Master of Arts (MA) in Theological Studies

The Master of Arts (MA) in Theological Studies is a full-time research masters program intended to provide students with the analytical skills, methodological rigour, and knowledge base that will enable them to carry out research at the leading edge of their area(s) of specialization.

The MA in Theological Studies is conferred conjointly by the University of Toronto and the student's college of registration. Six of TST's seven member colleges offer the conjoint MA program (St. Augustine's Seminary offers basic degree programs only). See Choosing a College.

General Purpose

  • The conjoint MA is research degree well suited for those desiring to pursue further research in a doctoral program.
  • The degree is equally suitable for those wishing to pursue further specialized studies toward academic enrichment in their professional careers, such as in positions of leadership in ecclesiastical and related organizations, as well as in the private and public sectors (such as chaplains, teachers, social services workers, among others).
  • The MA complements and builds towards the teaching and research done by faculty in TST’s PhD in Theological Studies program, as some courses will allow interaction between masters and doctoral students.

Program Features

  • Develops attention to issues of method in research and interpretation.
  • Fosters study and research supporting the Church’s reflection on God and the Church’s self-reflection. The theological inquiry of other faith communities can also be supported in some areas.
  • Includes collaborative education for each entering cohort of students, with scholarly interchange across the traditional sub-disciplines of theological studies (Bible, history, theology, pastoral studies).
  • Courses and research projects intentionally consider interdisciplinary, ecumenical, and global perspectives. Interdisciplinary research is encouraged.
  • Two program options are available, both can lead to further study at the doctoral level (coursework and research paper, or coursework only). See the Options 1 and 2 below under, “Program Structure”.

Relationship to TST’s PhD in Theological Studies Program

  • MA program students have the opportunity to engage in scholarly conversation in classes and seminars with PhD program students.
  • Students also have the opportunity to participate in courses alongside PhD students, with the goal of elevating their level of discourse, and stimulating and further deepening research interests.


  • The MA program is a full-time program, normally completed in one (1) year, to a maximum of three (3) years.

TST’s graduate faculty have specializations in a wide variety of study areas. Prospective students will identify topics that connect with faculty in specializations within, or across, these areas: 

  • Sacred and canonical texts specifically, the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) or the New Testament - both involving languages; historical contexts and processes of development; related literature; subsequent theological interpretation; pastoral function and social effects. 
  • Articulated structures of belief such as structures, contents, premises, and implications of Christian belief and practice (foundational theology; systematic theology; historical theology; theological ethics; and philosophical theology). 
  • History of Christianity understood in the broadest sense to include the variety of Christian traditions over the ages and throughout the world. 
  • Ecclesiastical practices such as liturgy, homiletics, education and formation, pastoral care, and spirituality; and pastoral and other religious leadership, and the social organizations in which these occur, such as congregations, faith-based organizations, ecclesial bodies, and ecumenical and interfaith organizations. 
  • Christian faith in its relations with wider social and cultural contexts (social ethics; aesthetics; cultural studies; contextual theology; religion in the public sphere; comparative theology; and inter-faith dialogue). 
  • Other: Although Christian studies are at the core of TST’s mission, prospective students may choose to frame research topics in the context of other faiths. 

Two program study options are available to MA program students both of which can lead to doctoral studies at TST. Students should consult with the TST Graduate Coordinator,, or college Graduate Degree Director (from the student's intended college of registration), about which program option will fulfill admission requirements in other doctoral programs at other institutions.

Option 1: Coursework and Masters Research Paper

4.0 full-course equivalents (FCE) including:

  • TSJ 5001H Masters Research Seminar (0.5 FCE)
  • A methodology course (0.5 FCE)
  • 4 elective courses (2.0 FCE)
  • The Masters Research Paper (1.0 FCE)

Option 2: Coursework Only 

4.0 full-course equivalents (FCE) including:

  • TSJ 5001H Masters Research Seminar (0.5 FCE)
  • A methodology course (0.5 FCE)
  • 6 elective courses (3.0 FCE)

Languages: During the MA program, students in both options may be required to demonstrate reading ability in a language in which relevant primary texts are written, or in which there is important secondary literature. Reading competence will normally be demonstrated by passing language exams set by the Graduate Centre for Theological Studies. Language study is recommended for those considering doctoral studies.

Also refer to the Graduate Conjoint Degree Handbook for detailed program and admissions information. 

The following provides an overview of the admission requirements for the MA program. For more detailed admission requirements, see Applying to the MA Program, Step 1 - Meet Admission Requirements and the Graduate Conjoint Degree Handbook for admission and program information. 

The Admissions Committee will take into consideration:

  • grades in all previous post-secondary education with particular weight accorded to performance in the prerequisite degree(s) and in other recent programs;
  • the applicant's academic background in the stated area of interest;
  • the potential of the applicant for graduate study, as attested in the letters of reference;
  • the quality of the applicant's statement of intent;
  • the availability of qualified faculty resources in the applicant's proposed area of research;
  • evidence that the applicant is likely to complete the program.
Prerequisite Education
  • For admission to the MA program, an applicant is normally required to have a bachelors degree in theology, or a major or specialist in theology or religious studies, or equivalent, from a recognized degree granting institution*, with at least B+ (3.3/4.0 CGPA) standing (or equivalent).
  • Alternatively, an applicant may present a second-entry degree in theological studies, such as a Master of Divinity (MDiv), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS), representing at least two years of full-time studies or equivalent past an undergraduate bachelors degree, with a minimum of a B+ (3.3/4.0 CGPA) standing (or equivalent). 
  • Students from educational systems outside of North America must give evidence of equivalent standing.

*All theological schools fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada are deemed to be recognized institutions.

Fluency in English
  • An applicant whose first language is other than English must provide evidence of the ability to comprehend, speak and write English at the graduate level.
Research Language Requirements
  • Typically, there are no research language requirements for admission into the MA program, unless the primary sources for the proposed area of study are in a language or languages other than English (such as Biblical studies). In such cases, applicants may be required to provide evidence of competence in at least one language other than English.