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New Curriculum, Concentrations at Vanderbilt Divinity


December 18, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn -- Students pursuing a degree at Vanderbilt Divinity School now have more flexibility to design an interdisciplinary course of study in preparation for a variety of theological vocations that critically and creatively engage the world. Beginning fall 2018, the Divinity School will launch a new curriculum featuring cross-disciplinary areas of concentration for its master of divinity (M.Div.) and master of theological studies (M.T.S.) degrees. Additionally, the streamlined curriculum will enable full-time students to complete the program in a condensed timeline and will reduce the overall cost of the degree.

“The new curriculum better reflects our commitment to provide degree programs that enable students to plan a course of study in light of their talents, interests and professional objectives,” said Emilie M. Townes, dean and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society. “As a Southern, progressive school that is steeped in the tradition of the prophets, we can do no less as we seek to educate the new generations who will lead with head and heart to change the world.”

In addition to offering flexible, relevant courses of study consistent with the Divinity School’s purposes and commitments, the new degree curricula reinforces the school’s commitment to supporting students financially and encouraging wise stewardship of time and resources as students engage a wide variety of vocational paths.          

Students pursuing the M.Div. degree at Vanderbilt will be required to complete 72 credit hours of coursework and field education, including 12 concentration hours related to specific professional vocations such as Pastoral and Prophetic Congregational Leadership; Chaplaincy; Prison Studies; and Spirituality and Social Activism. Centered around praxis, spiritual formation, and social engagement, the M.Div. enables students to pursue paths within and beyond the local church.

M.T.S. students will be able to tailor the required 48 hours of coursework to their particular professional aims through one of two tracks. A new M.T.S. General Plan of Study allows students 27 hours of elective coursework so that they can receive broad introductions to several areas of theological study. A second track, the M.T.S. Concentrated Plan of Study, has only three required courses, allowing students to choose one or more concentrations in areas such as Black Religion and Culture Studies; Global Christianities and Interreligious Encounter; Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies; Religion and Economic Justice; Religion and the Arts; Religion, Gender, and Sexuality; and Spirituality and Social Activism. The full list of concentrations can be found on the VDS website.


Vanderbilt Divinity School, founded in 1875, is an ecumenical, interdenominational theological community and one of seven professional schools at Vanderbilt University. In addition to the M.Div. and M.T.S. programs, the Divinity School offers joint degree programs with the Vanderbilt Schools of Law (J.D.), Medicine (M.D.), Nursing (M.S.N.), Owen School of Management (M.B.A.), and Peabody College of Education and Human Development (M.Ed.)