Purpose and Philosophy
The School of Religion at Lee University offers a program of advanced studies in the academic disciplines of Bible and Theology. These degrees will provide students with post-baccalaureate study for the purpose of preparing for further graduate work or for other vocational interests. Through its Master of Arts degrees in Biblical Studies and Theological Studies, Lee University provides a quality graduate program for Christian scholars in the designated disciplines. Committed to life and learning from an Evangelical/Pentecostal perspective and within the context of the Church of God, its sponsoring denomination, Lee University welcomes to the program all students from the Christian community who qualify for admission and subscribe to its stated goals and objectives.
Academic rather than professional in nature, the Master of Arts degree constitutes an option to professional degrees for the student seeking advanced study in the disciplines, preparing for work in the educational ministry of the church, and/or anticipating the research doctorate. This program is designed for the collegial engagement of peers whose concerns are constructive conversation and productive scholarship and whose goal is disciplinary competence.
Predicated upon the conviction that rigorous academic inquiry both ennobles and enables the participants, Lee University intends that the community of scholars engaging the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and the Master of Arts in Theological Studies curriculum be more serviceable to the kingdom of God in the world.
Within the United States, most degrees designated as M.A. in Bible or Theology are offered by seminaries. Such programs accept applicants from various disciplines of undergraduate studies and therefore are usually two years in length (48 hours-64 hours). The program offered by Lee University is distinctive in that it will be offered at two levels. The first is for applicants whose undergraduate degrees are in the related areas of religious, biblical, theological or pastoral studies. Therefore, the usual first year of general introductory studies in religion is not offered, but instead the program begins with upper level graduate courses and requires 36 credit hours for completion. The second level admits students whose undergraduate work is in an area other than those specified in the first level, and therefore this level requires up to 48 hours.
The School of Religion offers the M.A. in Biblical Studies and the M.A. in Theological Studies with several goals in mind. We aim:
- To foster the continued development of research and writing skills in the area of biblical and theological studies.
- To contribute to the body of biblical and theological knowledge and literature.
- To assist the student in developing a personal hermeneutical and exegetical position to be used in acquiring a comprehensive understanding of Old and New Testament content.
- To develop an understanding of the philosophical foundations for theological reflection.
- To prepare the student for the teaching enterprise, whether in the educational ministry of the church or in the context of the academy at large.
- To prepare the student to engage in more advanced degrees, ultimately leading to doctoral studies.
- To integrate faith and learning in such a way as to develop the individual in mind and spirit in order to enhance the spiritual development of the body of Christ.
Upon completion of the program, M.A. students in Biblical Studies and Theological Studies should have the skills and ability to:
- Analyze biblical and theological writings at a level commensurate with other graduate students in religion programs.
- Produce written work which portrays a knowledge of primary and secondary literature in the discipline.
- Compare and contrast the various hermeneutical options for biblical exegesis.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the philosophical foundations for biblical and theological reflection.
- Provide evidence of analytical and critical skills which are prerequisite to further graduate studies in Bible or Theology.
- Demonstrate rudimentary capacity for a specified language for biblical or theological research (primarily Greek, Hebrew or German).
Student Outcome Goals for the M.A. in Biblical Studies
Upon completion of the program, students in the M.A. in Biblical Studies Program should be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the continuity and the tension between the Old and New Testaments.
- Give an overview of the history of the New Testament canon from its formation to its present status in various faith traditions.
- Distinguish between the tenets of first century Christianity and other first century religions.
- Exegete biblical texts, utilizing sound hermeneutical principles.
- Interact with various models of revelation from a Pentecostal-evangelical perspective.
- Demonstrate the ability to do valid research which contributes to the knowledge-base in the discipline of biblical studies.
There are two levels of admission for the M.A. in Biblical Studies/Theological Studies. These levels are determined by the prior work of the applicant. Since this M.A. degree is an advanced study within the disciplines of Biblical Studies or Theological Studies, a certain amount of preparation and aptitude is required in this program. Both admissions levels will require the same 36 hours, but those without adequate preparation will be admitted under the condition of taking up to 12 more hours to complete this degree.
- An applicant should have a bachelor’s degree in Biblical and/or Theological Studies or its equivalent from an accredited college or university. With regard to the United States, this means regional accreditation or that of the ABHE (The Association for Biblical Higher Education). With regard to undergraduate degrees from other countries, each applicant will be considered on his/her own merits. However, it is expected that at least three years of college level work has been gained and that some form of accreditation is granted to the applicant’s school within his/her country. Those with an appropriate degree and background will be accepted into the first level of the program (36 hours). Applicants in Biblical Studies who meet these criteria must also have had at least one year of New Testament (koine) Greek before entry into the program. Many of the textual studies in this program require a working knowledge of Greek; therefore, students are encouraged to have two years of Greek before entering the program, but may be accepted with only one year of Greek with a grade of 80% (B) or better in their Greek work. It is important to note that the first year of Greek may be taken during two summer semesters of the university’s program before entering the program in the fall semester. The second year of Greek may be taken during the course of the program or in two summer intensive sessions, and thereby fulfill the language requirements for the program (6 hours). For those Biblical Studies students who already have two years of Greek, the six hours language requirement may be met by taking Biblical Hebrew or Theological German. Applicants in Theological Studies who meet these criteria may take New Testament Greek during the program. However, they must also complete six hours of the language requirement, either fulfilling Elementary and Intermediate Greek (2 years equivalent) or one year of Greek and six hours of Theological German. It is strongly recommended that students in theology have a strong background in modern or ancient foreign languages (especially German, French or Latin). Since further graduate study in theology requires facility with these languages, the program requires six hours of the appropriate language for each student. If an applicant has a B.A. or B.S. in pastoral studies, Christian education, intercultural studies, youth ministry or another area of practical ministry, each transcript will be considered individually for its appropriate status for entering the program. Any deficiencies that the Director of Graduate Programs in Bible and Theology may discover may be rectified during the completion of the first year in the program.Whatever courses may be recommended to prepare the student for graduate work within these disciplines may be taken concurrently with certain graduate courses within the program; the amount of hours to rectify the deficiencies may not exceed 12 hours. The cumulative GPA for first year Greek for any MABTS student must be 80% or higher or the student must re-take the course until the required cumulative grade is met.
- The second level of admission status is for those who have not had a bachelor’s degree in some form of religious studies. Each applicant’s background and coursework (especially in the area of humanities, philosophy, and religion) will be evaluated by the Director of Graduate Programs in Bible and Theology. Applicants may be accepted into this level and be required to take up to 48 hours of work, that is, the regular 36 hour program and up to 12 hours of studies in religion as assigned by the Director. Six of these 12 hours must be NT Greek (GREK-501/GREK-502). The remaining hours will be determined by the Director and chosen from a variety of biblical, theological, and/or historical studies.
- Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts of credit earned at all institutions of higher education.
- GRE (Graduate Record Exam) or MAT (Miller Analogies Test) scores are required. Scores must be sent to the office of Graduate Studies in Religion and must be no more than five years old.
- Minimum GPA of 3.0 in undergraduate studies.
- Two letters of reference from professors familiar with your work and one personal reference from someone familiar with your character.
- An essay or research paper that offers evidence of the applicant’s writing abilities. The paper should be between 5-25 pages in length.
- Although the M.A. in Biblical Studies and the M.A. in Theological Studies are not seminary degrees that would require pastoral training or emphasis, it should be noted that they are connected to the life and ministry of local churches and the church universal. Therefore, the program strongly encourages involvement of its students in the body of Christ, especially in the areas of teaching (which is this program’s emphasis).
- An interview, either by phone or in person, with the Director of Graduate Programs in Bible and Theology or a designated faculty member of the program.
- 36 Credit Hours/up to 48 Credit Hours
- Three-hour Thesis/Area Exam
- Three-hour Thesis: Students who want to write a thesis will need to offer a proposal in writing to the Director of Graduate Programs in Bible and Theology and the M.A. Committee for the Graduate Programs in Bible and Theology.
- Area Exam: Most students will be asked to the take the Area Exam instead of writing a thesis. The Area Exam will cover two areas from the student’s major concentration and one area from the student’s minor concentration. The main features of this exam are as follows:
- A written component
- An oral component
- A bibliography of readings agreed upon by members of the M.A. Committee. Details about the exam may be obtained from the Graduate Studies Secretary and the Director of Graduate Programs in Bible and Theology.
Depending on the student’s major concentration (Biblical Studies or Theological Studies), the minor concentration of coursework must be taken from the other field. Language requirements: Those students whose degree is the M.A. in Biblical Studies will complete 6 hours Biblical Greek at the Intermediate or Second Year level (or its appropriate substitute). Those students whose degree is the M.A. in Theological Studies will complete 6 hours of Theological German (or its appropriate substitute). Substitutions are granted by the Committee for Graduate Programs in Bible and Theology. Maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA throughout the program. The degree must be completed within four years of its inception. Exceptions to this will be evaluated by the M.A. Committee and the Director of Graduate Programs in Bible and Theology.
Non-degree Seeking and Special Students
Students may register for non-degree or special status without being formally admitted into candidacy in the M.A. program. Such students may take a total of nine credit hours from courses offered in the program.
A student may transfer up to six hours credit from an approved graduate institution or seminary. The courses must have been in the areas of Bible and/or theology and must be approved by the Director of Graduate Programs in Bible and Theology. To remain in compliance with university graduate program standards, any grades considered for transfer must be a ”B” or better. In addition, transfer students need to be interviewed by the director before admittance into the program.
Students wishing to secure funding for conference travel must complete an application and have it submitted 60 days prior to the conference.
M.A. Committee for the Graduate Programs in Bible and Theology
Under the supervision of the Department of Theology and the Dean of the School of Religion, the M.A. Committee for the Graduate Programs in Bible and Theology oversees the entire course of study for the M.A. in Biblical Studies and the M.A. in Theological Studies. The committee considers all needed changes and makes recommendations to the Department of Theology and the Graduate Council; it serves as the Admissions Committee and reviews candidacy.