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MA in Spirituality

Prepare for a life of spiritual seeking and service

Merrimack’s Master of Arts in Spirituality program prepares candidates for a life of spiritual exploration, engagement and service. As a degree candidate, you will acquire the theological knowledge and ministerial experience you need to enrich your own faith, and to support others in their spiritual journey. 

In today’s complex world, there is a growing need for lay ministers who are equipped to help others connect more deeply with their spiritual lives. Whether serving as pastoral ministers or chaplains, social workers or mental health providers, spiritual leaders help people better navigate personal and societal challenges. To help people enhance their spiritual life, lay ministers must have a strong foundation of interfaith knowledge, along with outstanding interpersonal and counseling skills. Our advanced degree in spirituality will provide you with these vital capabilities — and more.

Led by expert faculty and inspired by Merrimack’s Catholic and Augustinian tradition, this program will enrich your understanding of Christianity and other faiths across the world, and empower you as spiritual teachers, guides and directors. Through interactive and interdisciplinary coursework, you will learn how concepts of spirituality and faith can be put into practice. Whether you choose to pursue a Master of Arts in Spirituality, Master of Arts in Spiritual Direction, or a certificate program in spiritual direction or interfaith spirituality, you will apply your working knowledge by conducting independent research or taking part in a practicum in your desired field.

Upon successful completion of the program, you’ll emerge with the knowledge, skills and insights you’ll need for a fulfilling career as a lay minister or empowered spiritual seeker, counseling and supporting others in their spiritual journey.

Discover the benefits

Prepare for your career in lay ministry with an exceptional program that will equip you to:

  • Speak and write about Christian teaching in ways that connect theology and spirituality with faith in contemporary life.
  • Understand how people from many religious traditions and various paths of conviction compassionately serve and care for others, and apply those principles in your pastoral care or service.
  • Relate to others’ experience in a way that deepens their connection to God and their communities, and guides them in their spiritual journey.
  • Work for peace and social justice through a wide range of lay ministry opportunities.

Meet the demand for lay ministers and spiritual directors

Our programs meet the growing need for lay and ordained spiritual leaders in the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations. As churches evolve to meet the changing needs of parishioners and communities, there is tremendous opportunity for religiously educated lay ecclesial ministers in a variety of staff roles. The Catholic Church alone is adding 790 new lay ecclesial ministers to their staffs every year, who join the 38,000 lay ministers already engaged in full- or part-time work. Equipped with the theological foundation and compassionate care skills you develop through our degree or certificate programs, you’ll emerge ready to enhance the church and community through ministry.

Four pathways, endless possibilities

Whether you wish to enhance your personal and faith development, build an intellectual foundation in theology, or begin a career in social justice and ministry, with an M.A. or certificate in spirituality from Merrimack you’ll be prepared for a wide range of roles, including: 

  • Pastoral or spiritual care provider
  • Lay minister
  • Spiritual director or guide
  • Retreat-center director
  • Christian mindfulness practitioner

In addition, your M.A. degree or certificate in spirituality may support your work in complementary fields such as health care, social work and mental health; art therapy; and human resources.

Our full-time, one- or two-year M.A. certificate programs are designed to meet the highest standards and ethics of the ministry profession, while offering you a strong return on your investment and the flexibility to complete your degree at your own pace. 

Admission Requirements for Master’s and Certificate Programs

Interested students must choose one of the master’s tracks or certificate programs by the time they have completed two of the core courses and/or the yearlong seminar or practicum.

The following are part of the application process:

  • Program Prerequisites:
    Applicants to the program need to have earned an undergraduate B.A. or B.S. degree.
  • Admission Requirements:
    Submission of the completed application, a writing sample/personal statement, and two letters of recommendation will be required with the application. The GRE is not required. Applicants deemed appropriate for the program based on their admissions materials will be granted an interview. To enter the program, applicants must complete the required interview to complete the application process. Final decisions will be made after the committee reviews the applications and the interview results of all applicants.
  • Admissions Check-list:
    • Stage 1:
      • Transcripts that demonstrate the completion of the undergraduate degree
      • Two letters of reference, including at least one non-academic letter that addresses readiness for work in the field and the character of applicant
      • Writing Sample/Personal Statement
      • Resume, including any spiritual direction experience
    • Stage 2:
      • Required Interview (for candidates chosen by the admission’s committee)
        Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores since many Master-level programs are no longer following this practice in both an effort to attract a more diverse student body and because these scores are not viewed as accurate indicators of the skill set necessary in this field. Requiring every finalist to interview in person will be a more accurate predictor of his/her success in this program. If a finalist is unable to attend an in person interview due to distance/cost, then a skype interview will be required.

A total of 4 credits from another accredited program in theology or spirituality may be imported and count as an elective, but not as a core course.

Contact

For more information on the Master of Arts in Spirituality, contact the Office of Graduate Studies at graduate@merrimack.edu or 978-837-3563.

Take it to the next level - the graduate level - at Merrimack.