Master's of Divinity and Master's of Theology

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Squidward, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. Squidward

    Squidward
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    I noticed that a MDiv usually takes more credits than a master's of Theology. I've also noticed that many people see the theology degree as the better degree.

    First, why are more credits needed for a Divinity

    Second, is the Theology degree more intense on research and can one go into a ThM program straight from a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management?

    Thanks:thumbsup:
     
  2. preachinjesus

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    Well, as with so many things academically, it depends on where you're looking.

    In general (exceptions noted below) the MDiv is the basic degree a seminary offers. The MDiv is usually about 90 hours and is similar to the JD and MD in terms of length of study (though, sadly, often less rigorous than either of the two.) The general structure of the MDiv is to prepare a candidate for vocational ministry by equipping them with course in biblical studies, theology, philosophy, languages, and so forth. It is a robust professional degree.

    The Masters in Theology can refer to two different degrees. One is the Master of Arts (MATh) in Theology which is usually a Masters that is around 45 hours with thesis. The other is the Masters in Theology (ThM) which is about 30 hours with thesis. The MATh is a research based degree that has little core components and the structure is up to the student like many other masters degrees in other field. (I don't think this is the one you're asking about.) The ThM is a one year theologically intensive research degree tacked onto the end of MDiv study to give a more focused research time since so much of the MDiv is built on professional studies. The ThM always (with one, noted below, exception) requires an MDiv as a prerequisite. It has a thesis, usually, which ends up being an extended, focused study on a topic that one will likely use for entrance into a PhD programme. Most PhD programmes don't accept the MDiv as a stand alone degree unless special circumstances permitted more focused research study.

    The one exception to the ThM (that I know of) is Dallas Theological Seminary where the ThM is the basic degree and is 120 hours. It contains all of the components of an MDiv study at other seminaries but adds language and theological studies.

    Unless you are speaking of going into DTS' programme, I've never seen anyone be able to get into a ThM with just an undergrad.

    Hope that helps. :)
     
  3. Squidward

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    Good info. That answers all of my questions. I guess it's a long term committment, especially if you plan on going part time. Thanks!

    I'm feeling the calling for full time ministry but want some more formal education besides my undergrad business degree. Of course many Baptist churches care little about credentials as long as they like the message and the messenger.
     
    #3 Squidward, Feb 10, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2012
  4. Rhetorician

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    Hello Dear Brothers,

    I would make one correction/exception to my brother's comments above. If there is a British or South African model then the MTh or ThM might be no more than the 40-50 semester hours.

    And some of the SA programs have a MTh that can be done without any course work and by a thesis "research only" model. But these both seem to be built on the BTh which can be completely different than the American BA/BS.

    So it goes without saying, if you see someone from the British Isles or SA with a ThM or MTh that it may be completely different that what preachingjesus so laid out in such a scholarly way above.

    My two cents worth!!!

    "That is all!" :smilewinkgrin:
     
  5. Greektim

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    And I believe it is simply "master of divinity" or "master of theology". The word "master" is neither possessive (no need for the apostrophe then) nor plural (no need for the s).
     
  6. glfredrick

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    As with all degree programs, one must understand the catalog of the institution granting the degree. They are not all created equal.

    An M.Div. in one institution would be different than in another, while a Th.M. may or may not be a higher degree than an M.Div.

    No way to simply pin a label on degree work without also checking the sanctioning, accreditation, etc.

    For instance at SBTS (Southern) the Th.M. is a terminal degree that is granted for further study after the M.Div. It has less hours, but takes a higher level to enter the program. It also requires a dissertation to complete, similar to a D.Min., Ed.D., or Ph.D.
     
  7. Squidward

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    Gotcha! I usually use the word(s) in singular form but was off on that. :thumbs:
     
  8. Squidward

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    I've been studying this and have found that a Th.M, is quite an advanced degree which is the reason why I put this thread on the board. For most other programs a simple Masters degree is a 30-50 hour program that follows undergrad work. Still other fields of study give a J.D. for the same tract.

    What I do know is that when one surrenders their life to the will of God their motivations, dreams, and goals take a complete 180 degree change. About this time a year ago I was researching good MBA schools and planning a career change with a move to the deep south. God said "Not so fast." :)
     
  9. jonathan.borland

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    If you have it in you, go for the resident MDiv at a good seminary and pray for a small struggling church who quite frankly can't get anyone else. Let God use you to pastor the people, they'll take care of you and your education will be more meaningful because your practical questions will be real and not theoretical like many of the other "seminarians'."
     
  10. glfredrick

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    A regular Masters is a graduate level degree that "adds on" to the BS or BA. At Southern, A Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) would be a 48-50 hour degree.

    An M.Div. is a more comprehensive degree that requires almost as many hours as does the original undergrad degree (80-96 or more in some institutions). At Southern this is an 88 hour degree with additional hours required for some students if remedial work is required in languages, etc.

    A Th.M. follows an M.Div. or M.A. and is considered a higher degree. Most cannot apply for a Th.M. unless they have first completed a Master-level graduate degree of some type that qualifies at the institution applied at.
     
  11. PilgrimPastor

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    I did almost exactly that and it is BEST to be in the pastorate of a small church while earning the M.Div. :thumbs:
     
  12. Havensdad

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    Again, I have found this to be incorrect. Very few programs require a ThM for admittance to a Ph.D. program any more. Maybe some SECULAR universities do. But, for instance, the "Big Six" all allow entrance into Ph.D. programs with an M.Div. For instance:

    http://www.sbts.edu/future-students.../doctoral-programs/research-doctoral-degrees/

    Prestigious Westminster Seminary does as well...

    http://www.wts.edu/catalog/degree_programs/phd.html

    As does Fuller

    http://www.fuller.edu/academics/school-of-theology/cats/phd-in-theology.aspx

    In fact, with the exception of DTS (which is strange in regards to its degree programs), I could not find a single seminary that required any degree except an M.Div.

    The top tier secular programs are even more lenient. Harvard does not even require a Master's degree (only a Bachelors) for entrance into its Ph.D. program....

    http://www.gsas.harvard.edu/programs_of_study/religion.php

    Nor does Vanderbilt

    http://divinity.vanderbilt.edu/degrees/graduate/gradprogramguidelines.php

    Or Yale....

    http://www.yale.edu/religiousstudies/fields.html#The

    Or Duke....

    http://www.duke.edu/web/gradreligion/academics/index.html


    Very few, if any (other than DTS), "require" a ThM...
     
  13. preachinjesus

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    And you're in what PhD program currently?
     
  14. Squidward

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    Thanks for all of your info everyone. All of this info I would take serious consideration. Accreditation is not as imprtant to me for a seminary degree as it was for my undergrad degree from Judson which is regionally accredited and a very good school. I'm not saying I'll accept a cracker jack toy degree, but a grad seminary degree from a good school.
     
  15. Havensdad

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    Not in one. I have been researching this for a while, though, because I am planning on doing a Doctorate. But seeing as how I am a pastor, I have opted for the D.Min., instead...hoping to do it at Southern.
     
  16. glfredrick

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    I've assisted over 100 others to their D.Min. at Southern. Program is as good as you make it. In other words, you can scrape by and get your letters or you can put work into it and make it something. I've seen plenty of both. Dissertations from 65 pages of nothing to 150 pages of God-honoring cutting edge work that blessed the kingdom!

    I recommend Graham School for their latitude.
     
  17. Greektim

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    My ThM thesis has to be 120 pages... that's seems pretty short even for a DMin dissertation.
     
  18. glfredrick

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    It all depends on the catalog requirements for the year one enters the program. At Southern it was 75, with some getting by with as little as 65 for some reason or another, and today it is 100 to 125, with exceptions for more, but not less.

    Also, D.Min. and Th.M. dissertations are of a differing nature. A D.Min. is typically a ministery project conducted at the local church (or something similar, perhaps a hospital, etc.) and with minimal emphasis on research and maximum ephasis on the actual project, results, etc. A Th.M., on the other hand, is a pure research project akin to a Ph.D. Much study, reading, library and journal work, etc., to press the goalposts foward theologically instead of ministerially.
     

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