Program of Study
The Master of Arts degree program at Hartford Seminary provides an opportunity for persons of all backgrounds to deepen and broaden their faith understandings, to reflect on the challenge of diversity in a dialogical setting, and to meaningfully relate religious theory and spiritual practice to the context in which faith communities exist in daily life, community, and the world at large.
The program is designed for persons who want to increase their knowledge and develop their skills in religious leadership and the practice of ministry in daily life while pursuing specific interests in a focused area of study.
International Students – for additional information of particular relevance to international students, see the section of the Catalogue entitled International Students.
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, 860-509-9512.
At the time of admission, students are assigned a faculty advisor. Students work with their faculty advisor and within their selected area of focused study to design a program tailored to meet their educational objectives. Students, in consultation with their faculty advisor, complete a Program of Study Worksheet outlining their courses and selected area of focused study.
Program of Study Worksheets must be submitted to the Dean no later than the completion of 24 credits.
Students who have not selected a focused area of study at the time of their application and admission should declare one no later than the completion of 24 credits. At that point, students will be reassigned, if necessary, to a faculty advisor in the area of focused study.
The Master of Arts degree requires successful completion of the 48 credit components detailed below.
Core Course Dialogue in a World of Difference 3 credits
The core course, offered each fall semester, is foundational to the Master of Arts teaching goals and curriculum at Hartford Seminary. The course, which is team taught by two or more faculty members, provides an introduction to the lenses and disciplines of contextual, dialogical and interfaith engagement and discourse. The core course is required of all students enrolled in the Master of Arts degree program. Students are strongly urged to take the course during the first fall semester after admission to the program.
Students are required to take the designated number of credits in each of the core areas listed below; courses that fulfill the core areas are identified with an asterisk (*) on the course schedule for each semester and in the course description section of the Catalogue.
|Scripture (Required: one course in each of two scriptures)||6|
|Spirituality, Liturgy, Worship*||3|
|Religion and Society||3|
|Total Core Credits||21 credits|
*For the required course in Spirituality, students should take the course that has the most meaning for them (in practice this should be in a tradition with which the student most closely identifies.)
Note: Students completing a Focused Area of Study in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations select from appropriate courses in each of the core areas.
Focused Area of Study 9 credits
For the focused area of study, students work with their faculty advisor to select courses tailored to meet their educational goals within one of the following areas:
- Biblical Studies
- Islamic Studies/Christian-Muslim Relations
- Ministry in Daily Life**
- Theology and Ethics
- Religious Studies**
**The “Ministry in Daily Life” and “Religious Studies” focused areas of study allow for the broadest possible selection of courses to meet individual student educational objectives.
Whenever possible, the faculty advisor for a student selecting one of the five remaining areas of focused study will be a faculty person within that academic area. That faculty person is the one who gives final approval to the course of study their student advisee has proposed and completed, in consultation with the Dean.
This focused area of study provides familiarity with the content of the books of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and critical exploration of specific books, genres, themes and historical and cultural contexts. Students choosing a focused area of study in Biblical Studies are encouraged to take Biblical languages. Up to 12 credits of language courses taken at Hartford Seminary may count toward the 48 credits required for the Master of Arts degree.
Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations
Students completing this focused area of study will have knowledge of the history, beliefs and practices of Islam including the life of the Prophet, the Qur’ān as sacred scripture, law and tradition, theology, philosophy, and the schools of mystical thought. They will also be acquainted with the major social, political and intellectual trends in contemporary Islam, and theological and social interaction between Islam and Christianity.
Students in this focused area of study are encouraged to widen the core curriculum through independent study, including the study of Islam in the Middle East, Africa, South and East Asia, Europe and North America, using the extensive resources available in the special collections of the Hartford Seminary library.
Students choosing Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations are strongly encouraged to take Arabic. Up to 12 credits of language courses taken at Hartford Seminary may count toward the 48 credits required for the Master of Arts degree.
The Macdonald Center
The Master of Arts program focusing on Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations utilizes the resources of Hartford Seminary’s Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. This center embodies Hartford Seminary’s 100-year commitment to the study of Islam and Christianity in their complex relationships throughout history and in the modern world.
Islamic Chaplaincy Program
The Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary is a 72-credit program that combines academic study and practical training. See Islamic Chaplaincy Program section of the Catalogue for details.
Ministry in Daily Life
One of the defining features of Hartford Seminary is its emphasis on “ministry in daily life.” Rooted in the conviction that one’s entire life reflects a sense of vocation and the desire to serve God, students choosing this focused area of study are encouraged to take courses that invite reflection on the application of faith to life and that equip the student to serve both the faith community and the world more effectively. This focused area of study is intended to provide the greatest flexibility in course selection for persons seeking to explore how faith informs life in the home, the workplace, the public sector, and the congregation or faith community. This focused area of study may be the appropriate selection for those seeking to develop or enhance their ministry in a nonordained form.
This focused area of study is intended for students who desire the greatest flexibility in their program of study in order to accomplish particular educational goals. Students completing this focused area of study will have constructed their program to deliver a coherent set of educational objectives in collaboration with the faculty advisor.
Students completing this focused area of study will have grown in an understanding of spirituality as a way of life that intentionally integrates behavior and belief while honoring one’s personal search for meaning. Core to the program is exposure to a rapidly changing world and its multifaceted implications, diversity in understanding and relating to the Divine, a deepening of one’s awareness of God’s presence in everyday life, and an application of theoretical learning to reflective prayer and practice. Students will work with a faculty advisor in the field of spirituality to design a program tailored to meet their personal and educational goals.
Women’s Leadership Institute
Up to 6 credits of the Women’s Leadership Institute may be applied toward the Master of Arts degree program with a focus in spirituality.
The drumming circle, offered through Hartford Seminary’s educational outreach program typically in the fall and winter/spring semesters, is an accompaniment to the course offerings in the area of spirituality, liturgy and worship. For further details, please view Hartford Seminary’s Educational Outreach Events on the Seminary’s website: www.hartsem.edu or call 860-509-9555.
Spiritual Life Center
The Spiritual Life Center is a resource for spiritual programs in the Hartford region and throughout Connecticut since 1982.
Theology and Ethics
Students completing this focused area of study will deepen and extend their theological understanding and analysis of biblical sources, historical traditions, and contemporary construction in theology and ethics. Students will be able to develop their own theological interpretations and discern their own ethical positions surrounding current issues.
Electives 9 or 12 credits
Students work with their faculty advisor to select the remaining courses from the curriculum to complete their educational objectives for the Master of Arts degree program.
Final Paper/Project or Thesis (students select one) 3 or 6 credits
Completion of the final requirement for the Master of Arts degree provides an opportunity for the student to demonstrate her/his capacity to apply and reflect on the perspectives addressed by the Master of Arts program within the focused area of study. Those perspectives may include both scholarly and practical approaches encountered in courses and independent study, the student’s own vocational understanding, and the experience of living in a faith community.
The precise form of the final paper, project or thesis can vary within certain guidelines. Students should discuss with their faculty advisor which type of component would best suit their needs, desires, and future academic and vocational plans. Students completing a final paper, project or thesis will be required to take an oral examination on their work with their faculty advisor and one additional faculty member. Completion of a thesis is strongly recommended for students considering further graduate study, particularly a Ph.D., at any point in their future.
The Master of Arts program requires 48 credits. A minimum of 30 credits must be taken through Hartford Seminary and all degree requirements must be completed within six years.
Note: At least one course in the program — other than a course in scripture — must be taken in a faith tradition other than the one with which the student is most familiar. Students work with their Fauclty advisor to determine the appropriate course selection to meet this requirement.
|Number of Credits|
|Core Course||Dialogue in a World of Difference (DI-530)||3|
|Core Areas||Sacred Scripture (Required: one course in each of two scriptures)
Spirituality, Liturgy, Worship
Religion and Society
Total Core Area Credits
|Focused Area of Study||Students select from Biblical Studies, Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations, Ministry in Daily Life, Religious Studies, Spirituality, or Theology and Ethics||9|
|Electives||9 or 12 credits depending on final requirement selection of final paper, project or thesis||9 or 12|
|Final Requirements||Final Paper/Project (3 credits) OR Thesis (6 credits)||3 or 6|
|Total Credits – Master of Arts||48|
Hartford Seminary’s graduate level degree and certificate programs are designed for flexibility. Students can move fluidly among a number of enrollment options depending on their life circumstances. The number of years it will take to complete a program will depend on the number of credits a student is able to take in a given year; however most programs must be completed in six years. The enrollment options include:
A part-time student is defined as taking six credits or less in a regular semester.
Full-time graduate study consists of a minimum course load of three courses (9 credits) per semester.
Hartford Seminary welcomes students who wish to try out our courses without formally enrolling in a graduate certificate or degree program. There are two options for non-matriculated students, special student status or audit status.
Individuals with a bachelor’s degree (or its educational equivalent), who wish to take courses for credit, but have not been admitted or matriculated into a Hartford Seminary graduate program, may register to take courses as a Special Student.
Special Students are required to complete all coursework and written assignments and are graded in accordance with the grading policies of Hartford Seminary for degree program students. Special Students are not assigned a faculty advisor; advisors are assigned at the time of admission and matriculation into a graduate program. However, special students are invited and encouraged to meet with the Registrar at the time of course registration, particularly if the individual anticipates seeking admission to a graduate program at some point in the future.
Special Students may register for and complete up to 18 credits (six 3-credit courses) before applying and being admitted to Hartford Seminary. Special Students considering enrolling in a Graduate Certificate should do so before completing 12 credits since at least 6 credits must be taken after formal matriculation into the Graduate Certificate program.
All courses (except for Program Specific Courses) are open to auditors on a space available basis. While auditing students are not graded, they are expected to complete readings and other coursework as determined by the faculty member teaching the course. There are two payment rates for auditors, regular audit and special audit. The special audit rate is available to those who meet one of the following criteria:
- Persons aged 60 and older;
- Persons aged 55 and older receiving disability income (appropriate documentation required)
- Hartford Seminary graduates of a degree program (D.Min., M.A., Ph.D.) or those who have earned a Certificate of Professional Ministry (Cooperative M.Div.) (one course per academic year);
- Hartford Seminary donors who donate at the Investor level ($250 annually) and above (one course per academic year);
- Hartford Seminary adjunct faculty (one course per academic year);
- Designated members of churches that participate in the International Peacemaking Program of the Seminary (one course per academic year).
Registration Process for Non-Matriculated Students
At the time of their first course new Special Students and Auditors apply for unmatriculated student status by completing the Special Student/Auditor Application/Registration Form provided on the back of the course schedule for each semester/summer session. These applications will be reviewed for acceptance by Educational Programs staff.
Special Students and auditors are encouraged to register for courses early in the registration period. Please note: Hartford Seminary reserves the right to limit the number of non-matriculated students in each course. Exclusion of non-matriculated students from a course due to over-enrollment will be based on the date of receipt of the course registration form and payment.
Once an applicant’s file is complete (see below) it will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee at the next regularly scheduled meeting (nine times per year). Students wishing to be admitted prior to the start of a given semester must make sure their files are complete by the following deadlines:
- April 15 for Summer Session or to be included in the first round of financial aid decisions for the next academic year; (To be considered for financial aid, a separate Application for Financial Assistance must be completed and submitted to the Financial Aid Committee by June 1st.)
- July 15 for the Fall Semester;
- December 1 for January Intersession and the Winter/Spring Semester.
An applicant’s file is complete when the following items have been received by the Admissions Office:
- The application form and application fee of $50.
- A personal statement of three to four pages identifying the applicant’s personal goals for the Master of Arts program, his/her perceived strengths, and his/her potential areas for development.
- Complete official transcripts from all previous undergraduate and graduate institutions.
- Three letters of recommendation. At least one letter must be from a faculty member of an institution from which the applicant has earned a degree or a person from the applicant’s religious community or work place who can speak to the applicant’s potential for graduate level study.
One can apply through either a paper-based or an online format. You may access both our online application and the downloadable paper-based application by going to our website at www.hartsem.edu and clicking on the Admissions tab on the left-hand side toolbar. Detailed instructions for completing the application are also provided at this link. You may also request a paper application by calling our Admissions Office at 860-509-9512
Interview: After a student’s file is complete, the student will be contacted by the Admissions Office to set up an interview. While in most cases the interview will happen on the Hartford Seminary campus, a phone interview may be conducted where distance prohibits a visit to campus. Applications will only be sent on to the Admissions Committee for review once the interview has been conducted.
A bachelor’s degree (or its educational equivalent) at a satisfactory level of achievement from an accredited institution is a prerequisite for admission. Admission is granted only on the basis of the terms stated in this Catalogue and in the admission letter.
Students who have previously taken graduate level courses in religion from an accredited institution may be eligible for transfer credit. Please see page 33 for the full transfer credit policy.
Students who have undertaken significant learning outside the context of a traditional graduate degree program may be eligible for Advanced Standing. Please see the full policy on page 32.
Readmission: Please see Academic Policies for Graduate Programs section.