Master of Worship Studies Degree Program Detail

Degree Description

The Master of Worship Studies degree is a unique and ground-breaking program with its entire curriculum formed around worship studies with a decidedly ancient future posture. It is specifically designed for church leaders including worship leaders, pastors, music ministers, parish musicians, professors, worship teachers, liturgists, artists, missionaries, etc. Every course deals specifically with worship, yet integrates the classic theological disciplines as well. Students who graduate from this course of study will be able to reflect on worship through the disciplines of Scripture, history, theology and cultural analysis. All studies are geared toward the mission of the church to give witness to God’s redeeming work in the world and to fulfill the mandate of the Great Commission.

The purpose of the master’s program is not only to educate, but to encourage spiritual formation so as to prepare the student to minister to both the minds and hearts of God’s people. The Institute for Worship Studies will help you:

  • Re-evaluate your personal spirituality and ministry in light of cultural contexts, including the shift from modernity to postmodernity.
  • Develop the ability to think deeply about your ministry as it relates to the disciplines of theological thought and to the ministries of the church.
  • Learn how to listen to the text of culture and to discern how biblical faith is communicated within multiple cultural settings.
  • Consider your own ministry goals as they pertain to the material of each

As of June 2019, the M.W.S. requires 36 credit hours, consisting of three online courses of 2 credit hours each, and five hybrid on-campus/online courses of 6 credit hours each. The M.W.S. program can be completed in 2 years. To access a course schedule for the M.W.S. program, please see “How Does IWS Work?”

The three online courses are designed to be taken concurrently with MWS 501, but sequenced so that no student is working on more than two courses at any one time during the semester. However, they may be taken prior to MWS 501 at either the student’s request or the registrar or academic dean’s request. Students may also petition to receive advanced standing for the first two online courses.

Advanced Standing

Students with graduate or undergraduate coursework from the last 10 years comparable to BIB 501(A) and/or BIB 501(B) may receive up to 4 hours of advanced standing for these two courses only, reducing the number of credit hours necessary to complete the M.W.S. degree. The student must provide course descriptions and have received a “B” or higher from an upper level undergraduate course. Advanced standing is not permitted for WR 501. For more information about applying for advanced standing, contact the Director of Admissions.

Master of Worship Studies Courses

MWS 501: A Biblical Theology of Worship

Dinelle Frankland, D.W.S., 6 credit hours
This course will explore the concept and practice of worship in the Old and New Testaments. Students will be taught a biblical theology of worship that takes into account the variety of biblical materials related to worship. This course serves as a foundation for present and future ministry.

MWS 502: History of Christian Worship

Greg Wilde, D.W.S., 6 credit hours
This course is an overview of the history of Christian worship, its theology and rituals from the early church to today. Special attention is paid to the rites of the first four Christian centuries and the theology of worship inspired by their development. Events and cultures engendering subsequent ecclesial groups and forms of worship are also explored.

MWS 503: Contextualization, Spirituality and Christian Worship

Lou Kaloger, D.W.S., 6 credit hours
The course will address the relationship between spiritual formation and Christian worship. Course material examines cultural trends in theology, philosophy and epistemology. The centerpiece of the course is a wide-ranging look at ancient and emerging practices of Christian spirituality and spiritual formation through the lenses of worship, thought, art, architecture and society.

MWS 504: Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Christian Worship

Pedrito Maynard-Reid, Th.D., 6 credit hours
This course explores the impact of globalization on Christian worship in the 21st century. Students will examine a wide variety of contemporary cultural expressions of worship, and seek to understand how these expressions reveal the triune God. Students will also reflect on how understanding these expressions might enable deeper engagement with the triune God in the student’s own worship setting.

MWS 601: The Ministry Internship

Douglas Curry, D.Min., 6 credit hours over 2 semesters
In this course students will work one-on-one with a supervisor to design, implement and evaluate a practical ministry internship. The internship is done under the direction of a field supervisor approved by the Institute for Worship Studies and follows the normative standards expected in that field of work for master’s-level students.

The online-only courses below are six weeks long and run for dates that are different from MWS 501-601. You can find the dates for upcoming semesters on the Yearly Calendar page.

BIB 501(A): Biblical Survey (Online)

Carl Park, Ph.D., 2 credit hours
This course surveys the Bible, with an emphasis on God’s story of creation, incarnation, redemption, and recreation through which God brings the entire cosmos under the reign of Christ, and the rehearsal of the story in Christian worship. Offered in a completely online, six-week format. The beginning date is approximately 7 weeks before the IWS session.

BIB 501(B): Interpreting Scripture (Online)

Carl Park, Ph.D., 2 credit hours
This course is designed to give students a basic understanding of varying principles and methodologies for the interpretation of Scripture. Offered in a mostly online, six-week format. Begins the second week of the IWS session, with one day (6 hours) spent face-to-face with the instructor on the Tuesday of the IWS session. Students who are taking the course online only (that is, before they begin their on-campus work) will be assigned an additional module in place of the Tuesday face-to-face session.

WR 501: Graduate Research and Writing (Online)

Melody Kuphal, D.W.S., 2 credit hours
This course guides the student through the beginning stages of researching and writing a graduate level paper, particularly in the discipline of worship studies. Offered in a completely online, six-week format. The beginning date is approximately 6-7 weeks following the IWS session.

Program Outcomes