Description of Degree: MAR

Master of Arts in Religion Degree: Specializations and Expected Outcomes


The Master of Arts (Religion) is oriented toward general and theological studies. The MAR allows a variety of concentrations and specializations taken from a research perspective that encourages students to integrate general biblical, theological, and historical studies into a study concentration.

The MAR degree is a 54-hour degree that should take at least two years to complete. Students who have done previous work in biblical studies, theological studies or related fields may receive up to eighteen hours of credit toward reduced degree duration.

The MAR degree should not be seen as preparatory for professional ministry. It allows practitioners to research and deepen their understanding of specific concentration areas, or allows students to prepare for advanced (usually doctoral) studies in their field of concentration.

The following concentrations are available within the MAR degree:

Biblical Studies (New Testament, Old Testament, Cultural Settings)

Theological Studies

Church History

Leadership Studies (Pastoral Leadership, Pastoral Care and Counseling, Educational and Family Ministries, Church Growth/Church Planting, Urban and Intercultural Studies)

Expected Outcomes for all MAR degrees

  • Possess skills to study the Scriptures effectively.

  • Be able to articulate a theology that is Biblical and historically orthodox.

  • Have an understanding of the history of the church.

  • Be knowledgeable of the principles of the Restoration

  • Movement.

  • Be able to communicate effectively.

  • Have met the objectives outlined in the chosen area of

  • concentrated study.

Biblical Studies: Expected Outcomes

  • Translate and exegete selected Greek or Hebrew biblical texts.

  • Describe and assess various perspectives on issues of Biblical criticism and interpretation, both historical and contemporary.

  • Describe and assess how the Biblical text both reflects and transcends its cultural setting.

  • Articulate the central thrust of each book of the Old or New Testament.

  • Demonstrate special expertise in selected sections of the Old or New Testament.

  • Complete graduate level research and writing in the field of Biblical Studies.

  • Explain the role that Biblical exegesis plays in personal Christian growth, the development of competent leadership within the church, and the church’s ability to address the issues of the modern world.

Theological Studies: Expected Outcomes

  • Express clearly the foundational idea of Scripture’s divine inspiration and authority as well as the need to establish all beliefs and practices upon Biblical teaching.

  • View Biblical teaching from a broad perspective that seeks out the inherent harmony and consistency between all Bible doctrines.

  • Determine what the Biblical teaching is on a given subject, drawing upon the foundational work of Biblical exegesis and interpretation of specific passages.

  • Critique a wide variety of theological and philosophical views and discern which ideas do not have solid Biblical support.

  • Make a practical application of the theological teaching of Scripture to the life of the individual Christian and to the church.

  • Complete graduate level research and writing in the field of theology.

Church History: Expected Outcomes

  • Communicate a knowledge and understanding of the history of the church.

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the major influences that have shaped Christianity in the present.

  • Develop the ability to think critically about the perspectives of various historians and their presuppositions.

  • Complete graduate level research and writing in the field of church history.

Leadership Studies: Description of Specializations & Expected Outcomes

The Master of Arts (Religion) with a concentration in Leadership Studies adds a set of interdisciplinary goals in addition to the general academic goals of the MAR. Students who graduate with this concentration will complete graduate level research and writing in a specific field of leadership.



The specialization in Pastoral Leadership allows students to integrate general biblical, theological, and historical studies with focused research and writing in leadership.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Develop and articulate a philosophy of leadership that

  • exhibits an understanding and integration of biblical and secular principles and theories that influence pastoral leadership.

  • Apply principles and theories of leadership and organizational behavior to congregational life.

  • Evaluate and contribute to the creation of models of pastoral leadership.

  • Demonstrate the integration of pastoral leadership and congregational development.

  • Develop and demonstrate a mature love for God and commitment to personal Christian discipleship as a foundation for personal effectiveness in leadership.

  • Exhibit competent graduate level research and writing in Pastoral Leadership, and demonstrate the ability to integrate general biblical, theological, and historical studies into that research and writing.

  • Participate adequately in academic community opportunities required and offered by CBS, in order to develop networks of resources for enhanced leadership.

  • Demonstrate a researched understanding of varied strategies for assimilation, discipling, and spiritual development which students utilize to evaluate their presence and effectiveness in varied congregational and ministry settings.

  • Exhibit the ability to orally communicate Biblical, theological or motivational concepts for presentation in the context of the local church or para-church setting.



The purpose of the specialization in Pastoral Care and Counseling is to prepare graduates to deepen their understanding and use of counseling theories and techniques to enhance their work as ministers, pastoral counselors, chaplains, lay counselors, or Christian counselors in churches or para-church organizations.

Expected Outcomes

  • Exhibit understanding and use of Scripture and theology as a foundation for the practice of counseling.

  • Demonstrate healthy self-awareness, personal faith, and moral principles that provide a foundation for effectively working with others.

  • Exhibit knowledge and understanding of the foundational principles of the counseling process as well as legal and ethical issues for counseling ministry.

  • Demonstrate the ability to apply counseling principles, techniques, and leadership skills in church and para-church settings.

  • Demonstrate the ability to develop, lead and manage small group ministries within church and para-church settings.

  • Complete graduate level research and writing in the field of Pastoral Care and Counseling.



The Educational and Family Ministries Specialization endeavors to explore both age-focused discipleship ministries and the contexts of faith formation such as family, church, and community. This Specialization takes into account the place, issues, and responsibilities of families that influence and are affected by the teaching ministries of the church. The Educational and Family Ministries Specialization is flexible enough to offer opportunity to choose electives that offer options to emphasize children’s, student, adult, or family ministry.

Expected Outcomes

  • Develop ministry practices that facilitate discipleship and faith formation in individuals and families.

  • Articulate an understanding of human and family development that informs ministry practices.

  • Evaluate and use resources to facilitate both age-appropriate and intergenerational ministry.

  • Apply strategies for assisting families to grow in spiritual and relational health.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of ministry that respects and engages diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, culture, and other contexts of persons.

  • Complete graduate level research and writing in the field of Educational and Family Ministries.



The church growth and church planting movement is a phenomenon that deserves serious study and reflection. The strategies developed by this movement contain both theological and sociological dimensions. The purpose of the Church Growth/ Church Planting Specialization is to better equip students to evaluate the theories and principles of the church growth and church planting movement.

Expected Outcomes

  • Understand the history of the church growth/church planting movement.

  • Identify various church growth models and strategies.

  • Articulate a philosophy of ministry that integrates church growth principles with Biblical and theological truth.

  • Develop evangelistic programs that fulfill the Great Commission with theological integrity.

  • Complete graduate level research and writing in the field of Church Growth/Church Planting.

  • Diagnose the resources and needs of a community to develop effective means for reaching the unchurched with the Gospel.



The Urban and Intercultural Studies program is designed to help students prepare for cross-cultural ministry either in the urban centers of North America or in other regions of the world.

Expected Outcomes

  • Articulate a theology of the mission of God.

  • Recognize the importance of participation in the world Christian mission.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the dynamics of cross-cultural communication and be able to develop a plan to become bilingual.

  • Analyze the social, cultural, and economic dynamics of modern societies and cities.

  • Describe national, cultural, and ethnic barriers to ministry in urban and/or intercultural contexts.

  • Conduct graduate level research and writing in urban and intercultural ministry and leadership.