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Master of Arts in Theology (Justice and Public Life)

Master of Arts in Theology (Justice and Public Life)

The Master of Arts in Theology (Justice and Public Life) is a 24-month graduate program designed for working professionals who wish to lead social change toward justice. Students will be introduced to the ways the Bible, history, theology, and practical theology can make a meaningful difference in their work and engage the most challenging issues in society. This degree provides an opportunity for those working in the arts, literature, social media, government service, nonprofit agencies, education, business, health sector, etc. to bring their expertise in their respective fields and their faith convictions to the complex and vital task of social witness to the gospel.

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MAT (Justice and Public Life) Learning Outcomes

In service to the mission of Princeton Theological Seminary, graduates of the Master of Arts in Theology program (Justice and Public Life) will be able to:

  1. Engage and lead in social justice and public witness in ways that are (1) personally and vocationally sustainable; (2) biblically, historically, and theologically informed; and (3) marked by ecumenical Christian commitments.
  2. Exhibit competencies for practices for sustained leadership such as community building, conflict management, and communication strategies including digital technologies.
  3. Integrate theological, historical, and biblical resources and reflection into the fullness and particularity of their vocational work and professional arena.
  4. Discern and address problems, questions, and insights from the public sphere utilizing interdisciplinary tools from the theological disciplines in conversation with other relevant fields.

The MAT degree is a 24-month hybrid degree that requires the completion of 36 credits.

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MAT (Justice and Public Life) Curriculum (36 credits)

  • Introduction to the Ecology of Theological Education (3 credits) OR
    Transfer Credits (3 credits) *
  • Living and Learning Theologically (1 credit)
  • MAT Portfolio (2 credits) over 2 years, which includes .5 credit each fall and spring semesters
  • 10 courses focused on Theology, Justice, and Public Life (30 credits)

* MAT students with no training in theological education will take the Introduction to the Ecology of Theological Education course (3 credits) that will distill foundational concepts from each discipline. Students with prior theological education will be allowed to transfer in 3 foundational credits toward the degree.


MAT Program Design

The degree is a 24-month online hybrid degree. Students take 4 credits of online courses in the first summer. Students then take two 3-credit online courses each fall and spring semester along with the .5 credit MAT Portfolio. The first 3-credit course is taken in weeks 1-7 of the term followed by the second 3-credit course in weeks 8-14 of the term. A one-week in-person intensive 3-credit course on the PTS campus will be taken in each of the two January terms.

Sample Degree Design – MAT (Justice and Public Life) – 36 Credits

This design reflects a 24-month hybrid online MAT (Justice and Public Life). The degree requires 36 credit hours.

YEAR 1

Summer Term (Credits - 4) - Online

  • Introduction to the Ecology of Theological Education with Reflection (3) OR
    Transfer Credits for those with theological education foundation (3)
  • Living and Learning Theologically (1)

Fall Term (Credits - 6.5) - Online

  • Christian Theology and Justice (3)
  • Race and Ethnicity in the New Testament (3)
  • MAT Portfolio (.5)

January Term (Credits - 3) - In-Person

    • Course that addresses Theology, Justice, Public Life – One-Week Intensive (3)
    • What is Justice?
      The course will examine whether the concept of justice is sufficient for the kind of community-work-development-pursuit that is needed given contemporary crises.

      Spring Term (Credits - 6.5) - Online

      • Christian Theology and Politics (3)
      • Social Justice and the Bible (3)
      • MAT Portfolio (.5)

      YEAR 2

      Fall Term (Credits - 6.5) - Online

      • 2 Elective Courses that address Theology, Justice, Public Life (6)
      • MAT Portfolio (.5)

      January Term (Credits - 3) - In-Person

      • Course that addresses Theology, Justice, Public Life – One-Week Intensive (3)

      Spring Term (Credits - 6.5) - Online

      • Theology of Leadership (3)
      • 1 Elective Courses that address Theology, Justice, Public Life (6)
      • MAT Portfolio (.5)

      Sample Courses

      Christian Theology and Justice (3 credits)
      The course will explore whether justice is sufficient for personal and communal flourishing or whether other concepts and themes--such as aesthetics, abolition, liberation, security, social sin, nonviolence, accompaniment, and hope--are more adequate to the task of responding to the many crises of modern society (e.g., war, urban development/gentrification, and criminal justice).

      Race, Ethnicity, and the New Testament (3 Credits)
      A study of the theological intersections between race, ethnicity, and the New Testament. Students explore how the notions of race and ethnicity functioned in antiquity and how contemporary cultural contexts shape our interpretation of Scripture today. Particular attention is paid to the hermeneutical and theological implications of reading the texts of the New Testament in an ethnically diverse world.

      Christian Theology and Politics (3 credits)
      Christianity’s relationship to politics varies widely across time, place, and cultures. As a result, there are diverse theological postures on how Christians should think about and participate in political life. Different contexts and regimes also prompt distinct questions and responses; early Christians suffering persecution under Roman rule are in a radically different position from Christians in a medieval Europe governed by ecclesial authorities. How should Christians think theologically about the relationship between religion, faith, and politics? How should they participate (or not) in political life and to what ends? In this course, we will explore a range of themes and theological frameworks, from how to think about the political implications of Jesus’s life, ministry, and death to how Christians have approached matters like protest, solidarity, non-violence, and rituals in political life.

      Social Justice and the Bible (3 credits) This course focuses on the theme of social justice as it arises in the Old and New Testaments. The course structure is informed by frameworks from critical theory in order to decolonize readings of pertinent passages through a wide variety of interpretive perspectives and focus on their relevance to American contexts today. We approach the materials with the explicit purpose of infusing academic knowledge of the Bible with personal reflection and application. Individually and collectively, students will develop holistic action plans for social justice efforts in conversation with nuances of ancient contexts.

      Theology of Leadership ( 3 credits)
      This course offers conceptual models and skill development for leading (and leading in) secular and faith-based institutions from a Christian perspective. We will work together to create a learning community where we each student develops self-awareness of their gifts, personality, and interpersonal style; learns to articulate a theological framework for leadership; and develops skills for engaging in the reflective practice of leadership, including addressing issues of conflict management and diversity. Different models of leadership will be explored and critiqued in conversation with a variety of cultural and theological perspectives.

        African American Political Theologies (3 credits)
        This course focuses on how African American theological and religious thinkers articulate and understand “African American Political Theology” and its impact on social, cultural, economic, and political arrangements in the North American context. This course explores the multifarious character of African American political theologies and how these theologies help one re-conceptualize “the political” within social and cultural life. This course employs readings in areas such as Black theology, womanist theology, post-colonial thought, Black feminism, Black cultural studies, and Afro-pessimist philosophy. This course maintains that African American political theologies have been indispensable to the articulation of justice and human flourishing in America and can continue to serve as a viable source of critique towards a new cultural politics of difference within the United States.

        Nurturing Neighbors through Public Theology (3 credits) - week-long intensive course on campus
        This course explores what “public theology” and faithful public leadership are. It is designed for students in the MAT for Justice and Public Life. The course leverages theologies, practices, and pedagogies of embodiment in service to the enhancement of public leadership in the church and wider world. Through readings in biblical studies, theology, and ethics as well as engagement with local leaders in the Princeton area, students will develop intellectual, relational, and theological capacities for leadership that is formed by the gospel, the realities of God’s abundant grace, and God’s work towards justice in the world.

        Proclamation Amid Trauma (3 credits)
        This course encourages students to think both theologically and homiletically about the experience of trauma and its impact on congregations and communities. Students will 1) be invited to consider how the experience of trauma challenges, shapes, or reinforces theological conversations and assumptions; 2) be invited to address homiletical concerns when preaching in communities experiencing trauma, including considering role of the preacher, sermon form, sermon content, and delivery; and 3) will have an opportunity to grow as practitioners as they preach and reflect upon three contextually unique sermons responsive to a variety of traumatic incidents. Students will be asked to acquire one theological text, which they will sign up to read and present at the beginning of the course. All other resources for the course will be provided on the course site.

        Growing Old: Historical and Spiritual Perspectives (3 credits)
        What does it mean to age “gracefully”? How should power be shared among generations? What should retirement look like? End-of-life care? How can a focus on justice and social change shape our understandings of old age? Although aging is a universal phenomenon, attitudes toward aging are culturally constructed and highly variable. Drawing on scriptural passages concerning old age, alongside premodern texts (e.g., Cicero, On Old Age) and more recent writing by chaplain Lynn Casteel Harper (On Vanishing), physician Atul Gawande (Being Mortal), and geriatrician Louise Aronson (Elderhood), this course explores features of old age.


        MAT (Justice and Public Life) Financial Assistance

        Princeton Theological Seminary offers the Master of Arts in Theology (Justice and Public Life) degree at a reduced tuition rate.

        Tuition is billed at $595/credit vs. $780/credit. This $595 rate is applicable through the 2024-2025 academic year. A one-time fee of $495 will be billed in the first semester of the program. *

        Per Credit Hour

        Tuition for 3-Credit Course

        PTS - Regular Tuition

        $780

        $2,340

        MAT - Reduced Tuition

        $595

        $1,785

        * MAT students are responsible for all travel costs to Princeton, NJ (including flights, housing, food, etc.) for the two in-person January courses. Applicants to this program need to account for these additional expenses when applying to the MAT program.  

        Students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Theology (Justice and Public Life) degree program who are taking 4.5 or more credits in a semester (Fall, Spring, or Summer) are eligible for Federal Direct Loans of Federal Work Study to assist in defraying the cost of their tuition. Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required to begin the process of applying for these programs. Contact Student Financial Services at [email protected] for more information.


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        Click below to apply for Princeton Seminary’s MAT degree program. Visit the admissions area of our website for information about important deadlines, scheduling interviews, and more. If you have questions regarding the program, email the Office of Admissions at [email protected].

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        Associate Professor, Indiana Wesleyan University

        Amanda Hontz Drury, Class of 2005

        “Princeton Seminary helped me whittle down to the core of my faith and helped me discover what mattered most to me.”