Master of Arts in Theological Studies Program

Master of Arts in Theological Studies

  • Orientation & Research
  • Biblical Studies
  • History, Theology & Ethics
  • Electives
  • Capstone/Thesis

English | 100% Online | 36 credits

With a Master’s degree in Theological Studies (MATS) from Central Seminary,  you learn to channel your theological interests into your professional goals and personal life. In this program, you will develop a strong foundation in theology, philosophy, and biblical interpretation that will enrich your ministry in whatever professional context you pursue.

Whether you are looking to advance your career in ministry or simply want to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith, a MATS degree will help you build a theological foundation and grounding in historical context to inform you across professional settings.

Why a Master of Arts in Theological Studies?

There are many benefits to earning your master’s in theological studies at Central Seminary. Primarily, you will have an opportunity to develop a strong foundation in theological frameworks, a philosophical grounding, and proficiency in Biblical interpretation that can enrich your personal and professional life, both inside and outside of ministry.

Informed study, analysis, and interpretation of the Bible will be a primary focus of your studies during the course of this program. In addition, the program includes coursework designed to help you to engage thoughtfully with prevalent theological ideas and questions that are grounded in historical context and Biblical interpretation. Finally, learning alongside our diverse faculty and students will prepare you to discuss pervasive religious issues in a variety of settings.

Master of Arts in Theological Studies Program

In today’s world, ministry professionals need to be dynamic, diverse, and creative to keep up with shifting contexts. At Central Seminary, we tailor our curriculum and degree objectives to fit the needs of our students. Professors take an interest in each individual student’s goals and align their instruction with the professional goals of each student in the seminary degree program. The program is offered 100% online.

  • English Languages Offered: English
  • 36 Credits Program Length: 36 credits - 2 years (full-time status equals six or more credits per term)
  • Three 12-week terms Calendar: Three 12-week terms per academic year. Terms begin in August, January, or May. Or take two classes each term to complete your degree in two years.
Session Start Date Application Deadline
Ordinary 2024 (August - November) August 26, 2024 August 5, 2024
Lent 2025 (January - March) January 6, 2025 December 9, 2024
Easter 2025 (May - July) May 5, 2025 April 14, 2025

MATS Tuition

$405 per credit (24-25 academic year) before scholarships (scholarships and tuition assistance available for all degree-seeking students. Payment plans are available.)

Registration Fee

$250 per term

Graduation Fee


Applications for the MATS program are accepted at any time and may start their studies at the beginning of any term. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited educational institution. A limited number of students without an earned baccalaureate degree or its equivalent may be admitted to the MATS program through the completion of coursework in the Diploma in Theological Studies program. Students participating in the English program for whom English is not their first language will be required to demonstrate their English proficiency prior to acceptance to the program.

  • Foundations for Seminary Studies
  • Dynamics of Theological Thinking
  • Biblical Interpretation
  • Hebrew Bible I
  • Christian Heritage I
  • New Testament I
  • Theological Foundations I
  • Christian Ethics
  • Research Skills (Biblical or Peacemaking) or Caring Ministries (Chaplaincy)
  • Elective One (Biblical or Peacemaking) or Introduction to Chaplaincy (Chaplaincy)
  • Elective Two (Biblical or Peacemaking) or Chaplaincy in Hospice or Elder Care (Chaplaincy)
  • Elective Three (Biblical or Peacemaking) or The Helping Relationship (Chaplaincy)
  • Capstone Project or Thesis or Practicum/CPE (Chaplaincy)
Photo of LeAundra Boyice

LeAundra Boyice
Admissions and Student Success Advisor


Biblical Studies
Learn how to examine the teachings of the Bible from an ecumenical and evangelical perspective. You will study the life and teachings of Christ, Christian ethics, and Hebrew scriptures while developing your competency in interpreting the Bible to strengthen your ministry practice.

Peacemaking and Reconciliation
Learn the necessary skills to lead peacemaking and reconciliation processes among families, Christian communities, and leaders. You will learn methods to properly assess situations from a Christian perspective to help communities heal, systemic fractures mend, and communities adopt methods of effective conflict resolution.

Integrate your Biblical and theological education with training in spiritual caregiving. Upon graduation, you will learn your MATS with a graduate certificate in Chaplaincy.

Purpose & Learning Outcomes

The purpose of the Master of Arts (Theological Studies) (MATS) is to provide an individual, who has an undergraduate bachelor’s degree, knowledge in general theological studies and to provide skills for professional research and communication.

Learning Outcomes

The Learning Outcomes of the MA(TS) are grouped under three components of competency: (1) Theological Development/Knowledge, (2) Research Skills, and (3) Specialization (Peacemaking or Biblical Studies).

Theological Development/Knowledge

  • Demonstrates an understanding of key theological concepts
  • Applies interpretative models
  • Integrates utilization of methods and application

Research Skills

  • Demonstrates an ability to locate and evaluate resources
  • Demonstrates an ability to integrate resources with assignments and projects
  • Demonstrates a competency to communicate research results

Specialization (Biblical Studies)

  • Demonstrates awareness of personal hermeneutic situational-ness
  • Demonstrates consciousness of an interpretive community’s influence on hermeneutical outcome
  • Practices healthy integration of multiple interpretative horizons
  • Effectively employs interpretative communication with communities

Specialization (Peacemaking)

  • Demonstrates an ability to know foundational elements and models of peacemaking
  • Demonstrates an ability to recognize and analyze conflict contexts
  • Demonstrates an ability to apply peace and reconciliation methods

Specialization (Chaplaincy)

  • Provides professional ministry presence to individuals in a diverse multicultural society and in varied settings
  • Practices professional ethical boundaries in chaplaincy settings
  • Exercises the skills and sensibilities for human spirituality needed to establish and maintain rapport with clients
  • Is grounded in a healthy integration of multiple interpretative horizons in biblical and theological reflection


Why Central Seminary’s MATS Degree Program Is Right for You

This degree offers a unique opportunity to study the history, theology, and practice of Christianity from an academic perspective, equipping learners with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills for careers in ministry, leadership, or academia.

Diversity and Accreditation

Students worldwide choose Central Seminary because the learning outcomes are designed to help prepare them for ministry in multicultural contexts. In addition, many of our programs are offered in Korean.

Central Seminary offers an innovative and diverse academic environment that can help you reach a higher professional calling through experiential learning. At Central, we foster an inclusive learning environment that welcomes students of all races, cultural backgrounds, and ethnicities.

Central is also fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and Association of Theological Schools.  Accreditation ensures that Central Seminary is held to a high standard of academic standard and is often required for many MATS roles.

Receive Financial Aid and Scholarships

Central Seminary offers low tuition rates. Scholarships and individual payment plans are available to all degree-seeking students, plus you can choose to pay-as-you-go.

Flexible and Effective MATS Courses

The MATS program at Central Seminary sets students up to pursue careers in ministry, leadership, and academia while also offering students flexible options to complete the course online or on campus. If you choose to earn your MATS online, you can easily connect with your instructors and peers, submit coursework, and participate in classroom conversations in real-time without leaving your home.

Experienced Online Seminary

Central Seminary has been providing innovative online education since 2010. A Master of Arts in Theological Studies at Central Seminary will grant you many possibilities for your future career choice and provide a network of learning opportunities.

Resources for International Students

Central Seminary offers thorough resources for our international students. These resources include all necessary forms needed to apply and attend our programs, information about maintaining your student visa status, next steps following your graduation, and information about employment possibilities once you hold your MATS from Central Seminary.

MATS Capstone Project

In the final term of the MATS program, you will demonstrate mastery of your studies in a capstone project. The concentration for your capstone project will be tailored towards your professional goals. This project should be designed to apply the knowledge, research, and practical skills that you developed throughout the program to real-world ministry settings and situations.

MATS Program FAQs

Learn more about the Master of Arts in Theological Studies Program.

What are the application requirements for Central's MATS program?

Prospective students may start your application anytime. Classes start in August, January, and May.

For your application, we require official transcripts from all previous academic institutions, character references, and an autobiographical statement.

Students participating in the English program for whom English is not their first language will be required to demonstrate their English proficiency.

How much does it cost to complete the MATS degree on campus?

Tuition – $375 per credit

Registration Fee – $250 per term

Graduation Fee – $200

(Amounts shown are for the academic year 2022-2023 and only represent basic costs. Consult the current academic catalog for complete financial information.)

What skills will the MATS program help me learn?

The Master of Arts in Theological Studies program will help you develop a range of valuable skills and knowledge.  At Central Seminary, we place a strong emphasis on writing and research, allowing you to master the necessary skillset for crafting well-researched essays and academic articles. Additionally, you will gain a deeper understanding of religious and philosophical concepts, equipping you with the tools necessary for critical analysis and higher-level thinking.

No matter your professional goals, this program will help you to hone your academic analysis, critical thinking skills, and writing abilities.

What additional experience will I need to find a job?

While the MATS degree will help you to gain core competency in theological studies and Biblical interpretation, you will have the opportunity to select a specialization in accordance with your professional goals. At Central Seminary, we offer three specialization tracks: Biblical studies, Peace and Reconciliation, and Chaplaincy. You will be able to work with our faculty to make sure you’re choosing the track that aligns with your career goals and personal values.

Additionally, it is important to build your network and professional contacts so that you can see what types of careers are out there and begin contributing to the professional communities to that you are drawn. Identifying people and groups that are doing the work you would like to do and learning from them will be invaluable in your professional development. During your time at Central Seminary, you will be interacting with a vibrant and diverse group of faculty and students, which makes a great jumping-off point for your professional network.

Finally, tailor your final capstone project to the communities you want to be a part of so that you can implement the research you do in real-life settings. Our faculty are here to mentor you and give you insight into finding the types of jobs that most appeal to you.

How much technological literacy do I need to know for online programs?

Instructors utilize online discussion boards to initiate meaningful conversations with their students. Live online sessions give students real-time interaction with their cohort and instructors while providing location flexibility. Our faculty and staff are happy to help you troubleshoot to make our online platforms accessible to you.

In order to enroll in our online program, you will need a reliable computer and to be able to regularly access the Internet.

What is the difference between the MATS and MDiv degrees?

The Master of Arts (Theological Studies) or MATS differs from the Master of Divinity (MDiv) in several ways. The first is the length of the program. The MATS is 36 hours and provides a solid foundation for Bible, theology, and Christian heritage with the opportunity to specialize in fields like Biblical Studies, Peacemaking, or add a certificate program. The MDiv is 72 credits and has a much more structured curriculum and more in-depth study in certain areas while combining courses designed for practical ministry applications such as worship, preaching, and leadership, as well as an opportunity for hands-on ministry experience through contextualized education.

Can I complete my MATS fully online?

Yes, 100% of your coursework can be completed online.

What can I do with the MATS degree?

Graduates with the MATS degree work in all types of ministry and non-ministry positions. They serve as educators, administrators, spiritual leaders, pastors, chaplains, and denominational work. Others work in non-profit organizations, businesses, and education. Others yet do not pursue the MATS degree for vocational purposes and instead use it for personal growth and enrichment.

Can I be a pastor with the MATS?

It depends on your church and denomination.  Some denominations may require their pastors to earn the Master of Divinity degree for ordination, while some churches may be willing to hire pastors who have a Master of Arts degree.  It is always best to check with your church or denomination about their requirements and your vocational goals.

Apply for Our Master of Arts in Theological Studies Program