What is a Master of Divinity Degree?
A master of divinity degree is designed for those who want to pursue active pastoral positions, including ministerial leadership roles in churches, hospitals, military, and social services. A master of divinity degree typically takes three years of full-time study and includes the study of topics like religious studies, interpretation of scripture, and ministry experience. According to the Association of Theological Schools, all accredited master of divinity programs should include religious heritage, cultural context, personal and spiritual formation, and capacity for ministerial and public leadership.
Master of Divinity Career Options
The most common career path for graduates with a master of divinity degree is in a ministerial role. A master of divinity is the standard requirement to be ordained to the clergy as a pastor or priest. The average salary for those with a master of divinity is $54,148.
What Are the Requirements for a Master of Divinity Degree?
To gain admission to a master of divinity degree program, applicants will typically need an accredited four-year bachelors degree or the equivalent and a personal essay. Some programs may require a minimum undergraduate GPA or the completion of prerequisite undergraduate courses.
|1||Regent University||Virginia Beach, Virginia|
|2||Mercer University||Macon, Georgia|
|3||University of Northwestern||Saint Paul, Minnesota|
|4||Union University of California||Westminster, California|
|5||Bethel University||Mishawaka, Indiana|
Here are the top 25 Master of Divinity Programs in 2021:
We compiled a list of schools around the country that provide master of divinity programs and ranked the top 25 schools. We used tuition and the number of required credit hours to rank the schools. Check out our rankings below to find the best value master of divinity degrees in the United States.
The purpose of Regent University is to develop Christian leaders who will change the world. The master of divinity program is offered online or on-campus in Virginia Beach. Incorporating elements of the master of theological studies and master of arts in practical theology, the program equips students to lead a church, ministry, or nonprofit and can lead to ordination or ministry licensure. Students will become well-versed in Christian history, biblical writings, and scriptural interpretations.
The master of divinity degree at Mercer University prepares students for ordained ministry and for pastoral and religious leadership in congregations and other settings. The degree is offered as either a 3-year residential program or a 4-year fully online program. The master of divinity emphasizes academic rigor and practical ministry experience. A unique feature of the degree at Mercer University is a series of ministerial formation courses across the program designed to cultivate capacities for leading.
University of Northwestern
The master of divinity program at the University of Northwestern — St. Paul combines biblically-based evangelical theology with Christian ministry. The degree program meets ordination requirements for pastor or chaplain positions and it will prepare students for further doctoral studies and for church or parachurch ministry. Students will be involved in ministry through internships with the option to apply to an outside clinical pastoral education program for their field experience.
Union University of California
The Master of divinity program at Union University of California is designed to empower and equip students to serve as transformational Christian leaders within today’s multicultural contexts. The program offers courses in global interconnection of the contemporary world, the importance of understanding urbanization, principles of effective leadership, organizational development skills, and social transformation alongside more traditional ministerial skills.
Bethel University‘s master of divinity prepares students for solo, senior, teaching, or staff pastor or chaplain positions. It also attracts those wishing to enhance their Christian discipleship or prepare for seminary doctoral study. Master of divinity students learn how to interpret the Bible, relate it to everyday life, and apply it to their own character and spiritual formation.
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Loyola University Chicago
Master of divinity students at Loyola University Chicago can pursue a degree on campus or as a distance program via online education. The master of divinity is a comprehensive degree designed to meet the educational needs of those called to professional ministerial leadership. While focused primarily to prepare non-ordained people for ministerial leadership, the program also welcomes members of religious communities, clergy, and participants from other communions.
George Fox University
The master of divinity at George Fox University offers thorough preparation for professional ministry and doctoral programs. Graduates serve as church planters, pastors, chaplains, and leaders in non-profit organizations. In addition to solid, foundational courses in biblical studies, theology, and pastoral ministry, master of divinity students complete spiritual formation coursework that enriches personal development and personal capacity for healthy leadership.
Corban University‘s master of divinity is designed to give students the tools they need to accurately interpret scripture within its historical, geographical, and cultural background, and to apply it to their current ministry’s context, location, and cultural demands. The program is available entirely online or as a hybrid of online and on-campus classes. master of divinity has both a church ministry track and a biblical languages track.
The master of divinity at Vanderbilt University is designed to prepare students for the practice of ministry. 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 curriculum is structured to combine a flexible foundation with immersion experiences that integrate learning and praxis through theological field education and a capstone course and senior project organized around a question, theme, issue, or aspect of ministry designed by the student.
Harding School of Theology
Harding School of Theology’s master of divinity degree lays a solid foundation for a lifetime of ministry through a focus on spiritual growth, research tools, and methodology. The degree provides opportunities and encouragement for personal spiritual growth, an understanding of scripture and theology, an introduction to the historical and cultural contexts of churches, and both an understanding of and supervised experience in major aspects of ministry.
Yale University’s Yale Divinity School offers a master of divinity degree that prepares students for ordination and parish ministry in the various Christian denominations. Courses of study include biblical interpretation, theology, ethics, the history of Christianity, and the practical aspects of ministry such as preaching, pastoral counseling, and Christian education. Part of ministerial formational also includes a Supervised Ministries placement, which is commonly an internship in a church, hospital, or social service agency.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The master of divinity program at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary offers students a choice of 19 ministry-specific concentrations. Every master of divinity student takes foundational courses in subjects including Bible, theology, counseling, history, and ministry practice. Students can also choose from over 300 elective courses.
Wake Forest University
The master of divinity at Wake Forest University prepares students from diverse ministry experiences and theological perspectives for religious leadership. The program encourages students to explore the rich histories and traditions of Christianity, to understand the changing social and religious landscape of our times, and to gain awareness and practical experience of the issues facing churches in their local and global contexts.
Grace School of Theology
At Grace School of Theology, the master of divinity degree is uniquely structured to balance biblical and theological studies with ministry skills courses that will result in increased knowledge of God’s word and preparation for the common demands of everyday ministry. Students’ ministry goals will be furthered by obtaining a firm grasp of the scriptures, including the original languages.
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
The master of divinity program at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine prepares Catholic laity and permanent deacons for ministerial work in the Catholic church and provides prerequisite programming for students planning to pursue a doctor of ministry degree. An accelerated track is available to students who hold a masters degree in theology or ministry.
The Duke Divinity School at Duke University provides students with the time and structure for academic immersion. The program prepares students to lead and transform their faith. Duke University is unique in its ability to provide funding for up to three field education internships, including two placements required for graduation.
Milligan University provides a breadth of education in all the areas of theological learning with a special focus on the practice of pastoral ministry. Students can choose from 10 special options alongside the standard master of divinity program.
Oral Roberts University
Oral Roberts University’s master of divinity degree is a residential or modular program that equips students to become effective and skilled pastors, evangelists, chaplains, Bible teachers, and ministers. The program offers an optional Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy concentration for students who wish to receive board certification for military, hospital, institutional, or organizational chaplaincy.
The master of divinity program at Drew University is rooted in the long tradition of Wesleyan and Methodist commitment to higher education. The degree is designed to connect learning in a ministry context, at Seminary Hall, in online video conference classrooms, and in off-campus immersions. It can be completed in a combination of in-person and online learning, organized in a mix of semester-long and intensive schedules.
Freed-Hardeman University‘s master of divinity is designed for students who desire advanced study in the Bible and religion, including pulpit preachers, assistant preachers, educational directors, Bible school teachers, counselors, and students who wish to teach in Christian education. The program can be completed 100% online or on-campus.
Reformed Theological Seminary
The master of divinity at the Reformed Theological Seminary is designed around concentrated study in three basic areas: Bible, systematic theology, and pastoral theology. In addition to preparing for pastoral ministry, the curriculum is designed to aid in the student’s sanctification. The degree requires 400 hours of field education experience.
University of Chicago
Master of divinity students at the University of Chicago complete a minimum of 29 courses, including theology in the public square, scripture and/or history of the student’s chosen tradition, weekly reflection seminar, and the arts of ministry sequence. Students participate in field education all three years of the program and learn basic skills in a relevant textual language, such as Koine Greek, Biblical Hebrew, Qur’anic Arabic, Sanskrit, or Tibetan.
The master of divinity at Boston College is a comprehensive professional degree program that combines a broad study of theology with supervised ministry and spiritual formation. Program features include spiritual formation, cohort and community life, and supervised ministry.
Emory University‘s master of divinity is a professional degree for students preparing for service in ministry and church leadership, social services, and a variety of chaplaincy settings. The program fosters students’ understanding of church and ministry in the contemporary world and their ability to work meaningfully and creatively in a vocation of religious leadership.
Harvard Divinity School at Harvard University takes a multicultural approach to their master of divinity program. Students of many faith communities study side by side in order to foster a greater understanding of interreligious dialogue and work. The degree is designed for students preparing for ordained or lay ministry and leadership in congregations and other religious communities, ministries in social service, hospital and prison chaplaincy, interfaith ministry on college campuses, and teaching and scholarship.
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Our Ranking Methodology
To determine how to rank each college, we researched and evaluated each school’s estimated cost of tuition per credit and the number of required credit hours. We used in-state tuition and on-campus rates where available. We took graduate tuition rates and program information directly from each school’s website. We sorted each school first by the cost of tuition (lower is better) and then by number of credit hours (fewer is better), letting each value make up equal portions (50%) of the final rankings.
If you work for one of the schools we ranked and you notice an error in the information we used to rank you, please feel free to contact us and let us know so we can make a correction.