Program Director:  Ricardo Gonzalez 

Associate Program Directors:

Aivars Ozolins (Applied Theology Concentrations)

Carlos Mora (Biblical Studies Concentrations)

Kyungho Song (Theological-Historical Studies Concentrations)

The Master of Theology Program offers a third level degree in theology and is similar to the Doctor of Philosophy in Religion (PhD). It is intended for MDiv or MA-R graduates with a strong academic orientation, who wish to become specialists in Applied Theology, Biblical Studies, or Historical Theological Studies.

The degree involves a minimum duration of two years of specialized study and research beyond the master’s degree. The student chooses a major and a minor from one particular field of study. This degree program equips individuals for research and qualifies them to teach in theological colleges in their field of specialization. The MTh degree requires a minimum of 48 semester hours at the 800 level. 


The Master of Theology program aims:

1. To develop teachers and researchers with a high degree of competency in the areas of religion.

2. To develop the spirit of inquiry, critical thinking, analysis, and synthesis within the context of Adventist self-understanding and mission.

3. To understand and appreciate a variety of viewpoints, while at the same time maintaining sound reason for one’s faith and belief in the reliability of the Bible.

4. To become significant contributors to the purpose and praxis of the Church.

5. To conduct original and responsible research that result in a significant contribution to the body of religious knowledge.

The MTh degree is not earned by the mere accumulation of credits but is conferred in recognition of outstanding standards of scholarship and level of expertise in a student’s main area of study and cognate, as demonstrated by written and oral independent research based on in-depth analysis, mature synthesis and interpretation of evidence, and responsible application.

MTh specialists should possess the following competencies, and demonstrate the outcomes:

Competencies and Outcomes

Competencies Outcomes
Faithfulness to God and Scripture. Candidates should be able to clearly describe the theological, philosophical, epistemological, and cultural assumptions on which their theology is based.
Comprehensive understanding of the chosen area of concentration. Ability to deal with philosophical underpinnings of different theories or positions in their concentration area, as well as a thorough knowledge of their cognate.
Advanced research and writing capability in the chosen concentration.  Logical, clearly written papers, following accepted written standards, based on original ideas and objective research that contribute to the field of study.
Expertise in teaching and other forms of communication, as well as networking with other professionals.  Candidates are expected to publish and present at scholarly meetings, as well as demonstrate teaching skills and cultural sensitivity in the classroom and pulpit

Areas of Study - Concentration

The MTh degree is offered in the following areas:

  • Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • Church History
  • Systematic Theology
  • Intercultural Studies and World Mission
  • Church Ministry and Leadership

Areas of Study - Cognate

In addition to a concentration, students should choose a cognate from a different field of study. Possible options are as follows: 

  • Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • Systematic Theology
  • Church History
  • Adventist History
  • Historical Theology
  • Christian Ministry
  • World Mission
  • Church Leadership and Administration
  • Intercultural Studies 

Students may also choose a different graduate level cognate approved by the PhD Program Committee. 

Timeline and Limits

All application materials must be submitted to the Office of Admissions and Records no later than six months before the intended beginning of the program. The regular time to begin the MTh in Religion is June (the first semester of the school year) for in-residence MTh students, and March for In-Ministry MTh students. Late applications may not be considered until the following year.

The expected time to complete an MTh program is two years for inresidence candidates (4 years for In-Ministry candidates), if no remedial or pre-requisite courses are needed. All degree requirements have to be completed within four years (6 years for In-Ministry candidates) of initial registration.

In-Ministry MTh Track

The In-Ministry track of the MTh in Religion program allows candidates to save on the total cost of earning an MTh as well as continue their employment. However, candidates should clear prerequisites before being allowed to enter this track:

English proficiency

Biblical languages proficiency

Prerequisite credits in their concentration area

MA Thesis (or equivalent)

Candidates and their employers should sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) making sure that students will be able to come to AIIAS one term (2 months) per year during Sessions 1 to 3 of their program, for 6 months during Session 4 (see table), and be able to spend at least 10 quality hours a week to complete assignments during the rest of each year while in the program. Candidates should also have an adequate Internet connection, and access to suitable academic libraries online and offline while studying at home.The Seminary will contact and evaluate, and may even visit the proposed libraries in the student’s country.

In-Ministry MTh Students will spend a term during each of their first three years at AIIAS taking classes, attending doctoral seminars, and completing Directed Readings/Research during the rest of the year. This way, the student will register for up to 12 units a year. At the beginning of the Session 3 on campus, students will take the general knowledge examination. For Session 4, students will come for 6 months finishing the rest of the course credits and preparing for comprehensive examinations. The last month will be reserved for taking the comprehensive examinations. This schedule requires good time management and planning.

It is recommended that the student comes alone to take courses on AIIAS campus. The Seminary will provide the necessary doctoral seminars when In-Ministry MTh students are on campus. Before going home every year the student should propose topics and sign a number of contracts for Directed Readings/Research in order to fulfill the planned credits for the yearly session, make the necessary arrangements with professors, examiners, advisors, or committees, and to renew their library research. All other program requirements specified in the MTh description of the AIIAS Bulletin apply to the In-Ministry MTh track as well.


On-Campus Residence

Rest of year Aim to Complete
1 6 credits (AIIAS) 6 credits (home) 12 credits 


6 credits (AIIAS) 6 credits (home) 12 credits

General knowledge examination

6 credits (AIIAS)

6 credits (home) 12 credits

6 credits (incl. teaching


6 credits

preparation for




12 credits


examinations (AIIAS)

  MTh degree awarded

Admission Requirements

1. An MA in Religion (MA-R) or MDiv degree, with no less than 15 graduate semester hours in the proposed concentration.

2. A minimum entrance GPA of 3.50 on a four-point scale (or equivalent).

3. Two years of full–time church ministry experience.

4. The following additional documents must be submitted to the Admissions Office:

  • Recommendations from the following using the forms provided: An academic administrative officer or leader of the applicant’s employing organization in the last five years, and Theological Seminary 191 the school from which the applicant received the graduate degree, if other than AIIAS.
  • Personal statement of approximately 600 words explaining the student’s purpose for seeking the Master of Theology degree, and his/her philosophical perspective and professional goals.

5. Demonstrated proficiency in English.

6. A Research Paper with an original (20-page minimum), publishable quality, academic article (or thesis summary) in the area of interest which is to be reviewed and approved by the major department and program director. Detailed guidelines will be made available to the applicant as part of the enrollment package. In case the paper is not written in English, the original and a translated version need to be submitted.

7. An interview with the candidate.


  1. At least 15 graduate semester hours in the proposed concentration of study.
  2. A pass (B or above) in a research writing course equivalent to GSEM 630 Documentary Research Writing.
  3. Those applying for an Applied Theology concentration should have a pass (B or above) in each GSEM/RESM 615 Statistics and GSEM/RESM 610 Research methods or 603 Applied Theology Research Seminary.
  4. A pass (B or above) in OTST/NTST 612 Biblical Hermeneutics.
  5. A copy of the MA-R Thesis or a defended equivalent project must be submitted. If this prerequisite is missing, the student may be accepted on provisional status while he/she prepares an 80+ page thesis equivalent. Registration for GSEM 611 (1-3 credits) is required. The Thesis equivalent will be submitted to an oral examination by two professors and the MA Program Director. The Thesis or its equivalent will be assessed according to AIIAS MA in Religion Thesis research standards.
  6. MTh applicants must demonstrate proficiency in both Greek and Hebrew (Grammar and/or Reading) before entrance into the program, by a proficiency exam. Students whose major is OT or NT should demonstrate proficiency in both Hebrew and Greek Readings level (B, 83%). Students with other major should choose the language in which to demonstrate Reading proficiency (B, 83%) while the other will require Grammar proficiency (C, 73%). Applicants who do not fulfill this requirement may be admitted on provisional status and fulfill it by taking remedial course(s) concurrently with their MTh coursework, but not later than 50% of coursework. Students who fail to meet this deadline will not be further registered for regular course work until biblical language proficiency is met.
  7. GSEM 608 Advanced Methods of Teaching Bible is a prerequisite for GSEM 894 Course Development and Teaching Practicum. This prerequisite can alternatively be fulfilled by providing evidence of three years of fulltime undergraduate teaching at an accredited institution. 
  8. Those applying for an Applied Theology should have at least three credits each in Statistics and Applied Theology Research Methods.

Degree Requirements

In order to complete the MTh program, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Complete a curriculum of forty-eight semester hours of coursework: 30 in the concentration, 12 in the cognate area, 3 credits for GSEM 894 Course Development and Teaching Practicum and 3 credits for an elective course.
Area Credits
Concentration 30
Cognate 12
GSEM 894 Course Development and Teaching Practicum 3
Elective course 3
TOTAL Program Credits 48
  • The student needs to develop a study plan under the guidance of the MTh Program director, in consultation with the respective Department chair.
  • Courses numbered 800 and above may be taken for credit. Some specialized courses numbered 600-700 may also be taken, provided they do not make up more than a third of coursework (18 credits).
  • A minimum of three doctoral-level seminar courses must be completed to afford the opportunity for research. At least two doctoral-level seminars should be in the student’s chosen concentration. A maximum of six directed courses may be taken (GSEM 893 Directed Readings of GSEM 895 Directed Research). Only S/U grades will be administered.
  • The regular full-time coursework load is 9-12 credits per semester, and 6 credits during the Intersemester. Sponsored students are expected to take a full load of 12 credits per semester. On-campus students who are registered for comprehensive preparation or examination are considered as full-time students.

 2. Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or above. Only grades of B- or above (or S) can apply toward the degree program. The matriculation of students who accumulate three grades below B- (including U) is normally terminated. 

 3. Language Requirements. In addition to biblical languages proficiency, OT majors are required to take OTST 658 Biblical Aramaic and OTST 852 Advanced Hebrew. NT majors are required to take NTST 852 Advanced Greek. If they have taken these advanced courses or equivalents in another context (graduate level) they may choose to replace them with other courses.

 4. Students with a concentration on Biblical Studies are required to take OTST/NTST 809 Seminar in Biblical Methods or OTST.NTST 813 Seminar in Biblical Interpretation as part of their studies.

 5. Register for GSEM 894 Course Development and Teaching Practicum and teach a course under the instruction of the department of the major. This will give the student experience in teaching in the major field at graduate level, after pre-candidacy is granted. If the student has had a record of 3 years teaching at graduate level, this requirement is waived, and the student will register for another course.

 6. Demonstrate, by a proficiency exam taken at AIIAS, a working knowledge of one or more modern and/or ancient language(s) (other than English, Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Greek, or student’s native language), and/or a research tool needed for dissertation writing as determined in consultation with the student’s program director and approved by the Program Committee. This requirement must be completed before taking the comprehensive examinations.

 7. Students with an Applied Theology concentration are required to take at least one three credit, doctoral level, methodology course based on the approach proposed for their dissertation. In consultation with the program director the student may choose; RESM 715 Advanced Statistics; RESM 740 Qualitative Research Methods; RESM 751 Applied Qualitative Research Methods; RESM 730 Documentary Research; MSSN 795 Approaches in Applied Theology Research; MSSN 795 Approaches in Applied Theology Research in Mission.

 8. Not earlier than the last semester, 4 comprehensive examinations will be taken that will proportionately cover material from both the student’s concentration and cognate.

Advancement to Pre-candidacy

The department will evaluate all students in the program upon completion of their first 24 credits of MTh program. The evaluation will be based on grades, research skills, and general aptitude for the proposed program of study. Students will also have to pass a general knowledge examination in their area of concentration. Approved students will be advanced to precandidacy for the MTh degree by the Programs Committee. The following aspects must be noted:

1. Aptitude for the program is treated as a prerequisite. No new student may acquire regular status until declared a pre-candidate by the Program Committee.

2. If a student is denied advancement to pre-candidacy, he/she may be dropped from the program or apply for a reduced load status.

3. The application for a reduced load status must be approved by sponsors, where applicable, and must be reviewed by the department every semester.

4. A student with a reduced load must register accordingly or drop the agreed courses, and may request a deferred grade in order to allow for additional time to complete the required work. However, the deadlines for finishing coursework and comprehensive examinations remain the same.

5. All decisions of the Program Committee regarding pre-candidacy shall be communicated to the student and the sponsors. 

Comprehensive Preparation and Examinations 

If the last courses remaining to be taken in the course work of a student amount to 6 units or less, a MTh student may enroll them together with Preparation for the Comprehensives (no credit) which is counted for study load purposes as equivalent to 6 units. The comprehensive examination (also no credit) has a load value of another 6 units. Preparation for Comprehensives and the examination itself may be enrolled together, or in different semesters, as long as the preparation represents between 3 and 5 months of study for the examinations. 

Upon completion of coursework and an appropriate period of intensive study and research, four comprehensive examinations will be taken. Three 6-hour examinations will be taken in the concentration area, and one 4-hour examination in the cognate. These examinations are normally given one each week over four weeks. Areas of focus for comprehensive examinations within the fields of study are as follows: 

Biblical Studies 

Text, Literature, and Interpretation 

History and Backgrounds 

Exegesis and Theology 

Theological-Historical Studies 

General Christian Studies 

Distinctive Seventh-day Adventist Doctrines 

Church History 

Christian Philosophy and Ethics 

Applied Theology 

Theology of Ministry and Mission

Culture and Context 

Mission Strategy 

Church Leadership and Administration

  1. The comprehensive examinations not only test the student’s command of his/her coursework, but primarily demonstrate broad proficiency in the areas of concentration and cognate of study, determine the student’s familiarity with the pertinent literature relating to the fields of study, and the student’s skills of analysis, synthesis, and critical thinking. 
  2. The Program Committee appoints the examiners for the student’s comprehensive examinations.
  3. It is expected that a student’s examinations should demonstrate greater proficiency in his/her area of concentration than in the cognate. 
  4. Each comprehensive examination is graded by the person preparing it. If an examination is failed, a second examiner will be appointed by the program director to verify the initial evaluation. 
  5. A student may be required to sit for an oral examination (not to exceed two hours) at the request of the respective examiner(s) as part of his/her comprehensive examination or if the result is a conditional pass. The program director, or someone appointed by him, arranges for and chairs the oral examination. An oral examination will normally be conducted within 14 days after the last written examination is administered. The program director informs the student of the results of the comprehensive examinations.
  6. A score of less than 75% on a comprehensive examination will be considered a failing grade. A score between 75% and 79% will be considered a conditional pass and may require an additional oral examination. A score between 80% and 89% is considered a pass. A score of 90% and above is considered a high pass. 
  7. A student who fails no more than two comprehensive examinations must retake the failed examinations as scheduled by the Programs Committee, usually within one to three months. 
  8. To remain in the program, a student who fails three or more comprehensive examinations must repeat all examinations, at a time determined by the Programs Committee, not later than four months from the time the initial results have been announced. 
  9. A student who receives more than one conditional pass on the comprehensive examinations must repeat all the examinations for which a conditional pass was received except one, which will be the one for which the highest grade was received.
  10. An examination may be retaken only once. No oral examination is offered during the retake of full comprehensive examination. Students who fail any of the individual examinations during the second full retake will be dropped from the program. 

Transfer of credits

Credits accrued during the MTh program at AIIAS are fully transferable toward a PhD in Religion at AIIAS, conditional to meeting the PhD program requirements, and the MTh degree not being awarded.

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