The Master of Art (M.A.) in Applied Pastoral Theology program is an intensive ministry preparation degree. You’ll learn how to put theology into practice in diverse situations and scenarios, and deepen your spirituality and your commitment to service. The program emphasizes pastoral and spiritual care with a Judeo-Christian interfaith focus. You’ll gain the diverse pastoral, communications and assessment skills needed to develop your own methods of providing pastoral and spiritual care. Students from all faiths and cultures are welcome in this program.
The M.A. in Applied Pastoral Theology program is now accepting inquiries and applicants for 2017.
Applied Pastoral Theology Curriculum & Degree Requirements
To earn your Master of Art in Applied Pastoral Theology from Marylhurst, you complete 60-68 credits in a series of courses as well as a practicum and master’s project.
Foundational Content (17 credits)
Course content includes (but is not limited to) research in interfaith theological frameworks, issues in cross-cultural pastoral and spiritual care, counseling strategies and scriptural frameworks in care.
Foucs on the scriptural frameworks and foundational social context for pastoral and spiritual care. Survey the roots of pastoral ministry in early Christian community as held in Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
Explore theological, religious, social and cultural function of God language. Study interfaith images of the Holy as icons for healing and as tools for pastoral practice and spiritual direction. Identify the impact of context, belief system, religious tradition, symbol, ritual and sacrament as tools for spiritual care providers.
Reflect on the pastoral person: personality styles; care, growth and difficulties for self and others; holistic integration; and theology of person. Address the wellness and well-being of care providers while you study relationships among care provider’s personality type and gifts, theological understandings and pastoral style.
Study the art of pastoral care and counseling theory, theological reflection, pastoral skills and helping relationships. Explore the dynamics of counseling strategies within a religious, theological and belief/value based context. Develop resources for wholeness and theological assessment through the application of pastoral skills.
Examine the pastoral encounter and explore crisis dynamics: anger, stress, grief, effects of sexual abuse, and self-esteem’s impact on the care seeker’s spirituality. Study the influence of family systems, social, emotional and faith development theories before identifying healing and soul retrieval techniques, appropriate response, resources and referral procedures.
Practical Content (15 credits)
Course content includes (but is not limited to) rituals and practices of western/eastern religions, applied ethics of care providers, care in times of loss, contemporary and personal theologies of care, and theological reflections.
Explore myth, scripture, theology or teachings, belief, ritual, and symbolism of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Lead a ritual, preach, teach and/or facilitate spiritual practices within an Abrahamic religious tradition.
Explore myth, scripture, theology or teachings, belief, ritual and symbolism of Hinduism, Buddhism, other Eastern traditions and Native American spiritualties. Study the use of symbols and the shape of these liturgies through preparing rituals and preaching from the scriptures or sacred writings of a tradition.
Consider cultural sensitivity in the practice of pastoral and spiritual care. Identify conflicts, needs, frames of reference and identity while considering how various people understand belonging. Develop an analysis of self, as well as explore values, worldviews, and religious cultural paradigms of care seekers.
Apply ethical systems of religious traditions and their applications related to various issues. Focus on biomedical ethics, business ethics and concerns of the class.
Alongside classmate peers, examine types of loss, grief, bereavement processes, recovery and transformation. Learn about referrals for psychological counseling, ministry to the sick and bereaved and the theology of presence. Explore grieving, suffering, dying, attitudes on death, renewal across cultures, and Western and Eastern religious traditions.
Practicum (6 credits)
Throughout the series of practicum coursework, you will have the opportunity for a spiritual assessment, theological assessment and pastoral assessment. Studies will also evaluate the experience of integration of person, theology, spirituality, culture, ministry and afford you the chance to develop your own style as a pastoral care provider. You may choose to complete practicum coursework through one of two paths:
A supervised practicum related to a future ministry in an area of your choice.
A supervised clinical pastoral education program or supervised spiritual direction training program.
Synthesis / Praxis Content (15 credits)
Pastoral care providers serve people seeking a spiritual path or a spiritual home. Reflect on the enrichment of the spiritual life of the pastoral and spiritual care provider, and on knowledge of a wide range of prayer forms and spiritualties to be a guide for others.
Explore the history of spiritual direction through all ages. Discussion topics include service to others as a spiritual director, companion, guide or mentor; seeking spiritual direction for oneself; knowing when to refer to medical professionals; some forms of individual and group spiritual companionship; finding spiritual guides among persons in our churches, synagogues, or temples; group spiritual direction; and ethical standards in spiritual direction.
Reflect on the influence of theology or beliefs of the pastoral and spiritual care provider on personal spiritual practice and service to others.
Study methods of theological reflection in pastoral care.
Develop skills for life scripting and the presentation of the self as a professional pastoral care provider in ecclesial communities and the market place. Reflect on your call, identify your vision, gifts and ability to network, and explore eclectic ways to provide pastoral service.
Master’s Project (7 – 13 credits)
Through a series of master’s project coursework, integrate personal and scholarly research in a broad theoretical scope and application. As the culmination of the program, your thesis/project offers evidence of your ability to analyze and evaluate materials, write clearly and cogently, and make a professional presentation to faculty and student peers.
Complete the Pastoral Theology Curriculum through a Flexible Format
Students enrolled in the M.A. in Applied Pastoral Theology program enjoy flexible class schedules. Begin your required courses in the fall with pastoral cohort classes offered on the weekends — meeting for three weekends (on average) during a 10-week term. Classes in theological/biblical studies meet during the weekdays, evenings as well as online.
Transfer Credit and Degree Completion
Students admitted into the M.A. in Applied Pastoral Theology program may transfer up to 12 credits of previous coursework. At Marylhurst, the average time to complete this master’s degree program is two years.