Curriculum

The Master of Arts in Spirituality consists of 32 credit hours.

Required Core Courses (4 four-credit courses)

An introduction to the spiritual dimension of human experience as described and practiced in various religious traditions, sacred texts and ascetic practices, and contemplation, with attention to the language and concepts that have emerged from these texts, traditions and practices over the centuries, and their relevance for contemporary spiritual experience and the search for meaning.

An introduction to the foundations of Christian Spirituality as found in contemplative prayer, the Bible, Christian worship and moral teaching; attention will be given to major spiritual movements in Christian history, including Augustinian and other religious orders, Protestant and Orthodox movements and contemporary intentional Christian lay communities; the relationship between contemplation, spirituality, morality, and social justice.

An integration of interiority, the search for meaning, and the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching; the themes of basic human dignity, human rights, the common good, and social justice will also be explored in other spiritual traditions, with special attention to their roots in the Hebrew Prophets.

Our society needs a new kind of religious leadership and spirituality, grounded in a particular tradition and at the same time able to interact effectively with other faith communities. This course is designed to educate participants about the beliefs and practices of the three Abrahamic traditions, and of the Eastern religious traditions, with particular focus on how various traditions integrate the experience of transcendence with daily life. Special attention is given to the practice of prayer, meditation, and contemplation, using the method of comparative theology which respects the integrity of each tradition.

Seminar in the Spiritual Life

Seminar I addresses basic theories and practices foundational for the spiritual life through reading, intensive journaling, shared conversation, and a final integrative paper or project. The seminar provides an opportunity for students to integrate both on a theoretical and on a personal level the psychological, theological and pastoral dimensions of the spiritual life.

Prerequisite(s): At least one of the following courses RTS 5010, RTS 5020, RTS 5030, or RTS 5040 taken before or contemporaneous with this seminar.

Seminar II provides an opportunity for students to explore further psychological, theological and pastoral dimensions of the spiritual life, especially issues of doubt, gender, intimacy, life cycles, various schools of spiritual traditions, empathic listening or related topics.

Prerequisite(s): At least one of the following courses: RTS 5010, RTS 5020, RTS 5030, or RTS 5040 taken before or contemporaneous with this seminar.

Elective Courses

8 elective credits from the following options:

Students who chose the thesis option will work under the direction of a professor to research and write a graduate-level a thesis paper. If two or more students are working on a thesis paper, they will meet in seminar on a regular basis, either on campus or on-line.

The student will research a particular topic and demonstrate graduate level competency in that topic through writing or other project. Topics for RTS5750 can be ecumenical or interfaith in nature, either through the study of a tradition other than the student’s original tradition, or through a comparative study of two traditions. Independent research is different from a Masters Thesis (RTS 5700) in that evidence of study and research may consist in multiple forms such as research papers, presentations, or other projects.

or 4 credit courses from other Merrimack graduate programs (see below*)

*Suggested electives from Clinical Mental Health (CMH) and School Counseling (SC) Programs:

The purpose of this course is to familiarize the students with the concepts and paradigms used in counseling diverse populations, and the development of multicultural competencies. Students will study the main characteristics and needs of multicultural and diverse expanding beyond race to look at life styles, ability and interests that we use to define ourselves. Students will be able to apply current theories, trends to practice, and identify issues in counseling special populations; relevant skills to work with diverse populations. Students will acquire the ability to study and act as change agents for organizations and communities in relation to our understanding, attitudes, and behaviors towards multicultural groups.

This course teaches students of their ethical and legal duties as a counselor. Students will engage in a case study method to understand how to apply the American Counseling Association and the American Mental Health Counselors Association Codes of Ethics to ethical dilemmas. Topics will include informed consent, mandated reporting, confidentiality, record keeping, distance counseling, duty to warn, family rights and special education. Standards for working with diverse and multicultural clients will be discussed.

This course equips students with an understanding of the different forms of trauma clients might experience and how these different experiences impact decisions regarding trauma-informed care. Topics will include the following: the neurobiology of trauma, attachment theory, understanding trauma through a developmental lens, stabilization, complex and acute trauma, trauma theories, dissociation, trauma processing techniques, vicarious trauma and self-care.

This course focuses on physical, cognitive, and social-emotional continuity and changes that occur throughout the lifespan. An introduction to research and theories in human development is included.

Credit Summary:

  • 16 core-course credits
  • 8 credits in Seminar
  • 8 elective credits
  • 32 total credits

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