Degree Programs and Academic Information
MASTER OF DIVINITY, PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
The Master of Divinity, a three-year course of study, is recognized by The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) as the basic professional degree. The theological education associated with this degree has service to the church as its central focus. Predicated on the assumption that ministers in the church should share a common theological substructure irrespective of their particular calling, the School of Divinity offers the Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.) in six concentrations, each sharing a common 60-hour core comprised of biblical studies, historical/theological studies, spiritual formation, and ministry studies. Beyond the core, students may choose, by means of a 30-hour concentration, to earn the M.Div. degree with a concentration in Pastoral Studies, Biblical Studies, Christian Education and Formation, Intercultural Studies, Pastoral Care and Counseling or Missiology.
Emphasizing theological reflection and ministerial formation, this course of study is designed to provide men and women with a comprehensive, in-depth knowledge of the body of divinity and to help ministers develop the skills necessary for effective ministry. “Real world” ministry situations, surfaced by the students themselves, serve as catalysts for theological reflection in interdisciplinary courses, team-taught seminars, and spiritual formation experiences.
Moreover, not only does the curriculum seek to bridge the gap between “theory” and “practice” in ministry, but also to help the student to synthesize and integrate the theological content of the various disciplines of the body of divinity.
The School of Divinity's “Be, Know and Do Statement,” encapsulated in the M. Div. “Program Objectives” (see page 136), is the guiding document around which the curriculum is built.
The M.Div. core curriculum is designed to be integrative, inductive, and interactive. Seeking to move beyond the artificial dichotomy between “theory” and “practice” that has often characterized theological education, the curriculum requires students to reflect theologically on the practice of ministry while they are actually engaged in ministry. The common core of divinity means that every student, irrespective of his/her ultimate vocational ministry, will share the same biblical/theological substructure for ministry, thus making “shared ministry” and “pastoral teamship” less an ideal and more a reality. Moreover, such an approach fosters a genuine appreciation for ministerial diversity and the rich variety of the ministries of the church.
A guiding principle behind the core curriculum is that effective ministry is not simply a function of what the minister knows, or even what the minister does, but must also include what the minister is, both personally and vocationally. Assessment of who students “are,” what students “know,” and what students can “do” is informed by pre- and post-tests, specific assignments and assessment interview/conferences associated with the following core courses:
- Introduction to Theological Education for Ministry (to be taken during first year of study)
- Spiritual Formation: The Christian Journey
- Old Testament
- New Testament
- Christian History
- Christian Theology
- Administration and Leadership in the Church
- Introduction to Preaching
- Introduction to Worship in the Church
- Missions and Evangelization
- Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling
- The Theory and Practice of Ministry and Capstone Seminar
Beyond the 60-hour core, students must choose one of six concentrations each requiring a further 30 hours: Pastoral Studies, Biblical Studies, Christian Education and Formation, Pastoral Care and Counseling, Missiology, or Intercultural Studies; or in place of a concentration the student may pursue one of five dual degree programs – the M.Div./M.B.A., the M.Div./M.A. in English, the M.Div./M.A. in English Education, the M.Div./M.A./Ed.S. in Mental Health Counseling, or the M.Div./M.A. in Religion.
Recognizing the importance of ministerial formation, each student’s progress is tracked throughout his or her divinity school experience. Evidence of movement toward maturity in spiritual and ministerial formation is gathered into a student portfolio. Such vehicles as the Profiles of Ministry Instrument Stage I, Annual Mentor Conference, Formations small group experiences, Assessment Interviews and a Capstone Conference each emphasize that genuine spiritual formation involves healthy relationships toward self, others, the material world, and God.
While Chapel attendance is voluntary, participation in a Formations group is a component of each of the four core spiritual formations courses: Introduction to Theological Education for Ministry (DSSF100), Spiritual Formation: The Christian Journey (DSSF200), The Theory and Practice of Ministry (DSSF300), and Capstone Seminar (DSSF301). Faculty, students, and staff work together to plan, lead, and participate in weekly Chapel worship experiences.
A small group Formations experience is led by each student’s faculty mentor (and by the instructor of the DSSF100 night class) in conjunction with all spiritual formation classes. As the name Formations suggests, relative issues of ministerial formation are addressed, such as integrity, stress, worship, ministerial identity, and spiritual discipline.
In consultation with the faculty mentor the student selects for inclusion in the Student Portfolio three to five examples of his/her best work done at various junctures during the course of study. Anecdotal items such as journal entries or faculty comments may also be included in the portfolio. A Ministry Formation Notation, should one be given, may likewise be placed in the Student Portfolio any time a matter of ministerial formation should be noted by a faculty member. These items become discussion points at Spring Mentor Conferences, the Assessment Interview and the Capstone Conference. The portfolio becomes the property of the School of Divinity for a period not to exceed ten years, with a copy provided to the student at the student’s request.
SUPERVISED MINISTRY EXPERIENCE
Students will also participate in an approved Supervised Ministry Experience (SME). During two consecutive semesters of his/her M.Div. degree program, each student will serve in a ministry position, either volunteer or paid, which will involve the student in significant leadership opportunities requiring responsibility in planning, administering, leading, and evaluating.
These two semesters of SME will be taken in conjunction with The Theory and Practice of Ministry and Capstone Seminar (DSSF300 and DSSF301) in which each student will serve a minimum of 10 hours weekly in the ministry placement. Proposed SME placement must be approved by the Associate Dean of the School of Divinity who administers the program and oversees student progress in a ministry setting.