Master of Arts in Faith, Culture, and Educational Leadership (MAFCEL)

Committed to education, advocacy, and preparing educational leaders


The Master of Arts in Faith, Culture, and Educational Leadership (formerly the Master of Arts in Christian Education) will prepare you for ministerial vocations that intersect faith, culture, and educational leadership in ecclesial, congregational, and public settings. The degree emphasizes methods, model, and approaches that ground contemporary educational and leadership practices in traditions of critical pedagogies, emancipatory education, social justice advocacy, U.S. civil rights and global liberation movements.

From learning from other students about different forms of ministry, to encouragement from faculty to expand my horizons, I have a much more solid vision of where I belong in ministry. I’m still stubborn, but Garrett has allowed me to re-vamp my vision to better serve God.”


Haley Martin

Since joining the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary community I have been introduced to a new perspective and a wholistic approach to theology and community. It is refreshing. “Blown away” is such an over-used superlative, but it is my sentiment.


Kamaca Champion

Degree Requirements


The Master of Arts in Faith, Culture, and Educational Leadership (MAFCEL) is a 45-credit hour program. MAFCEL students can complete their degree as a residential student (primarily in-person courses on Garrett’s campus) or as a hybrid student (primarily online courses).


All MAFCEL students will take part in New Student Orientation in August of their first year (in-person or online) and in an intensive Mid-Program Evaluation Retreat in late May after their first year (in-person or online).


Foundation Courses (21-credit hours)

    • Introduction to Hebrew Bible
    • Introduction to New Testament
    • History of Christian Thought and Practice I OR History of Christian Thought and Practice II
    • Introduction to Theology
    • Global Christianity in an Interfaith World OR Introduction to Christian Ethics
    • History and Theories of Religious Education and Leadership
    • Approaches to Religious Education and Leadership


Concentration Electives (12-credit hours)

    • Any 4 Christian education elective courses
      • Examples of courses include but are not limited to:
        • Emancipatory Pedagogy
        • Intro to Youth Ministry
        • Educating Christians for Social Change
        • Children’s Books for Liberative Pedagogy
        • Christian Education in the African American Church
        • Spiritual Lives of Young Adults
        • Pedagogies of Resistance: Perspectives from the Global South


Formation Electives (6-credit hours)

    • Any two electives from the following areas:
      • Christian spirituality
      • Intercultural study, interfaith engagement, or faith-rooted leadership


Integrative Courses (6-credit hours)

    • Supervised Practicum
    • Portfolio + Presentation



Portfolio Presentation


Through coursework, experiential learning in field placements, and reflective practices with peers and faculty, students will develop integrative projects that demonstrate their capacities to offer collaborative, participatory, and emancipatory educational intervention, innovation, or experimentation that address specific needs and concerns of specific communities or contexts.


Students will keep a portfolio of all their work. It will be a hybrid portfolio that is used for processing/learning, for assessment, and for showcasing/presenting. During their last semester, students will have a portfolio presentation for Garrett’s religious education faculty, fellow degree program students, persons from their field education setting, and PhD students in the field.



Supervised Practicum: Contextual, Immersive, Experiential Learning


All MAFCEL students must be involved in a setting of ministry or educational practice (ecclesial, congregational, non-profit, public) throughout their program. In their second semester, students will commence their practicum requirement, which may be completed in the setting in which they work or serve. The components of the practicum include practicum hours, culture circles, and regular discernment meetings with a vocational mentor.

Portrait of young diverse volunteer group with clothes for donation

Practicum Hours

MAFCEL students are required to be involved in a ministry or educational practice setting (ecclesial, congregational, non-profit, public) for two semesters (1.5 credit hours per semester) for approximately 5 hours a week (or approximately 130 hours total), with regular engagement with a ministry supervisor.

students in a classroom

Cultural Circles

MAFCEL students will participate in six facilitated Culture Circles over the course of two semesters with peers in the MAFCEL degree program and other persons related to the setting for conversation and reflection of the student’s setting, ministry, and emerging MAFCEL Portfolio.

Degree Options


Residential and Hybrid Option


MAFCEL students can complete their degree as a residential student (primarily in-person courses on Garrett’s campus) or as a hybrid student (primarily online courses).

Dual Degree


Students can round out their Master of Arts degree with the Master of Divinity degree. The MDiv/MA allows students to become specialists in the area of their MA degree while broadening their theological, spiritual, and leadership foundations through the Master of Divinity.




Garrett offers courses in a variety of course modalities to meet a variety of scheduling needs. Course options include in-person, online, hybrid, blended synchronous, and more. While the program is taught by faculty of Garrett, students may also take courses at Northwestern University and at any of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Meet Our Religious Education Faculty


I believe the purpose of Christian education is to be emancipatory, to set people free to be children of God and co-creators with God.


Rev. Dr. Reginald Blount
Murray H. Leiffer Associate Professor of Formation, Leadership, and Culture

Through my interdisciplinary approach to education, my areas of interest range from Paulo Freire’s work, critical pedagogy, global citizenship, intercultural and postcolonial studies, cultural-historical theory activity (Lev Vygotsky), and liberation theologies.


Dr. Débora Junker
Associate Professor of Critical Pedagogies

As a former public school teacher, an ordained deacon who is called to ministries of compassion and justice, a seminary professor, an aunt and great-aunt, and as a Christian who tries to live out my baptismal vows, I have a great concern for children – all children.


Rev. Dr. Virginia Lee
Associate Professor of Christian Education

I consider learning a risk-taking (and inevitably painful) adventure in which we pursue knowledge (information), ground self in foundations of integrity (formation), and commit to live and act in ways that ensures essential well-being for all and for this planet (transformation).


Rev. Dr. Mai-Anh Le Tran
Associate Professor of Religious Education and Practical Theology

Degree Outcomes


Graduates of this program will be able to:


  • Read and interpret local and cultural-religious landscapes
  • Identify and evaluate Christian religious education (CRE) theories, approaches, practices
  • Demonstrate interdisciplinary knowledge (of the Christian tradition)
  • Evaluate educational strategies and approaches for emancipatory teaching and learning
  • Utilize race critical and intercultural competencies for social justice education in diverse settings
  • Construct a critical, spiritually-grounded, practice-based self-understanding necessary for transformative faith formation
  • Develop theological and ethical foundations for engagement with diverse peoples and settings

Next Steps


Garrett-Evangelical accepts applications from students with a minimum GPA of 2.5 in a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or from an AETH-certified Bible institute. Because our primary language of instruction is English, applicants be able to show English proficiency, as evidenced by a previous degree in English or completion of either the Duolingo or Test of English as a Foreign Language test.


Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. International student applications are due by March 1st.