The Master of Arts is an academic degree offered in cooperation with the Graduate Theological Union, providing students an intereligious learning community. The purpose of the program is to provide a basic understanding of theological or religious studies as preparation for doctoral study or as an academic foundation for secondary school teaching, educational or social justice ministries, or religious leadership in the non-profit sector.
Students who complete the M.A. program will be able to:
- demonstrate focused knowledge in the field of study represented by a chosen concentration;
- demonstrate general knowledge of several different approaches to theological and religious studies;
- engage in respectful dialogue with practitioners of another religious tradition;
- and produce research projects, each with a clearly formulated thesis statement that is supported by appropriate evidence from primary and secondary sources and communicated in an effective scholarly presentation.
Students in the Buddhist Studies concentration affiliate with the Institute of Buddhist Studies which serves as the student’s home school.
The largest partnership of seminaries and graduate schools in the United States, the GTU is dedicated to educating students for teaching, research, ministry, and service through a range of academic programs in theology and religious studies and is accredited by both the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Association of Theological School.
IBS has been an affiliate member of the GTU since 1985. This partnership offers our students unique interreligious community and access to one of the top religious studies research libraries in the country as well as the libraries of the University of California, Berkeley.
Students wishing to pursue careers in Jōdo Shinshū ministry or Buddhist chaplaincy are welcome in the GTU common-MA program. Additional requirements for these students may extend the length of study, and chaplaincy students generally complete the concurrent Certificate in Buddhist Chaplaincy. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisor early in their studies to plan the best course of study to complete the program.
A note about the GTU Common MA
Whereas IBS participates in the GTU common M.A. program, and whereas M.A. students must be admitted by IBS in addition to the GTU, the GTU is the degree-granting institution for the common M.A. Student transcripts are held by the GTU, and students must follow all policies and protocols of the GTU.
Students are strongly encouraged to consult the GTU catalog and GTU MA Handbook available on the GTU website for up-to-date and accurate information regarding the MA program, policies, and admissions and graduation requirements.
It is the student’s responsibility to be familiar with GTU Common M.A. program protocols, policies, and deadlines. Students are advised to refer to the GTU MA Student Handbook for additional information regarding the M.A. program. Wherever there is any disagreement between IBS and GTU materials, GTU policies take precedence.