Master of Arts in Leadership in Spiritual Direction

United’s MAL in Spiritual Direction program will prepare you with the required knowledge and skills to effectively support others in their personal spiritual development in both one-on-one and group settings. The MAL program specifically prepares you for spiritual direction in non-ordained settings and offers core theological and leadership training.

If you also would like to receive a more comprehensive ministerial training and/or prepare for ordination, check out the MDiv in Spiritual Direction.

This program may be a good fit for you if you are interested in pursuing:

  • A career in non-ordained church ministry with a specialty in spiritual direction
  • A vocation in spiritual direction outside of the congregational context


Concentration Learning Outcomes

In addition to achieving the core MAL degree learning outcomes, a graduate of the MAL in Spiritual Direction program will be able to:

  • articulate the role of discernment in spiritual direction/companionship;
  • apply deep listening, their way of knowing, and their spiritual life to the use of discernment models used to guide others to go deeper into personal and communal wholeness and healing;
  • articulate the historical, theological, and spiritual foundations of spiritual direction/companionship;
  • apply deep listening, evocative questions, presence, silence, compassion, and empathy to the soul care and spiritual guidance of others;
  • articulate the historical, theological, spiritual, and ethical foundations of spiritual direction/companionship;
  • effectively participate in a one-to-one spiritual direction/companionship session;
  • effectively lead a group spiritual direction/companionship session; and
  • effectively teach a contemplative spiritual practice.


United’s MAL at a Glance

  • 48 credits
  • Sixteen 3-credit courses, including a practicum and final project
  • Can be completed in two years if you take a full-time course load (24 credits per year)
  • All MAL concentrations, including Spiritual Direction, can be completed via distance learning; many courses can be taken completely asynchronously


Program Course Guide Sheet for Academic Year 2023-2024

Religious Texts 2
Introduction to Religious Texts
One 2000-level Religious Texts course
Theological Tradition 2
Invitation to Theology: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty
Choose one:
History of Christian Theologies
History of Modern Theologies
Ethics/Justice 2
Choose one:
Christian Ethics
Comparative Religious Ethics
Choose one:
Queer and Trans Theologies
Black and Womanist Theologies
Formation 1 Introduction to Spiritual and Personal Formation
Cultural Contextualization 1
Choose one:
Global Christianities
World Religions
Arts and Theology 1
Choose one:
History of Arts and Theology
Art, Religion, and Contemporary Culture
Social Transformation 1 Leadership and Strategies for Social Change
Vocational Contextualization & Skills 6
The Art of Discernment
Spiritual Direction/Companionship 1
Spiritual Direction/Companionship 2
One elective course
Spiritual Direction Practicum (2 terms)
MAL Final Project


Learn More

Want to learn more about our MAL in Spiritual Direction? Fill out the form below and someone from our Admissions team will be in touch soon.