Master of Arts in Religious Leadership and Administration

The NYTS Master of Arts in Religious Leadership and Administration (MARLA) is a 48-credit graduate degree designed to prepare individuals for leadership and administrative positions and responsibilities in churches, religious institutions and faith-based organizations. The degree integrates foundational theological disciplines with the best management and leadership practices germane to faith-based institutions and non-profit organizations. Students can expect to acquire significant analytical and strategic skills, concepts and methodologies that will enhance and promote growth, stability and teamwork in a religious organizational context. Graduates can expect to be prepared to serve as executive ministers, managers, or administrators in leadership of faith-based or non-profit organizations.

Students in the MARLA are required to attend two overnight retreats each year along with others in other master’s degree programs (attendance at the retreats is incorporated into the requirements for Introduction to Theological Education). They are also invited and encouraged to take part in other various activities organized and led by the Student Association throughout the course of the year. MARLA students must complete a year-long practicum in which they will be placed in a supervised field setting under a qualified supervisor that is appropriate for their degree program. Students are normally not given a stipend from the site where their placement is located.

Classes in the MARLA are held mostly in the evenings at The Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive in New York and online. Students have access to the library system of Columbia University, which includes the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary. All students will be trained in online learning in order to make use of Moodle, the NYTS online learning system.


Learning Outcomes

The MARLA seeks to prepare men and women for ministry who are able to:

  • articulate a practical theology for leadership and administration that is biblically informed and grounded in the historical development of Christian thought and tradition
  • synthesize and apply ethical, philosophical and historical concepts of organizational leadership and change
  • analyze the role of leadership strategies in fostering organizational growth and stability
  • integrate leadership and administrative theories, skills and competencies necessary for forming and developing leaders, leading teams and organizations
  • articulate and apply basic management and accounting principles for religious organizations
  • appraise, design and implement a leadership and strategic plan for an organization


Admissions requirements

The MARLA is open to women and men who:

  • possess a BA, BS, or equivalent undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year college (applicants holding degrees or diplomas from another country may be required to provide a translated copy and to provide further information to help the admissions committee determine equivalency)
  • demonstrate evidence of an ability to do graduate level study, primarily assessed through the written answers to the application essay questions and through recommendations
  • are able to articulate in a manner that is appropriate to their own experience and faith tradition an understanding of their call to serve in the specialized area of leadership and administration
  • currently belong to a community of faith that recognizes or expects the applicant to exercise his or her calling to religious education; or be willing to work within such a community of faith, exercising her or his calling to leadership and administration


Application, Acceptance, and Enrollment

NYTS has a rolling application process. Applications are received at any time during the year and reviewed as soon as possible thereafter, usually within one month. In order to be considered, the application must be complete, including a photo, the application fee, required essays, transcripts, data sheet, and recommendations. Following the receipt of a completed application, an interview is scheduled with the Director of the MARLA or another member of the faculty.

Upon acceptance, a student may enroll for classes beginning with the next scheduled semester or intensive period. Normally students who are accepted into the MARLA enroll in the first-year sequence of courses that begins in the fall semester with Introduction to Theological Education. Students who begin the MARLA program in the winter, spring or summer enter as unclassified and can take elective courses until the fall semester when they matriculate and become part of the first year class.

For further information, contact:
Director of Master of Arts in Religious Leadership and Administration
New York Theological Seminary
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 500
New York, NY 10115
(212) 870-1211


The Curriculum

The MARLA is a 48-credit degree designed to be completed in a minimum of two years; 32 are for required courses and 20 are for electives in the field of administration and leadership. The 32 required credits include 20 credits in general theological studies (Introduction to Theological Education, Biblical Studies, Theology, and Modern Church History) and 12 credits for coursework specifically required for the MARLA (Seminar in Leadership Theory and Practice, Ethics for Religious Administrators, Practicum/Mentoring and Capstone). The remaining 16 credits are considered electives but must be taken in courses that apply specifically to the field of administration and leadership, as approved by the student’s advisor. Students seeking to complete the MARLA in two years should plan on taking courses in the summer of the first year, and in both January periods.

Among the electives that are planned in 2014-2017 are:
• Basic Accounting for Churches and Non-Profit Administration
• Business Law for Religious Organizations
• Strategic Planning and Mission Development
• Stewardship and Development
• Organizational Management

Note: All courses are not guaranteed to be offered in the period proscribed.

NYTS Master of Arts in Religious Leadership and Administration
Curriculum Design

  All Year Fall Winterim Spring Summer

Year A ☆ Introduction to
Theological Education (2)
☆ First Testament (4) ☆ Exegesis Practicum (2) ☆ Second
Testament (4)
Administration &
Leadership Electives
June (2/3)
July (3)
August (3)

☆Seminar in Leadership Theory and Practice (4)

Ethics for Religious
Administrators (4)

Year B ☆ Practicum& Capstone
Fall & Spring
(2 & 2)
☆ Introduction to
Theology (4)
☆ Modern Church
History (4)

Administration &
Leadership Elective (4)

Administration &
Leadership Elective(4)

indicates required course for M.A. degree for NYTS


Suggested schedule of classes for completing the degree in 2 years
48 credits needed to graduate


For MARLA degree:

20 Required Credits – General Theological Studies
Introduction to Theological Education                                         2 credits
First Testament 4 credits Exegesis                                               2 credits
Second Testament                                                                        4 credits
Introduction to Theology                                                              4 credits
Modern Church History                                                                4 credits

12 Required Credits –Religious Administration and Leadership
Seminar in Leadership Theory and Practice                                   4 credits
Ethics for Religious Administrators                                               4 credits
Practicum with Capstone (year-long)                                           4 credits

16 additional elective credits in Religious Administration and Leadership
(Must be approved by advisor)                                                    16 credits

Total for MARLA degree                                                         48 credits


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