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

The concentrated M.A.R. program offers the opportunity to pursue advanced work in one of the disciplines of theological study. The faculty limits the number of applicants accepted into the concentrated program and reviews the progress of each upon completion of the first term. If progress is not satisfactory, the student becomes responsible for fulfilling the requirements of the comprehensive program. Concentrations are offered in Asian Religions; Black Religion in the African Diaspora; Ethics; Hebrew Bible; History of Christianity; Latinx and Latin American Christianity; Liturgical Studies; New Testament; Philosophical Theology and Philosophy of Religion; Practical Theology; Religion and Ecology; Religion and the Arts; Second Temple Judaism; Theology; Women’s, Gender, and/or Sexuality Studies in Religion; and World Christianity/Missions.

Asian Religions

The concentration in Asian Religions requires twelve credit hours of language study and a minimum of twelve credit hours of study in Asian religions. At least eighteen credit hours of YDS course work is required of all candidates.

Black Religion in the African Diaspora

The concentration in Black Religion in the African Diaspora is an interdisciplinary program based in the YDS curriculum that includes a broad range of courses that illumine the theology, history, philosophy, aesthetics, and practices of black religion. Students are encouraged to take courses pertinent to African American religious studies in other departments or programs of the University (for example, in Anthropology, Religious Studies, History, African Studies, African American Studies, Music, History of Art, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies). Through the careful study of manuscript, printed, visual, and aural/oral sources, students learn an array of methodologies and approaches to inventively engage black religion and explore current movements and debates on topics such as race, gender, sexuality, popular culture, politics, and media. A minimum of eighteen credit hours must be taken in courses focusing on black religion representing at least four of the five curricular areas. In addition, six credit hours of foundational study are required in Bible and twelve in history and theology. Although not required, up to six hours of credit may be given for a major paper or project.


Ethics is concerned with the evaluation of character and action. It examines the sorts of people we ought to be, the ways we should act in relation to others, and the social structures we collectively inhabit, transmit, and transform. The concentration in Ethics is an inherently interdisciplinary course of study that trains students in Christian theological traditions of ethical reflection and in contemporary social-ethical thought. Courses in ethics address questions of the good life, social justice, and the common good, both as these have arisen in the past and as they take shape with reference to pressing concerns of our own historical moment, from immigration to environmental justice. All students are encouraged to pursue work across the theological disciplines as well as in pertinent areas of the University outside of the Divinity School, including the Departments of Religious Studies, Philosophy, and Political Science, the School of the Environment, and the Law School. The Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics offers further resources for interested students. At least eighteen credit hours must be taken in ethics; in addition, six credit hours in the biblical disciplines and twelve in history and theology are ordinarily required. The program trains students for intellectual leadership both inside and outside the academy, with graduates of the program entering top doctoral programs in the field as well as work in the nonprofit sector, advocacy, secondary education, journalism, and law.

Hebrew Bible

The concentration in Hebrew Bible prepares students for the critical study of the Hebrew Bible, its languages, texts, and contexts. The curriculum encompasses: (1) the study of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, as well as offerings in relevant ancient languages; (2) a wide range of interpretive courses, both textual and thematic; and (3) courses in the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean context and in the history of interpretation. Students frequently make use of the rich resources at Yale in the Departments of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Religious Studies, Classics, Comparative Literature, History of Art, and Anthropology, as well as the holdings of Yale’s many collections. The concentration in Hebrew Bible requires eighteen credit hours of Hebrew and Hebrew-based courses, six credit hours of Greek, the foundation courses in Hebrew Bible and New Testament Interpretation (REL 503REL 504REL 505, and REL 506), and six credit hours of exegetical, thematic, or historical courses. Many students in this concentration advance to do doctoral work in Hebrew Bible and related areas.

History of Christianity

The concentration in the History of Christianity trains students in the history of Christianity and in historical methods of analysis for the study of religion. The curriculum includes a wide range of courses, from early Christianity to the Reformation and contemporary America, and is broadened by the opportunity to take courses in other departments and programs of the University (for example, in Religious Studies, History, American Studies, African American Studies, History of Art, and Classics). Students are challenged to engage with the past in ways that treat earlier cultures with integrity, while exploring how those pasts continue to inform our present. Through the rigorous study of manuscript, printed, visual, and oral sources, students learn a range of methodologies and approaches to history as well as enter current debates on topics such as memory, war, race, and gender. Faculty emphasize the historical study of theology and religious thought; the cultural contexts in which ideas were formulated, expressed, and disseminated; and the historical intersections of Christianity with other religious traditions. The concentration requires at least eighteen credit hours in historical studies, and students are encouraged to complete a thesis, especially if their plans include further graduate work.

Latinx and Latin American Christianity

The Latinx and Latin American Christianity concentration is an interdisciplinary program for students who wish to study Latinx and Latin American religious culture, theology, and history. Students can choose to focus their studies on Latinx Christianity in the United States or Christianity in Latin America, or to explore both with an eye toward developing a more hemispheric perspective in relation to these fields and geographic areas (i.e., the United States and Latin America). The concentration requires eighteen credit hours to be taken in Latinx and/or Latin American Studies, twelve of which must be in Latinx and/or Latin American religion courses and six of which can be in other related departments and disciplines. Students are also required to take courses in biblical studies, history, ethics, and theology for the purposes of a well-rounded program of study. Students who do not speak Spanish and/or Portuguese are encouraged to take relevant language courses.

Liturgical Studies

The concentration in Liturgical Studies requires eighteen credit hours of study in the major area, including the introductory core course of the program, REL 682, Foundations of Christian Worship. Students must take nine credit hours of electives in liturgical studies, three with an historical focus, three with a theological focus, and three with a strong methodological or practical component. The remaining six credits may be taken as electives, but students are strongly encouraged to seek out a course in their own denominational worship tradition. The remaining thirty credits required for the M.A.R. with a concentration in liturgical studies will be taken in the various areas of study of the YDS and Institute of Sacred Music (ISM) curricula, according to a student’s academic interests and professional goals and in consultation with faculty in the area of concentration.

New Testament

The concentration in New Testament trains students in the reading of early Christian texts and the surrounding literature, in the diverse methodologies used to read those texts, and in their ongoing significance. The program trains students in the reading of Greek texts and in one other relevant ancient language (normally Hebrew, but other languages may be substituted). Students are encouraged to explore widely and to take some courses in related departments at Yale that are relevant to their interests. The requirements include fifteen hours of Greek and Greek-based courses (including courses offered by the Classics department), six hours in another relevant language, six hours in relevant thematic or critical theory courses, and the foundational sequences in Hebrew Bible and New Testament Interpretation (REL 503REL 504REL 505, and REL 506) or their equivalents. If students have substantial experience in diversely oriented foundational Hebrew Bible and New Testament Interpretation courses, they may, in consultation with the program faculty, waive this requirement. All courses are selected in consultation with an adviser. The purpose of the program is to provide solid grounding in New Testament scholarship broadly understood.

Philosophical Theology and Philosophy of Religion

Individual programs are planned for each of the students concentrating in Philosophical Theology and Philosophy of Religion. Eighteen credit hours are required in biblical and theological studies—the latter including but not limited to moral, historical, liberation, and systematic theology—with at least six in biblical and six in theological studies. At least eighteen hours must be taken in philosophical theology or philosophy of religion. Courses in the social sciences and in historical and philosophical study of religion may be taken in other departments of the University, especially in Religious Studies and Philosophy. Students’ course work must include a course that addresses in a sustained and focused way questions concerning how theological and philosophical discourse is influenced by white supremacy and the privileging of white and male voices.

Practical Theology

The Practical Theology concentration is an interdisciplinary academic program for students engaged in the study of lived religion and theologically grounded research in the practices of persons and communities. Students may focus their work within one of practical theology’s subdisciplines (e.g., homiletics, liturgical studies, pastoral care, religious education, spirituality), or they may design a focus of study across subdisciplines in consultation with practical theology faculty. The concentration requires twenty-four hours to be taken in practical theology courses, six hours of which must include the required practical theology proseminar and the course in research methods. Also required are nine credit hours in Divinity courses beyond Area IV and fifteen elective credit hours. Students’ course work must include two courses that focus centrally on the study of class, gender/sexuality, race/ethnicity, disability, or global/cultural diversity.

Religion and Ecology

The concentration in Religion and Ecology is an interdisciplinary program based in the YDS curriculum and draws on faculty resources in biblical studies, ethics, liturgical studies, pastoral care, spirituality, theology, and world religions and ecology. It spans the study of eco-theology; eco-spirituality; eco-feminism; theologies of embodiment, place, land, race, and indigeneity; environmental ethics; liturgy and creation; and cosmology and ecology. At least fifteen credit hours must be taken in the area of religion and ecology, as well as six credit hours in the Yale School of the Environment. In addition, fifteen credit hours of study in Bible, theology, and/or history are required, with a minimum of three credit hours of each.

Religion and the Arts

Students in the Religion and the Arts concentration elect one of three tracks: Literature, Visual Arts, or Music. The emphasis in each track is on history, criticism, and analysis of past and present practice. Each requires twenty-one credits in the area of concentration: in visual arts or music, twelve of these credits must be taken with ISM faculty; in literature, six must be taken with ISM faculty. In addition, at least fifteen credits shall be devoted to general theological studies: six credits in Area I, six credits in Area II, and three credits in Area III. Twelve credits of electives may be taken from anywhere in the University, though the number of electives allowed in studio art, creative writing, or musical performance is at the discretion of the adviser and requires the permission of the instructor. In total, one-half of the student’s course load must consist of YDS credits. An undergraduate major in the field of concentration or its equivalent is required.

Second Temple Judaism

The M.A.R. in Second Temple Judaism has a primary focus in the period between the Babylonian Exile (586–539 BCE) and the Jewish revolts against Rome in the period 66–135 CE. Since there are no Ph.D. programs in Second Temple Judaism alone, students also do extensive work either in Hebrew Bible, New Testament, or rabbinic Judaism. Students are expected to acquire high-level competence in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Study of Syriac and Latin is also encouraged. In addition to courses in either Hebrew Bible, New Testament, or both, students are encouraged to take courses in rabbinic Judaism, in the Department of Religious Studies, as well as in Classics and the Archaia interdisciplinary program. The goal of the program is to familiarize students with the history and literature of Judaism between the Hebrew Bible and the Mishnah, and to read at least the literature that is extant in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek in the primary languages. The concentration requires twelve credit hours in advanced Hebrew, twelve in other ancient languages, and twelve in the history and literature of the period, and allows twelve elective credits.


The program in Theology permits concentration in theological studies with a sequence of courses totaling eighteen credit hours selected for this purpose. Suggested concentrations are systematic, historical, or liberation theology. Ordinarily, six credit hours are required in Bible, and six credit hours in the history of Christian theology. Individual programs are designed utilizing these guidelines.

Women’s, Gender, and/or Sexuality Studies in Religion

The concentration in Women’s, Gender, and/or Sexuality Studies (WGSS) trains students in a number of skills pertinent to gender and sexuality studies, including textual interpretation and analysis, historical thinking, and approaches to visual and material culture, all with a relation to the religious (broadly construed). Students are encouraged to develop their own research agendas, which may be thematic, historical, theological, theoretical, or take a number of other forms, and to make use of resources from other departments and programs in the University, especially American Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies; and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. Students typically pursue courses of study that prepare them for further work, whether in a professional or academic context, which is enabled by the flexibility of degree requirements for the WGSS M.A.R. Students work closely with faculty advisers to create a coherent program of study, which might focus on topics like queer art, women’s history and biblical interpretation, gender and liturgy, queer theology, or the effect of religion on gender, sexuality, and health care, to name a few examples from recent years. Faculty interests include biblical interpretation, theology and ethics, preaching and pastoral care, visual and material culture, and liturgy. The concentration requires six credit hours in Bible (or other sacred texts, with the adviser’s permission) and six credit hours in historical or theological study, in addition to eighteen credit hours in the WGSS concentration.

World Christianity/Missions

The concentration in World Christianity/Missions is designed for students who are interested in the historical expansion of Christianity and/or who wish to spend a period of time working with churches and organizations in other countries or who wish to pursue graduate studies in a relevant field. Students are required to take a range of courses dealing with Christianity in its historical, biblical, and theological dimensions as well as Christianity’s interface with culture and with other religions. Students may opt either for Missions or for World Christianity as their emphasis within the concentration. Twelve credit hours are required in the core curriculum of each emphasis. For either emphasis, six credit hours in foundation courses in biblical studies are required, as are six credit hours of work in theology and/or ethics and six credit hours in the history of Christianity. There are six credit hours of electives. Students who opt for the Missions emphasis will take a minimum of six credit hours in one of four geographic area studies programs of the University (Latin American, African, East Asian, or Southeast Asian studies) as well as six credit hours in World Christianity. Relevant courses in the other departments of the University may also be included after consultation with the adviser. For those emphasizing World Christianity within the concentration, six credit hours in Missions are required as well as six credit hours in world religions. Students may also opt for a major research writing project as part of their course requirement in consultation with their adviser.


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