Master of Theological Studies
The Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) is a general academic graduate degree providing a serious study that covers Scripture, historical and systematic theology, comparative theology, and ethics. Theology in this instance is understood to encompass both critical religious study--primarily of the Christian religion--and its practice, as such courses may contain theoretical and spiritual formation components. The M.T.S. was formerly designated the M.R.S. (Master of Religiious Studies) prior to January 1, 2015. The name of the degree was changed to accurately describe its intent and content. All students previously accepted into the M.R.S. will be awarded the M.T.S. from January 1 following.
Many students choose the M.T.S. solely as a way to increase their knowledge of Christianity as well as to bring that knowledge to their families, careers, or individual lives. The program builds on either the B.R.S. or on undergraduate degree programs earned elsewhere. The degree represents a minimum of one calendar year ofstudy.
Master of Theological Studies
Program objectives of the M.T.S. degree are three. They are listed here with their attendant learning outcomes (LO).
- Strengthen foundations for enriching personal faith and developing spiritual maturity
LO 1 Develop a personal spiritual worldview
LO 2 Appraise opposing arguments regarding the existence and implications of spirituality
LO 3 Defend the rationality of seeking a mature spiritual life
LO 4 Evaluate life circumstances by applying principles of spirituality
- Enhance understanding of biblical theology through systematic analysis of Scripture in its social, historical, and literary settings
LO 1 Justify the social-historical-grammatical approach to biblical interpretation
LO 2 Distinguish cultural settings from biblical doctrine
LO 3 Explain the role of literary genre in interpreting the Bible
LO 4 Propose and evaluate modern applications of Scripture based on critical analysis of texts
LO 5 Analyze texts by applying rules of exegesis
LO 6 Evaluate the philosophical assumptions underlying interpretative variations in major biblical texts
- Increase understanding of and appreciation for diverse worldviews
LO 1 Summarize the history, philosophies, and doctrines of major world religions
LO 2 Compare and contrast the major tenets of two world religions to those of Christianity
Degree requirements are satisfied through the accumulation of 36 semester credits and a series of collateral and culminating experiences. These include (1) a beginning and ending spiritual inventory (confidential and non-gradable), (2) biblical literacy (pretest and posttest), (3) portfolio (with submissions of select items), (4) capstone essays, and (5) integrative essays. The various experiences are in addition to exams and essays required in specific courses. They are designed to assist the learning process and provide a means for the institution to measure effectiveness with the student. The capstone essays deal with the four advanced courses related to critical and systematic theology and interpretation. The integrative essays are concerned with synthesizing the various components of the entire degree program.
The spiritual dimension and development courses bracket the program but are operative throughout. The advanced courses M 1 through M 11 provide evidence that the student has comprehensive understanding of the biblical text, the theological message of the Bible, and exegetical methodology needed to complete the master's program. These courses culminate with a series of essays calculated to measure the student's ability to think critically about modern topics in view of the ancient text of scripture. Specialty courses are electives and may be drawn from any course numbered MRS 100-500, 700. The recommended order is as follows:
A Search for Spirituality* (MRS 622)
Orientation to Research and Writing (Non-credit)
Critical Introduction to the Old Testament (M 1)
Critical Introduction to the New Testament (M 2)
Systematic Theology (M 3)
Biblical Hermeneutics (M 4)
Critical Analysis in Biblical Studies (M 11)
A course from the 100s that includes ancient religions
A course from the 400s and 500s that deals with Christian history or theology
A course from the 700s that deals with comparative religion
Electives (6 credits)
Being Christian in a Secular Environment (MRS 633)
*B.R.S. graduates who have credit for BRS 16.6 substitute a course of their choice.
The spirituality dimension brackets the program, but is operative throughout. The foundation courses (M 1-11) provide evidence that the student has a basic understanding of the biblical text, the theological message of the Bible, and exegetical methodology needed to complete the master's program. These courses culminate with a series of essays calculated to measure the student's ability to think critically about modern topics in view of the ancient text of scripture. The remaining courses in a student's program culminate in a series of integrative essays designed to bring together the student's entire program of study.
Because NU is a distance learning institution and operates without defined semesters or terms, students work at their own pace. Courses are normally completed one at a time, but a student is not prohibited from enrolling in multiple courses simultaneously. Credit is calculated according to the semester system. The final grade point average must be a minimum 3.00 on a 4.00 scale on the credits used for the degree. If a student reaches the end of the curriculum with less than a 3.00 G.P.A., he/she may take additional courses to substitutes for, or offset, a "C" grade.
The projected completion time for the M.T.S. is twenty-four months of full-time uninterrupted study.
Admission into the M.T.S. program
For students who register on or after September 1, 2012, admission to the M.T.S. program will require the following:
1. Submission of an official transcript that indicates completion of a bachelor's degree (minimum 120 credits with appropriate general education
courses) or higher degree.*
2. Completion of 15 credits of Foundations courses (MRS 622, M 1, M 2, M 3, and M 4) with a 3.00 grade point average.
3. Submission of all required activities, papers, and forum postings associated with the Foundation courses.
4. Pass two comprehensive examinations
5. No financial obligations to the University
6. Submission of a TOEFL score of 530 or above or acceptable substitute (80 iBT, 6.5 IELPS, 58 PTE score) by students whose native language is not
English or whose undergraduate degree is not in English.
*In the event a student cannot, for reasons beyond his/her control, submit official documentation of having completed the bachelor's degree,
he/she may appeal to the Registrar and state the reasons. The Registrar and Chancellor will review the appeal and make a judgment as to how the
requirement may be satisfied.
A maximum of six (6) semester credits may be accepted in transfer toward the M.T.S., provided the credits are (1) religious in nature, (2) come from an accredited institution, and (3) have not been applied toward another degree. No credit will be applied toward the M.T.S. that has been used for another graduate degree issued by NationsUniversity.
If the student presents a three-year Bachelor of Theology or similar degree or diploma, the student may be admitted to the master's program only after completing the 30 General Education credits required for the B.R.S.
Once formal admission is granted, the student is assigned to the M.T.S. curriculum. Courses that have been completed from this curriculum will count toward the M.T.S. degree. Students already registered normally follow the degree plan in effect at the time of registration or admission to a particular program. Continuing students are directed to the notes below and their online work sheet. Transference to a later plan means that all requirements in this plan must be fulfilled. Transferring to a newer plan is necessary if the student does not complete the program within seven years.