Master of Divinity (School of Theology)
The Master of Divinity degree is a comprehensive graduate theological program covering a wide range of general and specialized subjects, designed to prepare students for full-time service in the church of Jesus Christ.
The curriculum is controlled by a vision of Christ’s Church as the people of God-a living, worshiping, witnessing community, within which faith is nurtured and through which Christ is served in the world. The curriculum is designed to instruct students in the study of theology in its widest sense, so that they may grow in the knowledge of God, discover and develop their God-given gifts and become more effective members of the body of Christ. This involves a deepening understanding of God and God’s world through rigorous academic discipline; but it also involves, in part as the fruit of such discipline, personal spiritual growth and maturity, and the acquiring of the relevant skills that will enable students to use their theological insights effectively in practical Christian ministry.
The Master of Divinity program prepares men and women for ministry within the Church of Jesus Christ.
The curriculum is controlled by a vision of Christ’s Church as the people of God – a living, worshipping, witnessing community, within which faith is nurtured and through which Christ is served in the world. Guided by this vision, the curriculum is designed to instruct students in the study of theology in its widest sense, so that they may grow in the knowledge of God, discover and develop their God-given gifts and become more effective members of the body of Christ. This involves a deepening understanding of God and Godís world through rigorous academic discipline; but it also involves, in part as the fruit of such discipline, personal spiritual growth and maturity, and the acquiring of the relevant skills that will enable students to use their theological insights effectively in practical Christian ministry.
Accordingly, the characteristics of the Master of Divinity program are determined by the marks of true Christian ministry.
- The Christian minister should be a person who knows and delights in the Word of God, one who is able responsibly and in detail to exegete and interpret the divinely inspired Scriptures, yet one also able to see in its wholeness the story of the saving acts of God revealed through Israel and consummated in Christ. The Master of Divinity program is designed to foster ministry that is rooted in the authority of the Bible.
- The Christian minister should understand the doctrines and traditions of the Church as they have come to expression over time, and be able to reflect on them with insight and to interpret them compellingly for our own time. The minister should also be one who empowers the people of God so that they too are enabled confidently to discern and clearly to articulate Godís Word for our world. The Master of Divinity program is designed to foster Christian ministry that is theologically responsible.
- The Christian minister should possess special abilities, theologically informed, for leading and equipping Godís people. The tasks that demand these skills are many: preaching, public worship, teaching, evangelism, counseling, spiritual formation, and administration. The minister should be one who not only develops such skills but enables others to share them. The Master of Divinity program is designed to foster ministry that is professionally competent.
- The Christian minister should recognize that evangelism in its widest sense is the responsibility of every Christian and is central to the apostolic nature and mission of the Church. The minister should be prepared both spiritually and intellectually to “do the work of an evangelist” and to enable others to share in that task. The Master of Divinity program is designed to foster ministry that is committed to evangelism.
- The Christian minister should be an advocate of truth, a person able convincingly to argue for the credibility of the faith in our contemporary pluralistic setting, and to witness to the revelation of God in Christ in the confidence of the Spirit of Truth. The Master of Divinity program is designed to foster ministry that is intellectually articulate.
- The Christian minister should be a person of deep and honest faith, a faith that is rooted in an authentic experience of Godís grace and that is expressed in a growth toward maturity and wholeness in Christ. He or she should be a person of integrity who is ready always to seek the will of God in the complex moral problems of personal life, and sensitive to the even more complex ethical issues of the public arena. The Master of Divinity program seeks to foster ministry that is spiritually mature and morally sensitive.
- The Christian minister should be a servant of the compassionate Lord, a person deeply concerned for social justice with a burden for the oppressed and the weak, a peacemaker in a world torn by war, an advocate for the hungry and homeless, a defender of all victims of oppression, and a prophet calling for justice from the rich and mercy for the wretched of the earth. The Master of Divinity program is designed to foster ministry that is socially concerned.
- The Christian minister should be personally committed to a specific church within the Church universal, one who is loyal to the community and tradition of which he or she is a part yet who honors a wider loyalty to the Church universal. The Master of Divinity program is designed to foster ministry that is ecumenically open yet denominationally responsible.
- The Christian minister should be aware of living in a humanly diverse world and a diverse church, and be aware of the way in which this diversity is simultaneously a resource and a source of tensions in world and church. The Master of Divinity program is designed to foster ministry that affirms diversity in gender, culture, and race; that heeds those who have been voiceless; and that works for reconciliation and unity within the one family of humanity and the one body of the church.
These are some of the marks of true Christian ministry which determine the characteristics of the Master of Divinity program. By this vision of ministry, the curriculum is tested and controlled, goals are defined and teaching is motivated.
General standards for admission to Fuller Theological Seminary may be found in the Admission Standards section of this catalog. To be admitted to the MDiv program, applicants must have been awarded a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited institution before the starting date of the desired quarter of entry. Regular admission requires at least a 2.7 cumulative grade point average (GPA) in all undergraduate work; students with a lower GPA may be considered for admission on probation. Applicants without an accredited bachelor’s degree must meet special requirements and will be considered for admission on probation on an individual basis. Students admitted on probation are subject to certain limitations during their first 48 units of course work at Fuller.
Residence Requirements and Transfer Credit
A minimum of 40 units must be earned at Fuller Seminary. At least 40 units, not including apprenticeships or independent studies, must be taken on the Pasadena campus or one of Fuller’s regional campuses approved for this degree: Seattle, Menlo Park, Irvine, Phoenix, or Houston. Requests for transfer of credit for approved graduate studies done at an institution accredited by The Association of Theological Schools or a recognized regional or international accrediting agency will be evaluated on an individual basis by the Academic Advising Office. This may include a maximum of 80 quarter hours of graduate theological and biblical studies. Nontheological studies are normally not considered for transfer credit. Course work taken in a nonreligious setting which might be considered as parallel to course work in the Fuller curriculum may be considered on an individual basis if it is appropriate to the field of concentration, approved by the academic affairs committee, and integrated through a 4-unit directed study.
A Master of Divinity program may include up to 22 courses (88 units) of distance learning coursework. This includes courses taken at Fuller, as well as courses completed elsewhere and transferred to Fuller for this degree. You can combine online and campus classes, or you can remain in your context by studying primarily online, with just four one-week sessions (8 classes, 32 units) at a Fuller campus in Hybrid+ classes. Each Hybrid+ class consists of nine weeks of online study plus one week of face-to-face study at a campus. Hybrid+ classes are scheduled so that you can complete the on-campus portions of two classes in the same one-week period.
Time Limits for Completion of Degrees
In order to ensure that a degree, when granted, represents education that is current and reasonably focused (not acquired a little at a time over an unreasonably long period), all credit applied to the degree must be earned within a certain period of time. For the Master of Divinity degree at Fuller, this period has been set at ten years. This includes all credit earned elsewhere and applied to the degree, as well as all credit earned at Fuller.
The faculty at Fuller has developed a unified curriculum for the Master of Divinity degree. A total of 120 units is required to earn the Master of Divinity degree.
INTEGRATIVE (16 units)
- IS500 The Touchstone Course
- IS501 The Practice of Worship and Prayer
- IS502 The Practices of Christian Community
- IS503 The Practice of Mission
LANGUAGES (12 units)
- LG500 Hebrew Tools for Biblical Interpretation
- LG510 Greek Tools for Biblical Interpretation
- BI500 Interpretive Practices
INTERPRETING (20 units)
- OT500 New Testament Introduction
- NT500 New Testament Introduction
- OT527 Old Testament Exegesis or NE527 New Testament Exegesis
- Biblical Studies Elective (other Testament than the exegetical course)
- Any Biblical Studies Elective
THEOLOGIZING (20 units)
- History and Theology (16 units). Must take two history courses and two theology courses
- God and Christ: any course with the TH1 attribute
- HT500 The Church’s Understanding of God and Christ in its Historical Development
- HT501 The Church’s Understanding of God and Christ in its Theological Reflection
- The Church, Humanity, and the Christian Life: any course with the TH2 attribute
- HT502 The Church’s Understanding of the Church, Humanity, and the Christian Life in its Historical Development
- HT503 The Church’s Understanding of the Church, Humanity, and the Christian Life in its Theological Reflection
- Modern and Global Contexts: any course with the TH3 attribute
- CH504 The Modern Church in a Global Historical Context
- CH506 American Christianity in a Global Historical Context
- HT504 Modern Theology in a Global Context
- Theologizing Elective: any course with the TH4 attribute
- Almost any course with a CH, HT, ST, or TH prefix
- ST511, CH549, CH551, and TH550 do not meet this requirement
- God and Christ: any course with the TH1 attribute
- Ethics, Philosophy, or Theology and Culture: any course with the TH5 attribute
- Any course with an ET, PH, or TC prefix
MINISTRY (16 units)
- Leadership: any course with the LDR attribute
- Pastoral Care: any course with the PC attribute
- PR500 Homiletics
- Preaching Practicum: one course with the P1 attribute, or PR511 and any course with the P2 attribute
CONTEXTUALIZING (20 units)
- Engaging Global Realities: any course with the C1 attribute
- Engaging Culture: any course with the C2 attribute
- Engaging Local Contexts: any course with the C3 attribute
- Engaging Ethically: any course with the C4 attribute
- Engaging Human Diversity: any course with the C5 attribute
ELECTIVES (16 units)
- May be used for am emphasis (see below)
APPRENTICESHIP (0 or 4 units)
Areas of Emphasis
At Fuller, an emphasis consists of a minimum of 4-5 courses grouped around a particular area of interest. By choosing an emphasis, students will be guided to courses in the three schools taught by faculty doing research on topics relevant to the emphasis area.
Areas of emphasis available for the Master of Divinity include:
- Ancient Context of the Old Testament
- Ancient Near Eastern Studies
- Asian American Contexts
- Biblical Languages
- Children at Risk
- Christian Ethics
- Global Arts and World Religions
- International Development and Urban Studies
- Islamic Studies
- Just Peacemaking
- Recovery Ministry
- Theology and the Arts
- Worship and Music Ministry
- Worship, Theology, and the Arts
- Youth, Family, and Culture
Further information on the curricular requirements for each emphasis may be found in the Areas of Emphasis (School of Theology) section.