The Master of Theology curriculum provides a flexible program extending one to four years at the post-Master of Divinity graduate level. It allows for a degree of specialized preparation in Bible Exposition, Old Testament, New Testament, or Systematic Theology beyond what is possible in the basic three-year M.Div. program. While it also may provide a basis for further graduate study leading to more advanced degrees such as Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Theology (Th.D.), it is, in each case, designed for those preparing for church or mission vocations requiring ordination.
In addition, the purposes envisioned for the program include the following:
- Preparation of equippers of pastors for foreign assignments in institutional settings where doctoral-level credentials are not prerequisite. Such situations currently arising in third-world churches illustrate the need for teachers to train pastors at an advanced level, but without the need of formal accreditation recognition afforded by terminal educational degrees.
- Advanced preparation for pastoral ministries in local church settings. The program provides for a further sharpening of exegetical and theological skills for those sensing a further educational need beyond their M.Div. training. This would be particularly true for the ones who have no previous formal training in Bible and theology before their M.Div. programs.
- Preparation of pastors who are also inclined toward a calling in theological writing that requires a honing of exegetical and theological skills beyond what the standard M.Div. program offers.
Because the Th.M. program is limited in its enrollment, faculty can devote personal attention to individual students in regard to continuing spiritual and practical development, research techniques, teaching techniques, formal writing style, and supporting areas of pedagogical methodology. These supplementary features will ensure the effective use of advanced exegetical and theological skills gained in the program.
Applicants must present an acceptable undergraduate baccalaureate degree and a Master of Divinity degree, with a 3.25 grade point average in his divinity program. Master of Divinity students who have completed at least 80 semester credit hours by end of current semester are encouraged to apply and begin their Master of Theology program while completing their Master of Divinity requirements. In the application process, the applicants' previous education is reviewed for the purpose of determining if any prerequisite coursework might be required that would enable the applicant to succeed in the program. Any post-Master of Divinity prerequisite work, if necessary, is provided without tuition cost. These costs are covered by the Master of Theology tuition fee.
In addition, applicants must also give evidence of the personal, character, and spiritual qualifications necessary for a minister of Christ as outlined in the admissions standards for The Master's Seminary. Graduates of other seminaries must file a full application with the Office of Admissions. Students currently enrolled at The Master's Seminary may file for admission by submitting the abridged form available in the Admissions Office.
Transfer Credit-Up to four advanced graduate semester credit hours from an accredited theological institution may be applied toward fulfillment of Th.M. course requirements at The Master's Seminary.
Prerequisites - Applicants must have successfully completed basic courses which parallel the following core classes of the Master of Divinity degree at The Master's Seminary:
- Twelve semester credit hours of Bible courses.
- Fourteen semester credit hours of Old Testament language and literature courses (OT 503, OT 504, OT 603, OT 604, OT 796 and a Hebrew Exegesis elective).
- Ten semester credit hours of New Testament language and literature courses, beyond Beginning Greek (NT 603, NT 604, NT 796 and a Greek Exegesis elective).
- Twenty semester credit hours of Theology (TH 507, TH 508, TH 605, TH 606, TH 705, TH 706).
Applicants deficient in any of these requirements may take the pre-requisite units while taking other Th.M. courses, but such deficiencies must be completed prior to or during the first year of Th.M. residency. Until these prerequisites are met, applicants will be admitted on a probationary status. Course work taken to fulfill deficiencies is not applicable toward the Th.M. residency requirements.
While not a pre-requisite, it is recommended that students anticipating a Th.M. degree program write a thesis as a part of their M.Div. degree program. Students not writing a thesis must demonstrate the ability to do significant theological research.
Residency - A minimum of two semesters in residence at The Master's Seminary is required for the Master of Theology degree. Residency is understood to be a campus presence of at least one day per week for classes and an additional day per week for library research and consultation with your adviser. The program is designed to be completed in one year. Some, however, may require additional time, especially if prerequisite coursework is necessary.
Program Length - All course work, examinations, and thesis requirements (totaling 26 credit hours) must be completed within four years, beginning on the date of the student's first registration for Th.M. courses at The Master's Seminary. Students may go beyond this four year period only by requesting permission in writing to the seminary faculty. In any case, the student will be required to pay a continuing registration fee for each semester during which he is not enrolled; failure to do so will be viewed as withdrawal from the program.
Concurrent Enrollment - Senior Master of Divinity students who have completed 80 or more semester credit hours and who have been admitted on a probationary status into the Th.M. degree program may be permitted to take a maximum of six credit hours per semester of Th.M. courses for application to Th.M. program requirements. Such course work must meet all normal Th.M. standards and cannot be credited toward the requirements of other degree programs.
Master of Theology Thesis - An acceptable thesis evidencing a high degree of scholarly competence in the student's major field must be submitted by all Th.M. candidates. The thesis accounts for 4 hours of academic credit in the 26 hour curriculum and must contain not fewer than 100 nor more than 150 pages of text material. Approval will be based upon literary quality and theological content. Students who have completed their course work must register as a thesis-non-resident student for each semester the thesis remains outstanding.
In fulfilling the thesis requirements, the following deadlines must be observed:
- The student must register for "Th.M. Thesis" in the approved area of study for the final semester prior to scheduled graduation
- Topic approval must be secured no later than the last Friday in March of the year prior to graduation, though topic approval during the first semester of study is strongly recommended
- A prospectus (title page, outline, bibliography, and synopsis of argument) is due the last Friday of May
- A first draft must be submitted by the second Friday of January
- An approved presentation copy, and two photocopies, must be submitted by the first Friday in April. Your adviser may, at his discretion, interject additional deadlines within the broad dates listed above. However, failure to meet the deadline for either the first draft or the final draft will result in the postponement of your anticipated graduation date until the following year.
The Master of Theology 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.
Degrees are awarded to qualified candidates at the seminary's spring Commencement. To qualify for graduation, candidates must present an acceptable thesis (4 credit hours) and have completed 22 credit hours of required course work, with no grade less than B- credited toward the Th.M. degree. Candidates must also manifest promise of competency in Christian ministry, exhibit exemplary and consistent Christian character, and must be in accord with the ideals of the institution as recorded in its current catalog.
Course work taken concurrently with Master of Divinity classes will be charged at the Master of Divinity rate. Otherwise, all courses taken for Master of Theology credit, including any post-Master of Divinity prerequisite courses, will be charged at the Master of Theology tuition rate (See Financial Information section).