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Master of Arts (M.A.)

Master of Arts (M.A.)


The Jesuit School of Theology offers the Masters of Arts (M.A.) degree in cooperation with the Graduate Theological Union (GTU). The Master of Arts (Common M.A.) is a two-year program leading to an academic degree in theology. The program provides ecumenical and interreligious learning opportunities, and students have access to courses offered throughout the consortium, as well as many courses at UC Berkeley. The GTU Common M.A. student is required to affiliate with a member school. Students select a specific academic field or Area of Study as the focus of their M.A. work.

The primary academic base for the M.A. student is the school of affiliation, chosen according to the applicants study interests and/or denominational ties. The Common M.A. student affiliates with JST and chooses a JST faculty advisor appropriate for their intended program of study. The Common M.A. is an exciting opportunity to explore theology and religion in response to the challenges posed by contemporary cultures. Our students seek to understand the issues and hope to make a difference with their pursuits.

Degree Objective

Students who complete the MA program will be able to demonstrate focused knowledge in the field of study represented by a chosen concentration; demonstrate general knowledge of several different approaches to theological and religious studies; engage in respectful dialogue with practitioners of another religious tradition; and produce research projects, each with a clearly formulated thesis statement that is supported by appropriate evidence from primary and secondary sources and communicated in an effective scholarly presentation.

Admissions Requirements

Navigate to the Master of Arts (M.A.) admissions page for more details about applying to this program. Unlike with other JST programs, when applicants apply to the Common M.A. program they apply to the Graduate Theological Union for admission. The M.A. admissions page directs applicants to the GTU admissions page.


  1. Applicants to the Common M.A. program must have completed a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution by the time they intend to enroll in the program.

Degree Requirements

  1. Course work. The Common M.A. is a two-year degree program requiring a total of fourteen 3-unit academic courses plus six units of thesis work.
  2. Language Requirement. All M.A. students are required to demonstrate proficiency in at least one modern foreign language early in the second year of residence. Non-native speakers of English may, with permission, certify English as their second language.
  3. Capstone Requirement.The capstone must be in the student's chosen concentration. The three-unit capstone is a 30–40 page paper, and the six-unit capstone is a 75–90 page thesis. Students should consult their advisor when choosing which capstone option they want to pursue.

Credit Distribution for Coursework

Students are required to complete the following courses:

1 course on Research Methods

1 course in Interreligious Studies

1 course in Sacred Texts & Their Interpretation

1 course in Historical & Cultural Studies of Religion

1 course in Theology & Ethics

1 course in Religion & Practice

4 courses (at least 2 at the 4000 level or above) in the chosen concentration

4 elective courses 

Students in tradition-specific concentrations must fulfill the departmental distribution requirements by taking courses in that tradition. Accelerated degree options are possible with previous coursework from an accredited institution. Contact the GTU Admissions Office for more information. 

M.A. Areas of Concentration at JST

  • Hebrew Bible & Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • Anthropology of Religion
  • Art & Religion
  • Christian Spirituality
  • Comparative Religion
  • New Religious Movements
  • Sociology of Religion
  • Christian Theology
  • Ethics
  • Philosophical Theology
  • Theology & Science
  • Homiletics
  • Liturgical Studies
  • Missiology
  • Practical Theology