Master of Arts in Church Music

Designed to equip musicians for careers in church music and leadership in a rapidly changing church

About the Program

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The Master of Arts in Church Music degree program is a comprehensive theological, musical, and liturgical study in church music that integrates academic and professional learning. Classes, field work, and unique January experiences are designed to reinforce one another, as is the sequencing of classes in the various theological disciplines. This degree trains musicians for vocations in church music and leadership in the church, and can be completed in two years of full-time study.

The capacity for constructive theological reflection is stimulated in an environment where students can also further develop their musical skills through performance and composition. Students become sensitized to the wide range of musical, spiritual, liturgical, theological, and aesthetic considerations necessary as a cantor/minister of music. They also learn by planning, preparing, collaborating, coordinating, implementing, observing and reflecting.

Participation in this multi-faceted program forms church musicians for Christ's work in the world.

Academic Requirements

52 semester hours of credit
  • 17 hours of theology core and option courses
  • 26 hours in the Church Music core and applied study courses
  • 9 hours of electives

16 hours of Applied study in the following areas:
  • Keyboard
  • Music technology/composition
  • Conducting
  • Handbells
  • Children’s choirs
  • Voice
  • Liturgical choir

Comprehensive Jury Requirements

M.A. in Church Music students are required to successfully complete a two-part comprehensive jury, preferably during their first full year of study, but no later than January 15 of the second year of full-time study. One part shall be keyboard or voice, and the other is the student’s choice. Students must be enrolled in a course in the term in which the comprehensive jury for that area is taken.

Contextual Experience

Students will serve in a supervised field work site, usually a parish situation, in which they will be involved for a total of 200 hours of practical experience related to their program.

Degree Outcomes

For the sake of the mission of the church, graduates of the Master of Arts in Church Music degree program at Trinity Lutheran Seminary should be able to:
  1. Use appropriately the resources of scripture and the church's historical and theological tradition
  2. Read and interpret critically contexts of mission and ministry
  3. Articulate a vision for a comprehensive music ministry program
  4. Provide capable leadership for the church in its music ministry
  5. Demonstrate a healthy and resilient faith

Other Requirements

  • Boundaries Workshop
  • Racial Awareness Workshop

Unique Opportunities for Growth

Three-Week Summer Session in June

Musicians come from across the country to take courses during three weeks of intensive study and participation in worship. Participants are also able to attend the summer concert series, Tuesdays at Trinity. One-week music courses are offered in the afternoons; three week-theology and liturgical choir courses are scheduled in the morning. Master of Arts in Church Music students direct the Liturgical Choir which sings daily in summer term. The summer program provides the opportunity for musicians to continue in their current church position while earning the Master of Arts in Church Music degree over several summers.

January Term

This time also offers musicians an intensive course module. This two- to three-week module appeals to students coming from a distance.

Music Courses

Among the many music courses offered in the Trinity curriculum are Leading the Church's Song, Music and Worship in the African American Tradition, Music and Liturgy, Music in the Contemporary Church, and Building Parish Music Programs. Music course offerings also include Perspectives in Choral Conducting, Handbells, Composition, and Children's Choirs and applied study in organ, voice, and most recently guitar.