Those who are considering graduate study in the field of theology may have many different goals in terms of their academic programs. Read on to learn more about some common graduate degree options in this field, as well as programs that are available in the state of Texas.
Degree Options in Theology
Those who wish to pursue graduate study in theology have a wide variety of choices. Some of the most common degree options are detailed below.
Master of Divinity
For students pursuing graduate study as an entry-level credential to professional positions in ministry, the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) deserves close consideration. It can usually be completed in three years of full-time study. To earn the M.Div., students will study the Bible, ancient languages, and history. Students will also gain the practical skills necessary to enter ministerial positions.
Master of Arts in Theology
Students who are considering further academic preparation in the field of theology may consider the Master of Arts (M.A.) in Theology. This degree can typically be completed in two years of full-time study. Students will complete a range of courses as well as a thesis or general examination.
Doctor of Philosophy in Religion or Theology
Those who are considering graduate study in order to pursue teaching or research may consider earning a Ph.D. in religion or theology. Three to five years of study is usually required to complete this degree, depending on whether the candidate has an earned master's before beginning study. For this degree, students will usually complete coursework, a dissertation, a teaching experience, and comprehensive exams. Reading knowledge of ancient and modern foreign language is often considered.
Graduate Programs in Texas
Schools located in the state of Texas offer a wide range of options for graduate study in this field. In choosing a graduate program, it is important to consider what degrees are offered as well as the religious affiliation of the university.
Lubbock Christian University
Students can prepare for careers in ministry by earning the M.Div. at Lubbock Christian University. Lubbock Christian University's spiritual heritage is the Church of Christ. Many of the courses are presented in a hybrid format, with online work supplemented by on-campus experiences. Courses may include American Church History and Spiritual Formation. The graduate school also offers M.A. degrees focused upon Christian Ministry or Biblical Interpretation.
At Baylor University in Waco, students can pursue the Ph.D. in religion. Baylor is affiliated with the Baptist church. Students can select concentrations in Old or New Testament, history, or theological areas. Several research institutes provide academic research opportunities, including the Baptist Studies Center for Research and the J.M. Dawson Center for Church-State Studies. A master's degree is required to be considered for admissions. Several criteria are considered in admissions decisions, including GPA, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, current research, and fluency in foreign languages.
St. Mary's University
St. Mary's University, in San Antonio, offers the opportunity to pursue a M.A. in Theology. St. Mary's is affiliated with the Catholic Church, and graduates often pursue positions in catechetical teaching or diocesan administration. In addition to its on-campus program, remote learners can participate in the M.A. through a synchronous, remote option which links them in real-time to classes occurring on campus. Courses typically occur in the evenings. Courses can include Sacraments and Liturgy and Christian Social Ethics. Students are required to participate in learning outside of the classroom, for example approved academic lectures. To apply, students should submit transcripts, GRE scores, recommendations, and a statement of purpose.
The King's University
At The King's University in Southlake, students can work towards their M.Div. degree. The King's University is an evangelical, interdenominational university. The degree can be completed online or on campus. Courses may include the Life of Jesus Christ, Ministry Management, and Spirit-Formed Worship. A concentration in Messianic Jewish studies is available. A test on Biblical knowledge, and a Biblical workshop, is required before students can enroll in graduate hermeneutics courses. Applicants should provide a transcript with an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher.
Dallas Theological Seminary
At Dallas Theological Seminary, students can pursue the M.A. in theology. This undenominational school's doctrinal basis is the evangelical tradition. Courses for the M.A. may include Eschatology or Salvation, Sanctification, and the Church. Students must also participate in spiritual formation small groups. Strong academic preparation in theology is required for admission.
Dallas Theological Seminary also offers the Ph.D. focused upon theological studies. Courses may include Hebrew Exegesis and Teaching in Christian Higher Education. Students may receive credit for a three week study tour to Israel. Prior to graduation, students must provide a letter of recommendation from the church they have attended during their graduate studies. Applicants must subscribe to the doctrinal beliefs of the university. They must submit their academic records from bachelor's and master's degree programs and successfully pass a written and oral interview in their field of study. A personality assessment with a counselor is also required.
Earning a graduate degree in religion can lead to careers in ministry, pastoral counseling, teaching, or research. Programs in Texas at schools with various religious affiliations can provide opportunities for students to pursue this course of study at the master's or doctoral levels.