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Master of Arts Degree in Religious Leadership (M.A.R.L.)

The M.A.R.L. degree is especially designed to equip persons for various lay roles in professional religious leadership or ordained roles where the M.Div. is not an ordination requirement. The degree provides a broad foundation in Bible, history, theology, ethics, and the arts of ministry, while allowing for a modest amount of focused study in a particular area appropriate to the role in which the student will serve.

United’s M.A.R.L. prepares students superbly for a focused ministry in one or more of the classic functions of ministerial leadership: leading worship, preaching, giving care, educating and forming people in the faith, and leading a congregation or religious organization. Today the pace of change in the church and the world is so great that the challenges that will be faced as a leader of people of faith 20 years from now may be quite different from those faced at graduation. The M.A.R.L. prepares students for ministry in a way that emphasizes the capacity to analyze the new situations to be faced in light of all resources of the faith, so the people of the church will be led in the new ways to which God calls them. Read the Educational Goals of the M.A.R.L. degree.

Concentration of the Degree

The seminary offers one concentration in the M.A.R.L. degree that allows interested students to develop special expertise in that dimension of ministry.

Requirements of the Degree

The M.A.R.L. requires 54 credit hours of study, normally taken as 18 3-credit courses. On a full-time basis, these courses are taken over two years at a rate of 10 courses per year. The degree can be completed on a part-time basis. All work must be completed within five years. The specific requirements are:

1. Satisfactory completion of 54 semester hours of credit. Of these, 48 are taken in the form of required courses and 6 are taken in the form of free electives.

Required courses that must be taken within the first full-time equivalent year of study:

Required courses taken within the second full-time equivalent year of study:

2. Satisfactory completion of Unit I of vocational testing and consultation. These consultations are provided by North Central Ministry Development Center, adjacent to the seminary campus. This unit is to be completed during the first half of the student’s program.

3. Attendance at a one-day anti-racism workshop in the fall of the matriculation year. Attendance is a prerequisite to enrollment in IS152 Integration of Ministry and Local Theologies.

4 . Completion of an Integrative Notebook documenting the student’s individual work in integrating the different elements of the student’s course of study in a manner appropriate to his or her identity and context. This notebook or portfolio contains a variety of materials (e.g., course papers, sermon videotapes, reflections papers, art projects) and is the basis for conversations with the student’s advisor concerning his or her educational progress. The Masters Student Handbook outlines the review intervals and the required contents of the Integrative Notebook for the M.A.R.L. Program.

5 . Participation in the Spiritual Chronicle process, an integration of the spiritual, academic, and vocational dimensions of the student’s seminary journey.

6 . Recommendation by the faculty, which takes into account academic, personal, and professional readiness for ministry.


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Brian Braskich
Interim Director of Admissions

Please call the admissions office at 651.255.6170 with any questions.


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