Master of Religion and Public Life

Explore the dynamics of faith in the public sphere.

Candler’s Master of Religion and Public Life (MRPL) is designed for professionals in law, healthcare, social work, education, public service and other non-religious fields whose work requires them to navigate issues of faith on a regular basis. Through the program, you can increase your impact and enrich your career by gaining a better understanding of the role of religion in the lives of the people you serve.


What you’ll gain

Students in the Master of Religion and Public Life program choose from a wide range of course offerings to tailor their studies to their particular needs—from moral leadership to interfaith relations, biblical studies, conflict transformation, and much more. By the completion of the MRPL program, you will have gained:

  • A basic understanding of the roles of religion in American society.
  • An ability to articulate basic methodological approaches to the sociology of religion.
  • Familiarity with the basic beliefs and practices of Christianity and at least one other religious tradition, and an understanding of how these religious beliefs and practices may influence adherents’ attitudes and social practices.

Master of Religion and Public Life Degree Requirements

To qualify for the MRPL degree, a candidate must complete each of these requirements.

Requirements for Admission

To enter the MRPL program, a candidate must have a:

  • Bachelor’s or equivalent degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Well-balanced program of work in the liberal arts.

Credit Hours

In fulfilling the 36 hours required for the MRPL degree, students may not exceed the following limits: 3 hours for ministry internship; 6 hours of electives taken on an S/U grading basis; 6 hours for summer courses; 3 hours for Atlanta Theological Association cross-registration (counted as transfer credit); 6 hours for transfer credit, including ATA cross-registration, and 6 hours for directed study.

GPA Requirements

Courses taken toward the MRPL degree must earn a letter grade of at least C, i.e., 2.0 on a scale of 4.0. Students may elect to take up to two elective course on an S/U grading basis with instructor permission. Students who earn less than a C in a course will not receive credit for the course toward the degree, though it will remain part of the student’s academic record. Students who earn less than a C in a course may choose to retake the course. However, the same course cannot be counted more than once toward the total credit hours for graduation. Both instances of a retaken course remain on the transcript and are factored into the official GPA. A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 is required for successful completion of the program.

Curricular Requirements

The MRPL requires a total of 36 credit hours for graduation, normally earned through the successful completion of 11 three-credit courses (three of which will fulfill Common Requirements for the program and eight of which will be elective courses), plus the completion of a final integrative paper worth three credits.


MRPL students will complete nine hours of foundational courses in the following areas: (1) religion and society, (2) world religions (a Candler course with the WR designation or a non-Candler course approved by the registrar in consultation with the academic dean), and (3) basic beliefs, attitudes, and practices of Christians. Courses fulfilling each of these requirements are selected in consultation with the program director.

Religion and Society
Students will choose one three-hour course that will assist them in understanding the role of religion in American society. Students choose from courses such as:

  • SR515. Methods of Social and Congregational Analysis
  • SR536. Religion and Health in Context: HIV
  • SR593. Religion and Health in Context: Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • SR601. Sociology of Religion
  • SR603. Religion in American Society
  • SR605. Contemporary American Religion and Politics
  • SR607. Morality in American Life
  • SR612. The Church and Disabilities
  • SR613. Gender in US Religion
  • SR615. Immigration, Religion, and the American Church
  • SR617. Redeeming Memories: Cultural Memory, Christian Witness, and Social Genocide
  • SR619. Congregation and Community
  • SR620. Nonviolent Strategies for Social Change
  • SR622. Ethnographic Research for Ministry in Congregations and Local Communities
  • SR628. Priestly and Prophetic: The Nature of Ritual Performance
  • SR633. African American Religion and Culture
  • SR634. Globalization and the Church’s Mission
  • SR650. Faith and Health: Transforming Communities
  • SR653. Religion and Public Health
  • SR658. Health and Healing: Understanding the Role of Religion
  • SR698. Special Topics in Sociology of Religion
  • ES610. Religion, Ethics, and Public Intellectuals
  • ES661. Christianity and Politics
  • ES683. History of Church-State Relations
  • ST618. Theology, Art, and Urban Spaces

World Religions
Students will choose one three-hour course that will assist them in understanding the beliefs, attitudes, and practices of adherents of at least one world religion such as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any other religion outside of Christianity. Students choose from courses such as:

  • WR510. Introduction to Judaism
  • WR603. Ancient Judaism in the Mediterranean Diaspora
  • WR605. Introduction to Islam
  • WR607. Introduction to Hinduism
  • WR614. Socially Engaged Buddhism
  • WR624. Rastafari Religion
  • WR630. Sacred Space in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • WR640. Religions of Atlanta
  • WR650. Islam in America
  • WR663. Religion, Violence, and Peacebuilding
  • WR673. Krishna Meets Jesus: Hindu Christian Interactions on the Indian Subcontinent
  • WR682. Jewish Law
  • WR683. Islam and Democracy
  • WR684. Islam and Politics
  • WR685. Islamic Law
  • WR686. Islamic Modernism
  • WR690. Global Religions and Community Engagement
  • WR698. Special Topics in World Religions

Beliefs, Attitudes, and Practices of Christians
Students will choose one three-hour course that will assist them in understanding the beliefs, attitudes, and practices of Christians. Students choose from courses such as:

  • BCS601. Introduction to Black Church Studies
  • ES501. Christian Ethics • ES/LA560. Principles and Practices of Moral Leadership
  • ES609/M619. Social Mission of the Christian Church
  • ES621. Christian Sexual Ethics
  • ES624. Feminist and Womanist Ethics
  • ES625. Sexuality and the Black Church
  • ES651. Biomedical Ethics
  • ES652. Healthcare Ethics: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
  • ES654. Health as Social Justice
  • ES661. Christianity and Politics
  • HC654. Faith and Reason
  • HC645. Theology in America
  • HC661. The Black Church 34
  • HC672. Modern Catholicism
  • PC628. Care for Marginalized Populations
  • ST501. Systematic Theology
  • ST620. Black Theology and Ethics
  • ST627. Theology of the Church and Sacraments
  • ST/ES641. Christology and Ethics
  • ST645. Ecclesiology
  • ST677. Theological Arguments for Criminal Punishment Reform


In consultation with the program director, students are free to choose for their additional 24 hours of electives any courses that are of the most interest and have greatest relevance to their professional contexts.


Following the completion of 15 credit hours, students will determine an integrative paper topic in consultation with the program director and paper adviser. The paper will normally be between 25–35 pages in length and will integrate themes from the student’s full course of study. When all other coursework is complete or near completion, students enroll in MRPL650. MRPL Integrative Paper for three hours of credit. The paper adviser and program director will read the integrative paper and assign a letter grade. The minimum passing grade is B.

*The duration for the MRPL is an approved exception to Degree Program Standard D, section D.3.2.1.

Advising and Assessment

In addition to the curricular requirements listed above, students in the MRPL program are required to be advised each semester. Any student who fails to meet with his or her faculty adviser during the advising period will have a hold placed on registration until advising has taken place.


Students must complete a minimum of two full-time equivalent semesters, to include at least two fall/spring semesters with not more than six total summer term enrollment hours. For part-time or transfer students, the last two semesters of the program must be completed at Candler. Students in good standing at other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, or at other regionally accredited universities where they are studying religion at the graduate level, may, with approval, transfer up to six credit hours. A maximum of three hours taken through cross-registration at Atlanta Theological Association (ATA) schools may be applied toward the degree, counted as transfer credit. Upon transfer of six hours, no additional transfer work or ATA cross-registration work will be allowed. Students who transfer into the MRPL program must complete a minimum of two semesters with at least 24 Candler semester hours. The maximum length of time allowed to complete the program is five calendar years. Students who do not complete the MRPL integrative paper in the semester of enrollment but have completed all courses are required to enroll in MRPL999R (MRPL Library Use) during each semester until the paper is complete.

Transfer Credit

Students in good standing at other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, or at other regionally accredited universities where they are studying religion at the graduate level, may be admitted as transfer students. These students may receive transfer credit approval for up to six credit hours for courses in which they earn a grade of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (84 on a numerical scale). Candler special/nondegree students and students in other degree programs may have all Candler coursework considered for transfer into the MRPL. See page 115 for the detailed MRPL program transfer credit policy.

CB26 Pattern CB26 Pattern

Ready to take the next step toward an MRPL degree?

How to Apply