Master of Theological Studies (MTS)
Applicants must have graduated with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 from an accredited college and have a broad liberal arts background with a general knowledge of theological subjects. Students who have already completed a previous Master of Divinity degree are not eligible for admission to the MTS and should seek the STM instead. Refer to the Admissions section of the School of Theology website for specific application information.
The primary learning outcomes of the MTS are:
- A foundational understanding of the Christian and Hebrew scriptures and of the broad heritage of the Christian tradition as such and in relation to other faith traditions and social-cultural contexts.
- A critical understanding of and creative engagement with the cultural realities and structures within which religious leadership is carried out, including
- contemporary cultural and social issues and their significance for diverse linguistic and cultural contexts of religious leadership; and
- the global character of religious communities in the multifaith and multicultural context of contemporary society.
- Focused knowledge in a specific discipline for students pursuing a particular MTS concentration or, in other cases, a survey knowledge of various theological disciplines.
- A developed intellectual focus and vocational direction.
- Growth in one’s capacity for a robust embrace of and engagement with social and theological diversity and one’s capacity to relate across difference.
Rationale: The Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree at Boston University School of Theology is shaped by a conviction that the life of faith in today’s world may be enriched by deep exploration of theological traditions in dialogue with broad understanding of the complexities of our global context. Students have opportunities to prepare for a variety of contributions to communities, to faith, and to knowledge.
The curriculum begins with two semesters of basic study of scripture and the yearlong interdisciplinary exploration of history, theology, and contexts contained in the TF 701 Introduction to Christian Traditions/TF 702 Christianity Engaging Modernity sequence of courses. Reflecting on the contexts, theologies, scriptures, and historical experiences of communities of faith establishes basic frameworks for the deeper explorations that will lie ahead. And because all such exploration must take place in dialogue with the contemporary challenges of leadership, at some point during the course of study, all students engage in one semester of contextual education appropriate to their educational goals.
Beyond this basic outline, the MTS curriculum allows the student a great deal of flexibility to pursue interests in many fields. Those who come to the degree with specific academic and vocational goals may wish to choose a specialization, working with an advisor to tailor the program toward those specific goals. Specializations are available in a variety of disciplines. Currently, there are seven such specializations:
- Transcultural Studies
- Ecological Theology and Ethics
- Religion and Science
- Spirituality Studies
- Religion and Conflict Transformation
- Texts and Traditions
Official plans of study for MTS specializations are available on the STH Registrar’s website. Others are developed by the faculty on an ongoing basis and students are invited to suggest a specialization to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs if it does not already exist. Students pursuing an MTS specialization must petition to do so through the Registrar’s office no later than the end of their second semester of study.
The successful completion of 49 credit hours is required for the MTS degree. This program is designed to be completed in two academic years of full-time work (four semesters). The time limit for the degree program is four years (eight semesters).
Dean’s Scholarships: Dean’s Fellowships 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 two academic years of full-time MTS 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 two academic years of full-time MTS study.
See the Financial Aid section of this site for more information on Dean’s Fellowships and Tuition Scholarships.
Master of Theological Studies Curriculum Requirements
The Master of Theological Studies degree consists of core requirements (16 credit hours), cluster electives (9 credit hours), and free electives (24 credit hours), which may be used to tailor a specialization.
Core Requirements (16 credit hours)
- TF 701 Introduction to Christian Traditions (3 cr)
- TF 702 Christianity Engaging Modernity (3 cr)
- TN 721 Introduction to the New Testament (3 cr)
- TO 704 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (3 cr)
- Contextual education may be fulfilled by taking an approved travel seminar, completing a Contextual Education Project/Internship (through directed study with an advisor or other faculty member and approved by the Contextual Education office), or by completing STH TC 801 ITP with a semester-long internship approved by the Contextual Education office (3 cr)
- TF 710 First-Year Formation (1 cr)
All MTS core requirements must be taken at the Boston University School of Theology.
Students who do not earn a passing grade in TF 701 Introduction to Christian Traditions 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.
Cluster Electives (9 credit hours)
Courses offered in the School of Theology (and certain courses available through the Boston Theological Institute [BTI] and elsewhere in the University) are organized into three curriculum clusters:
- Cluster One—Texts and Traditions
- Cluster Two—Engaging Contemporary Contexts
- Cluster Three—Theories & 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 publications of the Bulletin. Students in the Master of Theological Studies program are required to complete:
- 1 Cluster One course
- 1 Cluster Two course
- 1 Cluster Three course
All three cluster electives may be taken outside STH within the University or the BTI, but the total of courses taken outside Boston University (including any Free Electives) may not exceed 15 credits with no more than 12 of those 15 credits taken through the BTI. No core courses may be taken outside STH.
Free Electives (24 credit hours)
- 8 elective courses from any cluster
Typical MTS Plan of Study
|STH TF 701 Introduction to Christian Traditions||
|STH TF 702 Christianity Engaging Modernity||
|STH TO 704 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible||
|STH TN 721 Introduction to the New Testament||
|STH TF 710 First-Year Formation||
|STH TF 801 MTS Contextual Education||
|Cluster One Elective||
|Cluster Two Elective||
|Cluster Three Elective||
Grade Minimums No grade lower than C is acceptable for use in core course requirements for the Master of Theological Studies degree. No grade lower than B– will be accepted for cluster electives or specialization coursework. No grade lower than C is acceptable to satisfy free elective requirements.
Final Degree Assessment All candidates for the Master of Theological Studies degree will undertake a final degree assessment in the period between midterm examinations and the penultimate week of coursework in the final semester of registration. Instructions on that assessment process may be found on the STH Registrar’s webpage.