online graduate

African American Worship Studies

The Master of Arts in African American worship studies combines ministry training with thoughtful and practical ways to serve the Black church. This pioneering program equips students to serve in a variety of worship-related ministry roles through its focus on spiritual formation, discipleship, ministry application, team building, personal disciplines, theology and leadership principles.

Trevecca’s Master of Arts in African American worship studies equips worship leaders with insight and tools to encourage, engage and edify the African American church, combining effective worship ministry training with practical ways to serve.

Program Benefits

  • Complete your degree in 18–20 months.
  • Continue to work and focus on your other priorities while earning your degree, taking one course at a time with all materials delivered to you.
  • Utilize a built-in support system and complete your degree alongside others who are working toward similar goals.
  • Enjoy the collaborative learning environments fostered by our innovative academic community.
  • Learn from a dynamic mix of African American faculty and leading educators, pastors, musicians, composers, theologians, artists and professional practitioners.

What to Expect

The Master of Arts in African American worship and leadership studies combines ministry training with thoughtful and practical ways to serve the Black church. The curriculum spans worship, theology, biblical studies, the history of African American worship and contemporary leadership dynamics. Through robust training, students learn how to create and cultivate a thriving community culture that encourages authentic worship and effective leadership. Other focal points include time management; team building; the pastor/worship pastor relationship; and leadership issues confronting Black churches.

As part of the curricular experience, students develop an e-portfolio that showcases their cumulative academic work. The e-portfolio is designed to be a practical resource that will enrich a student's ministerial applications throughout his or her career.

Why Choose Trevecca?

Founded in 1901 and a leader in online education for more than two decades, Trevecca helps students discover and pursue an individual calling by providing innovative instruction; cultivating a supportive, Christ-centered community; and establishing relationships that open doors.

2024 #2 Online College in Tennessee, intelligent.comRecognized nationally and locally for academic quality, Trevecca has earned a reputation for providing the world with servant leaders, problem solvers and difference makers. Trevecca’s holistic approach to education encompasses intellectual, social, emotional, physical and spiritual growth.

This degree is offered through Trevecca's Center for African American Worship Studies, led by Dr. Stephen Newby, an accomplished composer, worship leader and musician with more than 20 years of experience in the Black church community.


Course Descriptions

Get details on all the courses you’ll complete as you work toward this degree at Trevecca.

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Financial Aid & Costs

Financial Aid & Costs

Nearly every student at Trevecca receives some form of assistance in paying for college. Learn all about the affordability of a TNU education and options for receiving aid.

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Here’s a look at the approximate tuition rates you could expect for this program at Trevecca, including the cost per credit hour and the total tuition expense for the full degree program. Please note that rates and fees are subject to change.

Here’s a look at the approximate tuition rates you could expect for this program at Trevecca, including the cost per credit hour and the total tuition expense for the full degree program. Please note that rates and fees are subject to change.

Cost/Credit Hour




Tuition Cost*


*$150 Student Resource Fee assessed per course. $90 estimated book cost per course.

Admission Requirements

Trevecca Nazarene University assesses the Graduate Worship applicants on the basis of evidence submitted via application documentation. Applications will be processed upon receipt of all required materials. To be admitted into one of the Graduate Worship programs, an applicant must meet these requirements:

  1. Submit an online application.
  2. Have earned a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, with a cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale. All hours from regionally accredited institutions will be considered in calculating the cumulative GPA. Applicants must submit one official transcript from the college or university where the bachelor's degree was conferred. Transcripts should be sent by mail or fax to the Admissions, Trevecca Nazarene University, 333 Murfreesboro Road, Nashville, TN 37210.

The purpose of this program is to equip worship practitioners already serving as musicians in African American churches in the areas of spiritual formation, discipleship, ministry application, team building, personal disciplines, theology and leadership principles. We seek to prepare students to engage in the following ways upon graduation:

  • Articulate a worship philosophy and ministry strategy for the African American worship community based of biblical, theological foundations of worship.
  • Synthesize principles of critical contextualization applicable to current issues confronting worship leaders in the African American tradition.
  • Develop literature and research methodologies applicable to worship professionals in the African American worship tradition.
  • Evaluate ministry needs.
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of a balanced worship ministry.

As part of the curriculum, students will develop a cumulative e-portfolio that can be used in future ministry opportunities such as applying for a new position or teaching. The portfolio will include sample work from each course. It is designed to give prospective employers a greater understanding of the student’s abilities as it will showcase the individual’s collective best academic work in worship.

Career Opportunities

With a Master of Arts in African American worship and leadership studies, you’ll be equipped to serve in multiple ministerial, directing or teaching roles like these.

  • Worship pastor
  • Administrative or associate pastor
  • Children’s or student ministry director
  • Multimedia church pastor
  • Student worship pastor
  • Orchestra director
  • Parachurch worship ministry director or staff member
  • College instructor in worship or leadership studies at the undergraduate level

Many students complete this degree as a bridge to the Doctor of Education in leadership (Ed.D.) program.

Our Faculty

  • Portrait for Alicia Garcia

    Alicia Garcia

    Adjunct Professor

    Alicia is an international worship leader and Bible teacher whose primary passion is helping people cultivate a biblical worldview. She and her husband Richard are co-founders of IN Worship, a discipleship ministry designed to help people worship ...

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  • Portrait for Sam Green

    Sam Green

    Director, Center for Worship

    Samuel is chair of the Department of Worship for the School of Music and Worship Arts. He also serves as the director of Undergraduate Research and the Quality Enhancement Plan at the University. He holds degrees from Tennessee State University ...

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  • Portrait for Stephen Newby

    Stephen Newby

    Adjunct Faculty, National Praise & Worship Institute

    Stephen is a worship pastor, educator, musician, composer and scholar who also serves at Baylor University. He has served as a worship pastor for more than 30 years and was an educator/composer in residence at Seattle Pacific University for 25 years.
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  • Portrait for Eddie Robinson

    Eddie Robinson

    Adjunct Professor

    Eddie is the minister of music at Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers, Georgia, and serves as a director of performance for the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses. He is a national recording artist and an award-winning songwriter, ...
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  • Portrait for Vernon Whaley

    Vernon Whaley

    Associate Vice President Of Program Development: Music And Worship

    Vernon M. Whaley is associate provost and dean for the School of Music and Worship Arts. Holding degrees from the University of Oklahoma (Ph.D.), Liberty University (D.W.S.), and Luther Rice Seminary (D.Min.), Vernon was twice appointed chair of ...

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  • Portrait for Diane White-Clayton

    Diane White-Clayton

    Adjunct Professor

    Known as “Dr. Dee,” Diane is a conductor of classical and gospel music. She holds a Ph.D. in music composition and is a vocal clinician with Disney Performing Arts. A member of the faculty of UCLA, she also serves the artistic director of the Albert ...
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  • Portrait for Oscar Williams Jr.

    Oscar Williams Jr.

    Adjunct Professor

    Oscar is an ordained elder at The Potter’s House Church with T.D. Jakes. A gifted musician, composer, playwright and producer, he serves as CEO of Speak Life Academy of Arts and Music. He is also a music ambassador with the U.S. State Department and ...
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  • Portrait for Chris Williamson

    Chris Williamson

    Adjunct Professor

    Chris is the founder and senior pastor of Strong Tower Bible Church, a multiracial fellowship in Nashville, Tenn. He has ministered abroad as an agent for spiritual reconciliation. He earned a Doctor of Strategic Leadership degree from Regent ...
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  • Portrait for Raymond Wise

    Raymond Wise

    Adjunct Faculty

    Raymond is a professor of practice in African American and African Diaspora Studies. He serves as the associate director of the African American Arts Institute, and is the director of the African American Choral Ensemble at Indiana University.
    Read Full Bio


Course Descriptions

Get details on all the courses you’ll complete as you work toward this degree at Trevecca.*

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Cohort Schedule

View a sample schedule of the courses you will be taking when you enroll.

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Worship Ministry Dynamics and Relationships
MWL 5000
An examination of the various roles of the worship leader and how they relate to pastoral staff dynamics. Special emphasis will be given to the relationship between the worship leader and senior pastor. Also considered are the relationship dynamics between the worship leader and other staff members, as well as between worship leader and the congregation.
Worship in the Old and New Testaments
MWL 5010
An exploration of the understanding and practices of worship in the Old and New Testaments. Includes study of the Tabernacle and temple as models for worship, worship by the prophets, Jesus and early Christians, worship in heaven and Trinitarian worship.
History of Worship in the Christian Church
MWL 5020
A study of worship in the early Christian church up to the present day with special attention given to the constants and transformations in Christian worship.
Theology of Christian Worship
MWL 5030
A study of the Biblical Theology of Worship and its relationship to the doctrines of redemption, priesthood of believers, Old and New Testament covenants, and eschatology. Attention is given to the student developing a practical worship theology, philosophy and methodology as applied to Christian graces, prayer, scripture, evangelism, and discipleship.
Spiritual Formation of the Worship Leader
MWL 5201
A study in heritage, theology, and practices of Christian spiritual formation as means of grace and applied to the ministry of worship leading.
Church Leadership and Contemporary Issues in Worship
MWL 6080
An examination of basic principles and models of leadership and administration specifically within the Christian Church. Special attention will be given to vision and guidance in navigating the local church including team building skills, the use of technology, and contemporary trends and issues related to worship.
Introduction to African American Worship Studies
MWL 6031
This course is an overview of African American Worship Studies as a discipline, including: The Dynamic Need for Worship Leadership in the Black church; African American Worship Theology; Spiritual Formation for African American Worship; The Calling to African American Worship Leadership; The African American Worshiper and Communication (music, message, and technology); and, African American Worship and Community.
Spiritual Formation for the African American Leader
MWL 6032
This course will address topics related to spiritual formation, including: The Biblical foundations of worship leading; integrity and accountability; leadership and authority; relationships and Christian graces; discipleship and stewardship; balance in ministry; and refreshing the soul.
Contemporary Trends in African American Worship
MWL 6033
This course will serve as an overview and synthesis of the basic building blocks of what it means to weave together faith, belief and behavior into African American Christian worship and mission.
History of African American Worship
MWL 6034
This course examines the following historical topics related to the history of African American Worship: Africa and its People; The Middle Passage Period; Part I 1750-1890 (Heritage, Colonization, Slavery and the quest for freedom – How God brought this people to this place in History); Part II 1890-1990 A New Age; and, Part III 1990-2025 – The Way Forward/A New Millennium.
Leadership and Team Building in the African American Community
MWL 6035
This course explores the basic building blocks of what it means to lead well in the African American community. Students will explore practical, research-based strategies for learning and growing personal and professional leadership capacities.
Human Imagination in African American Leadership
MWL 6036
This course examines several diverse issues including: cultural issues and worship; social norms and values; inter-generational relationships; reconciliation and multicultural issues; gender specific roles and the family; Church, worship and community; and Gospel Music as a business.

*For a complete list of courses, tracks and other relevant information, view the program's course catalog.