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, practical experience, and the completion of an integrative project

The program is organized around a series of courses and unique real-world engagements 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 tailor their learning to their needs and purposes by choosing from one of two 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 Social Engagement

This concentration provides advanced work for community activists, faith-based community leaders, and social entrepreneurs who wish to deepen the theological, moral, and spiritual framework and grounding they bring to their justice work.

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. 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 (12 credit hours): One academic course in each of the following areas: Theology, History, Scripture, and Religious Education (Faith Formation).
  • Elective Courses (9 credit hours): Three additional academic courses from any area.
  • Community Studies (9 credit hours): All MALS students are required to take the Community Studies Signature Course in the first year, which includes an internship at a community agency for eight hours a week.
  • Project Lab and Integrative Project (6 credit hours): All MALS students participate in a “Project Lab” (3 credits) that provides guidance in developing a proposal for an Integrative Project (3 credits).
  • Optional Additional Internship (9 credit hours): Students selecting the optional additional internship take 12 academic credits instead of 21. Students pursuing this option take no elective courses.
  • Transfer Credits (up to 12 credit hours): 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. Transfer credits must be approved by a student’s academic advisor, and are marked with a P (pass) on student transcripts in lieu of a letter grade.