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How do I get a Master's Degree in Divinity?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2018
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To earn a master’s degree in divinity, you should begin by planning your undergraduate program accordingly and apply for admission to a master’s program as you begin your final year of work for your bachelor’s degree. In North America, you should look for a school accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in the United States (US) and Canada, as well as any other type of regional accreditation that will help you find a school that is respected and reliable. The coursework necessary to earn your master’s degree in divinity typically takes three to four years and often involves rigorous study, with programs in biblical understanding and ancient languages being common.

A master’s degree in divinity is typically the necessary requirement for someone looking to become a minister or pastor for many Christian denominations. Those interested in becoming a religious leader within a branch of the Christian faith typically spend about eight years in total receiving the necessary education to do so. If you want to receive a master’s degree in divinity, you will likely need to begin by receiving a four-year degree in any field, though a related field such as religious studies, comparative literature, or philosophy may be especially helpful.

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You will want to apply to various graduate level schools during your final year of study for your four-year degree. Some schools may require you to take tests such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to receive admittance. It is usually best to look for a school that has been properly accredited to help you earn your master’s degree in divinity.

The Commission on Accrediting in the United States and Canada of the ATS is an excellent standard to look for. You should also look for regional accreditation as well, with groups that are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The CHEA regulates accrediting groups within different areas of the US to ensure that high standards are established and met by accredited schools.

Once you are accepted in a program, you will usually need to complete about 90 hours of coursework, which typically take about three to four years to complete. Some schools offer different concentrations for focus, such as practical theology and missiology, which can help prepare you for either pastoral work or evangelical missionary work. You may also have to study the ancient languages of the Bible, such as Greek and Hebrew, to better understand the original texts. There is typically some intensive coursework taken to earn a master's degree in divinity, requiring a great deal of research and writing with a strong focus on biblical study and a spiritual understanding of the modern world.

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