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 lay ministry or service, or completion of one of the concentrated programs of advanced study described below.

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

  • 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.
  • The residence 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.
  • 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.

Ordinarily YDS will not recommend any student for ordination on the basis of the M.A.R. degree. An exception may be made if requirements for the M.Div. degree have been met but the M.A.R. is elected in preference.

A project or thesis is an option for both the concentrated and comprehensive M.A.R. programs. Students may elect to write a thesis in the second year of their program. Candidates who choose to write theses or pursue projects must register for one or two terms of REL 3899, M.A.R. Thesis or Project, three credit hours per term. In concentrated programs the faculty member who is supervising the project or thesis will determine area credit. A thesis written for the comprehensive program is normally eligible for elective credit only. Candidates must present a proposal describing the thesis or project. The academic adviser and the adviser chosen to direct the thesis or project must approve the proposal in advance. A thesis or project must demonstrate independent research and critical inquiry. The length of manuscripts for the M.A.R. thesis or project will vary, depending on the subject matter. In conceptual fields, a one-term thesis or project report will normally be 40–50 pages long; a two-term thesis or project report, 80–100 pages. In text-based fields, shorter theses may be more appropriate. Candidates must submit a completed thesis or project report by the specified deadlines set for an academic year. Two copies are required, one for the faculty adviser and a second for an additional faculty reader.

Assessment Requirement

Students in the M.A.R. degree program, beginning with those who began their studies in the fall of 2013, 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. All M.A.R. students will participate in exit interview conversations.

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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