RTS Virtual MAR Degree

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Puritan Board Freshman
Hello All,

Before I ask my question I want to preface it with saying that I've done a substantial amount of research on Reformed Theological Seminary's virtual program, so hopefully i won't be asking questions that have been beaten to death already. :)

I'll try to be brief and provide as much information as possible:

Career goal:

College professor teaching Religious Studies, Church History, Christianity, etc. at a secular university (although I would not want to rule out seminaries). I don't have any desire to enter the pastorate at the moment, but obviously I would like to implement what I learn at my local church (i.e., teaching Sunday school, etc.).


B.A. in Religious Studies, Florida International University (Will be finished December 2012).

Additional information:

• I currently serve at a large multi-site SBC church, but due to my recent denominational switch to Presbyterianism along with a host of other issues (seeker-sentitive services, worldy and carnal gimmicks, CEO-styled polity, lack of pastorial oversight, etc.) my wife and I are currently in the process of finding a local PCA church to call our home. Therefore, I haven't been able to receive biblical counseling from my supposed "pastor" because he never has time to get with me. :-(

• I am 28 years old, married, with no kids, but we would like to start a family soon.


Given my career goal I am considering RTS Virtual for my Master's.

•Has anyone here (or someone you know) completed this degree?

•What jobs are available once this particular program is completed?

•Will this degree qualify for PhD work at Universities such as Brown, Yale, Westminster?

I hope I've provided enough information. Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated!

Covenant Joel

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hi Jesse,

I graduated from the RTS MAR program, though I did about half of my studies on campus. It's a good program, and you will get a lot of online interaction with professors. They've really done a great job in the last few years of enhancing the curriculum and utilizing online tools for it.

Now, realistically, jobs are not going to be plentiful because you have this MAR. Your options are probably going to be ministry jobs or teaching at a Christian high school. That's probably not a ton different than an on-campus MA either though.

As far as PhD programs go, you probably would not get into Brown or Yale (or other similar programs). That's not to say it's impossible, as the MAR requires a thesis (unlike the on-campus RTS MA programs), so if you did really good work, anything could happen. But if you go into a stack of PhD apps from Duke and U Chicago, etc., your MAR from RTS is probably not going to be looked highly upon. Plus there's still a stigma on online degrees, though I think RTS has the best one out there, and honestly prepared in some ways better for ministry than my on-campus time because I was involved in ministry while doing the program.

If you're looking to get into Westminster, Calvin, TEDS, Wheaton, or one of those types of schools, your chances are probably better, but there's still no guarantee. The quality of your thesis would probably be a large factor. You might even need to think about a ThM first. I had a friend finish the RTS MDiv program, and he applied for PhD programs and did not get accepted into any, but he did the Calvin ThM and then went on to their PhD program and is doing really well. Westminster will accept the RTS MAR for entry into its ThM program. Once you had the ThM, you'd probably have a better chance.

You could also look at British schools, as they will often accept MA-holders into PhD programs on a provisional basis, on the condition of acceptable first-year work.

Of course, even after all this, you have to recognize that getting a job teaching in a secular university is probably going to require a secular PhD, which again, the RTS program is probably not the best avenue for. Even getting a job teaching at a seminary is extremely difficult, so don't be under any illusions that if you go on for a PhD that you'll have a job waiting for you in this field.

I don't want to discourage you. The RTS MAR is a great program. But it's not even close to a guarantee that you will get a job or PhD program. If you have any more questions, feel free to write here or message me.


Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks guys. I really appreciate your input.

Would an MAR at Yale make more sense if I intend to pursue doctoral work?


Puritan Board Senior
Would an MAR at Yale make more sense if I intend to pursue doctoral work?

You should take a look at the student profiles for some of the schools that you are interested in pursuing doctoral studies at, or bios of professors. It might give you better guidance on what the average student has. Yale divinity has such a site, and the level of graduate experience/education seems to be impressive. Short answer, if you want to compete for a doctoral studies slot at a elite school, you would probably be better off getting your master's degree there.


Puritan Board Sophomore
Here's my 2c.

Don't go to a liberal school for a Master's degree. You are not equipped to evaluate the material that will be presented to you, and you will find your time spent rewriting papers because they come from different presuppositions. I just spent the last two years holding the hand of an extremely bright student who went to Yale under parental pressure and had a horrible time. How exactly do you propose to write a paper on why premarital sex is wrong, for example, when the answer "Because the Bible says so" won't fly?

You can get into good schools (Yale, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge) with an MAR or MDiv from Westminster, Covenant, or RTS if you are good enough, and you'll then be equipped for what you will encounter. A virtual MA, however good, is likely to be a strike against you unless you then get a Th.M. in residence somewhere.

As for jobs, see what covenantjoel said. There.are.no.jobs.in.academia. Ok, that's an overstatement. I have one myself. But you are more likely to make it in major league baseball than in Christian academia. So you have to want to do the doctorate for its own sake, not for the job. I viewed it as three more yars studying the Bible. What could be better than that? It would make me a better preacher. But you have to view a job as a bonus. Unless you want to be involved in missions, which is a whole other ballgame...
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