Funding Your Theological Education
Planning carefully for your theological education is a wise personal and spiritual practice. The Office of Admissions, Vocation, and Stewardship is here to individually assist you in planning for and beyond your Divinity School education.
A typical financial aid package may include scholarships, federally-funded graduate student loans, and college work-study employment. To be eligible for financial aid, students must be enrolled in at least six credit hours per each fall and spring semester. To learn more about financing your education, follow the links below or scroll down the page:
No additional application is required to be considered for most merit-based awards, although applicants must complete all application materials by January 15 to be considered for one of our named, full-tuition scholarships. All applicants, regardless of citizenship, are eligible to be considered for scholarships on the basis of your application for admission. Scholarships, varying in value, apply toward tuition costs and are renewable based on full- or part-time student status. See the chart below for information about scholarship eligibility:
|SCHOLARSHIP ELIGIBILITY*||Full-Time Students (12+ hrs/sem.)||Part-Time Students (9 or fewer hrs/sem.)|
|Master of Divinity (MDiv)||3 years, including 2 summer terms||4 years, including 3 summer terms|
|Master of Theological Studies (MTS)||2 years, including 1 summer term||3 years, including 2 summer terms|
|Master of Theology (ThM)||1 year, including 1 summer term||2+ years, may include summer terms|
Notification of merit scholarship decisions is included in the admission acceptance letter. Typically, applicants may expect to hear an admission and financial aid decision within four to six weeks of submitting a completed application, but no earlier than the first week of February. Please note that the maximum scholarship award for part-time students is 50% of tuition costs.
BRANDON HONOR SCHOLARSHIP
Awarded annually on a competitive basis to applicants with superior academic records and promise of unusual professional achievement. Each award covers full tuition for a normal academic load, and is renewable for up to 72 hours of credit (M.Div.) or 48 hours of credit (M.T.S.) if the holder maintains an average of 3.4 or better and remains enrolled at full-time status.
THE CARPENTER SCHOLARSHIP
Awarded on a competitive basis for academic achievement and a demonstrated interest in and active commitment to issues of social justice and ministry. The scholarships offer full tuition for the Master of Divinity or the Master of Theological Studies program plus a annual stipend of $10,000. The award is renewable for up to 72 hours of credit (M.Div.) or 48 hours of credit (M.T.S.) if the holder maintains an average of 3.4 or better and remains enrolled at full-time status.
Awarded annually on the basis of exceptional academic achievement and vocational promise. Each award covers full tuition for recipients enrolled full-time, and is renewable for up to 72 hours of credit (M.Div.) or 48 hours of credit (M.T.S.) if the recipient maintains a minimum 3.4 grade point average.
THE KELLY MILLER SMITH SCHOLARSHIP
Awarded to an entering candidate for the Master of Divinity degree on the basis of academic achievement, professional promise, and a commitment to the Black church. The scholarship is established by the faculty of the Divinity School in memory of their colleague, Kelly Miller Smith, who served for thirty years as pastor of Nashville's First Baptist Church Capitol Hill and for fifteen years as assistant dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School. The full-tuition scholarship is renewable for up to 72 credit hours if the holder maintains an average of 3.4 or better and remains enrolled at full-time status.
BLAKEMORE/WEST END UMC SCHOLARSHIP
Awarded to an entering candidate for the Master of Divinity degree on the basis of academic achievement and promise for ministry in the United Methodist Church. The full-tuition scholarship is renewable for up to 72 credit hours if the holder remains enrolled at full-time status.
DIVINITY MERIT SCHOLARSHIP
Awarded on a competitive basis to entering candidates for the Master of Divinity or Master of Theological Studies degree on the basis of academic achievement and vocational promise. These awards range in value and support the cost of tuition for both part-time and full-time enrolled students. Divinity Merit Scholarships automatically renew each term for the number of semesters required to complete the degree in which the holder is enrolled, with specific criteria as indicated in the offer of admission. These scholarships are awarded through a variety of funds supported by the generous support of donors and alumni. A full list of available scholarships and their criteria may be found in the Divinity Catalog.
WENDLAND-COOK SCHOLARSHIP IN RELIGION AND JUSTICE
The newly-established Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice at Vanderbilt Divinity school will provide three scholarships of $2000 per semester, for up to four semesters for students enrolled in Vanderbilt Divinity School Masters programs (MDiv, MTS, or ThM). Applicants must demonstrate interest in matters of religion and justice, with a focus on economic and ecological justice broadly conceived. Details on the scholarship and application process may be found here.
ThM TUITION SCHOLARSHIP
All full-time Th.M. students admitted to Vanderbilt will receive financial aid to support their tuition costs. Domestic students are eligible for a 30% tuition scholarship. International students are eligible for a 40% tuition scholarship. Highly competitive applicants will also be eligible to be considered for a supplemental stipend totaling $5,000 annually. U.S. citizens are also eligible to be considered for federal financial aid, including work-study funding and educational loans.
DISCIPLES DIVINITY HOUSE SCHOLARSHIP
Applicants to the Master of Divinity program in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination may submit a supplemental application for scholarship support through the Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt. Please visit the Disciples Divinity House website for the scholarship application and details.
A full list of available scholarships and their criteria may be found in the Divinity Catalog.
Need-based aid at Vanderbilt is restricted to U.S. citizens and is administered via the Office of Student Financial Aid in the form of federal loans and work-study eligibility. Applications for federal, need-based aid become available in January of the year for which the student intends to enroll using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Before you borrow, know the facts by reading the Financial Literacy Guidance From Federal Student Aid document published by the U.S. Department of Education.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
If you choose to take out federal, need-based loans, we recommend becoming familiar with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Students who plan to work full-time in a public service job following graduation may qualify for loan forgiveness.
Vanderbilt is a full participant in the Post 9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, which offers essential financial support for U.S. veterans and their families. The Divinity School and Vanderbilt University welcome and encourage U.S. veterans to apply. To learn more, please visit Vanderbilt University's Yellow Ribbon website.
In order to expedite the processing of VA educational benefits, it is recommended that students who wish to use VA educational benefits adhere to the following deadlines:
· Fall semester: submit all required documents by July 1.
· Spring semester: submit all required documents by November 1.
· Summer semester: submit all required documents by March 1.
Students who cannot provide all documents by these deadlines should consult with a VA School Certifying Official in the Office of the University Registrar prior to the deadline.
We strongly encourage students to seek funding from outside sources, including external organizations or foundations and denominational loan and scholarship programs. The Divinity School strives to maintain a database of external scholarships that our students may be eligible for HERE.
The Divinity School and Vanderbilt University endeavor to make theological education an affordable option for all admitted students. Financial aid is offered to degree-seeking students based upon merit and need. Merit scholarships are awarded through the Divinity School and range from partial to full-tuition scholarships. Need-based aid in the form of federal work-study and loans is available through the University Office of Student Financial Aid for those who qualify. Most students find that while tuition at Vanderbilt may be higher than at other theological schools, our average tuition award is also higher, making Vanderbilt a very affordable option.
Worried about how to afford theological education? Need help thinking through how to make ends meet?
Our Stewardship website offers a number of resources to consider as you plan your next steps, including budgeting worksheets, loan calculators, and ideas for thinking creatively about how to fund your theological education.
For more information about the Divinity School's Stewardship resources and financial coaching program, please contact Lillian Hallstrand, Director of Stewardship and Vocational Planning, at email@example.com.
This 30-minute video, developed by Auburn Theological Seminary, offers an account of how several students have approached financing a theological education. For detailed budget spreadsheets and information on national studies on theological student indebtedness, please visit the Auburn Theological Seminary website.
In compliance with federal law, including the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Executive Order 11246, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as amended, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008i, Vanderbilt University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, sexual orientation ii , gender identity iii , religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other University-administered programs; or employment. In addition, the University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their gender expression iv consistent with the University’s nondiscrimination policy. To read more about this policy, visit http://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/university-policies-and-regulations/#equal-opportunity.
i The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits discrimination in health coverage and in employment based on genetic information.
ii Sexual orientation refers to a person’s self-identification as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, or uncertain.
iii Gender identity is generally defined as a person’s own sense of identification as male, female, both, or neither as distinguished from actual biological sex, i.e. it is one’s psychological sense of self.
iv Gender expression is everything we do that communicates our sense of identification to others.