Activating the justice-making and peace-building power of liberal faith

The Master of Arts in Leadership Studies (MALS) degree program equips you with the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to be an effective, faith-grounded, justice-seeking leader in community-based ministries. Through the MALS program, you will:

  • Develop leadership skills for our multifaith, multiracial, and multicultural world
  • Gain competency in history, theology, religious education, and theories of social change
  • Enhance your spiritual and intellectual life through coursework and practical experience

The program is organized around a series of courses and contextual learning opportunities through which you will learn to integrate the spiritual and emotional self-awareness, professional proficiencies, and global consciousness necessary for more mindful, compassionate leadership in diverse organizational contexts.

The MALS program is ideal for social activists seeking to ground their work in the transforming power of liberal faith, laypeople seeking to deepen the theological roots of their leadership, students in discernment regarding their call to ordained ministry, and graduates of the Master of Divinity program who would like additional internship experience. 

The MALS Model

Grounded in a theology of social engagement, the MALS program is attuned to the diverse challenges and opportunities of leadership in a multifaith, multiracial, and multicultural world. You will learn how to lead, and how to continue to learn, by working within and across diverse communities.

The MALS educational model combines cohort learning, intensive seminars, and practical experiences in a low-residency format. You can complete your degree while remaining based in your home community, whether in the United States or elsewhere around the globe.

MALS students may choose to tailor their learning to their needs and purposes by choosing from one of three concentrations:

Concentration in Lay Ministry

This concentration prepares students to minister to the social and spiritual needs of multifaith, multiracial, and multicultural communities and organizations. It is especially appropriate for those who are called to initiatives in faith formation, justice work, music and/or the arts, and religious leadership in international and/or non-traditional settings. 

Concentration in Faith Formation Pedagogy

The MALS with a Concentration in Faith Formation Pedagogy prepares students to hold faith formation leadership roles in a congregational and/or community setting. Calling upon the principles of engaged/transformative pedagogy and grounded in religious literacy and intercultural competency, the concentration prepares students to lead faith-based organizations into commitments of being socially inclusive, adaptive, and strategic change communities.

Concentration in Humanism

The American Humanist Association Center for Education Humanist Studies Program (HSP) partners with Meadville Lombard Theological School’s MALS degree program that provides advanced work for lay leaders, ministers, and ministerial students in the theory and practice of leadership within congregations and community-based ministries.

The MALS with a Concentration in Humanism prepares students to be articulate advocates of a humanist worldview in the public sphere and innovative thinkers who keep our movement alive with their provocative insights and writings. Graduates will have the skills to serve the movement within diverse cultural and organizational contexts.

In addition to this concentration, we offer Humanism courses and a certificate program (partnering with the AHA). Visit the Humanist Studies Program page for more information.

Degree Requirements

The MALS degree program requires 36 completed credits. The program can be completed in 18 months by full-time students.

Utilizing Meadville Lombard’s Contextual Learning model of theological education, you’ll complete and discuss coursework with peers and faculty via our low-residency education platform, and you’ll get hands-on experience through an internship at a nonprofit organization or congregation. Our faculty will work with you to find the best internship site and teaching mentor for your personal formation.

Breakdown of Required Credit Hours

  • Required Courses (9 credit hours): 
    • Tools for Parish and Nonprofit Administration
    • Healthy Boundaries, Healthy Ministry
    • Pedagogy for Social Change
  • Elective Courses (15 credit hours): Five additional academic courses from any area. Students can choose to use three of these elective courses to focus your studies in a concentration. 
  • Cultural Grounding and Theological Formation (Fall) and Social Engagement (Spring) (6 credit hours): All MALS students are required to take the Signature Course in the first year.
  • Year-Long Internship (6 credit hours): All MALS students will complete a year-long supervised internship in their second and third semesters.
  • Dual degree MDiv students who enroll in the MALS program for an additional internship can complete the program in one year if 12 approved credits are transferred from an accredited graduate program.