Comprehensive Master of Arts in Religion (M.A.R.)

The degree of Master of Arts in Religion (M.A.R.) certifies either completion of a comprehensive program of study in preparation for one of the many forms of ministry or service, or completion of one of the concentrated programs of advanced study.

The minimum requirement for the M.A.R. degree is the successful completion of forty-eight credit hours and a two-year residency with the following caveats:

  1. Students with heavy responsibilities outside of school are strongly advised to reduce their course load, but the total program of study for the M.A.R. degree shall not be expanded beyond four years. Students will not receive financial aid for course work beyond the requirements.
  2. The residency requirement of two years may be reduced when credits, up to a maximum of twelve hours, are transferred. In order to receive the M.A.R. degree, students who transfer credits must complete at least three terms of resident work at YDS, one of which must be the final term.
  3.  Exceptions to the final-term residency requirement may be made for students on approved exchange or joint-degree study. In all cases a minimum of twenty-four credits must be earned through course work at Yale.

Students are encouraged to elect courses in other schools and departments of the University. Any student who takes more than nine hours in another school or department of the University comes under the regulations for interdepartmental study; see Interdepartmental Studies, in the chapter Other Curricular Considerations. See the chapter Areas and Courses of Study for information about credit for undergraduate courses.

Students awarded the M.A.R. degree who continue their studies for the M.Div. degree will not be awarded both degrees for less than four full academic years of study.

M.A.R. students may opt to complete a thesis or project by following the procedures outlined below.

Assessment Requirement

Students in the M.A.R. degree program are required to participate in a program assessing their progress. Each student builds an online portfolio of work that demonstrates progress toward the degree’s learning goals. Learning goals for students in M.A.R. concentration programs are determined by the faculty in each area; learning goals for students in M.A.R. comprehensive programs are developed, beginning in the second term of study, by the students themselves, in consultation with their academic adviser and with the associate dean for leadership initiatives. M.A.R. students will upload work demonstrating fulfillment of their goals, beginning early in the second year of study. Students will post a brief narrative outlining how the goals are being fulfilled. Faculty members in each concentration will meet to discuss the progress of students studying in their area; academic advisers will review the work of advisees in comprehensive programs. Each M.A.R. student must participate in an End-of-Degree conversation as part of the assessment requirement.

Thesis and Project Options

A thesis or project is an option in the second year of the M.A.R. program. Candidates interested in a thesis or project must initiate the process by selecting first and second readers (either of whom may or may not be the academic adviser) appropriate to the topic who are willing and able to work with the student. Readers will ordinarily be Yale faculty members. However, with permission of the senior associate dean of academic affairs, the first reader can be a part-time or visiting Yale faculty member, and the second reader may be external to Yale. Completed thesis or project proposals must be submitted no later than the end of the first week of the term in which the thesis or project will be initiated. Students are strongly encouraged to submit a proposal form at the end of the term prior to the term in which they hope to begin the thesis or project.

Key elements of the process include (1) a one-page description of the thesis or project; (2) signatures of the first reader, second reader, and academic adviser; (3) a statement of support from the first reader and, in the event the first reader is not a full-time member of the YDS faculty, a second statement of support from a person who is a full-time member of the YDS faculty; (4) specification of what must be submitted as evidence of progress achieved by the Monday of the fifth week of classes in which the thesis or project is begun.

The senior associate dean of academic affairs reviews the completed application and makes a determination on whether or not the proposal is approved. Students who have not obtained approval prior to the start of the term in which the thesis or project will be initiated are advised to register for another class in the event that approval is not granted.

For M.A.R. concentrated program students, the academic adviser will determine area credit. Theses or projects written for the M.A.R. comprehensive program are eligible for elective credit only. All thesis and project students must register for the M.A.R. Thesis or Project course (REL 3899) for one or two terms.

Further details on thesis and project requirements are described in the document “Yale Divinity School Timeline Requirements for M.A.R./M.Div. Theses,” available in the registrar’s office.

Comprehensive Program

Minimum requirements of the comprehensive M.A.R. program include the following distribution of courses in the curriculum:

Area I Six credit hours. Elementary Hebrew and Greek do not meet this requirement but are counted toward the total number of hours needed for graduation.

Area II Six credit hours.

Area III Six credit hours.

Area IV Six credit hours.

Area V Six credit hours.

Elective Eighteen credit hours.

No course may be counted toward meeting the distributional requirements simultaneously in more than one area. The distributional requirements of the M.A.R. degree are sufficiently flexible that students can devote a significant part of the program to specialized interests.


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