Master of Religion and Public Life

Overview of the Program

The master of religion and public life (MRPL) curriculum serves professionals in fields other than theology and ministry who are curious about the impact of Christianity and other religious traditions upon society or who seek a better understanding of religion in order to improve their professional capacity and effectiveness.

Students may develop an individually tailored curriculum within the general framework of the MRPL requirements. The 36-hour program may be completed in as little as one year of full-time study, or (for those whose professional commitments make full-time study impractical) may be spread out over as many as five calendar years.

Through their study for a Master of Religion and Public Life degree, students will gain the ability to:

  • describe some of the ways religion functions in society;
  • articulate the basic beliefs of Christianity and one other religious tradition; and
  • describe the relationship between beliefs, attitudes, and practices of adherents.

Curricular Requirements

The MRPL requires a total of 36 credit hours for graduation, normally earned through the successful completion of eleven three-credit courses (three of which will fulfill Common Requirements for the program and eight of which will be elective courses), plus the completion of a final integrative paper worth three credits.

Common Requirements

MRPL students will complete nine hours of foundational courses in (1) religion and society, (2) world religions (a Candler course with the WR designation or a non-Candler course approved by the registrar in consultation with the academic dean), and (3) basic beliefs, attitudes, and practices of Christians.

Courses fulfilling each of these requirements are selected in consultation with the program director. Electives In consultation with the program director, students are free to choose for their additional 24 hours of electives any courses that are of the most interest and have greatest relevance to their professional contexts.

Integrative Paper

Following the completion of at least 15 credit hours, students will determine an integrative paper topic in consultation with the program director and paper adviser. The paper will normally be between 25ñ35 pages in length and will integrate themes from the studentís full course of study. When all other coursework is complete or near completion, students enroll in MRPL650. MRPL Integrative Paper for three hours of credit. The paper adviser and program director will read the integrative paper and assign a letter grade. The minimum passing grade is B.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the MRPL degree, a candidate must complete common requirements in the following areas:

Religion and Society

Students will choose one three-hour course that will assist them in understanding the role of religion in American society. Students choose from courses such as:

  • SR515. Methods of Social and Congregational Analysis
  • SR536. Religion and Health in Context: HIV
  • SR593. Religion and Health in Context: Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • SR601. Sociology of Religion
  • SR603. Religion in American Society
  • SR605. Contemporary American Religion and Politics
  • SR612. The Church and Disabilities
  • SR613. Gender in U.S. Religion
  • SR615. Immigration, Religion, and the American Church
  • SR617. Memory, Culture, and Redemption
  • SR619. Congregation and Community
  • SR620. Nonviolent Strategies for Social Change
  • SR622. Ethnographic Research for Ministry in Congregations and Local Communities
  • SR628. Ritual Practice and the Nature of Ritual Performance
  • SR633. African American Religion and Culture
  • SR634. Globalization and the Churchís Mission
  • SR650. Faith and Health: Transforming Communities
  • SR653. Religion and Public Health
  • SR658. Health and Healing: Understanding the Role of Religion
  • SR698. Special Topics in Sociology of Religion
  • ES610. Religion, Ethics, and Public Intellectuals
  • ES661. Christianity and Politics
  • ES683. History of Church-State Relations
  • ST618. Theology, Art, and Urban Spaces
World Religions

World Religions Students will choose one three-hour course that will assist them in understanding the beliefs, attitudes, and practices of adherents of at least one world religion such as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any other religion outside of Christianity. Students choose from courses such as:

  • WR510. Introduction to Judaism
  • WR603. Ancient Judaism in the Mediterranean Diaspora
  • WR605. Introduction to Islam
  • WR607. Introduction to Hinduism
  • WR614. Socially Engaged Buddhism
  • WR624. Rastafari Religion
  • WR630. Sacred Space in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • WR640. Religions of Atlanta
  • WR650. Islam in America
  • WR673. Krishna Meets Jesus: Hindu Christian Interactions on the Indian Subcontinent
  • WR682. Jewish Law
  • WR683. Islam and Democracy
  • WR684. Islam and Politics
  • WR685. Islamic Law
  • WR686. Islamic Modernism
  • WR690. Global Religions and Community Engagement
  • WR698. Special Topics in World Religions
Beliefs, Attitudes, and Practices of Christians

Students will choose one three-hour course that will assist them in understanding the beliefs, attitudes, and practices of Christians. Students choose from courses such as:

  • BCS601. Introduction to Black Church Studies
  • ES501. Christian Ethics
  • ES/LA560. Principles and Practices of Moral Leadership
  • ES609/M619. Social Mission of the Christian Church
  • ES621. Christian Sexual Ethics
  • ES624. Feminist and Womanist Ethics
  • ES625. Sexuality and the Black Church
  • ES651. Biomedical Ethics
  • ES652. Healthcare Ethics: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
  • ES654. Health as Social Justice
  • ES661. Christianity and Politics
  • HC654. Faith and Reason
  • HC645. Theology in America
  • HC661. The Black Church
  • HC672. Modern Catholicism
  • PC628. Care for Marginalized Populations
  • ST501. Systematic Theology
  • ST620. Black Theology and Ethics
  • ST/W627. Theology of the Church and Sacraments
  • ST/ES641. Christology and Ethics
  • ST645. Ecclesiology
  • ST677. Theological Arguments for Criminal Punishment Reform

Credit Hours

In fulfilling the 36 hours required for the MRPL degree, students may not exceed the following limits: 3 hours for internship; 6 hours of electives taken on an S/U grading basis; 6 hours for summer courses; 3 hours for Atlanta Theological Association cross-registration (counted as transfer credit); 6 hours for transfer credit, including ATA cross-registration, and 6 hours for directed study.

GPA Requirements

Courses taken toward the MRPL degree must earn a letter grade of at least C, i.e., 2.0 on a scale of 4.0. Students may elect to take up to two elective courses on an S/U grading basis with instructor permission. Students who earn less than a C in a course will not receive credit for the course toward the degree, though it will remain part of the studentís academic record. Students who earn less than a C in a course may choose to retake the course. However, the same course cannot be counted more than once toward the total credit hours for graduation. Both instances of a retaken course remain on the transcript and are factored into the official GPA. A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 is required for successful completion of the program.

Advising and Assessment

In addition to the curricular requirements listed above, students in the MRPL program are required to be advised each semester. Any student who fails to meet with his or her faculty adviser during the advising period will have a hold placed on registration until advising has taken place.

In the final semester of the MRPL program, students in the MRPL program will compile a program portfolio and submit it to their adviser, program director, and the registrar via a secure Emory Box folder provided by the registrar. The portfolio will include the following documents:

  • A two-page self-reflection on work done in the degree program and evaluation of the progress made on the learning outcomes as well as further plans beyond graduation
  • Paper or project from a world religions course that was used to fulfill the MRPL World Religions Common Requirement
  • Paper or project from the course used to fulfill the Religion and Society Common Requirement
  • MRPL Integrative Paper. NB, because the integrative paper may not be fully completed by the time of the final advising conversation, an earlier draft may be included for the advising conversation, and the final paper, along with the two reader assessments, would be added when complete.

Residence

Students must complete a minimum of two full-time equivalent semesters, to include at least two fall/spring semesters with not more than six total summer term enrollment hours. For part-time or transfer students, the last two semesters of the program must be completed at Candler. Students with prior graduate work relevant to their work in the MRPL degree but not eligible for transfer credit may be granted up to six hours of advanced standing with the approval of the Academic Dean, Registrar, and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. Students in good standing at other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, or at other regionally accredited universities where they are studying religion at the graduate level, may, with approval, transfer up to six credit hours. A maximum of three hours taken through cross-registration at Atlanta Theological Association (ATA) schools may be applied toward the degree, counted as transfer credit. Upon transfer of six hours, no additional transfer work or ATA cross-registration work will be allowed. Students who transfer into the MRPL program must complete a minimum of two semesters with at least 24 Candler semester hours. The maximum length of time allowed to complete the program is five calendar years. Students who do not complete the MRPL integrative paper in the semester of enrollment but have completed all courses are required to enroll in MRPL999R (MRPL Library Use) during each semester until the paper is complete. Transfer Credit Students in good standing at other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, or at other regionally accredited universities where they are studying religion at the graduate level, may be admitted as transfer students. These students may receive transfer credit approval for up to six credit hours for courses in which they earn a grade of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (84 on a numerical scale). Candler special/nondegree students and students in other degree programs may have all Candler coursework considered for transfer into the MRPL. See the detailed MRPL program transfer credit policy page.

Transfer Credit

Students in good standing at other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, or at other regionally accredited universities where they are studying religion at the graduate level, may be admitted as transfer students. These students may receive transfer credit approval for up to six credit hours for courses in which they earn a grade of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (84 on a numerical scale). Candler special/nondegree students and students in other degree programs may have all Candler coursework considered for transfer into the MRPL. See the detailed MRPL program transfer credit policy

Application for the Degree

At the beginning of the semester in which a student plans to graduate, the candidate must submit a formal application for the Master of Religion and Public Life degree before the deadline stated in the academic calendar.

The application for degree is available in OPUS during a window of time set by the university registrar each semester, approximately four weeks prior to the submission deadline. A separate application is required for each degree received. Failure to apply on time will result in a $25 late fee and a paper application must be filed.

Admission

Admission to the MRPL degree program requires a bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, or equivalent degree, with a wellbalanced program in liberal arts and a grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale from a regionally accredited college or university. Ordinarily, students are expected to have a master’s degree in another field or significant professional experience. All completed applications, regardless of the GPA of the applicant, will be fully reviewed by the admissions committee.

Students enrolled as MDiv, MTS, MRL, or special students at Candler may apply for admission to the MRPL program. A new application with supporting materials must be submitted. If the applicant is admitted, coursework completed satisfactorily by an MDiv, MTS, MRL or special student will be considered toward the MRPL degree. The registrar will determine which credits may be applied to the MRPL program.

Students in good standing at other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, or at other regionally accredited universities where they are studying religion at the graduate level, may be admitted as transfer students. These students may receive transfer credit approval for up to 6 credit hours for courses in which they earned a grade of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (84 on a numerical scale). See page 115 for the detailed MRPL program transfer credit policy.

Application Deadline

Offers of admission to the MRPL program are made on a rolling admissions basis between November and August of each year. When an application is complete, it will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee. Typically a decision will be reached within three weeks. The final deadline for application is July 1 for the fall semester and December 1 for the spring semester.

Those admitted who do not matriculate at the time for which they were admitted may request, in writing, a deferral of status for one academic year. All application materials for those who do not matriculate and who do not request an enrollment deferral will be kept on file for one academic year, after which applicants will be expected to submit a new application for admission to be considered for study in a future semester.

Applications for the MRPL program are not accepted for the summer term, although applicants may request admission for the summer term as special students. Coursework completed as a special student will be considered toward the MRPL.

Application Procedures

Applicants should apply online at application. http://apply.candler.emory.edu/apply. For further information, contact the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, telephone 404.727.6326, fax 404.727.2915, email candleradmissions@emory.edu.

To be considered for admission to the program, an applicant must supply the admissions office with the following:

  1. Application for admission.

  2. $50 nonrefundable application fee paid online or by mail (check or money order made payable to Emory University).

  3. Resume.

  4. Autobiographical statement: The three to four-page typed, double-spaced autobiographical statement is a critical element in the evaluation of your application. Please consider your response carefully, tending to content, style, grammatical correctness, and essay organization. The statement is a way to introduce yourself to the Admissions Committee. It also will help faculty advisers guide and evaluate your learning experience in your program. With this in mind, write a reflective essay about your life that addresses the following:

    • Significant life experiences that have affected your view of self, God, and the world. Include references to family members and significant others, courses, and experiences in college, church, service-related activities, and employment.
    • Aspects of your background that inform the unique perspective you would add to the diverse and vibrant community that exists at Candler School of Theology.
    • Reasons for applying to Candler School of Theology and the ways in which study in the Master of Religion and Public Life program will enhance your ministry.
    • Your understanding of vocation, your own call to ministry, and plans following completion of study at Candler School of Theology.
  5. A two-to-three-page statement explaining how the applicant’s proposed area of interest builds on his/her current professional expertise and personal interests, drawing on the resources of Candler and Emory and outlining a possible integrative paper.

  6. A sample of recent academic writing.

  7. Official transcripts from all colleges, universities, graduate schools, and seminaries, regardless of when the applicant attended, how many hours completed, and whether a degree was granted. Official transcripts should be sent directly from these institutions or delivered in a sealed and signed envelope. If currently enrolled at an institution, the applicant should send an official transcript of work to date and ask that a transcript be sent promptly following the completion of the term and/or conferral of a degree.

  8. Three letters of recommendation from persons who are not family members: one academic reference, provided by college or graduate school professors; one pastoral reference, provided by a pastor, chaplain, campus minister, or equivalent; one professional reference, provided by a work supervisor or a person who has known the applicant for three or more years. If you are currently a student, you may submit a second academic recommendation in lieu of a professional recommendation. Applicants who have been out of college for more than five years and are unable to secure an academic reference should submit additional work or character references.

  9. The admissions committee welcomes, but does not require, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). While not required, GRE scores may be considered in applications if applicants submit them. The institution code for Candler is 5198.

  10. Persons whose first language is not English must furnish, with the application, recent evidence of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a score of at least 95 (Internet-based total) with a minimum score of 21 or higher in each of the four sub-areas, 250 (computer-based total), or 600 (paper-based total). The TOEFL results should be submitted directly from TOEFL to Candler (Institutional Code: 5455, Department 01). Applicants whose first language is not English are strongly encouraged to complete an intensive English course, at an institution in your home country, for at least six months prior to enrollment.

  11. A criminal background check is required of all students prior to enrollment at the expense of the student (approximately $18) through a vendor designated by the school. Candler School of Theology will provide information regarding the process of securing the required background check in early spring to admitted students. Students will not be allowed to register for classes—including Contextual Education—until the results of this report have been received and reviewed. Reports from criminal background checks are due August 15. Any student for whom the criminal background check has not been received by August 15 will forfeit the opportunity to participate in any program of Contextual Education for one year. Results of the criminal background check can impact placement in Contextual Education sites and may be released to a site supervisor (see page 92).

  12. SAP-G training is required of all degree and nondegree students. SAP-G is an online learning platform designed to educate students on preventing and responding to interpersonal violence, including sexual assault, harassment, domestic violence, and stalking, in the Emory community. The training is offered at the expense of the school. Students will not be allowed to register for classes until notification of the completion of part I is received. Notification must be received by August 15. Part II of the training is completed six weeks after part I. Notification of completion of part II is required by October 15 for students interested in registering in future semesters.

  13. All incoming Emory students must meet the CDC and American College Health Association immunization guidelines prior to registration for classes. For additional information, please see page 101. To access the Entrance Health Survey and Consent for Treatment Forms, visit www.studenthealth.emory.edu.

In addition to supplying the above documents, international students (persons who are not US citizens or permanent residents) must comply with the following:

Upon admission, and before the visa process can begin, international students must complete the Emory University Financial Certificate, which indicates adequate financial resources to cover tuition, fees, travel, and living expenses for the first year of study in the United States. (An I-20 will not be prepared until this certificate has been approved; it must be approved by the university before July 1 for the fall semester.)

International students will be billed automatically for health insurance through Emory University unless insurance compliance information indicating proof of comparable United States–based coverage is submitted by July 1. Information regarding insurance for international students can be found online at http://isss.emory.edu/students/index.html.

Admission Deposit

A nonrefundable admission deposit of $100 is required of all students enrolling at Candler School of Theology. This deposit is required by April 1 for fall admission, or within three weeks of notification of admission to the degree program after April 1, in order to secure the student’s place in the program. The deposit will be posted as a credit to the student’s Emory University account; students who pay the deposit but fail to enroll will forfeit the deposit.