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. All credits applied toward degree requirements must be earned within 10 years of the awarding of the degree.

Note: Students who are admitted with advanced theological study, normally an earned graduate theological degree, may complete the program in one year of course work, in addition to the thesis.


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:

  • 5 credits in Liturgical Music 030 (four semesters) and Theological Writing 205, the research and research-writing seminar required for thesis registration.
  • 15 credits in 100-level “foundational” theology courses: Church History 110, Liturgical Art 101, Liturgical Theology 102, New Testament 102, Old Testament 100, Pastoral Theology 101, 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.
  • 15 credits in 200-level advanced theology courses: Church History 200, New Testament 203, Patristics 204, Systematic Theology 201, and Systematic Theology 202.
  • 22 credits in 200-, 300-, or 400-level elective courses.
  • 3 credits in thesis (TS 305).

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.

The following thesis registrations are possible:

1. Thesis (TS 305 [3 credits]). M.A students write a thesis of 25–35 pages in lieu of three elective credits in their senior year. Prerequisites for writing a thesis are:

  • Successful completion of the research-writing seminar; and
  • Submission of an acceptable thesis proposal.

2. Honors Thesis (TS 310 [4 credits]). Invited M.A. students may write an honors thesis of 40–50 pages. Prerequisites for writing an honors thesis are:

  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4 at time of registration;
  • Successful completion of the research-writing seminar;
  • Submission of an acceptable thesis proposal; and
  • Invitation, normally toward the end of the research-writing seminar, by the course instructor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. TW 205 students who are not invited to write an honors thesis may appeal to the faculty council for permission to do so. The decision of the faculty council is final.

Note: Although honors thesis is not required to fulfill program requirements, it is required for graduation honors.


Degrees are awarded annually at the close of the spring semester. (However, see also "September Graduates" on the Commencement page.) 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. Academic honors are reserved for students who complete all academic requirements at a high level and submit an honors thesis. 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.

Commendation for Service to the Community. Upon recommendation of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and approval of the Faculty Council, a student may receive commendation for service to the community.

Commendation for Thesis. Upon recommendation of the candidate’s thesis readers and approval of the Faculty Council, the student may receive commendation for 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.