Master of divinity online programs include Pastoral Studies and Christian Biblical theology. The programs generally involve studies in philosophy, church history, Hebrew, and the Greek Old and New Testaments. The MDiv program also includes practical experience like most professional degrees. Many online divinity programs require between 70 and 80 credit hours, which typically takes two years.
The online divinity degree may also contain Christian Education courses, liturgical studies, and services in Latin and Hebrew. The online divinity degree program may or may not include a thesis. In several denominations, the MDiv is required for ordination. For example, the United Methodist Church, one of the largest Protestant Christian denominations in the United States, requires candidates for ordination as elders to earn an MDiv and candidates for ordination as deacons to earn either an MDiv or a master’s degree in another field with additional theological studies.
Masters in Divinity Degree Types
The master of divinity online is a full-time program that prepares students to start their careers in church ministry and for those interested in Christian theology. Typically, many branches of Christianity require 7 to 8 years in the religion to be ordained as pastors or priests. Within the formal degree category, the seminaries offer two master’s degrees: Masters in Divinity (MDiv) and Master of Arts in Divinity (MA) Program.
Master in Divinity (MDiv)
Master in Divinity (MDiv Online) is an advanced program that provides students with an opportunity to do a deeper study in scriptures, deepen their faith, and prepare them to fulfill their calling to serve God. Students who complete the program will be prepared for further studies and also lead pupils and congregations to interpret scriptures.
Master of Arts in Divinity (MA Divinity)
A Master of Arts Divinity (MA Divinity Online) is an alternative to the master of divinity online program. This program focuses on developing deep knowledge in divinity-related and based topics. It covers a genuinely comprehensive educational plan and usually requires two years to finish, with around 30 to 60 credits. Students of MA divinity programs could take courses in strict hypothesis, philosophy, history, scriptural investigations, and different electives that might give a broad perspective on the Christian confidence, as well as other religions.
Specializations in Masters in Art History Programs
Apart from what one learns in an MDiv online, an additional focus on specific aspects of divinity can be achieved through specializations and concentrations. Specialization gives students thorough schooling in subjects they need to know in-depth, and it sets them up for higher theological programs like a doctorate in theology (ThD), or a doctorate in philosophy (Ph.D.). Some specializations in a master’s in divinity include:
- Biblical Studies and Languages Biblical studies make the student understand God’s word, interpret the bible, and also learn the different translations of the Old Testament and New Testament.
- Christian Ethics The Christian Ethics specialization is intended to prepare ministers to draw in culture with a convincing Christian comprehension of the world. Through this focus, the student gains comprehension of how to interpret culture and apply a Christian perspective to issues like those connected with science, theory, visual expressions, film, decisive reasoning, regulation and government, and morals.
- Worship, Theology, and Arts The Master of Divinity in Worship, Theology, and the Arts program will set one up for the exemplary elements of clerical authority, like pastoral care and leading the congregation, cultivating spirit-led worship experience, the art of storytelling, and forming people of faith.
- Race, Cultural Identity, and Reconciliation Supporting reconciliation and building community amid racial and cultural diversity is most difficult and challenging. This area of interest helps students with foundational research and assessment abilities to ponder racial, ethnic, or social conflicts.
- Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care This specialization is an in-depth understanding of pastoral theology, which also relates to the goals of chaplaincy and care.
- Catholic Theology The Catholic Theology specialization offers a deeper explanation of catholic theology and is an advantage for students who are interested in serving catholic societies and churches.
A few examples of other concentration and focus areas are:
- Intercultural and Urban Studies
- Youth, Family, and Culture
- Asian American Ministry
- Leadership in the Times of Change
- Black Church Studies
Apart from these specializations, MDiv aspirants also have the option to choose related programs, such as:
- Master of Theology Online
- Master of Divinity and Social Work Online
- Catholic Master of Divinity Online
- Online Master of Divinity Chaplaincy
- Master of Arts in Theology & Ministry
- Master of Arts in Religion
- Master of Sacred Theology
Curriculum and Skills Gained in Master of Divinity Online Programs
Master of Divinity online degree programs may go from around 72 to 80 credits usually taking about two to three years, albeit a few programs may permit students to complete somewhere in between two and five years if done part-time. A few of these degree programs are accessible online, yet may include individual service insight through entry-level positions, practicums, part-time apprenticeships, or other field instruction necessities intended for assisting students with cooperating with different clergymen and giving instances of Christian help in real life.
Students in masters of divinity online programs ordinarily take courses in Religious Philosophy, Hebrew Scripture, New Confirmation, Service, Christian Morals, and Social Settings. Some programs may offer extra focus on Scriptural Dialects, Apprenticeship Services, or Chaplaincy, and depending upon the program and concentration, a few students may be expected to finish a project.
Students can study a variety of subfields within MDiv, based on their interests and career ambitions. These sub-fields or specialties go further into the subject area, providing students with unique knowledge and skills, allowing them to apply for certain professions and stand out from the competition. The curriculum can differ from university to university. Here are a few examples of common core courses graduate students can come across in master of divinity online programs:
Apologetic and EthicsThis course teaches students to prepare for a ministry in a pluralistic world. It addresses the truth and tenets of the Christian faith.
Biblical StudiesThis course is a detailed study of the scriptures, which will have a direct impact on the spiritual growth of individuals.
TheologyThis course is a blend of biblical, theological, and pastoral training which goes deeper into key areas of theology, and traditional and contemporary theological issues.
Some other examples of common core courses in a master of divinity online program are:
- Christ in Synoptic Gospels
- History of Christianity
- Church and Culture
- Counseling and Spiritual Care
- Pastoral Studies
As for the learning outcomes of an online master’s in divinity program, graduates would have:
- a command of the fundamental lexicon and grammar of both Greek and Hebrew, as well as of the process for exegeting the biblical text in the languages in which it was originally written;
- assurance in the inerrant and authoritative nature of the Scriptures, as well as the capacity to live and witness truthfully as a Christian in this day of pluralism;
- a solid understanding of reformed theology, particularly as it is established in the Scriptures and summed up in the church;
- a more profound affection for God, his Word, and his people, as well as an intensified longing for the sanctification of one’s own life.
- a distinct comprehension of the overarching ideas, goals, and messages included within each individual book of the Bible, as well as their place within the greater canon of sacred writings;
- evangelism and shepherding skills commensurate with the particular gifts bestowed by God on each individual;
- competence and knowledge in serving in a church or other ministry-related context; and
- an understanding essential to building a foundation in church history and the evolution of Christian doctrine.
Accreditation for Master of Divinity Online Programs
Accreditation is a term covering both starting and progressing endorsement of a school, post-secondary institution, or program, which offers to meet the standard requirements of a nationally recognized and authorized accrediting body. The authorized accreditation body monitors the academic and administrative quality of the school, institution, and program. While there are no universities that offer a master of divinity online accredited program, the universities, as institutions, must be regionally accredited by one of the following authorized accrediting bodies:
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
Find out more about why attending an accredited school is very important, in our Accreditation Guide.
Timeline for graduation from Master of Divinity Online Programs
The length of the master of divinity online program depends on the course selection and the structure of the program. If the program allows students to study at their own pace, then this can potentially lead to late graduation. Those that have fixed schedules and structures enable a faster time to graduate. The typical timeline of a masters in divinity online degree program is as follows:
Typical length of a full-time masters in divinity program: 2 years (sometimes 3 years)
Typical length of a part-time masters in divinity program: 4 years (up to 7 years)
Typical credits required: 72 to 80 credits
Some colleges offer flexibility for working individuals to put in fewer hours per week to complete their programs, resulting in an extended duration of the graduate program.
Master of Divinity Online Programs Admission Requirements
Many schools and institutions lean toward an applicant with a theology undergraduate degree. Consequently, a bachelor’s degree from an authorized college or school may be required to enter an MDiv program. Students who hold a bachelor’s degree in other areas may also be considered but may have to take up some prerequisite courses to be eligible for admission. The common admission requirements for a masters of divinity online are:
- Application Form with the applicable fee
- Official academic transcripts
- A letter of intent from the applicant explaining the rationale and purpose for obtaining a master’s degree in theology.
- Letters of Recommendation – Letters of Recommendation from past mentors and references.
- Personal Statement – A brief personal statement is required by most MDiv programs. Students are required to describe the goals and purpose for their taking up the program. In lieu, some colleges may ask for a Graduate Résumé or Statement of Purpose.
- GRE/GMAT Score – GRE or GMAT scores are normally not a necessity for masters of divinity online. But it is always best to check with the admissions office for exact requirements.