our everyday life

Degrees in Seminary School

by Douglas Matus

Seminary students seek out fields of study that bring religion into a contemporary arena. Many top universities offer degrees in religious studies, proof that metaphysical pursuits remain legitimate in today’s academic environment. Seminary students typically plan upon entry into the ministry. Dependent upon which denomination or church you plan to enter, one of the following degrees could be a requirement for ordination.

Master of Divinity

A Master of Divinity serves as the basic degree to qualify a holder for Christian ordination. This theological degree is typically completed in three years and it renders its recipient qualified to serve as a minister or priest. Over 24 courses in a minimum of six semesters, students study the theological foundations to establish themselves as authorities in their faith. This degree also serves as development for those interested in international missionary practices. Students who pursue this degree typically choose an area of specialization, like Anglican or Baptist Studies.

Doctor of Philosophy in Religion

This degree prepares students for careers in the scholarly study or instruction of religion at a university level. Doctors of Philosophy in Religion are experts in their fields and typically reserve themselves to research in particular aspects of the field. As teachers, doctorates are expected to inspire the next generation of religious scholars while continuing independent study and academic publication. Students in these programs typically choose an area of focus, like Biblical studies in the Old or New Testament, the history of church doctrine, or mission, ecumenics and the history of religion.

Master of Theology

Candidates for these degrees typically wish to extend their undergraduate studies into specialized areas of theology. As preparation for entry into the Christian ministry, a Master of Theology degree implies advanced preparation and a willingness to continue into doctoral studies. Recipients of the Master of Theology can serve as chaplains in industrial settings or the armed forces, or as head ministers in community college or assisted living settings. Most Master of Theology programs require a specialization in an area of theology and a thesis-level publication for graduation.

Master of Arts in Religion

This master's level degree path emphasizes teaching above any other functions. Many recipients of a Master of Arts in Religion enter into youth ministry or pursue further indoctrination toward the goal of a Ph.D. Master of Arts in Religion programs emphasize the literary aspects of religious texts and stress the connection between standard editions of the Bible and the classic works of English literature. Furthermore, students study philosophical systems steeped in religious literature, with an emphasis on the philosophical works of Kant, Kierkegaard, Spinoza and others. The Master of Arts in Religion is perfect for students who feel called toward evangelism, but desire a strong intellectual foundation for their beliefs.

About the Author

Douglas Matus is the travel writer for "West Fort Worth Lifestyle" magazine, and spent four years as the Director of Humanities for a college-prep school in Austin. Since 2005, he has published articles on education, travel and culture in such publications as "Nexus," "People's World" and "USA Today." Matus received an Education Pioneers fellowship in 2010 and an MFA from CalArts in 2011.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images