Master of Divinity or Theology???

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Disciple, Dec 8, 2003.

  1. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    In our lifetime, Bruce, that's correct. The D.D. (not D.Div.) is now only an honourary degree. The only accredited exception I know of is the University of Pretoria. Most Roman Catholic seminaries now grant the M.Div. as the designation for their post-baccalaureate 3 or 4 year ordination prep program, as do virtually all other Christian seminaries. A few use the designation Master of Ministry for the conventional clergy prep program (if the other sounds too much like exercising control over God); M.Min. is offered as an alternative degree label to M.Div. by a very few schools. The M.Div. itself was the nomenclature replacement for the old Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) in the US (possibly around 1965-70???). When Lutheran church bodies (at least LCMS, WELS, ELS)still operated on the old Gymnasium model (high school + 2 years in a single institution), followed by seminary, the B.D, designation was used. I recall from the '80s that some Canadian seminaries still offered the B.D. as a clergy prep program for students lacking an undergraduate degree. Perhaps some Brit and SA theologians can fill us in on terminology there.

    A caveat on all this: a number of mills AND a number of non-mill unaccredited schools AND some Bible colleges expanding into grad level programs use nonstandard nomenclature.

    Generally, though, the sequence now is a bachelor's followed by a 3 or 4 year M.Div. as Christian clergy prep sequence (at least where stipulated degrees are required).

    Bill Grover has presented the variant meanings of some other seminary degrees.
  2. boydston

    boydston New Member

    In the U.S. the D.D. degree is, as mentioned, almost always an honorary degree. In the U.K. the D.D. is a higher level doctorate -- that is, given to a faculty member who has distinguished him or herself. See, for example, the guidlines for Durham.

    Even though the nomenclature doesn't follow, the doctorate that follows in the same vein as the M.Div. is the D.Min.

    In the U.K. a first degree in a particular subject is generally a bachelors degree. Thus someone with an M.A. who decides to go back to school to train for voactional ministry would still be awarded a B.D. Likewise, a physician's first degree is a M.B.

    In the U.S. the B.D. underwent a conversion and emerged as an M.Div. in the 60's (and early 70's in some schools). People were actually encouraged to trade in their B.D. certificates to receive the M.Div. certificate -- with no additional work. They were the same degree. But in the U.S. a second degree is a master's degree and since B.D. studies generally required a B.A. as a prerequisite it was deemed that it would be more appropriate to call the degree an M.Div.

    I'm not sure that upgrading the nomenclature has improved our ability to minister. But it makes some people feel more important. :)
  3. rllewis

    rllewis New Member

    As someone above mentioned, the Doctor of Divinity degree in the United States is a honorary degree. The D.D. can be given by just about any religious institute, most of them being Christian. The D.D. from well known seminaries are usually given to bishops and others in a leadership role of the church. As the Chair of the Membership and Credential Committee of the National Institute of Business and Industrial Chaplains, I have had a few applicants try to use their D.D. as proof of theological education. When they argue with me, I then show they how easy it is for someone to get a D.D., usually from the very institute they are claiming, by having the institute grant my dog one.

    Now, in other countries the D.D. can be more than an honorary degree, and in some it is beyond the Th.D. or the Ph.D.

    The main difference between the Master of Theology and the Master of Divinity has to do with preparing one to be able to preach and be the spiritual leader of a congregation. The Master of Divinity prepares one for this where the Master of Theology does not.

    Also, there is the Master of Sacred Theology, which for example at Boston University where I received mine, is a second master’s degree for those who already have a theological master’s or in the case of older clergy, the 120 hour Bachelor of Theology. At BU the Master of Sacred Theology is a 32 hour specialization degree. For example, mine was in the area of Church and Society and I specialized in post-modern approaches of evangelizing.

    Licentiate is used by some other disciplines other that theology and divinity students, but its greatest use seems to be in theology. For example, in Roman Catholic seminaries the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) Is an advanced degree that usually requires having earned the M.Div. or other professional theology degree. The S.T.L. is usually for those who wish to specialize in a particular branch of theology and to develop advanced theological expertise. The S.T.L. is often the standard for those who teach theology in Roman Catholic institutions of higher learning, seminaries, and even Roman Catholic high schools.

    Hope this, along with everyone else’s answer, helps.


    Robert Lewis
    Master of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University - New Orleans
    Master of Sacred Theology, Boston University School of Theology
    Working toward Doctor of Theology, Boston University School of Theology
  4. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2004
  5. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    Further, some schools allow one with a one or two year MA in Theology to begin doc work in Theology. Others as DTS will not accept the "mere" MA but require the three year MDiv. DTS then reduces the amount of doc (PhD) work for holders of the four year ThM. Other schools , as The Master's, will not accept an applicant with just the MA or even the MDiv but require the four year ThM of applicants for doc (ThD) study. Therefore, entry requirements being so different among theo doc programs, this means too that cumulatively the duration of grad studies leading to the doc much varies between schools.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2004
  6. boydston

    boydston New Member

    A lot of people do confuse the two-year M.A.T.S. (or in some places simply M.T.S. or even M.A. Theology) and the four-year Th.M. They are both masters degrees in theology. But they have two years of difference in study time.

    Frankly, most doctoral admissions committees don't really care what the degree is called. They are looking at the content of the work and whether it meets their particular criteria for study in their doctoral program. (Obviously not all doctorates are equal and the entry requirements are equally unequal for that reason). It is possible to get into a doctoral program without a masters degree if it is obvious that you have gone through an equally rigorous form of preparation.

    Likewise, in many of the denominations and churches which require an M.Div. for ordination there is flexibility if someone has equivalent experiences or preparation. For example, if someone has taken more than enough units to complete an M.Div. but has never gotten around to graduating that would be acceptable -- all other factors being equal. In our denomination we require an M.Div. for ordination to Word and Sacrament. However, I've personally done ordination interviews with people who have two year masters degrees but have additional class work equaling the third year. And we've given them our endorsement for ordination. Occasionally someone will come through with a non-ATS M.Div. or a European masters and we noted the equivalences and passed them through. The standard is still the ATS M.Div. but that becomes more of a ruler than a rigid hoop to jump through.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2004
  7. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    That's interesting. It might be helpful if you'd explain why ATS is the "ruler." How difficult would it be to get ordained in your denomination if:

    *the degree were just RA not ATS ?

    *the degree were NA as TRACS ?

    * the degree were from an unaccredited USA school which could meet the criteria of accreditation , if it chose to, of ATS/RA/TRACS--like Bob Jones?

    * the degree were from a school which definitely could NOT meet ATS/RA/TRACS accreditation for various reasons such as the vast majority of their professors lacking accredited graduate degrees?

  8. boydston

    boydston New Member

    ATS is considered to be the standard of academic quality. So something with ONLY RA would raise flags. That means that everything would be scrutinized a little more carefully. Something not ATS would require an "exception" to the rules -- of which we make plenty.

    I guess the issue for us would be, why does a school only have RA and not ATS? Is there some deficency in the school or lack of rigor that prevents them from attaining that standard?

    How many M.Div. programs are there with only RA?

    I suspect that the same kind of red flags would be raised for both categories. And it would require an exception to the rules. But it could happen. It's just a little more work and it requires a class by class evaluation.

    Dallas Theological Seminary was in this category until 20 years ago or so. I can't remember when they made the decision to become accredited. But their academic reputation alone would have carried enough weight that in that situation we probably wouldn't have done a class by class evaluation. There might have been other issues but no one would have questioned the validity and quality of a DTS degree.

    It probably wouldn't fly. Someone would probably be required to do some additional academic work. They might receive some "credit" for their non-accredited work but it wouldn't count for anything near the effort that the student put into it.
  9. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    That would depend on how much effort went into that non-accredited work,

    :rolleyes: .

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