Master of Arts in Theological Studies

The Master of Arts in Theological Studies fosters development of theological understanding as part of educational, professional, and spiritual growth. The MATS is a general academic degree, providing balanced exposure to the theological disciplines while allowing for focus on an area of interest. This degree is appropriate for students who:

  • Are not seeking ordination but wish to work in a church setting.
  • Are ordained but need further academic work in theological studies.
  • Wish to enhance one’s understanding of theological perspectives and religious practices for personal growth or to relate to another professional field.

The program allows for concentration in a field of study to a greater extent than the MDiv requirements generally permit. The faculty and disciplines are organized into three curricular areas: (1) Biblical Studies, (2) Church History & Theology, and (3) Ministry & Spirituality. The specific learning outcomes of the MATS degree are to:

  • Know a selected theological discipline.
  • Analyze and comprehend major questions in the field and alternative solutions to them.
  • Formulate and effectively explain an original solution to a theological problem.

Admissions Requirements

  • Completed application
  • Non-refundable application fee: $50 for domestic applicants; $250 for international applicants
  • Five personal statements of approximately 300 to 500 words each
  • Two academic or professional references
  • Official transcripts of all post-secondary schoolwork (An in-process transcript showing work to date is acceptable for students without undergraduate degrees)
  • For applicants whose first language is not English, a minimum TOEFL score of 550 on the paper test, or 80 on the internet-based tests
  • A criminal background check through and a Self-Disclosure Form

See the Application page for detailed admissions instructions for each program.


  • Applications for fall admission due by May 1.
  • Applications for Spring admission due by December 1.

Degree Requirements

The MATS requires a total of 16 semester courses (48 units). Nine of the courses are to be distributed evenly among the three major theological disciplines of the SFTS MDiv curriculum (Biblical studies, History/Theology, Ministry/Spirituality) and the remaining seven courses may be used to provide more depth in an area of particular interest. Courses in the field of Functional Theology (e.g., field education courses) do not fulfill degree requirements.

MATS students also write a substantial paper under the guidance of a faculty advisor—either for an upper-level course or as an independent project—as the culminating experience of the program.

Transfer Credit

Students with a baccalaureate degree who have done graduate studies in theology at an accredited institution of higher education with at least a 3.0 (B) average may transfer or apply up to eight courses (24 semester units) toward the MATS degree requirements.


Students in the new online MATS program will benefit from the same rigorous, fully-accredited curriculum as their residential counterparts, and they will enjoy the additional advantages of remote access and flexibility — critical considerations for the working student who is committed to earning a degree, but has less time to devote to campus-based learning.

Questions? We’re here to help.

Isai Garcia, Associate Director of Admissions | 415.451.2831