Skip to main content

Master of Arts (Spiritual Formation)


The Master of Arts with a concentration in Spiritual Formation offers you the opportunity to both study spiritual growth academically and to experience personal spiritual growth. Offered through Talbot’s Institute for Spiritual Formation (ISF), the program is designed to equip you for the ministry of discipleship and spiritual formation in the local church and for further academic training in spiritual formation.

In this program, you will learn to appreciate and grow deeply in the reality that true Christian spirituality is grounded in true wisdom: knowledge of God and knowledge of self. The program is designed to stimulate both mind and heart through in-depth experiential and theoretical coursework, personal reflection and prayer, a community of belonging and connection, and training in spiritual mentorship.

This degree program is distinct from ISF’s other programs as its focus is on the academic study of spiritual formation, requires a thesis and does not include training, supervision and service components in spiritual direction and mentoring.

  • Study and Experience Spiritual Formation from a Leading Program. Talbot’s Institute for Spiritual Formation is a trusted leader among Christian seminaries in the area of spiritual formation and soul care. Your academic study explores the theoretical and practical side of formation, both of which are necessary in understanding the content and process of faith and its application and for your personal formation.
  • Learn from Leading Faculty and Practitioners in Theology and Spiritual Formation. ISF faculty are leading scholars in the field of spiritual formation, and they are also dedicated to training pastors and leaders in understanding how spiritual transformation works in their lives and in the life of the church. ISF publishes The Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, a leading peer-reviewed publication that serves as a forum for academic conversations on the theory and practice of Christian formation and soul care.
  • Retreat from the Traditional Classroom Experience. This program takes you beyond theoretical study and provides opportunities to experience personal and spiritual growth — from group retreats to the picturesque mountains of Southern California, to opportunities to examine your spiritual journey with a trained therapist and assignments that encourage you to unplug from all distractions to uninterrupted times of prayer and spiritual disciplines.
  • Be Equipped to Serve the Body of Christ. Whether you pursue further academic study or professional or lay ministry in the church, you will be equipped to serve the body of Christ in caring for others in the loving power of the Holy Spirit. You will learn how to serve others effectively as you grow in self-knowledge, gain a deeper understanding of how spiritual growth happens and attentively listen to the Spirit through prayer.

For more reasons to choose Talbot School of Theology for your education, see the Why Talbot? page.

Show More

Yes! Tell Me More!


What will I study as a Master of Arts (Spiritual Formation) student?

The M.A. with a concentration in Spiritual Formation includes both in-depth theoretical and integrative coursework, employing such disciplines as theology, philosophy, psychology and education as well as experiential-relational soul work in classes and co-curricular requirements to aid in understanding the spiritual life mentoring. Because the program is experiential and theoretical in nature with respect to spiritual growth and the dynamic processes involved, it draws upon an interdisciplinary faculty from both Talbot and Rosemead School of Psychology.

In addition to coursework, you’ll also participate in several co-curricular activities required of all ISF students.

Some of your courses include:

History and Theory of Christian Soul Care and Direction (TTSF 524)

An introduction to the history and theory of spiritual soul care, mentoring and direction from a biblical, experiential and psychological perspective. Specific focus is on assisting others in deepening their relationship with God through increased sensitivity and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit's presence and work in all areas of life (including the common and ordinary). Attention is also given to understanding the personal dynamics at work within and between the guide and directee and the role of spiritual guidance within the broader context of pastoral care and mentoring as well as in the more specific discipline of spiritual direction. Notes: Required of all SF students. Grade Mode: A.

Personality Development and Psychopathology (TTSF 544)

An overview of personality development and the major forms of psychopathology from a depth psychological perspective (psychodynamic and existential). This course provides a framework for understanding the dynamics inherent in personality development and distortions of that development under the influence of sin. Notes: Required of all SF M.A. and M.Div. students. Grade Mode: A.

Personal Retreat and Formation (TTSF 672)

Each M.A. concentration and Certificate student is required to go on one weekend retreat (Friday to Sunday) each semester for the purpose of cultivating the inner life before God (a total of four weekend retreats or two for Certificate). This is to be done in consultation with one's designated spiritual mentor and one's advisor before and after the experience. Student costs for such retreats are the responsibility of each student. The first half of this classroom course, taken early in the program (2 credits for both M.A. concentration and Certificate students), will cover theory and preparation for retreat. The second half (2 credits for M.A. concentration only), taken late in the program, and after completing the retreats, will serve to debrief and further understand the retreat process. Grade Mode: A.

Admissions & Deadlines

As a Christian institution, Biola seeks to admit applicants whose backgrounds clearly demonstrate scholarly aptitude, a commitment to the historic Christian faith, personal character and integrity, and a positive service-oriented motivation toward their field of study. Biola does not discriminate on the basis of the applicant's race, color, sex, socio-economic status, disability, or national or ethnic origin.

Note: Participation in the graduate programs in spiritual formation presumes a certain degree of ministry or life experience and personal maturity. This is particularly true of the M.A. in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, which is not only an academic degree, but involves applied ministry where life experience and relational skills involved in spiritual direction are crucial. It is also our aim to keep the faculty-student ratio lower than in typical seminary programs. Thus, application consideration will be based on weighing the following factors:

  • Ministry and life experience
  • Personal preparedness for a growth journey
  • Perception of calling and giftedness for ministry in spiritual formation and soul care


Education and GPA Requirements

  • You must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution by the time you plan to start coursework at Biola, with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).
  • Note: If you do not meet the degree or GPA requirements above, you may still be considered for admission. Please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions office at If you are an international student, contact

English Proficiency Requirements

  • If English is not your first language, you are required to display your English proficiency before admittance into a Biola University graduate program. See “English Proficiency” in the application steps section below.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall Semester
    • General: April 1
    • International Students: April 1
  • Spring Semester
    • General: October 15
    • International Students: October 1

Visit Biola

Explore our sunny Southern California campus in person or virtually. Learn more about your program of interest and the admissions process by scheduling an appointment with an admissions counselor.

Visit Biola
Virtual Tour

Meet Your Admissions Counselor

If you have more questions about the program, admissions process or Biola in general, schedule a phone call or send an email to your admissions counselor.

Graduate Admissions Counselor

Photo of Arianna Kokol
Arianna Kokol

Text or Call: (562) 564-6688
Book a Phone or Virtual Appointment

International Graduate Admissions Counselor

The Office of International Admissions serves students who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

Book a Phone or Virtual Appointment

Application Steps

  1. Complete and submit the online application

  2. Submit a non-refundable $65 application fee

  3. Submit supplemental application materials through your online application portal:

  4. Official Transcripts

    • Submit all official transcripts from previous academic institutions.
      • Request official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
      • If enrolled at the time the application is filed, be sure to request transcripts of work finished to date and final transcripts upon completion of your course of study.
      • Transcripts will be considered official only when a) mailed directly from the institution to Biola, b) sent electronically through an approved vendor or c) physically delivered in an untampered envelope sealed by the institution. Final approval for admission is contingent on receiving an official transcript.
        • Mail transcripts to:
          Biola University Office of Graduate Admissions
          13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, CA 90639
    • Note for International Students: All international transcripts need U.S. grade equivalencies noted (i.e. GPA on a 4.0 scale). If your transcripts do not show U.S. grade equivalencies, you must have them evaluated by a credential evaluation agency like SpanTran (Biola Discount), World Education Services (WES) or Foundation for International Services (FIS). Be sure to choose "course by course report" and have SpanTran/WES/FIS send them directly to Biola University via online portal or post (13800 Biola Ave, La Mirada, CA 90639) in order to be considered official.

    Three Reference Letters

    • Pastoral reference
    • Character reference (someone in a leadership role in your life)
    • Reference form relating to your personal spiritual formation from the same pastor or character reference above
    • Note: Additional instructions can be found in the online application.

    Four Essays

    • Christian testimony
    • Essay demonstrating understanding of spiritual formation and goal of graduate study
    • Personal essay addressing how studying spiritual formation will impact your life
    • Biography of your personal spiritual development
    • Note: The essay prompts can be found in the online application.

    English Proficiency (required for non-native English speakers)

    • Evidence of English proficiency is required for all students to support student success. Proficiency must be shown through one of the methods described below:
      • Minimum test score on a qualifying standardized test
        • TOEFL: minimum score of 100 iBT
        • IELTS: minimum score of 7.5
        • Duolingo: minimum score of 125
      • A degree (bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral) issued by an institution where English is the medium of instruction.
        • Official written communication from the institution (Registrar, Controller of Examinations Office, or Undergraduate College)
        • Official degree statements or transcripts may be accepted given English is stated as the medium of instruction
        • Official catalog verification
        • Note: For universities from non-Anglophone countries, further language assessment may be required.
      • Completion of the English Language Scholars (ELS) with passing status on the ELS's final exit exam, which must be approved by the ELS Director in collaboration with the academic program committee. An updated TOEFL or IELTS score may be used at the end of a term to test directly into the graduate program for the following term.
      • Qualify for English Language Scholars (ELS), which allows students who do not meet the minimum TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores to still enroll in their graduate degree program. Students would be taking academic English courses concurrently with the graduate degree program courses. 
        • Students eligible for ELS will be assessed by the ELS Director to determine the total number of academic English courses to take while enrolled in their graduate program courses. The following are the scores needed to qualify for ELS: TOEFL iBT 90 / IELTS 7.0 / Duolingo 110–124.
        • Note: Students must be admitted to the graduate program first to be considered for ELS.
  5. Successful candidates are required to participate in a personal interview following the submission of their initial application


    Additional Forms


    Things to Note

    • Track your application status at any time. You do not have to complete the application in one sitting. You can complete a portion and finish at a later time. Your information will be saved. When you apply, to guarantee confidentiality, you will be asked to create a user name and a password, and will receive a personalized identification number. Track your application status by logging in to the online application.
    • Official documents presented for admission or evaluation become part of the student’s academic file and normally cannot be returned or copied for distribution.
    • International students who will be studying on campus are required to apply for an F-1 student visa. For more information, visit

Tuition and Financial Aid

Biola is committed to help make your studies affordable — each school offers different scholarship, grant and loan opportunities to help finance your education.

Cost Per Credit (2024‑25) $704
Full-time Tuition Per Term (Estimated) Based on 9 credit courseload$6,336
Part-time Tuition Per Term (Estimated) Based on 3 credit courseload$2,112
Total Program Tuition (Estimated) Based on total program credits and 2024‑25 cost per credit$34,496



On Campus: You'll study in person at Biola University's campus in Southern California.

Hybrid (On Campus and Online): This program includes a blend of course formats, including online and in person at Biola University's Southern California campus.

Total Credits

Every program at Biola University features rigorous academics, biblically integrated curriculum and vocational preparation.

Cost per Credit

This is the cost per credit; total tuition costs for each term will differ for part-time and full-time students.

Standard Completion Time

This indicates the standard duration of this program. Completion time may vary depending on transferred coursework and preferred courseload.


Biola University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Additional accreditations may apply to specific programs.