Worship and Music Masters Degree at Cairn University


I sat down with Dr. Benjamin Harding, Dean of the School of Music at Cairn University (formerly Philadelphia Biblical University) in suburban Philadelphia (Langhorne, PA) to discuss their new – and fully online – graduate program for church musicians.

Watson: Thanks for taking time to share about this exciting program! Briefly describe Cairn University’s new Masters (MA) in Worship & Music degree, including the type of student for whom it was created.

Harding: Absolutely! We created the program for persons in worship ministry to enrich all aspects of what they do with music and worship in the church, from planning to execution (and everything in between). This degree will benefit those serving as worship leaders, or those who desire to do so, as well as members of worship music teams. We want to prepare church musicians to thoughtfully take part in worship ministry by providing a robust study of worship theology and history paired with an industry- leading, practical study of music technology in a fully online program. Our program is especially for persons who may have natural musical giftedness and passion for making music, but need to fill in some gaps of formal musical training in order to better help their praise team and congregation.

Watson: What motivated Cairn University to develop this program, and to do so now?

Harding: In general, but especially coming out of the pandemic, we saw the need to come alongside the church to encourage and build up gospel-centered worship ministry. Cairn’s program was intentionally developed as a liberal arts degree, meaning it combines practical musical application with strong theology.

Watson: What are some noteworthy highlights of the MA in Worship & Music coursework that might be of interest to those considering it?

Harding: Our curriculum consists of a helpful array of relevant content, taught by faculty with expertise and experience, delivered online in accessible, 7-week sessions. Some course highlights include:

  • “Planning Worship Theologically” – Worship service design and content is an opportunity for us to create meaningful expressions of worship for our congregation in order for them to become passionate disciples of Jesus Christ. This course surveys how worship was planned in the Bible, and throughout church history and then helps students to plan worship services for their congregation.
  • “Advanced Worship Technology” & “Advanced Contemporary Arranging” – We show participants how to creatively use today’s tech tools (such as notation and multi-track music production software) to enhance music in worship.
  • “Applied Ethnomusicology in Worship” – With the emergence of ethnodoxology in the field of missions and worship we have a full course devoted to the understanding of worship music from cultures around the world.

Watson: Some great content for sure! Must one register as a full-time, matriculating Cairn University graduate student to participate? What are the options?

Harding: While some are full-time, students can also take courses à la carte if they like. We’ve made it extremely flexible to fit whatever works best for the student. At present, tuition is a simple, flat $300 per credit rate.

Watson: Where can readers learn more about the program, including information about registering?

Harding: To learn more, please visit our website, and feel free to contact us in the School of Music at Cairn University. We’d love to connect! https://cairn.edu/programs/worship-music-ma-online

Dr. Scott Watson attends Cedar Crest Bible Fellowship Church (Allentown, PA) and teaches in the School of Music at Cairn University (Langhorne, PA).


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