Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation (MSF)
The Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation brings together the study of Christian "spirituality" with engagement in its practice and reflection upon the theology that permeates it. This innovative curriculum provides an introduction to the major movements and concepts in the history of Christian spirituality with actual practice of these concepts. Thus, in conjunction with their coursework, students adopt a series of spiritual practices through which they have the opportunity to integrate learning about Christian spirituality with the actual experience of it. Possibilities for spiritual practices are wide-ranging, from daily prayer and meditation on Scripture to implementing a "green" lifestyle to volunteering in an agency for peace and justice. The word "Formation" in the name of this degree signals the underlying premise of the program: the unity of doctrine and spirituality-alternately put, the mutually informing relationship between learning and living—which effects personal change in the lives of people of faith.
Intended as a part-time program, this 42-hour masters degree can be completed in three years by taking two courses per semester (fall and spring). The curriculum is flexible, however, such that a student who wishes to take one course, rather than two in a given semester, is free to do so with the understanding that she will need to continue in the program longer than three years to complete the degree.
MA in Spiritual Formation courses are taught by full-time, as well as adjunct faculty. A member of the faculty, assigned as the student's advisor, provides guidance and encouragement for students as they undertake spiritual practice of their own choosing. During their final year students choose from a range of elective courses and work on a project or thesis in an area of special interest. Required and elective coursework for the MSF totals 36 credit hours, and the thesis or project carries 6 credit hours for a total of 42 hours to complete the degree.
The first two years of the MSF curriculum, which comprises 8 courses totaling 24 credit hours—may be taken independently for the Diploma in Spiritual Formation
Through formal coursework, adopting a series of spiritual practices, and the completion of a thesis or project, students:
- discover major figures, movements, and teachings from Christian spirituality, past and present;
- explore spiritual practices that bring together theology, prayer, and ministry;
- discern their own growth in Christian faith, understanding their place in the church, and bringing the responsibilities of daily life into the light of faith and the practice of prayer;
- connect Christian faith and practice to the complex and difficult world of contemporary culture;
- find guidance for their vocation as disciples of Christ in the Church and world.
Required Core Courses (12 credit hours)
(Core 1) F5317 Divine Vision, Practical Holiness
(Core 2) F5318 Strategies of Formation: Spiritual Practices
(Core 3) F5319 Stories of Christians, Stories of Christ
(Core 4) F5320 The Vocation of the Church
Extending & Deepening (E&D) (12 credit hours)
Courses in this category extend and deepen concepts presented in the core courses above. Students must take four E&D courses of their own choosing. Course topics include:
Linked to Core 1
F5321 God's Calling: Vocational Pathways through Scripture
F5322 Desert Fathers & Mothers
F5329 Praying the Psalms
Linked to Core 2
F5320 Soul Friends: The Theology and Practice of Spiritual Direction
F5324 Painting the Word: Christ, Icons, and Prayer
Linked to Core 3
F5325 Faith and Human Development
F5326 Mystical Theology and the Imitation of Christ
Linked to Core 4
F5327 The Community of the Triune God
F5328 Political Life and the Body of Christ: The Cross as the Critique of Power
Electives (12 credit hours)
Students may take additional E & D courses (beyond the 12 hours required in previous category) as electives, as well as other courses offered by the seminary and approved by the MSF advisor.
Project (6 credit hours)
With the approval of the MSF advisor and under the supervision of a faculty member, students devote six hours in their final year of the program to the completion of a project on a topic of their own choosing.