Master of Divinity

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In the academic study of theology, the Master of Divinity (MDiv, magister divinitatis in Latin) is the first professional degree of the pastoral profession in North America. It is the most common academic degree in seminaries and divinity schools (e.g. in 2014 nearly 44% of all U.S. students in schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools were enrolled in an MDiv program).[1][2] In many Christian denominations and in some other religions the degree is the standard prerequisite for ordination to the priesthood or pastorship or other appointment, ordination or licensing to professional ministry. At accredited seminaries in the United States this degree requires between 72 and 106 credit hours of study (72 being the minimum determined by academic accrediting agencies and 106 being on the upper end of certain schools that wish to ensure a broader study of the related disciplines).

The second Christian accreditation organisation for a Master of Divinity degree is the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS).[3] A government list[4] presents national educational accreditation agencies that focuses narrowly on Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries seeking collegiate accreditation in the United States.[5] TRACS, which recognizes universities and seminaries, which lead to the MDiv degree, is based in Forest, Virginia. It is recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.[6] Recognicion Decision Summary:.[7] Some universities and seminaries (schools), aligned to TRACS and ABHE (see below) offer the MDiv degree also to students from abroad, learning by Distance education.

The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) lists also universities and seminaries which offer professional degrees, like M.Min.; MDiv.; Th.M. and Doctorates, like D.Min.; Ph.D.. Some schools are listed in more than one association,[8] like both, membership in ATS[9] and ABHE[10] at the same time (which may mean that evolutionists and creationists may have merged: Creation–evolution controversy). In higher Christian education, both views are usually considered, - in Christian terms: Liberal Christianity or "historical critical method" ("God is dead" theology): "Die Vorstellung einer Inspiration der biblischen Texte spielt bei der historisch-kritischen Exegese kaum eine Rolle." English: "The presumption of an inspiration of the biblical texts play hardly any role in the historic critical method." - compare: Thomas J. J. Altizer - Christian atheism or Death of God theology[11] or radical theology versus fundamentalist theology, or theology, which lately has resulted in the Book The Myth of God Incarnate, edited by John Hick, have merged with standards evangelical schools have adopted.

Both parties in the past often did not speak with each other. Agreement often only arises, when the Bible says (Luke 13:32),[12] that Herod was a "fox",[13] used as a (metaphor by Jesus). None of the liberals or the fundamentalists (traditionalists)[14] or Evangelical Christianity believe that literally. The case, as it stands now, is, that maybe in a fundamentalistic school "Rudolf Bultmann"[15] may be studied and in a liberal school Dwight L. Moody. The battle is depicted in the balance of the nine persons in the Supreme Court of the United States which are chosen sometimes for their religious beliefs and not only their politics (Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia) - a devout Roman Catholic.

"There are universities such as the University of Bonn in Germany that offer degree courses in "Ecumenical Studies"[16] - Ecumenism or modern ecumenical movement - in which theologians of various denominations teach their respective traditions and, at the same time, seek for common ground between these traditions." Liberal, God-believing Christians, are as much found in the World Council of Churches history[17] (whole Church bodies as members - are the "fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures"),[18] as evangelical Bible centered Christians group together in the World Evangelical Alliance[19] (individual membership). Both would exculude Atheism! Left out is the education of Roman Catholic priests and Orthodox Christianity (in the case of TRACS and ABHE).

Radical Theology, as often taught in seminars and universities, is often strange to both of them (to these Ecumenists[20] as these Evangelicals). In terms of the High Court of the United States: "the highest court of the United States is a pillar of American institutions, with the executive and Congress, and consists of nine wise appointed for life whose balance currently favors "preservatives" (a revilement of conservatives of any sort)[21] (five against four judges considered "progressive")... Supreme Court of nine wise, four considered conservative (John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito). A fifth, Justice Anthony Kennedy, also ranked among conservatives but it (he) sometimes takes a position alongside the other four judges considered progressive.".[22] That was the reason according to one of the exponents of one of the two conservative (Bible centered) parties, why TRACS and as is obvious, ABHE, have had a chance to also offer their students government recognized titles. According "Progressive Wins in the Supreme Court"... "Having a more liberal Supreme Court (by electing Hillary Clinton) would do wonders for having more progressive laws in the next generation."[23] The balance of politics also has its influence on the academic (religious) world.

Christian MDiv programs generally include studies in Christian ministry and theology. In 1996 the Association of Theological Schools established the standard that all accredited MDiv programs should include the following four content areas: Religious Heritage, Cultural Context, Personal and Spiritual Formation, and Capacity for Ministerial and Public Leadership.[24] Coursework usually includes studies in New Testament Greek, theology, philosophy, church history, pastoral theology, Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), and New Testament studies. Many programs also contain courses in church growth, ecclesiology, evangelism, systematic theology, Christian education, liturgical studies, Latin, Hebrew, canon law, and patristics.[25] The degree may or may not include a thesis. One finds, that in all the higher schools (seminaries and universities) Historical criticism is being treated. Therefore, one finds in all these different groups of schools and thought "fundamental liberals" as "liberal fundamentalists", especially among the students. There are times when both parties don't speak with each other. "The middle is hard to maintain. Both sides are always seducing you in their direction in a never ending war for your soul and mind. The middle is also a lonely place. You tend to make more enemies than friends." (addressing: "Liberal Fundamentalism").[26]

Requirement for ordination[edit]

The MDiv is a requirement for ordination in many denominations. For example, the United Methodist Church, one of the largest Protestant Christian denominations in the U.S.,[27] whose students in 2014 made up 9% of all MDiv students enrolled in schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools,[28] requires candidates for ordination as elder to earn an MDiv[29] and requires candidates for ordination as deacon to earn an MDiv or related degree.[30]

Contemporary usage[edit]

The Master of Divinity has replaced the Bachelor of Divinity in most United States seminaries as the first professional degree, since the former title implied in the American academic system that it was on a par with a Bachelor of Arts or other basic undergraduate education even though a bachelor's degree was and remains a prerequisite for entrance into graduate divinity programs. The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada accredits most Christian schools in North America and approves the degree programs they offer, including the MDiv.

The MDiv is a significantly more extensive program than most taught (as opposed to research-based) master's degrees. In the United States the degree usually consists on average of 90 semester hours, as opposed to the usual 36 or 48. Ordination in most mainline Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church thus requires seven or eight years of education past high school: the first four in undergraduate studies leading to a bachelor's degree (which may or may not be in a related field) and then three or four years of seminary or divinity school education leading to the MDiv.

The MDiv stands in contrast to the Master of Arts (M.A.) in theology and Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.), 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.), Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.), Master of Theology (M.Th.), Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.), and Master of Religion (M.Rel.), which are also academic degrees. Schools with Pontifical faculties in North America often award both the MDiv and S.T.B. at the same time after a three-year period of graduate studies.

Enrollment differences between genders[edit]

Although in 2014 women made up approximately 53% of all students enrolled in ministerial non-MDiv degree programs at U.S. schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, they constituted only approximately 29% of all MDiv students in the same schools in that year.[31] The group with the most parity in MDiv enrollment numbers between men and women at those schools in that time period were African American students, among whom enrollment numbers were almost equal between genders.[32]


For the 2014-2015 academic year the average cost per year for MDiv tuition and fees at a school accredited by the Association of Theological Schools was $14,673.50 in the U.S. and $9,493.25 in Canada.[33]


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  2. ^ "2014 - 2015 Annual Data Tables" (PDF). The Association of Theological Schools. Table 2.10-B Head Count Enrollment by Degree Category and Program United States: The Association of Theological Schools. p. 31. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
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  5. ^ "TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools About". Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. 2013. Retrieved 2015-09-06. 
  6. ^ "All Accreditors" (PDF). Council for Higher Education Accreditation. 2008. Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
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  24. ^ O'Gorman, Robert T. (2007). "Reflections of an 'Investigative Journalist' on the Four Content Areas of the MDiv" (PDF). Theological Education. The Association of Theological Schools. 43 (1): 1–2. ISSN 0040-5620. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  25. ^ For an example of an MDiv degree outline see "Master of Divinity (MDiv) Degree Outline". Fuller Theological Seminary. Fuller Theological Seminary. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Fifteen Largest Protestant Denominations". Pew Research Center Religion & Public Life. Pew Research Center. May 7, 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  28. ^ "2014 - 2015 Annual Data Tables" (PDF). The Association of Theological Schools. Table 2.16 Church/Denominational Affiliation of Students Currently Enrolled, 2014 United States: The Association of Theological Schools. p. 54. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  29. ^ The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (2012 ed.). Section IX ¶335: The United Methodist Publishing House. 2012. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-426-71812-0. 
  30. ^ The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (2012 ed.). Section VII ¶330: The United Methodist Publishing House. 2012. p. 248. ISBN 978-1-426-71812-0. 
  31. ^ "2014 - 2015 Annual Data Tables" (PDF). The Association of Theological Schools. Table 2.12-B Head Count Enrollment by Race or Ethnic Group, Degree, and Gender, 2014 United States: The Association of Theological Schools. p. 37. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  32. ^ "2014 - 2015 Annual Data Tables" (PDF). The Association of Theological Schools. Table 2.12-B Head Count Enrollment by Race or Ethnic Group, Degree, and Gender, 2014 United States: The Association of Theological Schools. p. 37. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  33. ^ "2014 - 2015 Annual Data Tables" (PDF). The Association of Theological Schools. Table 4.1 Average Tuition and Fees Charged for Selected Degree Programs by Full-Time Equivalent Enrollment: The Association of Theological Schools. p. 139. Retrieved 17 September 2015.