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Professional Degrees and Programs

Master of Divinity

The M.Div. degree is designed to be a three-year, 84 credit professional program when taken full-time. It is designed to prepare persons for the practice of ministry, although a definite commitment to the ministry is not prerequisite to admission.

The vocation of Christian ministry is to interpret and represent Christian faith and to explore ways by which that faith can be embodied in the lives of people, the churches, and society. The aim of the program is to begin a process of education focusing on understanding the Christian faith and its implications for human life.

The faculty believes that all courses in the curriculum should contribute to this aim: the study of backgrounds, origins, and traditions; reflection on problems of faith and on moral, ecclesiastical, and social issues in the contemporary situation; and consideration of occasions of ministry, such as worship, preaching, counseling, administration, education, and social reform. All of these studies and activities presuppose each other and relate to each other in essential ways. The minister is a theologian, and as such draws on the full range of critical studies and reflection in his or her varied activities.

The curriculum is structured to combine:

  • A foundational required ministry component including two field education placements designed to help each student secure an educational grounding for the practice of ministry;
  • A capstone course and senior project organized around a question, theme, issue, or aspect of ministry, individually designed by the student in association with a faculty member and refined through peer and faculty feedback. 
  • Coursework in a series of special "cluster" areas to insure familiarity with world religions and inter-religious encounter, gender and sexuality studies, and African American race and class studies electives of the student's choosing.

Complete Program Description

Complete Course Descriptions

Master of Theological Studies

The M.T.S. degree is designed to be a two-year, 51 credit hour program when taken full-time. It is intended for persons interested in pursuing graduate study across the several theological disciplines in the Divinity School. This program may serve as a foundation for later doctoral studies in religion, for diaconal or ordained ministries in certain denominations, for religious leadership in the non-profit sector, or as a vehicle for the enhancement of one’s own religious faith and understanding.

The curriculum is structured to combine:

  • A foundation curriculum that serves as a broad introduction to theological study
  • A focus designed in consultation with the student’s academic advisor that structures each students studies as it relates to the student's vocation. 
  • Students may take up to 6 hours of graduate-level course work in other Vanderbilt University departments and may count these hours toward requirements for graduation. Such outside course work is subject to the rules that apply to transfer work.

It is possible that some students will enter upon their theological studies with previous work in one or more required curriculum subjects. Students may opt to waive individual courses, provided they have taken comparable course work in the area at the undergraduate level. They may opt to transfer courses (up to 12 hours), provided they have taken them at the graduate level at a school accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools. Waivers and transfer work must be approved by the Associate Dean. If a waiver is granted, another course in the same subject area must be taken. Students should consult with their advisers about the matter.

Complete Program Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Dual Degree Programs