Terry L. Cross, Dean
School of Religion
Rickie D. Moore, Chairperson
Department of Theology
Skip Jenkins, Director
Graduate Programs in Biblical and Theological Studies
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 in either a 36 or 48 hour program. The 36 hour program 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 required, and the program begins with upper level graduate courses. The 48 hour program admits students whose undergraduate work is in an area other than religious, biblical, theological or pastoral studies.
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, including doctoral studies.
- To integrate faith and learning in such a way as to develop the individual in mind and spirit in order to enhance their own spiritual development and also that 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, German, or Latin).
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.
- Develop an understanding of epistemological questions related to religious commitment.
- 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 programs in the M.A. in Biblical Studies/Theological Studies. These programs are determined by the prior coursework 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 programs 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 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 36 hour program. If the candidate has not completed the first year of Greek, they will be asked to begin Greek before entering the program. For example, students may begin Greek in the summer semester before fall matriculation, but must complete before the end of the first year in the program.
- Beyond the mandatory year of Greek, each student will be required to take six additional hours of language. For the M.A. in Biblical Studies, the language requirement consists of Intermediate 2nd year Greek or Biblical Hebrew.
- If an applicant has an undergraduate degree in an area other than biblical/theological studies, they may apply for the 48 hour program. 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 accepted into the 48 hour program will be required to take 48 hours of coursework, that is, the regular 36 hour program plus 12 hours of studies as assigned by the Director in order to rectify deficiencies in undergraduate preparation. Whatever courses may be recommended to prepare the student for graduate work within these disciplines will be taken at the beginning of the student’s course of study, and may be taken concurrently with certain other courses within the program.
- The amount of hours to rectify academic deficiencies may not exceed 12 hours.
- 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 is preferred.
- 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 and research capabilities. The paper should be between 7-20 pages in length.
- Although the M.A. in Biblical Studies is not seminary degree that would require pastoral training or emphasis, it should be noted that it is 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/48 Credit Hours
- Area Exam/Three-hour thesis
- Area Exam: The Area Exam will cover two topical questions from the student’s major concentration and one topical question from the student’s minor concentration. The process is as follows:
- The student is responsible to choose his/her Area Exam Committee, consisting of three different professors who will oversee the three topical questions, in consultation with the Director of the MABTS program.
- Out of these three professors, the student must choose one professor to be the chair of the Area Exam Committee. This professor will be the liaison between the student, the other examiners, and the Director of the MABTS program.
- The student will receive a bibliography of readings from each professor. The questions that they will answer will be derived from these bibliographies.
- A date is agreed upon for the written portion of the Area Exam. This date is established by the Chair of the Area Exam Committee, and it cannot be later than 15 days before final exam week. The student takes the exam on one day, and is given 2 hours to finish each question, with a lunch break between the second and third questions. A computer is supplied for the writing of the student’s answer.
- The Area Exam Committee will read and evaluate the written portion of the exam, and then determine whether the student may proceed to the oral portion of the Area Exam process. The oral exam must be scheduled no later than 10 days after the written portion is completed. The Chair of the Area Exam Committee may also provide the student with suggestions on the topics that they need to shore up for the oral portion.
- The oral portion of the Area Exam is the final component. It usually runs 90 minutes, with each of the three professors having 20-25 minutes to explore the student’s answers and knowledge of the subject matter. The Area Exam Committee decides whether the student passes with distinction, passes satisfactorily, or fails.
- If a student fails, s/he cannot proceed to graduation. The student may be offered a second attempt at the Area Exam in order to complete the program.
- Thesis: A student who wants to write a thesis must submit a proposal to the MABTS Committee. No student is guaranteed to be given permission to write a thesis; it is left to the discretion of the MABTS Committee whether the student or the topic is fit for the thesis-writing option. The process is as follows:
- In consultation with the Director of the MABTS program, the student must select a primary reader for the thesis from the faculty of the MABTS program.
- In conversation with the chosen reader, the student will prepare a formal thesis proposal to be submitted to the MABTS Committee for its consideration. This proposal must contain: first, a succinct thesis statement; secondly, a précis stating the problem the thesis will tackle; thirdly, an outline detailing the structure of the thesis’ argumentation; fourthly, a working bibliography of at least 10 primary sources and 25 secondary sources.
- The faculty reader will present the formal thesis proposal to the MABTS Committee, who will approve the proposal as is, approve with required emendation, or disapprove. If the proposal is disapproved, the student will be required to take the Area Exams.
- The student will write his/her thesis under the direction of the faculty reader, and will submit the thesis directly to that reader, who will evaluate the thesis and determine its passability.
- After the thesis has been passed by the faculty reader, the student will complete any remaining edits/corrections and submit the manuscript for binding and cataloguing in the Pentecostal Research Center.
3. After all coursework for the M.A. in Biblical Studies degree is completed with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, students will be allowed one semester to complete their thesis or comprehensive area exams. If the thesis or exams are not completed during that semester, students will enroll in GRAD-591 and will be charged a graduate supervision fee equivalent to 1-hour of graduate student tuition for each fall and/or spring semester in which a continuation is required (Enrollment in this course will not be required over a summer semester unless collaborative work between the supervising professor and student is planned).
4. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 throughout the program. A student whose GPA drops below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation. No student will be allowed to graduate from the program with less than a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
5. 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.