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Master of Arts in Religious Studies

This program of study facilitates an understanding of the Old and New Testaments with an emphasis on exegesis using advanced hermeneutics and various exegetical resources.

The Master of Arts in Religious Studies Program (M.A.R.S) is a graduate degree designed to help Christian leaders attain a degree that is focused on their unique goals and interests. This degree equips emerging leaders to serve well within the local church and the marketplace. Built on a core of Bible and Theology, this flexible interdisciplinary degree allows students to pursue training in their areas of interest.

The M.A.R.S. is a flexible graduate degree. In this program you’ll learn from a diverse group of scholars, pastors, and practitioners.  You’ll take courses in Bible, theology, biblical research, and biblical leadership. Plus, you’ll get to choose from a wide variety of graduate electives. You’ll put it all together by choosing a practical culminating project or a graduate thesis.

  • Understand the foundational content and themes of the Word of God, to include humanity’s alienation from God, and God’s work of redemption in Christ, as found in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.
  • Understand the ramifications of the Christian gospel for the student’s personal life, to include the importance of biblical leadership in the context of the church and the world.
  • Demonstrate biblical knowledge consistent with a Christian worldview and show knowledge of effective ministry methods.
  • Show advanced skills for research that are exegetical, qualitative, or quantitative for global biblical leadership in any Christian ministry context.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to lead with integrity grounded in a Judeo-Christian worldview and values system.

Time & Cost

Many people would like to complete a degree and stay out of debt. 

The M.A.R.S. degree requires 13 courses (or 39 credit hours), which can be completed within 3 years for full-time students. Courses are offered on-campus or online (can be entirely online). Manna U’s low tuition rates enable students to receive solid biblical training from accomplished faculty with years of ministry experience and not be hindered financially.

2022 - 2023 Graduate Tuition Rate

$300 per credit hour


Scholarships are available for students who do not use military education benefits or federal financial aid.


Full details can be found in the 2022-2023 Graduate Academic Catalog.

Graduate Student Orientation

Course NumberCourse NameCredit Hours
MENG 500Graduate Student Orientation0

M.A.R.S Bible / Theology Core Courses

(choose any 5 courses)

Course NumberCourse NameCredit Hours
MBIB 501New Testament Introduction3
MBIB 502Old Testament Introduction3
MBIB 503Advanced Hermeneutics3
MBIB 504Advanced Theology I3
MBIB 505Advanced Theology II3
MBIB 506Biblical Greek I3
MBIB 507Biblical Hebrew I3
MBIB 601Historical Biblical Leaders3
MBIB 602Biblical Issues for Leadership3
MBIB 603*New Testament Exegesis3
MBIB 604*Old Testament Exegesis3

*Requires Prerequisite(s)

M.A.R.S. Research Nonelective

This course is required.

Course NumberCourse NameCredit Hours
MLEA 601Organizational Research and Analysis3

M.A.R.S. Elective Courses

(choose any 5 courses)

Course NumberCourse NameCredit Hours
MCNS 504Counseling Theory & Practice3
MCNS 603*Counseling Ethics3
MCNS 604*Counseling Techniques & Treatment Strategies3
MCNS 605*Marriage & Family Counseling3
MCNS 606*Trauma & Crisis Counseling3
MLEA 501Organizational Leadership3
MLEA 502Christian Leadership Development3
MLEA 503Strategic Leadership and Change3
MLEA 504Contemporary Leadership Issues3
MLEA 505Church Growth Practicum3
MLEA 602Case Analyses for Organizational and Church Leadership3
MLEA 603Global Leadership3
MMIN 501The Intercultural Study of World Religions3
MMIN 502Contemporary Issues in Apologetics3
MMIN 503History of Church Traditions3
MMIN 505Chaplaincy & Pastoral Ministries3
MMIN 601Biblical Preaching3
MMIN 607Church: Theory & Practice in Contemporary Contexts3
MMIN 608Church Development & Expansion3

*Requires Prerequisite(s)

M.A.R.S. Culminating Project

(select either MBIB or MLEA Project Track)

Course NumberCourse NameCredit Hours
MBIB 620Culminating Project I3
MBIB 621*Culminating Project II3
MBIB 622 (as needed)*Culminating Project III1
MLEA 604Culminating Experience I3
MLEA 605*Culminating Experience II3
MLEA 606 (as needed)*Culminating Experience III1

*Students may graduate without completing MBIB 621 / MLEA 605 and/or MBIB 622 / MLEA 606 if they successfully complete their Culminating Thesis in MBIB 620 / MLEA 604.


To become a student at Manna U, follow these two steps:

1.  Complete an application, which includes:

  • A non-refundable application fee of $50 (linked to application)
  • An essay, written by the applicant, of his/her conversion experience (300-600 words), in a format that is typed and double spaced, using 12 pt. font size;
  • A Pastoral Reference* from the Pastor of the church that the applicant regularly attends;
  • A Personal Reference* from someone who has known you for two years or more and is not related to you.
    Applicants will enter an email address for their selected references and a link to the online reference forms will be sent once the application is submitted.

2.  Order your official high school, G.E.D., or previous college transcripts (minimum 2.0 GPA is preferred).

Note: official transcripts are sent directly from one school/college to another. You can arrange to have your transcripts sent electronically to registrar@manna.edu, or a paper copy can be sent to our mailing address:

Manna University
Attn: Registrar’s Office
439 Westwood Shopping Center
PMB 106
Fayetteville, NC 28314

All applicants applying for admission to one of Manna U’s graduate programs must submit official transcripts showing an earned undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, or an equivalent academic achievement approved by Manna U’s Academic Office. Students who plan to use military education benefits must submit transcripts from high school and all colleges attended.

Students who plan to use military education benefits must submit transcripts from high school and all colleges attended.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can I “do” with a Master’s in Religious Studies (MARS)?

    The MARS is arguably the most flexible graduate degree offered at Manna U. Not only does the degree serve as a degree completion program for those who’ve already earned graduate credit, it also functions as an interdisciplinary degree built on a Bible and theology core. The MARS can be used in a variety of fields such as: 

    • Ministry = Lead pastors, executive/staff pastors, church planters, Christian counseling, international missions, non-profit administration 
    • Marketplace = Office administration, higher education (teaching and administrative), secondary education, small business operations 
    • Military = Religious Affairs Specialist/Chaplain Assistant, professional development
  • Who is this degree for?

    This degree is for anyone who wants a flexible graduate degree that focuses on bible and theology. The MARS prepares Christian leaders by focusing on their unique goals and interests, for the purpose of training for ministry, within the local church, and within the marketplace. 

  • What types of courses would I take in the MARS program?

    In the MARS program you’ll take courses in Old and New Testament survey, theology, hermeneutics, exegesis, biblical languages, and biblical leadership. Plus, you’ll choose from a wide variety of leadership, counseling, and ministry electives.

Student Story

Jeff's Story

Like most of today’s college students, Jeff leads a busy life. Balancing family, work, and serving at his local church is a tough act, but he sensed the need to sharpen his leadership for effective Kingdom impact.

“The local church is the hope of the world and Manna University is effectively training those who will lead the cause of the church to pursue their mission with reverence, wisdom and excellence.”

Effective Leaders Bring Lasting Impact

Jesus chose twelve leaders who were from differing backgrounds. Many religious leaders in that time would have overlooked them. Through teaching and training, He prepared them to lead a movement that changed the world. Whatever your call may be, training at Manna U can help you engage in this kind of transformational leadership.