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Master of Arts in Religious Studies

This flexible program allows students to choose courses from a variety of disciplines offered by Manna U, with a core of Biblical and Theological training.

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.

  • Educate (Comprehensive Religious and Scriptural Insight): Students will have an extensive understanding of key religious concepts, themes, and texts, with a strong emphasis on biblical content, relevant to their chosen focus area.
  • Equip (Advanced Research and Leadership Skills): Students will have advanced research skills that are applicable to both exegetical and practical ministry contexts.
  • Empower (Application of Knowledge in Diverse Settings): Students will apply their knowledge and skills across a broad spectrum of environments as demonstrated in their final project, which synthesizes their learning in a substantial, practical output.

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 36 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.

2024 - 2025 Graduate Tuition Rate

$310 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 most recent academic catalog.

Graduate Student Orientation

Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
MENG 500 Graduate Student Orientation 0

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

(choose any 5 courses)

Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
MBIB 501 New Testament Introduction 3
MBIB 502 Old Testament Introduction 3
MBIB 503 Advanced Hermeneutics 3
MBIB 504 Advanced Theology I 3
MBIB 505 Advanced Theology II 3
MBIB 506 Biblical Greek I 3
MBIB 507 Biblical Hebrew I 3
MBIB 601 Historical Biblical Leaders 3
MBIB 602 Biblical Issues for Leadership 3
MBIB 603* New Testament Exegesis 3
MBIB 604* Old Testament Exegesis 3

*Requires Prerequisite(s)

M.A.R.S. Research Nonelective

This course is required.

Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
MLEA 601 Organizational Research and Analysis 3

M.A.R.S. Elective Courses

(choose any 5 courses)

Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
MCNS 504 Counseling Theory & Practice 3
MCNS 603* Counseling Ethics 3
MCNS 604* Counseling Techniques & Treatment Strategies 3
MCNS 605* Marriage & Family Counseling 3
MCNS 606* Trauma & Crisis Counseling 3
MLEA 501 Organizational Leadership 3
MLEA 502 Christian Leadership Development 3
MLEA 503 Strategic Leadership and Change 3
MLEA 504 Contemporary Leadership Issues 3
MLEA 505 Church Growth Practicum 3
MLEA 603 Global Leadership 3
MMIN 501 The Intercultural Study of World Religions 3
MMIN 502 Contemporary Issues in Apologetics 3
MMIN 503 History of Church Traditions 3
MMIN 504 Introduction to Pastoral Ministry 3
MMIN 505 Introduction to Chaplaincy 3
MMIN 601 Biblical Preaching 3
MMIN 607 Church: Theory & Practice in Contemporary Contexts 3
MMIN 608 Church Development & Expansion 3

*Requires Prerequisite(s)



M.A.R.S. Culminating Project

(select either MBIB or MLEA Project Track)

Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
MBIB 620 Culminating Project I 3
MLEA 604 Culminating Experience I 3



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 for Undergraduate Applicants, and a minimum 2.7 GPA is preferred for Graduate Applicants).

Note: official transcripts are sent directly from one school/college to another. You can arrange to have your transcripts sent electronically to, 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.

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