MATS - Master of Arts in Theological Studies

The Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree program is for those wishing to develop further perspectives in theological thought for personal or professional enrichment, for those interested in further academic study, or for those seeking further development in their spiritual journey in relation to other professions.


Program Length
Distance Learning

Length of Program

The Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree is a 48-credit hour program and can be completed in two years of full-time study. However, if a student wishes to study part time, all courses required for this degree must be completed in seven years from the date of first registration.

Off-site students in the MATS degree program can complete their requirements in two years of full-time study, including a summer term. The MATS may also be completed off-site on a part-time basis. All coursework must be completed within 7 years from admission.


Graduates of the program will be equipped and prepared to exercise a vocation of theological scholarship, characterized by independent initiative, personal responsibility, collegial cooperation, ethical behavior consistent with academic integrity, and an appreciation of the limitations of one’s own work and discipline, of the complexity of knowledge, and of the potential contributions of other interpretations, methods and disciplines.

This program allows students to concentrate their studies in one of four areas. Students will choose one of the following areas at the time of initial registration or before completing 18 credit hours:

Biblical Studies
This concentration is intended for those seeking an in depth and rigorous analysis of scripture from various perspectives along with biblical language training. Students choosing the Biblical Studies concentration are required to complete 6 credit-hours of either Biblical Hebrew or Biblical Greek as part of their coursework.

History and Theology
For those with a passion for history and theology, this program offers an opportunity to explore historical, ethical and constructive dimensions of the contemporary theological imagination. Students within this concentration are required to take at least 3 credit hours of advanced coursework in both historical and theological studies.

Practical Theology
This concentration offers an opportunity to bring together theory and practice to re-imagine and actively engage God’s world. Students in this concentration are required to take  PT500; PT502; PT655, as well as a full-year PPL ‘studio’ (PT651/652) as part of their program (including all associated field placements).

Integrative Studies
A generalist’s choice, this concentration allows study in all the above subject areas and equips the degree-holder with a broad base of knowledge in theological studies. At least one advanced elective must be taken from each of the above concentrations.

A graduate of the MATS program at VST will:

  1. Demonstrate an introductory knowledge of theological disciplines,
  • Apply appropriate hermeneutical methods to accomplish an introductory level interpretation of a biblical text both in its ancient context and in contemporary contexts
  • Analyze the central topics in theology and engage in theological reflection in light of particular issues and topics and articulate an understanding of the theological task
  • Demonstrate analytical skills applied to historical data such as use of primary and secondary source materials
  • Demonstrate introductory level awareness of the content, methods, issues, and contexts of one other theological discipline (spirituality, public and pastoral leadership, inter-religious studies, Indigenous studies, or ethics)
  1. In the student’s discipline of concentration, identify the basic working concepts in the critical study of the discipline, offer discussion of the basic content of the discipline, and employ research skills sufficient to present the basic content of that discipline
  2. For an Integrative Studies concentration, demonstrate intermediate level familiarity with the content, methods, issues and contexts of two or more theological disciplines, and ability to make comparative and integrative judgments between or among the fields chosen
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in clear and effective communication in both oral and written forms; the construction of a logical argument; the making of informed judgments on complex issues, and the use of standard conventions of style for scholarly writing


The MATS is a first, general theological degree which requires that students complete 21 credit hours of study in foundational courses—including introductions to biblical studies, historical and contemporary theologies, and Inter-religious studies.

Information Literacy and Research Skills

In addition to all the foundational courses, all MATS students are required to take a series of Research Modules which will orient students to diverse hermeneutical approaches and methodologies as well as research and writing skills within an environment of critical enquiry and mutual accountability.  The modules will engage students in hands-on as well as theoretical work intended to develop knowledgeable, disciplined and critically astute researchers.

See the Research Skills Module Schedule for further information.

Foundational Courses

Program Concentration and Open Electives

An additional 27 credit hours beyond the Foundational courses complete the MATS program requirements.  Students may declare their area of concentration–Bible, History & Theology, Practical Theology, or Integrated Studies—at time of enrollment or prior to the completion of 18 credit hours of study.

A concentration assumes completion of 12 credit hours above and beyond the required foundational core course/s within a particular discipline.

Culminating Assignment

Students typically complete their MATS program by sitting a six hour comprehensive examination in their last semester of studies.

A MATS student may petition to the Research Studies Committee to be allowed to complete her/his course of study by researching and writing a thesis.  The thesis would be an advisable path for those, for example, who will be applying for further academic study at other universities.  If the thesis option is chosen and approved by the Research Studies Committee, the thesis counts as an additional 6 credit hours within the concentration.


An undergraduate degree is required, preferably in the humanities.

Distance Learning

MDiv and MAPPL (ministry-oriented programs) require that 1/3 of the degree be completed on-site at VST’s main campus.

MATS and ThM (research-orientated programs) can be completed entirely via distance. The MAIIS has course requirements which are only available on-site and will require the student to come onto campus to complete those course requirements.

On-site requirements are fulfilled in 3 ways:

  • Intensive courses offered in the January Interterm or Summer School in which all students are present on campus for the entire course.
  • Hybrid courses in which distance students are present on campus for one intensive 3-day weekend and are connected by Zoom to the rest of the classes spread out over the semester. The intensive weekend falls mid-semester and contains over half the classes of the course (6); the other 5 classes of the course are accomplished through synchronous or asynchronous Zoom connections.
  • Specialized on-site weekend intensive courses in which all students are present for the entire course. These short courses (1 – 1.5 credit hours) are used for particular denominational requirements like polity courses or spiritual retreats. This format used in these courses helps address the needs for denominationally-relevant opportunities for interaction, peer learning, development of pastoral skills, and growth in personal, spiritual formation

Please contact VST Admissions for more information,