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Vancouver School of Theology MA in Public and Pastoral Leadership
Vancouver School of Theology

MA in Public and Pastoral Leadership

Vancouver, Canada

2 Years


Full time, Part time

Request application deadline

Sep 2024

CAD 290 / per credit

Blended, On-Campus



The Masters of Arts in Public and Pastoral Leadership recognizes the kinds of leaders that are needed for the changing nature of Christian communities and supports persons engaged in various forms of leadership, from congregations to social entrepreneurship, faith-based social services, NGOs, community-based development, mediation services and community-based justice initiatives. A unique specialization in Spiritual Care prepares students for a variety of chaplaincy ministries (see the MAPPL in Spiritual Care program description).

This degree is anchored in practice-based learning, action-reflection, and contextual analysis. Attention is given to developing religious literacy for working in pluralistic contexts, honing the theological intellect for forming public theologians and leaders, providing biblical, ethical and spiritual foundations for inspiring the visionary capacities of organizers and ecclesial change agents, and practicing ritual, rhetorical and communitarian skills needed for offering vital, artful, generous leadership in both inherited and emerging pastoral and public contexts.

Students in this program are expected to connect to a community or project in which their ability to practice and grow their capacity for leadership will be tested.



  • An MA-PPL prepares people for offering theologically informed leadership in community organizations and institutions such as NGOs, non-profits, para-church initiatives, and community-based development organizations. This is especially the case when a student includes in their program courses from VST’s offerings in Indigenous and Inter-Religious Studies.
  • In the face of shifts in ministerial preparation in the churches, an MA-PPL, with a credit load of half of the MDiv, may be more achievable preparation for a variety of types of ministry leadership. An MA-PPL may meet denominational competencies for a variety of ordered ministries in some denominations, in some cases with the addition of denominational courses.
  • The degree is preparation for various forms of ministries and emerging models of the Christian community, for example, as worker-priests and leaders of community-based ministries.
  • The MA PPL specialization in Spiritual Care is designed for those intending to pursue vocations as spiritual care practitioners in settings such as healthcare facilities, prisons and correctional facilities, pastoral counselling centres, and congregations.
  • An MA is recognized as preparation for graduate work should a person at some point decide to move to advanced study.

A graduate of the MA PPL program at VST will know, articulate and integrate aspects of religious heritage, cultural context, and public and pastoral leadership:

  1. Demonstrate Masters level knowledge of biblical, theological, and historical traditions and contexts, including the student’s own denomination or faith tradition
  2. Analyze the relationship between religious faiths and contemporary culture, and demonstrate how engagement with both impacts one’s contribution to public and pastoral leadership
  3. Analyze and interpret various cultural, congregational, and organizational contexts where ministry is practiced
  4. Demonstrate positive growth in self-knowledge, emotional maturity, and spiritual vitality necessary for leadership in community
  5. Articulate and practice an ethical and theological framework for decision-making and action
  6. Articulate the student’s own purpose or call within their community of faith and wider society, making use of and possibly going beyond current models of ministry
  7. Demonstrate integration of the knowledge, reflection and skills described above in theological reflection on the practice of ministry and leadership, in relation to major challenges facing contemporary religious communities and society
  8. For those in the Spiritual Care concentration, demonstrate skills as a practitioner in spiritual care, working with a care team in a clinical institutional setting



VST has the expectation that students preparing for a vocation in pastoral and public leadership will undertake personal and spiritual formation through which the student may grow in personal faith, emotional maturity, moral integrity and public witness.

The granting of a Recommendation, i.e., the certification that in the opinion of the members of the Faculty a graduate of the School is suitable for the exercise of the ministry to which they are preparing, is the end of a process that begins early in a student’s program of studies.

If a student in the MA PPL, or that student’s denominational judicatory, requires a Recommendation for Readiness for Ministry, that request will be allowed by the Faculty Student Review Committee upon receipt of the student’s application for the Recommendation submitted as part of the student’s registration process. The full text of the policies and procedures pertaining to the granting of this recommendation can be found in the Supplementary Calendar/Student Handbook.


VST’s main platform for off-site classes is through Adobe Connect and Moodle. MA PPL students may complete up to 2/3 of their degree requirements through Adobe Connect classes. All off-site options are classes taught synchronously on-site. Off-site students can choose to connect via Adobe Connect concurrently to the on-site class time (recommended) or to watch a video/audio recording of the class at some later time in the same week. Off-site students are expected to follow along weekly with the required readings and assignments.

The MA PPL Degree program requires at least 16 credit hours of study on the VST campus. Off-site students meet this requirement through 3 onsite intensives each year (Fall and Spring 5-day modules plus a 2-week January Interterm). In this model, students in the Off-site MA PPL program can complete the degree in 3 full-time years.

About the School