Master of Divinity
 (MDiv)

Admission

Applicants for the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree must have earned a minimum grade point average of 3.0 from an accredited college or university, and must hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

Curriculum Requirements

The Master of Divinity at Boston University School of Theology (STH) is shaped by a conviction that prophetic, practical religious leaders, thoroughly grounded in the wisdom of their traditions, are essential in the work of ongoing transformation of the church and the world. The curriculum seeks to educate religious leaders who can interpret complex and evolving local and global contexts and who can engage those contexts in creative and confident conversation with a full array of theological resources.

Core

The curriculum is built on two yearlong first-year courses that begin the process of exploring the knowledge, skills, and practices of religious leadership. In Reading the World, students engage in interdisciplinary reflection on the contexts, theologies, and historical experiences of Christian communities. Employing theological, historical, and sociological lenses, they explore leadership for the twenty-first century in a variety of contexts. In Practices of Faith, students investigate the spiritual and ethical practices of Christian communities across time and throughout the world. In the course of the year, students engage the lived challenges of ministries in Boston and begin to develop a vision of their vocation as leaders in the church and the world.

Electives

Free Electives

All students in the MDiv program may choose up to 20 credits (five courses) of the required 96 credits as free electives. Any student seeking to satisfy denominational polity, history, or doctrine requirements must take those courses as free electives.

Track Electives

Recognizing that religious leadership will take place in a variety of vocational arenas, the remainder of the curriculum is then shaped around four distinct tracks: Pastoral Ministry; Global and Community Engagement; Church and the Arts; and Religion and the Academy. Each track is made up of nine courses selected by the student with careful advising from his or her academic advisor. These include two additional courses in the study of scripture, one track-specific elective, and two courses from each of three course clusters: (1) Texts and Traditions, (2) Engaging Contemporary Contexts, and (3) Theories and Practices of Leadership. The current list of courses available in each cluster is found in the STH Bulletin, and the STH Registrar maintains a list of alterations to that list between Bulletin updates.

Contextual Education Background Check

All students who serve in field placements are required to complete a background check before their service can begin. The requirement is for all students serving in field sites, regardless of degree program. Students undertaking a contextual education field placement should consult the Contextual Education office or its website for instructions on securing the background check prior to the beginning of their placement.

Length of Program

The program requires a minimum of six semesters of full-time study for a total of 24 semester courses (96 semester credits). Some of the courses are in a sequence with prerequisites; in certain instances two or more courses are designed to be taken concurrently, if possible, although it is recognized that some students proceed on a part-time basis. The residency requirement is two semesters with a minimum of 24 credits. The time limit for the degree program is five years (10 semesters).

Taking Courses Outside STH

MDiv students are allowed to take up to three track electives (one from each cluster) and all free electives outside STH within Boston University or through the Boston Theological Institute (BTI). In addition, both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament track elective courses may be taken outside STH, but only by successful petition to a faculty member teaching in one of those fields. No core courses may be taken outside STH, and the track-specific elective must be an STH course. This means that up to a total of 32 (one-third) of the 96 MDiv credits may be taken outside STH.

Grade Minimums

No grade lower than C is acceptable for use in satisfying any course requirements for the Master of Divinity.

Scholarships

Dean’s Scholarships

Dean’s Scholarships are awarded for the academic year, September to May. They are renewable each year, contingent upon the annual evaluation of the recipient’s grade point average (3.5 minimum), character, and commitment to ministerial or other religious leadership. All awards are for a maximum of three academic years of full-time MDiv study. Dean’s Scholarships are awarded before initial enrollment in the School of Theology; however, money is not available to the student until the first day of classes.

Tuition Scholarships

Tuition Scholarships are awarded for the academic year, September to May. They are renewable each year, contingent upon the annual evaluation of the recipient’s grade point average (2.7 minimum), character, and commitment to ministerial or other religious leadership. All awards are for a maximum of three academic years of full-time MDiv study.

The MDiv Plan of Study

The Master of Divinity consists of core requirements (40 credit hours), free electives (20 credit hours), and track electives (36 credit hours), for a total of 96 credit hours.

Core Requirements (40 credit hours)

STH TF 701 Reading the World I: History, Theology & Contexts 4 cr
STH TF 702 Reading the World II: History, Theology & Contexts 4 cr
STH TF 703 Practices of Faith I 4 cr
STH TF 704 Practices of Faith II 4 cr
STH TO 704 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible 4 cr
STH TN 721 Introduction to the New Testament 4 cr
Theology II (Students must take one of the following:) 

  • STH TT 731 Theology & World Religion
  • STH TT 732 History of Christian Theology in Phil. Perspective
  • STH TT 733 Constructive Theology
  • STH TT 837 Doing Theology in a Global Context
4 cr
Church History II (Students must take one of the following:) 

  • STH TH 812 Late Antiquities
  • STH TH 825 The Medieval Church
  • STH TH 826 Reformations
  • STH TH 827 History of American Christianity
  • STH TH 832 Modern Church History
  • STH TH 847 Global Christianity
  • STH TH 848 World Christianity
4 cr
STH TC 801 Contextual Education I 4 cr
STH TC 802 Contextual Education II 4 cr

Policies pertaining to the core:

  • All MDiv core requirements must be completed within STH.
  • All students must complete the Reading the World yearlong sequence and the Practices of Faith yearlong sequence during their first year of study. Students who do not earn a passing grade in the first semester of Reading the World and/or Practices of Faith may continue on to their second semester of coursework; however, students will be expected to retake the semester that they did not pass.
  • All core requirements must be passed for graduation.
  • Students may, in exceptional circumstances, petition the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for advanced standing based on prior academic transcripts and syllabi in order to move directly to more advanced study in scripture, history, and/or theology. These students will remain obligated to complete an equivalent number of credit hours in any area for which they are granted advanced standing.

Free Electives (20 credit hours)

Five courses, for a total of 20 credit hours, may be taken as free electives. All may be taken outside STH within the University or the BTI as long as the total of the required 96 credit hours taken outside STH does not exceed 32 credit hours. All students taking denominational history or polity courses must take them as free electives.

Track Electives (36 credit hours)

Students choose nine track elective courses based on the specific requirements of their chosen Master of Divinity track. The following four tracks are available:

Pastoral Ministry Track

This track is especially appropriate for students pursuing ordination as a denominational elder, deacon, or pastor (though ordination requirements may be met in all four tracks). It is also appropriate for those entering chaplaincy, campus ministry, or pastoral care in any vocational setting.

MDiv Core (see above) 40 cr
Free Electives (see above) 20 cr
Hebrew Bible II Elective (STH TO 704 is a prerequisite)—Any TO course may be taken 4 cr
New Testament II Elective (STH TN 721 is a prerequisite)—Any TN course may be taken 4 cr
Cluster 1—Texts and Traditions 

One of the following must be taken:

  • STH TC 817 Introduction to Christian Worship
  • STH TC 823 Spiritual Guidance in the Christian Tradition
  • STH TM 801 Christian Mission in a Religiously Plural World
  • STH TM 815 Christian Mission

Plus any one other course from Cluster 1 (may be taken outside STH within BU or the BTI)

 

4 cr

4 cr

Cluster 2—Engaging Contemporary Contexts 

One of the following must be taken:

  • STH TC 835 Evangelism and Contemporary Cultures
  • STH TM 801 Christian Mission in a Religiously Plural World
  • STH TM 815 Christian Mission
  • STH TS 845 Christian Social Ethics

Plus any one other course from Cluster 2 (may be taken outside STH within BU or the BTI)

 

4 cr

4 cr

Cluster 3—Theories and Practices of Leadership 

Two of the following must be taken:

  • STH TC 715 Introduction to Preaching
  • STH TC 817 Introduction to Christian Worship
  • STH TC 823 Spiritual Guidance in the Christian Tradition
  • STH TC 835 Evangelism and Contemporary Cultures
  • STH TC 852 Spirituality and Leadership
  • STH TC 812 Introduction to Christian Education
  • STH TY 704 Introduction to Pastoral Care
 

 

8 cr

Track-Specific Elective 

One of the following must be taken:

  • STH TC 715 Introduction to Preaching
  • STH TC 817 Introduction to Christian Worship
  • STH TC 823 Spiritual Guidance in the Christian Tradition
  • STH TC 835 Evangelism & Contemporary Cultures
  • STH TE 812 Introduction to Christian Education
  • STH TM 801 Christian Mission in a Religiously Plural World
  • STH TM 815 Christian Mission
  • STH TS 845 Christian Social Ethics
  • STH TY 704 Introduction to Pastoral Care
4 cr
Total Credits 96 cr
Please note that within the Pastoral Ministry track, TC 715 Introduction to Preaching and TC 817 Introduction to Christian Worship are required. In addition, students must fulfill three of the following five competencies through their coursework selection: (1) mission and evangelism, (2) ethics, (3) religious education, (4) pastoral care, and (5) spirituality. All five competencies are recommended, if possible.

Global and Community Engagement Track

This track is especially appropriate for students pursuing vocational goals in conflict transformation, missiology, history of global mission, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, trauma healing and theology, nonprofit or social service leadership, and military chaplaincy with an emphasis on conflict transformation.

MDiv Core (see above) 40 cr
Free Electives (see above) 20 cr
Hebrew Bible II Elective (STH TO 704 is a prerequisite)—Any TO course may be taken 4 cr
New Testament II Elective (STH TN 721 is a prerequisite)—Any TN course may be taken 4 cr
Cluster 1—Texts and Traditions 

Any two courses from Cluster 1 (one may be taken outside STH within BU or the BTI)

 

8 cr

Cluster 2—Engaging Contemporary Contexts 

One of the following must be taken:

  • STH TC 847 The Gospel and Popular Culture
  • STH TM 801 Christian Mission in a Religiously Plural World
  • STH TM 815 Christian Mission
  • STH TR 802 Sociology of Religion
  • STH TS 845 Christian Social Ethics
  • STH TT 858 Theologies of Dialogue
  • STH TT 898 Theology and Trauma
  • STH TS 877 The Principles & Practices of Restorative Justice
  • STH TS 800 International Conflict and Ministry of Reconciliation
  • STH TS 8xx Global Ethics in Cultural Contexts

Plus any one other course from Cluster 2 (may be taken outside STH within BU or the BTI)

4 cr 

 

4 cr

Cluster 3—Theories and Practices of Leadership 

 Two of the following must be taken:

  • STH TC 825 Prayer and Social Engagement
  • STH TC 835 Evangelism and Contemporary Cultures
  • STH TC 871 Spiritual Formation for Peace Builders
  • STH TS 805 The Spirit & Art of Conflict Transformation
  • STH TC 852 Leadership in Times of Change

Plus any one other course from Cluster 3 (may be taken outside STH within BU or the BTI)

 

4 cr

4 cr

Track-Specific Elective 

 Students in this track are required either: (1) to take a travel seminar or practicum approved by the Global and Community Engagement faculty; or (2) to write a thesis/capstone paper in consultation with their advisor by directed study.

4 cr
Total Credits 96 cr

Religion and the Academy Track

This track is especially appropriate for students in any academic discipline who are seeking to pursue doctoral studies and/or a teaching profession.

MDiv Core (see above) 40 cr
Free Electives (see above) 20 cr
Hebrew Bible II Elective (STH TO 704 is a prerequisite)—Any TO course may be taken 4 cr
New Testament II Elective (STH TN 721 is a prerequisite)—Any TN course may be taken 4 cr
Cluster 1—Texts and Traditions 

Any two courses from Cluster 1 (one may be taken outside STH within BU or the BTI)

 

8 cr

Cluster 2—Engaging Contemporary Contexts
Any two courses from Cluster 2 (one may be taken outside STH within BU or the BTI)
 

8 cr

Cluster 3—Theories and Practices of Leadership
Any two courses from Cluster 3 (one may be taken outside STH within BU or the BTI)
 

8 cr

Track-Specific Elective 

Students in this track are required to choose any one course, but preferably a doctoral-level seminar in the field of their study (with permission from the instructor, and must be taken at Boston University)

4 cr
Total Credits 96 cr

Church and the Arts Track

This track is especially appropriate for students pursuing sacred music, music ministry, liturgical studies, sacramental theology, aesthetics, or the dual degree program with the Master of Sacred Music.

MDiv Core (see above) 40 cr
Free Electives (see above) 20 cr
Hebrew Bible II Elective (STH TO 704 is a prerequisite)—Any TO course may be taken 4 cr
New Testament II Elective (STH TN 721 is a prerequisite)—Any TN course may be taken 4 cr
Cluster 1—Texts and Traditions 

Any two courses from Cluster 1 (one may be taken outside STH within BU or the BTI)

 

8 cr

Cluster 2—Engaging Contemporary Contexts 

Any two courses from Cluster 2 (one may be taken outside STH within BU or the BTI)

 

8 cr

Cluster 3—Theories and Practices of Leadership 

Any two courses from Cluster 3 (one may be taken outside STH within BU or the BTI)

 

8 cr

Track-Specific Elective 

Students must take one of the following:

  • STH TA 820 Church and the Arts
  • STH TF 811 Church and the Arts Capstone Project
4 cr
Total Credits 96 cr