The ThM Degree

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Martin, Mar 26, 2005.

  1. Martin

    Martin
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    This fall I will graduate from Liberty University, with a Masters degree (MA/Religion: Biblical Studies). I was going to transfer to Regent for my second MA/New Testament. However due to costs (etc) I think I am staying at Liberty to get my MDiv/Biblical Studies (just with a focus on New Testament, which I really already have). I am, however, looking down the road even further. If teaching is the field I am interested in, would it be better to go directly into a PhD program right after the MDiv or would it be better to get the ThM first? Is the ThM (at Liberty or Southeastern) a good "work up" to the PhD?

    Just curious.

    Thanks.
    Martin.
     
  2. Dave G.

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    Martin,

    Whatever you do, make sure that the PhD/ThD program you want accepts ThM work. Some schools such as The Master's Seminary, Central Baptist, or Dallas Theological Seminary do so. But none of the Southern Baptist seminaries do, and so at one of them you would have to repeat all those ThM seminars.

    For what it's worth, I think the ThM is a good idea. It allows you a short-term goal and if circumstances dictate, a stopping point on the road to the doctorate, kind of like the MAR on the way to the MDiv.

    Dave G.
     
  3. Dave G.

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    And as an added bonus Martin, ThM tuition is usually cheaper than that for the ThD/PhD!

    DG
     
  4. gb93433

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    Many Ph.D. programs require a certain number of years of experience after a master's degree. Some theological schools require a mimimum proficiency in the biblical languages.
     
  5. Broadus

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    While the DMin typically requires a number of years experience after the MDiv, I'm not aware of an insitution that requires post-MDiv experience for the PhD.

    The statement about proficiency in biblical languages is correct, and usually a reading proficiency in two academic languages (at SBTS it was German, Latin, French, and, in some cases, Spanish) is required. That proficiency can often be obtained at the beginning of the program, or at least immediately preceeding it.

    Concerning acquiring a ThM, there is so much competition for a very few slots in Christian higher ed, particularly in NT, that having a ThM could be a plus. Also, unless you do both the ThM and PhD at the same seminary and it is a small one at that, you would not be repeating courses taken during the ThM but would be taking additional courses which would expand and deepen your educational experience. Then again, I know quite a few guys teaching at the seminary level who earned their PhD without having gone the ThM route. Personally, FWIW, I would choose my MDiv major and electives with the PhD in mind and not do a ThM. At least that's what I did.

    I hope you the best.

    Blessings,
    Bill
     
  6. Martin

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    I like the idea of the ThM before the PhD, and I am certainly leaning in that direction. What Bill said, about the lack of teaching positions, is a constant concern of mine (and one reason getting all the degrees I can is important). However I am not limited to Christian schools (as a teacher). I can teach in secular colleges as well. I have no problem with being some schools token conservative. However, for obvious reasons, I would rather be at a Christian college, university, or seminary. As the Lord leads, there I will go.

    As for repeating courses, I don't think that will be a problem. Liberty does not have a PhD. So if I were to get a ThM from Liberty any PhD program I would enter would probably not have me repeating the same classes (though I can see how this would be a concern). I think the ThM would give me good practice on the dissertation (since it will require a thesis) and doctoral level work. So for that reason, and the others, I am leaning towards a route that looks like: MAR/Biblical Studies, MDiv/Biblical Studies, ThM...PhD.

    The language requirements are something I will be dealing with during my MDiv. I have purposefully put it off until then. I wanted to enter New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's PhD/New Testament Textual Studies program, however I think that is HIGHLY unlikely. While I think I am an intelligent person, I doubt I could achieve their standards. Any PhD I will get will probably be in Systematic Theology or Biblical Studies and not New Testament (as I had desired). It seems as though New Orleans requirments are much higher than that of Southeastern (as far as the PhD/New Testament is concnerned).

    All of that aside: I know the Lord has called me to this, and He will clear the way. I like to jump ahead and worry (yes, a sin) about the future. However I have faith that the Lord will lead me in the right direction (He certainly has thus far).

    "Do not worry...but seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness" Matt 6:31-33 in part.

    Thanks for all the input, anything else anybody can add would be helpful.

    In Christ,
    Martin.
     
  7. PatsFan

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    You might want to make sure the PhD programs you are interested in will accept masters degrees from non-ATS accredited seminaries like Liberty. I know Liberty is RA and TRACS accreditied, but some seminary doctoral programs require ATS accredited graduate preparation. Good luck.
     
  8. gb93433

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    You do not need a position to teach, but God. The opportunities are endless. I could keep myself busy 24 hours each day if I wanted to. Over and over I have discipled more people outside of a church than I ever did on the inside being their pastor. When you lead a non-believer to Christ they know nothing other than what you give them. If they have spent a lot of time in church they often do not see Jesus but others. When you disciple someone you lead to Christ you begin to teach them ministry not church. Most churches beg and plead for others to help with things and lead ministries. But when you disciple others they are hungry to grow and want to help others. They catch the vision and want to reach others.

    When I was a student at a university I had a team that was about 65 students that had been won to Christ. That is slightly smaller than the average Southern Baptist Church. Everyone of those were in Bible study and prayer meetings praying for others. I started with one man I met who was a nominal Christian and within three years we had 65 on the team. We started a ministry among children in the church and God used us there to reach kids. To this day we had the largest children’s ministry that church has ever had.

    Two years ago where we once lived I met with 20 students for Bible study in three different Bible studies each week.. Not one of them were busy doing anything in a church. We started a team ministry and I taught them to share their faith and disciple others. Every one of them are in a church and doing ministry today.

    Many years ago I watched one man completely change a factory. The factory went from being a place of laziness and men who brought pornography to work to a place where men’s lives were changed by the gospel. It went from a place of filthy talk to a place where the Bible was talked about. Over and over I heard men tell me how their lives were changed by Christ through their boss.

    I did not know it before I pastored but when you begin pastoring your number of contacts are reduced to less than ½ of what you had before pastoring. When you are in the world you are around non-believers every day all day long.

    A man who sits next to me in my office is from Russia and knows why they had such troubles. I find him much easier to talk with about Christ than the average American.

    The man who taught me my profession for many years was a man that over a period of many years discipled people. When he died we saw about 640 at the funeral and many more than that who were pastors and missionaries who were not there. He had pastored for two years and decided it was not for him. Instead he got a regular job and started discipling people. Many more were reached by him than any pastor of any church in the area.

    About one year ago my wife and I met a lady in the church we were attending who had been a short term missionary in the Ukraine. She told us how people would come to her wanting to hear the gospel and how here Christians are shunned.

    I would like to think I was a good pastor. Each church I pastored grew well and I spoke at conferences and annual associational meetings, etc. But what I finally realized was that the church was not reaching as many as I had before when I formed teams from those who became believers.

    Being a pastor requires dealing with those who want to cause trouble and those who don’t like it when the church grows and they lose power and control. But when you disciple others they want to reach people. In fact SWBTS surveyed the theology students and found out that something like 2/3 did not want to be pastors. If God calls you to pastor then by all means do it. If not then don’t. Pastoring is not the only ministry to reach people by. All of us must die to self to reach others. Many churches need to die to self and will not and have not. Many of them must die if they expect to reach people.

    The church we are attending was essentially dead eight years ago. They could hardly pay the utilities. The old leadership was gone and the building was virtually empty. But a pastor came and started discipling people. The church runs about 2000 in attendance today. They just bought new land and built a new building. The church died and God brought it back to life. Every leader in the church is currently discipling others.

    Currently I am at a secular university and it is exciting. The students you disciple in that environment are among non-believers. They learn to share their faith and stand amidst their friends and other non-believers. They learn to know that it is Christ who makes them stand and give them strength. They quickly learn the importance of Bible study, prayer and fellowship. They see answers to their prayers.
     
  9. Martin

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    ==Thanks for mentioning that important point. I have checked on this and the schools I am interested in do accept degrees from Liberty. However that is an important point. It shows that no matter how your school is accredited one needs to check with the schools one plans to attend in the future to verify acceptance.

    Thanks
    Martin.
     
  10. Martin

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    [/qb][/QUOTE]You do not need a position to teach, but God. The opportunities are endless....Currently I am at a secular university and it is exciting. The students you disciple in that environment are among non-believers. They learn to share their faith and stand amidst their friends and other non-believers. They learn to know that it is Christ who makes them stand and give them strength. They quickly learn the importance of Bible study, prayer and fellowship. They see answers to their prayers. [/QB][/QUOTE]

    ==Thanks for those accounts. I agree that teaching opportunities are with us everyday. Indeed I believe that is part of the great commission found in Matthew 28. We are commanded to make disciples of people everywhere. Teaching those disciples to obey Christ and to be baptized.

    In Christ,
    Martin.
     
  11. RandR

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    Martin,

    If you're thinking of doing your PhD at a university with competitive entrance requirements, then a ThM is a good idea. It gives you an extra year of research and writing above and beyond the MDiv.

    If you're going to go to one of the six SBC schools or Regent for a PhD, and your MDiv grades are good, then you probably wouldn't need the extra year.
     
  12. JGrayhound

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    Not all of the 6 SBC seminaries are equally competitive.

    In fact, one is quite difficult to get into depending upon your field.
     
  13. Rhetorician

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    Martin,

    Just throw this in the mix.

    If you are wanting to teach, there has been a movement inside the SBS for folk to get a "union card" MDiv and then go to a secular university and do a cognate disxipline PhD.

    An example of this is David Dockeryat UU and Danny Akin at SEBTS.

    Then you can teach at a secular university, seminary, college, or Bible college. The PhD from "Secular U." does make a difference, even for the so called conservative seminaries.

    Food for thought!

    And if this is your case the ThM is considered by many as the seminary equivalent to the university MA and will surely help any direction you go.

    sdg!

    rd
     
  14. UZThD

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    Since The ATS sort of ThM is a four year masters requiring-- at least at Western when I rec'd the degree in '94-- Heb/Grk, high GPA, thesis, and comps, I don't see why any informed person would suppose the MA is similar at all to the ThM in terms of duration, rigor, or outcomes!

    Nor will the MA get one into some doc programs as Dallas'. Even the MDiv will not get one into some doc programs as at the Master's Seminary. At the Baptist in Pa. one with a ThM does considerably less coursework than one with only a MDiv. Quite a few teach at college or even seminary level with just the ThM.

    I think that extra year (actually took me two since I was working fulltime) provided me with skills and background knowledge to be successful in doc work.

    I'd recommend doing the ThM.
     
  15. El_Guero

    El_Guero
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    So, are you guys saying that the Th.M. is 1 year after the MDiv or 4 years?
     
  16. NateT

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    At SBTS it is one year. I think they give you up to 2.5 to do it, but it is expected you take ~ 12 hours a semester and it takes 1 year.
     
  17. NateT

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    What kind of person should get a ThM? I'm wondering, is it only for people who are planning on doing PhD work or is it sometimes viewed as an "alternative" to PhD -- you do some research, but don't get all the benefits of a PhD (like teaching at a university)

    Thanks
     
  18. UZThD

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    The ThM is one year after the MDiv at Western, so, it is a "four year masters"--not 1 or 2 year as an MA. It allows a concentration. At Dallas it is four years. A similar nomenclature is used in some foreign programs as UNIZUL or SATS, and even some unaccredited USA schools, but those are altogether different programs.

    While my experience may not be standard, it is my perception that the extra year of concentrated study and the doing of a ThM thesis was very helpful in prep for doc work. As said, some schools, allow some doc credit for the ThM work and others require it to enter doc studies . Yet to other schools it makes no diff at all whether one has done addl studies beyond the MDiv.

    Nevertheless, regardless of some differences, it should be clear to anyone that in general Theological studies at the doc level can be among the most demanding in terms of entry and completion reqs IF done in schools which are (really) accredited or which have the equivalent rigor of accredited ones. In secular areas a one year MA may move one right into a PhD program ; that seldom occurs in USA accred , Evangelical Theological programs.

    A ThM, as said, provides addl study in an area of interest. It is NOT an alternative to a PhD, but a few do teach with the ThM. I suppose it primarily is taken by those who anticipate doing further grad studies as in a PhD/ThD. .
     
  19. Broadus

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    NOBTS is doubtlessly a quality seminary, but I wouldn't be scared away from doing a degree emphasis because the requirements seemed too high. If you do well in you language studies at the MDiv level, and especially if you continue with the ThM, I am confident that you will be equipped to handle whatever New Orleans requires.

    I'm not sure, though, that a PhD in systematic theology would be the best route for teaching in a secular university. One in philosophy, history, or perhaps biblical studies may find more open doors. I'm really not sure, but it may be something you want to investigate.

    Whatever route you take, be prepared for a long haul. It's been well said that doing a PhD is something like 90 percent perseverance and 10 percent intelligence.

    Also, a pastor friend once made the observation that completing the MDiv is much more difficult than talking about a PhD!

    Blessings,
    Bill
     
  20. Broadus

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    Secular PhD's are typically built upon the MA because the MA itself was built upon the BA. Theological education is, of course, a horse of a different color because the MDiv is not built upon anything. While the bachelor's degree is required for entrance, the MDiv includes quite a few general courses which would be like upper level (300 and 400) college courses. Hence, what is now our MDiv was usually called the bachelor of divinity until a few decades ago.

    Some schools, Wheaton and TEDS come to mind, offer MA's which are built upon an undergrad BA in a particular field of religion. If my increasingly faulty memory is correct, one can do a PhD at TEDS under such a scenario.

    Idealistically, a ThM between the MDiv and PhD is a good thing. Practically, I'm not sure that it is necessary, especially if one has done real well in his MDiv. At SBTS, applicants for the PhD who come up a bit short in entrance requirements and yet show academic promise are encouraged to enter the ThM program. The courses will not count towards the PhD but will almost assure entrance into the PhD.

    Some students do a ThM in order to add breadth to their training. For instance, one may do a ThM in OT and then follow that with a PhD in NT. One may do a ThM in philosophy and follow with a PhD in systematic theology.

    Blessings,
    Bill
     

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