Master of Divinity
 (MDiv)

Admission

The Master of Divinity is a postbaccalaureate degree. Admission requirements include (1) a baccalaureate degree from an institution of higher education accredited by a US agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or approved by a Canadian provincial quality assurance agency, or the demonstrated educational equivalent of an accredited or approved North American baccalaureate degree; and (2) a minimum grade point average of 3.0.

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 a sequence of first-year courses that begin the process of exploring the knowledge, skills, and practices of religious leadership. In the first year, students engage in interdisciplinary reflection on the contexts, theologies, and historical experiences of Christian communities through a yearlong sequence that begins with Introduction to Christian Traditions and ends with Christianity Engaging Modernity. Employing theological, historical, and other contextual lenses, students explore leadership for the twenty-first century in a variety of contexts within those two courses. In the semester-long Practicing Faith, students investigate the spiritual and ethical practices of Christian communities across time and throughout the world and begin to develop a vision of their vocation as leaders in religious communities and in the world.

Electives

Free Electives

All students in the MDiv program may choose up to 15 credits (five courses) of the required 73 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 six distinct tracks: Pastoral Ministry; Global and Community Engagement; Chaplaincy; Church and the Arts; Theology and Social Work Dual Degree; 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

All students in the Master of Divinity program are required to undertake a yearlong contextual education placement along with “Integration of Theology and Practice” (ITP) groups designed to reflect on those placements and to integrate learning from the experience with the wider MDiv curriculum. The Directors of Contextual Education assist students in securing those placements, whether in congregations or local community sites. 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.

For students in the Theology and Social Work Dual Degree track, the yearlong SSW FE 803/FE 804 Social Work Field Education placement counts as the STH Contextual Education requirement. Students must, however, participate in an ITP group as mentioned in the previous paragraph and register for STH TF 821 ITP for Dual Degree Students (Fall) and STH TF 822 ITP for Dual Degree Students (Spring).

Mid-Degree Assessment

All students in the MDiv program participate in a mid-degree assessment, typically in the Spring Semester of the second year of their program. This assessment culminates in an extended advising session with the student’s faculty advisor so that the last year of the program can be tailored to the results of the assessment. The mid-degree assessment requires the creation of an e-portfolio, which includes a short self-assessment, examples of papers or other projects completed, and any contextual education evaluations that have been completed to that point. The assessment is as much an assessment of the curriculum and how well it has served the student as it is an assessment of how well the student has taken advantage of the curriculum in moving toward the aims of the degree program and the student’s particular track within that curriculum.

Length of Program

The program requires a minimum of six semesters of full-time study for a total of 24 semester courses (72 semester credits) plus the 1-credit “Stewarding” seminar. 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 18 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 any 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 the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who will consult with a faculty member teaching in one of those fields. No core courses may be taken outside STH (except Contextual Education within the Theology and Social Work Dual Degree Track), and the track-specific elective must be an STH course unless specified by the Track plan of study. Up to a total of 24 (one-third) of the 73 MDiv credits may be taken outside of the School of Theology, with no more than 18 of those 24 credits taken through the BTI.

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. If the student has been awarded a stipend in addition to their full tuition, the stipend will be split equally over the two semesters and be paid to the student by check in the first month of each semester.

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 (31 credit hours), free electives (15 credit hours), and track electives (27 credit hours), for a total of 73 credit hours.

Core Requirements (31 credit hours)

STH TF 701 Introduction to Christian Traditions 3 cr
STH TF 702 Christianity Engaging Modernity 3 cr
STH TF 703 Practicing Faith 3 cr
STH TS 8XX Any STH social ethics course 3 cr
STH TO 704 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible 3 cr
STH TN 721 Introduction to the New Testament 3 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
3 cr
Church History II (Students must take one of the following:)

  • STH TH 812 The Church in Late Antiquity
  • STH TH 820 History of Western Christian Spirituality
  • 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
3 cr
STH TC 801 Contextual Education I 3 cr
STH TC 802 Contextual Education II 3 cr
STH TF 710 Stewarding a Legacy and a Promise 1 cr

Policies pertaining to the core:

  • All MDiv core requirements must be completed within STH.
  • All students must complete the TF 701/702 yearlong sequence and Practicing Faith during their first year of study. Students who do not earn a passing grade in Introduction to Christian Traditions may continue on to their second semester of coursework, taking TF 702 Christianity Engaging Modernity; however, students will be expected to retake TF 701 Introduction to Christian Traditions.
  • All core requirements must be passed for graduation.
  • Students may, in exceptional circumstances, petition the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for advanced standing in Introduction to the New Testament or Introduction to the Hebrew Bible 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 discipline for which they are granted advanced standing.
  • For students in the Theology and Social Work Dual Degree track, the yearlong SSW FE 803/FE 804 Social Work Field Education placement counts as the STH Contextual Education requirement for a total of 8 credits. Students must also take STH TF 821 ITP for Dual Degree Students (Fall) and STH TF 822 ITP for Dual Degree Students (Spring) for 2 additional credits. Since together these requirements constitute 10 credits instead of the 6 Contextual Education requirements in the MDiv Core, the extra 4 credits are considered Free Electives.

Free Electives (15 credit hours)

Five courses, for a total of 15 credit hours, may be taken as free electives. All may be taken within the BTI as long as the total of the required 73 credit hours taken outside Boston University does not exceed 18 credit hours. All students taking denominational history or polity courses must take them as free electives.

Track Electives (27 credit hours)

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