Master of Arts (M.A.)

Dr. John Barnet, Director of the Master of Arts Program 

(914) 961-8313 x 313

The Master of Arts program in general theological studies (HEGIS 2301) is intended for those wishing to explore the major academic areas within the theological curriculum without the professional preparation demanded of M.Div. candidates. It can provide appropriate preparation for further graduate study in theology or simply a framework for lay theological study on a disciplined basis. It does not provide the educational qualifications needed for priestly ordination. Students considering ordination therefore are directed to the M.Div. program. 

The program is designed to be completed in two years by full-time students, who take an average of 15 credits in course work per semester. Only if warranted by exceptional circumstances, such as illness, disability, or employment, and with permission of the Faculty Council, may the program be spread over a longer period of time. The degree must be completed within four years of entrance into the program, after which time the student is normally required to fulfill new requirements that may then be in force.


St Vladimir’s Seminary seeks to equip M.A. students to:

  • Read Scripture and the Church’s tradition with discernment;
  • Think theologically and pastorally about the world and their cultural context, addressing contemporary realities in a manner faithful to the Church’s tradition; and
  • Research and write at a scholarly level,   

in order to grow in faith and spiritual understanding, witnessing the gospel of Jesus Christ.


A student entering the M.A. program normally must have the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree or the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from an accredited college or university.

The seminary does not prescribe a specific program of pre-theological studies, but it does encourage potential students to gain a broad liberal arts education while in college. Studies in the humanities and the natural and social sciences should prepare the student to think clearly, to speak and write correctly, and to understand not only the world of today but also the cultures of the past. Also useful are studies in languages, particularly in Greek. Potential students are also encouraged to read the Bible and sing in their parish choir, thus acquiring a basic knowledge of the language and chant tradition used in the ecclesiastical jurisdiction in which they wish to serve. Students are voiced-tested during orientation.


Credit for work completed at other accredited graduate institutions—up to 12 credits applied against electives—may be accepted at full value on a transfer basis (a) if work done parallels courses in the St Vladimir's M.A. program and is otherwise compatible with the objectives of that program; (b) if the courses in which the credits were earned were eligible for graduate credit in the institution at which they were taken; (c) if the work was completed within five years of matriculation at St Vladimir’s; and (d) if the grade earned for the eligible courses was 3.0 (B) or higher. Transfer course grades are not included, however, in seminary GPA calculations.

Undergraduate work, graduate-level work completed at unaccredited institutions, or graduate-level work for which transfer credit has been accepted may qualify a student for advanced standing in subjects in which he or she shows proficiency. In these cases, students will be permitted to enroll in advanced courses or complete advanced assignments while remaining enrolled in core courses.

Requests for acceptance of transfer credits or advanced standing should be directed to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who in turn submits them to the Faculty Council for consideration and approval.

In order to provide proper and full education of M.A. students, and in accordance with program standards of the Association of Theological Schools, students are required to be in residence for two full academic years.


Students entering the M.A. program at St Vladimir's are required to take a music proficiency examination during the orientation period. The purpose of the examination is to assess the student’s ability to match pitch, read music, and sing, and to determine the student’s vocal range for placement in seminary choirs. On the basis of the examinations, the Faculty Council may require an M.A. student to do remedial work.


A minimum of 60 credits in course work and thesis, with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.3 (C+), is required for the M.A. degree. This includes:

  • 1 credit in 010-level “skills” courses: Liturgics 013.
  • 14 credits in 100-level “foundational” theology courses, including Theological Writing 101: Biblical Languages 100, Church History 100, Liturgical Theology 102, Old Testament 100, and Spirituality 101. These courses serve as introductions to the fields in question. They are designed to provide sufficient background for all higher-level courses
  • 22 credits in 200-level advanced theology courses, including Theological Writing 205, the research and research-writing seminar required for thesis registration. These courses are: Church History 202, Liturgical Theology 202, New Testament 202, New Testament 203, Patristics 204, Systematic Theology 201, and Systematic Theology 202.
  • 20 credits in 010-, 200-, 300-, or 400-level elective courses.
  • 3 credits in thesis (TS 305).

As part of its ongoing self-assessment, St. Vladimir’s Seminary requires M.A. students to submit portfolios of their work. Compiled from student papers, these serve as cross-sections of the seminarians’ work and growth. Porfolios are reviewed by the Director of Assessment and evaluated by an external reviewer at a peer school. (External reviewers are unable to see student names.) In this way the seminary is helped to see how it is measuring up to the outcomes it has established for the M.A. degree program.


Each candidate for the M.A. degree is required to prepare and submit a thesis project—of 30–50 pages in length—under the supervision of a member of the seminary faculty. Normally written in the form of an extended essay, the thesis must show the student’s ability to understand and express issues related to Orthodox theology, history, and/or contemporary witness.

Thesis Proposal. In order to register for the thesis, students must successfully complete the research-writing seminar (TW 205) and submit a thesis proposal of 4–5 pages in length, approved and signed by a faculty advisor, at the time of registration for fall semester of their final year. In the proposal, students are expected to outline the problem to be investigated and give a sense of what they expect to find. The proposal must also include a working title and a bibliography, which is not intended to be exhaustive but must show that the student is familiar with the main works in the field, in particular those that will be of value to the project. Students who are unable to submit a thesis proposal at the time of registration may not register for thesis until a proposal has been approved. The final deadline for thesis registration is the second Friday of the semester. No changes will be permitted after the deadline for changes in registration.

Thesis Submission. A style sheet containing detailed instructions for the preparation of the thesis is available online. After the advisor has accepted the final version of the thesis, an electronic copy of the thesis (as PDF file) must be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs by the deadline indicated in the Academic Calendar. The thesis is then evaluated by two readers: the first reader is the student’s thesis advisor, who is a full-time or sessional member of the faculty, and the second is appointed by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from among the other faculty of the seminary. Theses submitted after the deadline will be considered by the faculty council at its next meeting and, if accepted, will be subject to a full grade penalty (e.g., A becomes B). Students whose theses are not submitted on time will normally register, without grade penalty, for a semester of continuation.

Thesis Grade. The readers submit a letter grade with written comments, which become an official part of the student's record. In the calculation of the student's cumulative grade point average, the senior thesis is treated as the equivalent of three credits of course work, with the grade assigned as follows:

  • For a difference of one increment (e.g., A and A-), the higher grade becomes the final grade (in this case, A).
  • For a difference of two increments (e.g., A and B+), the average grade becomes the
    final grade (in this case, A-).
  • For a difference of three or more increments (e.g., A and B), the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs instructs the readers to reread the thesis and resubmit their grades.
  • When both readers assign the grade A and substantiate the grade in their written comments, the faculty council will entertain a motion to commend the thesis, which commendation is noted on the student’s official transcript.

Degrees are awarded annually at the close of the spring semester. After a final review and vote of recommendation by the Faculty Council, the candidates’ names are submitted to the Board of Trustees for their approval.

Academic Honors. Upon recommendation of the Faculty Council and approval by the Board of Trustees, the following citations may be given at graduation:

  • For a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.90, summa cum laude;
  • For a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.80, magna cum laude;
  • For a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.50, cum laude.

For the determination of honors, only courses taken at St Vladimir's are included in the calculation of the cumulative grade point average.

Further, upon recommendation of the candidate’s thesis readers and approval of the Faculty Council, he or she may receive commendation for the thesis.

Requirement To Satisfy Financial Obligations. No degree will be awarded or final transcript issued unless all financial obligations to the seminary, library, and bookstore have been satisfied. In the case of outstanding loans or other obligations not then due and payable, appropriate agreements must have been drawn up and all payments must be current.