi-faith advocacy, it has been a privilege to work at Shoulder to Shoulder and still be able to create space to sing. CST fully supported my exploration of integrating my faith with social change and music, and now I get to do that in a new way. I do not entirely know what to expect but I am really looking forward to it.”

To learn more about OneBeat visit their website at 1beat.org. To access a free toolkit to help you stand up to anti-Muslim bigotry, visit Shoulder to Shoulder’s website at shouldertoshouldercampaign.org.

Theological Studies Curriculum

BSF3006Islamic Leadership and Spirituality
BTS3100The Qur’an: Composition, Collection and Teachings
BTH3025Islamic Theology and Philosophy
ES3021Islamic Law and Legal Theory
BHS3013History of Islam
BMU3009Arabic III*
BMU3010Arabic IV*
TIR3001Interreligious Dialogue and Leadership
BIR3XXXMuslims in Conversation with Christians
BIR3XXXSunni-Shia Relations and Intra-faith Issues
TIS3061Integrative Seminar I – Spring semester first year
TIS3062Integrative Seminar II – Fall semester second year
TIS3075MA Research Colloquium I – Spring semester first year
TIS3076MA Research Colloquium II – Fall semester second year

Theological Discipline Curriculum

TSC3004Theories and Practices of Spiritual Care
TIR3001Interreligious Dialogue and Leadership
THC3007History of World Christianities
TEC3001Introduction to Christian Ethics
THB3007The Hebrew Bible in Context: An Introduction
TNT3003The New Testament in Context: An Introduction
TTH3036
Systematic Theology

Interdisciplinary Or Comparative Studies Curriculum

TIR3001Interreligious Dialogue and Leadership
TIS3075MA Research Colloquium I – Spring semester first year
TIS3076MA Research Colloquium II – Fall semester second year

MA Research Colloquium II – Fall semester second year

  • TIS3076

    The M.A. Research Colloquium is a two-semester sequence that will help students to research, design, and write a strong thesis or final project/paper that summarizes student learning in relation to each person’s educational and vocational goals.

    The first semester is designed to help students develop good research skills and an understanding of various research methodologies.

    The second semester provides an understanding of the basic components of a graduate-level summative research paper and helps students complete a first draft.

  • MA Research Colloquium I – Spring semester first year

  • TIS3075 MA

    The M.A. Research Colloquium is a two-semester sequence that will help students to research, design, and write a strong thesis or final project/paper that summarizes student learning in relation to each person’s educational and vocational goals.

    The first semester is designed to help students develop good research skills and an understanding of various research methodologies. The second semester provides an understanding of the basic components of a graduate-level summative research paper and helps students complete a first draft.

  • Integrative Seminar II – Fall semester second year

  • TIS3062

    This course seeks to help students develop MA projects that do not fall into the traditional research thesis model.

    It will primarily survey practical strategies for “hand- on” research, flexible methodological techniques, ethical conditions for engagement with diverse faith and/or social communities, and possible outcomes of the project that follows the MA work.

  • Integrative Seminar I – Spring semester first year

  • TIS3061

    This course seeks to help students develop MA projects that do not fall into the traditional research thesis model.

    It will primarily survey practical strategies for “hand- on” research, flexible methodological techniques, ethical conditions for engagement with diverse faith and/or social communities, and possible outcomes of the project that follows the MA work.

  • Sunni-Shia Relations and Intra-faith Issues

  • BIR3XXX

    This course will address the emergence of sectarian divisions amongst Muslims in the classical period, and the subsequent development of doctrinal and legal materials sustaining these identities.

    Historical examples of coexistence and conflict will be analyzed, and more recent efforts to promote intra-faith respect and cooperation will be evaluated.

  • Muslims in Conversation with Christians

  • BIR3XXX

    This course intends to address some of the theoretical and practical possibilities as well as challenges of an authentic dialogue and interaction between Christianity and Islam.

    This course can also be viewed as a preliminary research of a solid theological and philosophical grounding on which the two traditions can cultivate collaborative action.

  • Interreligious Dialogue and Leadership

  • TIR3001

    This courses gives students an opportunity to gain and practice skills in interreligious leadership for faith communities, in neighborhoods, and across religious groups throughout the world. It is the assumption of this course that dialogical skills are integral for religious (and humanistic) leadership in increasingly pluralistic societies.

    The course assumes that dialogical encounter takes place at different levels of societies-personal and interpersonal, in local communities, among members of different religious traditions, in formal, official national and international gatherings, and in political affairs, both local and global.

    Further, interreligious dialogue is a form of appreciative engagement that occurs across ethnicity, gender, social class, sexual identity, nationality, language, theological stance, etc.

  • Arabic IV*

  • BMU3010

    The second semester of Intermediate Arabic course will expose students to more advanced rules in Arabic grammar and syntax, expand vocabulary range, and increase active use of the language in written and oral form.

    Instruction will utilize authentic reading and listening materials, and equip students with skills required for effectively translating general texts.

  • Arabic III*

  • BMU3009

    This first semester Intermediate Arabic course will review knowledge of the basic rules of Arabic grammar and syntax, expand vocabulary range, and increase active use of the language in written and oral form.

    Instruction will utilize authentic reading and listening materials, and equip students with skills required for effectively reading general texts.

  • History of Islam

  • BHS3013

    This course places Islam within a world historical framework.

    The course outlines the expansion of Islam, the rise of the Umayyad; the Abbasid empire and successor states; the emergence of classical Islamic societies and developments in law, theology, and hadith; the Crusades and Mongol invasions and Muslim societies’ response; trade and exchange in the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans; the gunpowder empires; and the anti- colonial intellectual and political responses of new Muslim nation-states.

    The course provides a foundation for understanding contemporary Muslim societies and transnational Islam.

  • Islamic Law and Legal Theory

  • ES3021

    This course explains the internal workings of Islamic law at its theoretical roots. It engages students with the tools of ijtihad (the mechanism of Islamic legal reasoning) with an eye to the interpretive methodologies of the various schools of Islamic law.

    It also explores the relationship between Islamic law and government and surveys two selected areas of substantive law: family and criminal law. It concludes with a look at modern Islamic legal and political reform.

  • Islamic Theology and Philosophy

  • BTH3025

    This course is an introduction to the major figures, issues, discussions, and texts of Islamic thought as manifested in the interconnected domains of theology and philosophy.

    A developmental/chronological approach will draw connections with other religious and philosophical traditions, and demonstrate confluence and change within Islamic thought over time. Students will also evaluate claims regarding “decline” in Islamic thought in connection to modernity.

  • The Qur’an: Composition, Collection and Teachings

  • BTS3100

    This course will familiarize students with the role of the Qur’an in everyday Muslim life and thought. It will introduce students to the collection, compilation and standardization of the Qur’an, and its main features, structure, and themes.

    We will examine the manner in which the Qur’an discusses the nature of God, the relationship between the Divine and the human, the phenomena of prophethood and of other religions, as well as death and afterlife.

    Concluding lectures will focus upon jihad and warfare, social justice, and gender relations.

  • Islamic Leadership and Spirituality

  • BSF3006

    This course will provide an overview of models of religious leadership in the Muslim context from both an historical perspective as well as a contemporary one.

    Students will study texts that describe the ideal components of Islamic leadership and spirituality and will build essential skills needed to operate as a leader in contemporary Muslim settings with a focus on youth, education, finances, board relations, gender issues, counseling, issuing of religious edicts (fatawa), communication with the community, janaza services, conversion, and interfaith.

  • Systematic Theology

  • TTH3036

    Theology means “God-Talk.” But can we “talk” what must infinitely surpass our understanding? What would we say in face of multiple possibilities in which people experience this infinite reality we name “God?” How would we think of the multiplicity of the answers which were given to these experiences both within a certain tradition and between religions and cultures? Why should we try to express, and why has theology experimentally sought and found, modes of thought to address such questions instead of just being assured of certain experiences, beliefs, and convictions, or by remaining silent? In fact, Christian theology is a “creature” from a multicultural and interreligious milieu, in which it has asked, and still asks, the major questions that Christians, in their multiple contexts, have faced through time and addresses them by adventurously testing the most influential responses that Christians have given to them.

    This course will seek understanding (fides quarens intellectum) of these questions by exploring the variety of Christian understandings of God, God’s relation to the world, Christ, the Spirit, Trinity, creation, the intercultural and interreligious contexts of the Church, and the quest for God’s kingdom-to-come.

    The class encourages students to address these topics in relation to contemporary intellectual, cultural, ethical, social, and political issues, and well as its application to practical and ministerial situations.

  • The New Testament in Context: An Introduction

  • TNT3003

    This course is designed to introduce students to the study of the New Testament and includes an overview of its Greco­-Roman and Jewish contexts, intense exposure to New Testament literature, and an introduction to critical methods for interpretation, especially historical and literary criticisms.

    By the end of the course the student will have read the core literature of the New Testament and will be able to locate important texts in the books that they represent.

  • The Hebrew Bible in Context: An Introduction

  • THB3007

    An introduction to the study of the Hebrew Bible studies for M.Div./M.A. students.

  • Introduction to Christian Ethics

  • TEC3001

    This course serves as an introduction to the field of Christian ethics.

    Students will become familiar with sources for Christian ethical reflection; contemporary issues and global contexts; and relevant scholarship.

  • History of World Christianities

  • THC3007

    The history of world Christianities is an introduction to the historical developments of theology, practice and institutions within the Christian tradition.

    The course objective is to provide students with a working vocabulary and a historical narrative for understanding the beliefs that have been central to the Christian tradition, both western and non­western.

    How did Christians formulate their beliefs? How did they interpret the Bible and live out their faith convictions? What are the options of theological belief within the tradition? The historical perspective reveals how Christian doctrines were formed and reformulated, what forces impacted them, and consequently what impact they had.

    Surveys the history of world Christianity, covering as much of its global spread, theological expression, and conceptual and practical development as possible in a semester.

    We will use primary texts to anchor our study and to provide us with places for concentrated moments of discussion and exploration. Through these texts, we will meet some of the formative figures and learn about pivotal moments that shaped the history of the church.

    The purpose of this course is to provide you with a broad sweep of the history of Christianity in order to understand the development of Christian identities in various contexts.

  • Interreligious Dialogue and Leadership

  • TIR3001

    This courses gives students an opportunity to gain and practice skills in interreligious leadership for faith communities, in neighborhoods, and across religious groups throughout the world. It is the assumption of this course that dialogical skills are integral for religious (and humanistic) leadership in increasingly pluralistic societies.

    The course assumes that dialogical encounter takes place at different levels of societies-personal and interpersonal, in local communities, among members of different religious traditions, in formal, official national and international gatherings, and in political affairs, both local and global.

    Further, interreligious dialogue is a form of appreciative engagement that occurs across ethnicity, gender, social class, sexual identity, nationality, language, theological stance, etc.

  • Theories and Practices of Spiritual Care

  • TSC3004

    Introduction to the theories and practices of spiritual care.

  • MA Research Colloquium II – Fall semester second year

  • TIS3076

    The M.A. Research Colloquium is a two-semester sequence that will help students to research, design, and write a strong thesis or final project/paper that summarizes student learning in relation to each person’s educational and vocational goals.

    The first semester is designed to help students develop good research skills and an understanding of various research methodologies.

    The second semester provides an understanding of the basic components of a graduate-level summative research paper and helps students complete a first draft.

  • MA Research Colloquium I – Spring semester first year

  • TIS3075

    The M.A. Research Colloquium is a two-semester sequence that will help students to research, design, and write a strong thesis or final project/paper that summarizes student learning in relation to each person’s educational and vocational goals.

    The first semester is designed to help students develop good research skills and an understanding of various research methodologies.

    The second semester provides an understanding of the basic components of a graduate-level summative research paper and helps students complete a first draft.

  • Interreligious Dialogue and Leadership

  • TIR3001

    This courses gives students an opportunity to gain and practice skills in interreligious leadership for faith communities, in neighborhoods, and across religious groups throughout the world. It is the assumption of this course that dialogical skills are integral for religious (and humanistic) leadership in increasingly pluralistic societies.