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 Spiritual Life and Wholeness and the Center for Christian Bioethics, both of which offer multiple programs, conferences, lecture series, etc., 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 - Core courses and Final Project
  • 18 units – Religion Electives
  • 18 units – Religion and/or Non-religion 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.

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 501 Religion and Society Exploration 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 502 Religion and Society Exploration 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 503 Religion and Society Exploration 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 696 Final Project 3

Area of Emphasis (32 units)

Religion Courses Taken from School of Religion 18
Religion or Non-Religion Courses Taken from School of Religion OR other LLU Department/School (i.e., Public Health, Behavioral Health) 18

Sample Areas of Emphasis 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.

Scripture

Possible Religion Electives Units
RELT 500 Biblical Hermeneutics   3
RELT 558 Old Testament Thought   3
RELT 559 New Testament Thought   3
RELE 527 Biblical Ethics   3
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
RELT 526 Creation and Cosmology 3
RELT 560 The Gospel of John 3
RELT 564 The Life, Letters and Legacy of Paul 3
RELT 565 The Message of the Book of Revelation 3

Ethics and Advocacy

Possible Religion Electives Units
RELT 558 Old Testament Thought 3
RELT 559 New Testament Thought 3
RELE 535 Ethical Issues in Public Health 3
RELE 548 Christian Social Ethics 3
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
HADM 510 Health Policy Analysis and Synthesis 3
HADM 514 Health Care Economic Policy 3
HADM 516 International Economic Policy 3
SPOL 615 Economic Theory and Social Policy 4

Natural Sciences

Possible Religion Electives Units
RELT 558 Old Testament Thought 3
RELT 559 New Testament Thought 3
RELE 526 Creation and Cosmology 3
RELE 557 Theology of Human Suffering 3
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
BIOL 558 Philosophy of Science 4
RELE 525 Ethics for Scientists 3
RELT 615 Seminar in Philosophy of Religion 3
RELT 617 Seminar in Religion and Science 3

Behavioral Sciences

Possible Religion Electives Units
RELT 558 Old Testament Thought 3
RELT 559 New Testament Thought 3
RELR 584 Culture, Psychology and Religion 3
RELR 585 Psychology of Religion 3
RELR 586 Psychology of Moral and Faith Development 3
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
RELR 587 Religion and the Social Sciences 3
RELT 617 Seminar in Religion and Science 3
SPOL 613 Social Science Concepts 4
SPOL 614 Social Science Concepts 4

Philosophy and Theology

Possible Religion Electives Units
RELT 558 Old Testament Thought 3
RELT 559 New Testament Thought 3
RELT 520 Church History 3
RELT 555 Adventist Experience 3
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
RELT 508 Contemporary Christian Theology 3
RELT 526 Creation and Cosmology 3
RELT 615 Seminar in Philosophy of Religion 3
RELT 617 Seminar in Religion and Science 3

Transfer credits

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

Admissions and Application Process

Students applying for admission must meet the following requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 minimum
  • Essay (1,000 words minimum) describing how this Program would benefit the applicant personally and professionally
  • Personal Interview

Apply online at www.llu.edu/apply. The School of Religion has a rolling admission policy in which completed applications are reviewed and students are accepted on a continual basis. Your application must be submitted by the deadlines listed:

  • Early admission: May 1
  • Fall quarter: August 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 http://www.llu.edu/apply/intltrans.html.

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.