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Curriculum and Program Requirements

North Park Theological Seminary's master of arts in theological studies (MATS) is a two-year program intended for students who desire graduate study in the Bible, theology, and church history, but do not anticipate vocational ministry as a pastor or staff minister. At least 24 credit hours must be completed on our campus in Chicago, allowing students to take advantage of field-leading faculty and research guidance. Full program requirements and degree outcomes are available in the Seminary catalog.

Field of Concentration

Each MATS student must declare a field of major concentration by the beginning of his or her second semester. Options include Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, Theology/Ethics, and Cross-Cultural Ministry. The Academic Cabinet may be petitioned for permission to pursue an alternate field of concentration. This concentration is completed by taking nine (9) credit hours in the chosen field; required core courses may not count toward a concentration.

Old and New Testament Language Requirement

Students who choose an Old Testament or New Testament concentration are required to attain a working knowledge of biblical Hebrew (OT) or Greek (NT). This may be demonstrated by completing six (6) semester hours of the language at the Seminary, or by passing a language proficiency exam given by the biblical faculty. This requirement is a prerequisite to the 60-hour MATS degree. Students are strongly encouraged to take the summer language intensives the semester before beginning their degree program. All MATS students concentrating in New Testament must also complete New Testament Greek Exegesis.

Thesis or Comprehensive Exam

Typically, students choose to complete the MATS degree by writing a major thesis. This is completed by registering for three semester hours of thesis research each semester during the second year of studies, having chosen a topic relating to your field of concentration in consultation with the director of the MATS degree program and a thesis advisor. In order to successfully complete a thesis, you will need regular access to a theological library. For distance-learning students in the MATS program, you will need to demonstrate you have this access during your application process, or that you're able to relocate either to Chicago or a suitable location for your thesis completion. If you choose to use theological libraries other than North Park's, you will be responsible for any associated costs or expenses.

The thesis must be submitted by the eighth week of the your final semester, and must then be defended before a faculty committee no later than week twelve of your final semester. Successful defense of the thesis is required for completing the MATS with thesis option.

Alternately, you may choose to complete the MATS without a thesis. In this case, you will sit for a four-part comprehensive examination no later than the eighth week of your final semester of study.

Bible, 15 credits

  • New Testament I: The Texts and Their World
  • New Testament II: The Texts and Their Theology
  • Old Testament I: Pentateuch and Interpretation
  • Old Testament I: Prophets and Preaching Legacy
  • Old Testament III: Wisdom and Israel's Praise

History, 9 credits

  • Christian History I: The Early Church to the Early Reformation (1-16c)
  • Christian History II: Global Christianity (17-21c)
  • Christian History III: North American Christianity

Theology, 12 credits

  • Research Methods
  • Christian Theology
  • Christian Ethics
  • Seminar in Theology

Spiritual Formation, 3 credits

The spiritual formation sequence seeks to integrate the ongoing spiritual and academic dimensions of the seminary experience in order to facilitate conscious growth in personal and corporate spiritual life. The sequence includes courses which focus on the critical issues and practices for spiritual growth, including prayer, reflection, spiritual direction, and service in the church:

  • Journey: The Story of Our Lives
  • Intercultural Spirituality: The Road Together
  • Elective

Communication Skills Elective, 3 credits

Cultural Diversity Elective, 3 credits

Concentration Elective, 9 credits

Thesis or Elective, 6 credits

Students who do not complete a thesis must register for and pass a comprehensive exam in addition to elective credit.

Field Education, 2 credits

You must complete two Field Education credits in addition to the 60 academic credit hours required for the degree:

Graduation Requirements

The master of arts in theological studies is awarded to students meeting the following requirements:

  1. Completion of a Bible exam and a psychological evaluation; successful completion of End of Studies evaluation.
  2. The completion of 60 semester hours of academic course work, plus 2 Field Education credit hours.
  3. A grade point average of 2.5 must be maintained. No grade under C- shall be counted toward the degree.
  4. The completion of a declared area of concentration with a minimum of nine semester hours beyond the core requirement.
  5. The successful completion of comprehensive exams or a thesis with an oral defense completed in the final semester of studies
  6.  No outstanding incomplete grades later than week seven of the term in which they plan to graduate.
  7. Complete payment of all accounts and fees to the Seminary.
  8. Completion of the degree within seven years from the time of matriculation.
More information on these requirements is available in the North Park Theological Seminary catalog.
MATS