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, 12 credits

  • BIBL 5150 Interpreting the New Testament I
  • BIBL 5151 Interpreting the New Testament II
  • BIBL 6120 Interpreting the Old Testament I
  • BIBL 6121 Interpreting the Old Testament II

History, 6 credits

  • HSTY 5200 Christian Heritage I: The Early and Medieval Church
  • HSTY 5201 Christian Heritage II: The Reformation and Modern Church

Theology, 15 credits

  • THEO 5102 Research Methods
  • THEO 6330 Christian Theology
  • THEO 7203 Christian Worship
  • THEO 7220 Christian Ethics
  • THEO 7350 Doctrinal Topic

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:

  • SPFM 5201 Spiritual Journey
  • SPFM 5202 Spiritual Practices
  • SPFM Elective

Communication Skills, 3 credits

Students will select one course from the following:

  • BIBL 6220 Biblical Preaching
  • MNST 5212 Introduction to Preaching
  • MNST 6264 Communicating the Faith in the Contemporary World
  • MNST 7316 Advanced Preaching
  • On occasion, a 7190 Topics course which is not offered on a regular basis will fulfill this area requirement

Church and World, 3 credits

Students select one course from the following.

  • BIBL 6290 Ethnic American Biblical Interpretation
  • MNST 5156 Mission and Ministry in Latin America
  • MNST 5157 Mission and Ministry in Asia
  • MNST 5158 Mission and Ministry in Africa
  • MNST 5175 Global Partnership: Practicing Biblical Koinonia
  • MNST 6127 Pastoral Care and Counseling in Urban Contexts
  • MNST 6150 Pastoring the Missional Church
  • MNST 6151 Cultural Dimensions of Mission
  • MNST 6224 Pastoral Care and Community Justice
  • MNST 6264 Communicating the Faith in the Contemporary World
  • MNST 6277 Religions and Cultures
  • MNST 6401 Sankofa: Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation
  • MNST 7140 God’s Global Vision: Biblical Foundations of Mission
  • On occasion, a 7190 Topics course which is not offered on a regular basis will fulfill this area requirement

Interdisciplinary Core Elective, 3 credits

  • BIBL 6263 Biblical Perspectives on Health and Healing
  • BIBL 6280 Women, the Bible, and the Church
  • BIBL 6290 Ethnic American biblical Interpretation
  • BIBL 7190 The Gospel: Its Understanding, Appropriation, and Application
  • BIBL/MNST 6220 Biblical Preaching
  • CEDF 7190 Incorporating Children in Worship
  • HSTY 7310 Wilderness and Faith
  • MNST 5131 Spiritual Issues in Chronic Illness and Disability
  • MNST 6301 Religion, Spirituality, and Health 
  • MNST 7140 God's Global Vision: Biblical Foundation of Mission
  • THEO 63332 Thought of Wendell Berry
  • Students may select any three credit elective course taught by at least two professors in separate fields of study
  • Enrollment in BIBL 6262 in conjunction with the North Park Symposium on the Theological Interpretation of Scripture may fulfill this requirement

Concentration Elective, 9 credits

Thesis or Elective, 6 credits

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.