Th.M: Specialization in Indigenous, Judaic and Christian Traditions

Overview of Specialization:

The purpose of this specialization within the ThM post-graduate degree is to provide students with the opportunity to engage in advanced research and writing at a singular nexus where two  major monotheistic faith traditions meet Indigenous traditions of the Americas and other locations.  It will make available VST’s unique resources, including the Iona Pacific Centre, the Indigenous Studies Centre and our partner Indigenous steering committee Yuuhadaax.  These assets, combined with VST’s core faculty,  offer a distinctive academic experience, both intellectual and spiritual.  The degree will provide students the opportunity to develop research methods and resources which could lead to further study at the doctoral level in this emerging field and prepare them to teach and/or minister in an increasingly pluralistic world.  A student in the specialization will be able to accomplish the research competencies of the degree in depth for two of the three traditions and with some degree of familiarity for the other.

Primary goals of the specialization:

  1. To enhance advanced theological academic expertise that is interdisciplinary in nature, cross-cultural in expression and engages with a world of  religious complexity.
  2. To foster innovative theological research, transcending comparative study, to develop integrative faith-based knowledge and skills which address critical local and global needs in such areas as ecology, conflict, colonialism and globalization.
  3. To further develop or become conversant with Indigenous methodologies and epistemologies.
  4. To acknowledge the historical and contemporary role of the Indigenous spiritual and intellectual traditions of the Americas and other locations as world religions.

Specialization content, duration and location:


The specialization will enable students to study the largely unexplored interface among Indigenous religions, Judaism, and Christianity.  Through course work and integrating seminars, students will treat pedagogically matters which cross a number of spiritual, cultural and intellectual boundaries. 27 credit hours will be allocated among:

Research methods 3 credits
Integrating Seminar 3 credits
Advanced textual or oral narrative study 3 credits
Language 3 credits
Indigenous epistemologies 3 credits
Senior electives, including
independent study options
6 credits
Culminating assignment 6 credits


All electives must be in related fields.

In the case of language studies, if a scriptural language is chosen, credit will be given only for courses that involve reading of texts (second year of study or greater).  For the study of an Indigenous language, one year of study of the language within its cultural context is expected.

Each candidate must demonstrate a sufficient mastery of the Indigenous, ancient or modern language required for the Culminating Assignment before that assignment is undertaken.

All work for any course undertaken as a part of the Th.M. program must be completed within one month of the end of the term in which the student registered for the course.

Information Literacy and Research Skills Workshops

All degree and diploma students are required to complete 9 hours of non-credit, no-fee workshops in Information Literacy.  The workshops will engage students in hands-on as well as theoretical work intended to develop knowledgeable, disciplined and critically astute researchers.  See the Supplementary Calendar for more information.


This degree is a 27-credit hour program. Due to course scheduling and the necessity of meeting a number of course requirements during the Native Ministries summer school, it is anticipated that this degree will be delivered on a part-time basis.  Normally, all courses required for this degree must be completed in five years from the date of first registration.  Students admitted may be credited for courses of up to fifty per cent of credits already completed elsewhere in satisfaction of the core requirements.


In most cases, at least one-half of the degree courses will be provided on VST’s main campus. It is anticipated that students will also be engaged in learning and research projects at off site locations which have the appropriate instructional, research and peer community resources consistent with and supportive of the student’s course of study.


Admission requires a Master of Arts or Master of Divinity degree from an accredited institution that shows competence in one of the religious traditions of the IIS concentration and academic or equivalent work that shows some familiarity with at least one of the other two religious  traditions of the IIS concentration.

Distinctive Resources Needed

In addition to its own core and adjunct faculty, VST has available the necessary resources for the specialization.  The Centre for Christian Leadership and the Iona Pacific Inter-religious Centre offer expertise in the Abrahamic traditions* and will bring Visiting Scholars, post-doctoral Fellows and other specialists to the degree courses.  Through the Indigenous Studies Centre, VST’s partnership with the Centre for Indian Scholars, the Native Ministries Consortium and Wilp Wilxo’oskwhl Nisga’a Institute makes available a number of traditional and academic educators in the field of Indigenous knowledge.  Proximity to Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and other Vancouver-area post-secondary institutions provides other research interactions.

Educational Evaluation

Students will have three options for their culminating evaluative exercise:

A Directed Studies project and oral examination

A 90 – 120  page thesis (22,500 to 30,000 words)

A publishable article

*At present courses, course units, and lectures on Islam are offered regularly at VST and nearby institutions. Given that currently we do not have a full-time faculty member specializing in Islam, however, we are not able at this time to offer a specialization in Islam within the ThM degree program.

Return to the Indigenous Studies Centre page