Bachelor of Divinity

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In Western universities, a Bachelor of Divinity / Baccalaureate in Divinity (BD or BDiv) is usually a Postgraduate academic degree awarded for a course taken in the study of divinity or related disciplines, such as theology or, rarely, religious studies.

At the Universities of Cambridge and Dublin and previously at the University of Oxford, the BD is a postgraduate qualification, and applicants must have already completed an undergraduate degree before being accepted into the course;[1][2] the same was formerly true at the University of Oxford, where the degree ceased to be offered in 2005.[3] Registration for Cambridge's BD is only open to senior graduates of that University.[4]

In the Catholic Universities the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (STB) is often called the Baccalaureate in Divinity (BD) and is treated as a postgraduate qualification.

In most modern universities, the BD is essentially equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts degree with a speciality in divinity. Relatively few institutions award Bachelor of Divinity degrees today, and the distinction between institutions which do award such degrees and those which award B.A. degrees for theological subjects is usually one of university bureaucracy, rather than curriculum.

United Kingdom[edit]

Current examples of when this degree is taught as an undergraduate programme in the United Kingdom are[5] the University of St Andrews (where entrants must hold a degree in another discipline); Queen’s University, Belfast; the University of Wales, Lampeter; Bangor University; the University of Aberdeen; University of Edinburgh; University of Glasgow. Note the pre-eminence of the Scottish institutions due to the BA being alternative to the Scottish MA.

The University of Durham BD was of a similar nature, and available to graduates of seven years' standing. It was awarded on the basis of published work of a similar extent to a PhD – the usual basis for the award was a book. It is no longer awarded. St Mary's College at the University of St Andrews – where the main undergraduate award is the MTheol (Master of Theology) – offers the BD following a three year course of study for graduates in other disciplines.

Heythrop College, a constituent institution of the University of London offers the BD course parallel to a Bachelor of Arts programme in Theology.[6] However, here the BD is indicated for candidates of the Roman Catholic Priesthood. Heythrop College, first founded as a Jesuit institution, is a specialist centre for the study of Theology and Philosophy related studies.


In Ireland St. Patrick's College, Maynooth (Pontifical University) offer the Baccalaureate in Divinity (BD) Degree which is available to students who already have completed studies in Theology or Philosophy,[7] as does the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy. Most other Catholic seminaries Clonliffe College, Thurles, Carlow etc., would have awarded the BD degree. Trinity College Dublin as it traditionally did for Church of Ireland clergy offer a Bachelor in Divinity (BD)[8] it is classified as a postgraduate course. The Presbyterian Union Theological College as part of Queen’s University, Belfast also award the Bachelor of Divinity as an undergraduate qualification.

Other countries[edit]

Bachelor of Divinity offered in the region of South Asia by the affiliated colleges under the Senate of Serampore College is rather a post-graduate qualification in the sense that only graduates can register for BD.

The same has applied in New Zealand, where the undergraduate degree is BTheol. Until recently both were offered at the University of Otago. The BD was the older, postgraduate degree and was usually attained by people training for ministry in the Presbyterian Church. BD is no longer offered by the University of Otago.

The Master of Divinity has replaced the Bachelor of Divinity in most American 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.

See also[edit]