Christianity Knowledge Base

Master of Divinity (M.Div.) is the first professional degree in Divinity in the United States, and is a common academic degree in theological seminaries. In many denominations of Christianity, and of some other religions, this degree is the standard prerequisite for ordination to the priesthood or pastorship or other appointment, ordination or licensing to professional ministry.

It generally includes studies in Christian ministry and theology. Coursework usually includes studies in New Testament Greek, theology, philosophy, church history, pastoral theology, and Old and New Testament studies. Many programs also contain courses in church growth, ecclesiology, evangelism, systematic theology, Christian education, liturgical studies, Latin, Hebrew, canon law, patristics, and the like. Courses in pastoral counseling and psychology are also standard parts of an M.Div. program. In addition, the degree may or may not include a thesis.

The Master of Divinity has replaced the Bachelor of Divinity in most United States seminaries as the first professional degree, since the latter title implies in the American academic system that it is on a par with a Bachelor of Arts or other basic undergraduate education. The M.Div. is a significantly more extensive program than most master's degrees, as it usually consists of ninety or more semester hours, as opposed to the usual thirty-six or forty-eight.

The M.Div. stands in contrast to the M.A. in Theology and Master of Theological Studies, the usual academic degrees in the subject (which tend not to include "pastoral" or "practical" courses), and the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) and Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) (for Catholics) and master of Theology M.Th. and Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) (for many others), which tend to be academic rather than pastoral degrees as well. Pontifical universities in North America often award both the MDiv and STB after a three year period of studies.

The doctoral degree associated with the M.Div. is the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.), as the Doctor of Theology, Doctor of Philosophy, and Doctor of Sacred Theology all tend to be academic rather than ministerial degrees. In recent years, however, it is not at all unusual for the holder of the M.Div. to go on, earning either the Ph.D. or Th.D. as well as the D.Min. Graduates of the MDiv who completed a thesis as part of their degree are often eligible for admission into PhD or ThD programmes. The Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) is normally only awarded as an honorary degree in the United States; in the United Kingdom it is the highest degree at most universities, normally awarded for a significant body of published work of high quality.

See also[]

  • Graduate Programs in Religion
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