The Master of Divinity curriculum provides a basic three-year program in graduate theological education for those preparing for church or mission vocations requiring ordination. The program is designed to provide a broad biblical, theological, and practical foundation for those entering pastoral, missionary, or other Christian education ministries. The program may also provide a basis for further graduate study leading to such degrees as Master of Theology (Th.M.), Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), or Doctor of Theology (Th.D.).
In fulfilling the mission of the seminary, as stated and elaborated earlier in this catalog, the Master of Divinity program focuses on three areas of special emphasis: biblical understanding, personal growth, and professional preparation. The emphasis on a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Bible is demonstrated throughout the curriculum, especially in direct Bible study courses, and in the biblical language, hermeneutics, and theology courses. The emphasis on personal growth is demonstrated in the required discipleship labs, chapels, and in significant portions of the field education and pastoral ministries courses. The emphasis on professional development is demonstrated primarily through the pastoral ministries, expository preaching, ordination, and counseling courses.
Included in the three broad areas of emphasis outlined above, the Master of Divinity program also intends to:
- Emphasize the primacy of the local church in commissioning for ministry and as the institutional focus for spiritual accountability
- Cultivate an attitude of devotion and worship
- Instill and nurture a missionary and evangelistic zeal
- Encourage growth in godliness, especially as demonstrated in an attitude of love and ministry as a servant, while developing the appropriate skills for leadership;
- Advance ability in independent and constructive thought in areas relating to ministry and contemporary concerns
- Promote growth in self-discipline, reading habits, and methodologies so that independent study may be continued as a pattern of life and ministry.
In addition to the general admission requirements listed later in this catalog, enrollment in the Master of Divinity program requires possession of a baccalaureate degree, or the academic equivalent, from an approved institution, with a cumulative grade point average of 2.75 or above (on a 4.0 scale) for all undergraduate work. Applicants who are graduates of unaccredited institutions or who present grade point averages lower than 2.75 may be considered for probationary admission status if their references include unusually high commendations for potential ministry.
Applicants to the program are also expected to present a full program of beginning Greek from the undergraduate level. Applicants without this prerequisite are required to take Beginning Greek at The Master's Seminary (usually in the summer prior to the first or second year of the program) but these credits are in addition to the hours required for graduation.
Graduates of Bible colleges, Christian liberal arts colleges, and secular colleges and universities are encouraged to apply. The seminary recommends that pre-seminary studies include a broad exposure to general education subjects. Normally this should include a minimum of 60 semester hours of liberal arts subjects. In particular, we recommend that adequate attention should be devoted to English composition, literature, speech, logic, and history - especially ancient and world history. Bible courses are also recommended, providing the student is attending an institution where such courses are competently taught in a context of faith and obedience.
All students anticipating graduation must first qualify by admission to candidacy status. Admission to candidacy status is the result of faculty evaluations, described below, and constitutes a faculty recommendation that the student be considered as a candidate for graduation, assuming the satisfactory completion of all graduation requirements.
Admission to the seminary and satisfactory completion of academic requirements are not a guarantee of graduation. Since the seminary's programs are designed to qualify its graduates for positions of pastoral leadership, the faculty and administration will also evaluate annually each student's personal, spiritual, doctrinal, and professional qualifications, qualifications without which any attempt to serve or fill a role in a ministry of the gospel can result in nothing but personal tragedy. The seminary reserves the right to withdraw the privileges of enrollment from those whom after admission may prove to be lacking in these necessary qualifications.
The character qualities, knowledge, and skills described earlier in this catalog as personalized objectives will also serve as a standard for evaluation of progress and for admission to candidacy. Absolute fulfillment of these objectives is an ideal which will never be accomplished but should always be in process. What is expected is evidence of progress toward these objectives, continuing evidence of potential for such progress, increasing desire for such progress, and a genuine repentance when there is failure in evidencing such progress.
Official admission to candidacy status involves two stages and must receive final approval by June 1 following completion of the second year of seminary studies or, for part-time students, by the same date following completion of 60 hours of seminary credits. Following each year of seminary, the faculty will assess the appropriateness of the student's vocational and educational goals in light of demonstrated abilities and attitudes. Academic records, field education evaluations, discipleship lab involvement, and evidence of continuing personal growth as demonstrated in chapel attendance, church ministries, etc., may all be examined in these candidacy evaluations. Following evaluation, the Vice President for Academic Administration, or another assigned faculty member will counsel with any students whose progress toward candidacy is questioned and will, by June 1, advise any students for whom candidacy and/or continued enrollment is denied.
Residence Requirements - Master of Divinity students must complete the prescribed three-year curriculum, comprising a minimum of 98 semester hours of credit, with a cumulative grade point average of not less than 2.5. Students transferring from other seminaries may be granted a maximum of 49 semester hours of credit, providing the work conforms to the academic and theological standards of the seminary. The last 12 hours of credit applied toward the degree must be earned in residence at The Master's Seminary unless the student has completed a total of 80 hours or more at The Master's Seminary.
Master of Divinity Thesis - A thesis is optional for Master of Divinity students; however, those who earn a grade point average of 3.25 or higher during their first two years (60 hours) of seminary studies are encouraged to write an original thesis demonstrating their ability to perform biblical and theological research at a scholarly level. The thesis must involve the exegesis of Scripture, employing the original languages as appropriate, either for the purpose of clarifying the meaning of some term(s) or passage(s) in Scripture; or for the purpose of clarifying the biblical evidence relating to some issue(s) of theological or pastoral significance. The thesis must contain not fewer than 50 nor more than 70 pages of text material, with approval based upon literary quality and theological content. Four hours of academic credit, as a part of the 98 hours required for the Master of Divinity degree, will be granted for the thesis project. The student may select a faculty adviser for his thesis project, dependent upon the faculty member's availability and consent, and upon approval of the Vice President for Academic Administration.
In fulfilling the thesis requirements the following deadlines must be observed:
- The student must register for "M.Div. Thesis" (in the approved area of study) for the final semester prior to scheduled graduation;
- Topic approval must be secured by the first Friday in September;
- A first draft, including an adequate bibliographical listing, must be submitted by the second Friday in January;
- An approved presentation copy, and a photocopy, must be submitted by the first Friday in April.
Additionally, The Master of Divinity thesis must be prepared in conformity with the most recent editions of the seminary's "Guidelines for Theses and Dissertations" and Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Where these sources differ, the seminary's "Guidelines" takes precedence.
Program Flexibility - Graduates of Bible colleges and Christian liberal arts colleges are encouraged to apply to the Vice President for Academic Administration for a waiver of any course considered to be repetitious of previous education. When Old Testament Studies or New Testament Studies courses are waived it is required that they be replaced by an advanced (preferably exegesis) elective course in the same area. A waiver does not grant credit; it only allows an otherwise required course to be replaced by an elective course. In no case does The Master's Seminary grant credit for course work taken at the undergraduate level.
English Proficiency - All students are required to take a basic English proficiency exam as a part of orientation procedures for the first semester of their enrollment. Students who fail to demonstrate an adequate understanding of basic grammatical features such as the identification of parts of speech, grammatical inflections, and syntactical structures within sentences, will be required to take the English Refresher supplementary class during their first semester, unless enrolled for fewer than 8 units or if enrolled as a special student. The Vice President for Academic Administration must approve any exceptions. Students who pass the English proficiency exam but sense a need for more training in English will also be permitted to take these supplementary classes. No additional credit is given for this supplemental course work and no additional tuition is charged.
Time Limitation - All work credited toward the Master of Divinity degree must be completed within six years from the time of matriculation. Any exceptions will be considered only in cases when the student is involved in a full-time ministry, and must receive the approval of the entire faculty.
In addition to the requirements specified in the preceding paragraphs, which include completion of 98 semester hours of credit with a grade point average of 2.5 or above, and admission to candidacy status, each candidate must submit an official Application for Graduation when registering for their final semester prior to graduation. Transfer students must complete at least 49 semester hours of credit at The Master's Seminary. All graduates must be present at the commencement ceremonies unless excused on the basis of a written appeal to the Vice President for Academic Administration. Graduation in absentia will be permitted only in cases of personal emergency or undue hardship.
Master of Divinity Curriculum
Students entering without Beginning Greek are expected to enroll in Hebrew Grammar I and II for the first year, enroll in Beginning Greek during the summer between the first and second year (this is in addition to the required 98 hours), and take Greek Exegesis I and II during the second year. An alternative is to enroll in Beginning Greek during the summer prior to the first year, then take Greek Exegesis I and II during the first year and Hebrew Grammar I and II the second year.
Students enrolling in The Master's Seminary have one opportunity to pass the Greek proficiency exam, that is the time when they first enter the seminary. Anyone not passing the proficiency exam at their first sitting or anyone not taking the exam when offered at the start of their first semester on campus will be required to enroll in and pass NT 401 & 402, or NT 403, as part of his seminary curriculum before enrolling in NT 603. Grades earned will be factored into the student's grade point average. Those who pass the Greek proficiency exam are expected to enroll in Greek Exegesis I and II for the first year and in Hebrew Grammar I & II for the second year.
Students are encouraged to apply for a waiver of any course considered to be repetitious of previous education. This is especially encouraged for BI 501, 502 and BI 601. If approved, a waiver grants no credit but allows the student to take elective credits instead of the required course(s). Successful completion of proficiency exams, given at the beginning of each school year, is necessary for waiving BI 501, 502, and BI 601.
Students are encouraged to participate in a cross-cultural experience, either in another country or in an area ethnic church, during the senior year or the preceding summer.