“Ten years ago, I moved across the country to enroll in the new M.A.S.C. program. I describe my experience as the path enabled me to live into my deepest humanity.”
–Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward, 2008 MASC Graduate and Research Scholar
Are you called to be an agent of change? Starr King School for the Ministry can help you grow in your vision, skills, and spiritual grounding to make a difference in the world.
Our Master of Arts in Social Change (M.A.S.C.) was launched in August 2005 and was the first of its kind in the world. Starr King was among the first institutions of higher learning to formalize a counter-oppressive pedagogical focus in the form of a master’s degree. M.A.S.C. is a professional, 2-year degree program that prepares students to become spiritually grounded agents of social change and transformative leaders.
MASC degree programs are individually designed to integrate spiritual practice and professional development in response to your particular interests and gifts. MASC emphasizes not only theological knowledge but also practical experience in honing the transformational leadership skills you will need to excel in your vocational path.
The MASC program aims to foster your personal growth, spiritual practice, and deepened commitment to justice making. Graduates of our program leave prepared for spiritually-grounded leadership in organizations, institutions, movements, and communities that work for justice and social change.
The ability to act with integrity and knowledge in all these areas is foundational to religious leadership in society. Competence in religious leadership is not limited to academic ability or professional skills. It will also foster personal qualities and habits, such as mature judgment, self-awareness, spiritual practice, integrity, responsibility, sensitivity and ethical discernment. Learn more about Thresholds.
Educating to counter oppressions and to create just and sustainable communities is a priority. There are four guiding principles: 1) To be what we want to see in the world; 2) To shelter prophetic witness in the world; 3) To counter white supremacy; and 4) to work for the common good. You meet the ECO requirement by taking an ECO-focused course as suggested by the academic advisor.
The MASC degree recognizes that individual students have particular interests and abilities. During the first year, M.A.S.C. students, in consultation with their advisor, identify an area of specialization to focus on, such as:
Portfolio Conferences are an assessment process designed to review your program of study and spiritual growth approximately mid-way through the degree program. You and your advisor determine when the conference should happen. You coordinate its planning (time, participants and location). The conference should be done well before you petition to graduate.
During the second year of study, students participate in one term of community placement (20 hours a week), designed to integrate spiritual leadership and practical skills in the service of social change. Community placements may be local, national, or international and include supervision from a seasoned progressive activist.
Examples of community placements include prison chaplaincy, at-risk children’s advocacy, interfaith programs for the homeless, urban farming, using arts for healing and social transformation, teaching for social transformation, grassroots organizing, and many more.
The MASC Project allows you to offer a creative integration of your learning while also often serving as a steppingstone towards your future work as a graduate. MASC Projects can take different forms, from writing a traditional research thesis, to organizing a conference, creating a curriculum, preparing an art exhibit on arts and social change, writing a memoir on one’s activism or a novel grounded in spirituality and social change. You will work with the director of the MASC program and your advisor.
Readiness is assessed through conversation with your primary advisor, who will help determine if your degree requirements have been met and review your written self-assessment of readiness, including a final Threshold Assessment. Next, your advisor makes a recommendation to the core faculty that votes on the recommendation and presents a list of approved students to the Board of Trustees. The Board votes to confer degrees.
You will graduate from the M.A.S.C. degree program prepared to assume a professional role in institutions and organizations that work for progressive social change. The employment field includes non-profit organizations, social service agencies, political action organizations, administrative and leadership positions in denominational bodies and religious associations, church staffs, educational programs, health organizations, community centers, interfaith organizations and research institutes.