The Master of Arts in Religion and Society degree, offering customizable options of study, is designed for those seeking to serve the church and world in the 21st century in a variety of capacities. The degree is ideal for individuals seeking deeper biblical, theological, and philosophical insight, spiritual growth, practical competency, and cultural literacy in the context of a range of vocational settings—healthcare, the local church (non-ordained ministry), non-profit organizations, secondary education (teaching certifications must be obtained independently), further graduate study, etc.

Some students may complete this program prior to beginning professional or graduate school. Students enrolled or enrolling in other LLU programs may be interested in pursuing it as a dual-degree option. Others may seek to complement already completed courses of study.

The curriculum covers the basic areas of theology, biblical studies, and Christian spirituality, and can also be customized around a particular area of interest. Using the resources of the School of Religion and the entire university, each student and his or her mentor will formulate and acquire faculty approval for a personalized area of emphasis that matches his or her interests and qualifications. Possible areas of emphases include:

  • Biblical studies
  • Christian theology
  • Science and religion
  • Wholeness/whole person care
  • Spirituality
  • Social ethics
  • Bioethics

Program Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  • Cultivate skills to responsibly study and interpret the Bible in an increasingly scientific, globalized, and pluralistic society.
  • Understand and appreciate the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus and its enduring ethical relevance.
  • Critically and constructively assess the history of Christian reflection as it engages with culture(s).
  • Integrate their vocational focus with a faith perspective.
  • Experience growth in spiritual maturity and ministry competency.

An undergraduate degree in religion is not required. Students may progress through the program at their own pace (up to five years maximum). All students must have a demonstrated proficiency with technology and have access to a personal computer and the Internet.

Professors in the program represent areas of expertise such as biblical studies, theology, practical theology, marriage and family therapy, cultural psychology, American church history, health education, nursing, spiritual care, and ethics. This diversity of specialists provides you with a rich and balanced program of study.

A mutual and shared respect for various cultures and beliefs is emphasized on the campus and in the classroom. Small class sizes allow for specified instruction and personal growth.

The program draws upon resources from across the entire Loma Linda University campus. These include the Center for Whole Person Care and the Center for Christian Bioethics, both of which offer multiple programs, conferences, lecture series, and more, all intended for student enrichment.

Program Overview

The program consists of a minimum of 48 units. With the assistance of a faculty mentor and approval of the Program Director, the student will develop an individualized program that meets his/her distinctive interests and goals. This will consist of:

  • 12 units - Program Core Courses and Final Project
  • 24 units - Religion Core Courses
  • 12 units – Electives
    • These may be taken from the School of Religion, or from another LLU School (i.e., Public Health or Behavioral Health)

Program Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 48 quarter credits of course work (samples below), with an overall grade point average of B or better, with no grade lower than C, and no grade lower than a B- in a core course.

Program Core Course Work (12 units)

Objective: to provide students with an intense introduction to the theories, methods and sources of the study of religion.

RELT 501Religion and SocietyExploration of definitions, theories and typologies of "religion," as well as the impact of religion on society; specifically Christianity’s relationships with other religions throughout history.3
RELR 502Religion and SocietyExploration of definitions, theories and typologies of “society,” including the significance of societies in shaping Christianity. Discussions will include the pre-modern, modern, and postmodern worldviews.3
RELR 503Religion and SocietyExploration of theories and typologies of the interactions of religion and society. Topics include personal devotion and social change; influential leaders and transforming movements; and controversial cases.3

Final Project

RELG 696Final Project3

Religion Core Courses (24 units)

RELE 588Philosophical Ethics3
RELE 589Biblical Ethics3
RELR 536Spirituality and Everyday Life3
RELR 540Wholeness and Health3
RELT 500Biblical Hermeneutics3
RELT 515Faith and Flourishing3
RELT 520Church History3
RELT 558Old Testament Thought3
RELT 559New Testament Thought3

Electives (12 units)

Sample elective tracks are outlined below for illustration purposes. Others are possible. Each student will develop a plan with the faculty advisor/mentor for designing an Individualized Area of Emphasis that focuses on a single topic, case, theme, era, problem, debate, or text, subject to approval by the Program Director.


Possible Religion ElectivesUnits
RELT 500Biblical Hermeneutics 3
RELT 558Old Testament Thought 3
RELT 559New Testament Thought 3
RELE 527Biblical Ethics 3
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
RELT 526Creation and Cosmology3
RELT 560The Gospel of John3
RELT 564The Life, Letters and Legacy of Paul3
RELT 565The Message of the Book of Revelation3

Ethics and Advocacy

Possible Religion ElectivesUnits
RELT 558Old Testament Thought3
RELT 559New Testament Thought3
RELE 535Ethical Issues in Public Health3
RELE 548Christian Social Ethics3
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
HADM 510Health Policy Analysis and Synthesis3
HADM 514Health Care Economic Policy3
HADM 516International Economic Policy3
SPOL 615Economic Theory and Social Policy4

Natural Sciences

Possible Religion ElectivesUnits
RELT 558Old Testament Thought3
RELT 559New Testament Thought3
RELE 526Creation and Cosmology3
RELE 557Theology of Human Suffering3
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
BIOL 558Philosophy of Science4
RELE 525Ethics for Scientists3
RELT 615Seminar in Philosophy of Religion3
RELT 617Seminar in Religion and Science3

Behavioral Sciences

Possible Religion ElectivesUnits
RELT 558Old Testament Thought3
RELT 559New Testament Thought3
RELR 584Culture, Psychology and Religion3
RELR 585Psychology of Religion3
RELR 586Psychology of Moral and Faith Development3
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
RELR 587Religion and the Social Sciences3
RELT 617Seminar in Religion and Science3
SPOL 613Social Science Concepts4
SPOL 614Social Science Concepts4

Philosophy and Theology

Possible Religion ElectivesUnits
RELT 558Old Testament Thought3
RELT 559New Testament Thought3
RELT 520Church History3
RELT 555Adventist Experience3
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
RELT 508Contemporary Christian Theology3
RELT 526Creation and Cosmology3
RELT 615Seminar in Philosophy of Religion3
RELT 617Seminar in Religion and Science3

Transfer credits

Students may transfer approved graduate-level courses from other accredited institutions, up to a maximum of 8 quarter units.


Students applying for admission must meet the following requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.25 minimum
  • Acceptable scores in an approved standardized test such as the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) or Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
  • Writing sample
  • Essay (1,000 words minimum) describing how this program would benefit the applicant personally and professionally
  • Personal interview

Applications: Apply online at Students applying for admission must meet specific requirements. Your application must be completed by the deadlines listed:

  • Fall term enrollment: May 1

Documents required beyond the online application include:

  • All official transcripts of college/university work (mailed directly to LLU)
  • Three letters of recommendation (two academic and one from clergy)
  • Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores, not more than five years old. Other standardized tests may be accepted upon request.
  • International applicants must submit current TOEFL scores and evaluations of any international transcripts – please visit

Note: All documentation should be received within two weeks after the application deadline for the quarter of choice. The online application will prompt you with instructions and timelines to successfully complete the process.

Program Director

Zdravko Plantak, PhD