The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree is designed primarily for students who plan to be ordained clergy and serve in Word, sacrament, service and order. It may also equip a person for other specialized ministries.
Requirements for Admission
The number of new students to be admitted each year is determined by policies of selection established by the faculty. The following considerations are decisive:
1. Seriousness of purpose, emotional stability and likelihood of satisfactory performance in the degree program and of responsible membership in the Perkins and Southern Methodist University community
2. Presence of and potential for growth in, those emotional, moral and spiritual qualities requisite for the profession of ministry and the absence of patterns of personal behavior tending to be seriously disabling to ministry
3. Academic ability as shown by a minimum G.P.A of 2.75 (on a 4.00 scale) in a well-balanced curriculum. Normally, an applicant must hold the B.A. or equivalent degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting body (MSA, NASC, NCA, NEASC-CIHE, NEASC-CTCI, SACS, WASC-Jr. or WASC-Sr.). An applicant with a degree from a nonaccredited school may be considered if the case is exceptional. It is particularly important that the student have an adequate liberal arts preparation. In keeping with the recommendations of the Association of Theological Schools concerning pre-theological studies, the following 60 hours of liberal arts coursework are highly recommended for admission to the M.Div. degree program:
- Three hours of philosophy (preferably historical or introductory courses or logic)
- Twelve hours of English (especially courses that include grammar, composition and creative writing)
- Three hours of history
- Three hours of social science
- Thirty-nine additional hours of liberal arts
The following are considered highly desirable for admission to the M.Div. degree program:
- Three hours of a natural science or mathematics
- Six hours of a foreign language
- Six hours in religion (e.g., Bible, church history, history of religions, theology or ethics)
People who have already graduated from college or who are considering the ministry as a second career are given special consideration by the Admissions Committee, especially in regard to the adequacy of their pre-theological curriculum.
Beyond the evidence of ability furnished by transcripts, applicants may be asked to demonstrate their preparation for theological study by adequate performance on either the Graduate Record Examination or the Miller Analogies Test.
4. A reasonable program of financial support that will enable the student to be devoted properly to the main business of his or her theological training.
5. To supplement the data furnished by transcripts, letters of reference and other written material, a personal interview with the director of Student Services or with a person designated by the director may be required of the applicant.
Requirements for Graduation
The M.Div. program requires 85 term hours of academic credit: 72 term hours of coursework and 12 term hours earned through the satisfactory completion of a supervised internship. Each M.Div. student will also enroll in a Spiritual Formation Group for two terms, normally the first year of study, for one term hour of credit for the second term.
The course requirements, totaling 72 term hours are:
I. Thirty term hours of Basic Theological Studies:
- Twelve term hours in biblical studies, as follows:
- Three term hours in OT 6301 Interpretation of the Old Testament I
- Three term hours in OT 6302 Interpretation of the Old Testament II
- Three term hours in NT 6301 Interpretation of the New Testament I
- Three term hours in NT 6302 Interpretation of the New Testament II
Students choosing to study one or both of the biblical languages have the following options:
(a) Those taking GR 7300, 7301 and 7302 (Greek I and II and Greek Exegesis) are not required to take NT 6302 and (b) those taking HB 7300, 7301 and 7302 (Hebrew I and II and Hebrew Exegesis) are not required to take OT 6302.
- Six term hours in the history of Christianity, as follows:
Three term hours in HX 6305 The Christian Heritage I
Three term hours in HX 6306 The Christian Heritage II
Twelve term hours in theology, as follows:
Three term hours in ST 6300 Introduction to Theology
Six term hours in ST 6301, 6302 The Interpretation of the Christian Message
Three term hours in MT 6303 Moral Theology
II. Twelve term hours of Basic Ministerial Studies, as follows:
- Three term hours in PR 6300 Introduction to Preaching
- Three term hours in WO 6313 Word and Worship
- Six term hours in two 7300-level courses in two areas of ministry other than preaching and worship
III. Six term hours of Contextual Studies, as follows:
- Three term hours in XS 6310 The Church in Its Social Context (this course must be taken prior to or concurrently with the first courses in ministry)
- Three term hours in HR 6302 World Religions and Christianity: A Global Perspective
IV. Twenty-four term hours of electives, with the following stipulations:
- At least nine term hours of elective work must be from courses within Divisions I, II or III or must be an integrative course with a significant component of advanced theological studies
- At least three term hours of elective work must be taken within Division IV at the 7000 level or above
A minimum cumulative G.P.A. of 2.0 on all coursework is required for graduation to the M.Div. degree. A minimum cumulative average of 2.0 is likewise required for continuation beyond the second term and for continuation in school beyond the fourth term.
Admission to Candidacy
M.Div. students will be reviewed for admission to formal candidacy for the degree in the spring term following the completion of 27 term hours of academic work. A student will be admitted to candidacy provided he or she is not on probation and is not disqualified for having given insufficient evidence of fitness for ministry (See the Fitness for Ministry section.). Admission to formal candidacy signifies that the student is proceeding satisfactorily in his or her work and may be considered for the degree upon completion of all the requirements, but it does not oblige Perkins to grant the degree.
Students preparing for ordination should become aware as early as possible of any specific educational requirements their denomination or judicatory may expect them to satisfy in the course of their M.Div. work (e.g., in the biblical languages or in denominational history, doctrine, polity and evangelism). They should explore, with their academic advisers, how best to deal with these expectations.
The requirements of the current United Methodist Book of Discipline concerning work in United Methodist history, doctrine and polity may be met by satisfactorily completing the following three courses: HX 7365 United Methodist History (three term hours), ST 7034 United Methodist Doctrine (1.5 term hours) and CA 7013 United Methodist Polity (1.5 term hours). These courses are not required for the M.Div. degree; they are provided as a means of satisfying these requirements of the church in the context of the programs. The Book of Discipline also indicates that these requirements may be met in ways other than through regular coursework, and students may wish to explore these other options.
In the United Methodist Church, the provisions for education and preparation for all forms of professional status in ministry are expressed in detail in the books The Christian as Minister, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, The United Methodist Church, Nashville, Tennessee, 1997 and Ministry Inquiry Process, GBHEM, The United Methodist Church, Nashville, Tennessee, 1997.
All students completing the M.Div. are required to register for the program in spiritual formation. Students are required to attend a daylong orientation held in conjunction with the new student orientation program and are then enrolled in formation groups. These groups meet weekly throughout the fall and spring terms during the first year of the program.
Led by facilitators in groups of five to ten, students share in a formative experience designed to provide them with the framework of a common experience, emphasizing:
- The opportunity to explore the vital connection between spiritual formation and ministry
- Opportunities to explore the central genius of spiritual traditions
- The development of a critical capacity that will allow the student to evaluate those traditions theologically
- Broad-based exposure to a variety of spiritual disciplines
- Experience in prayer and devotion
Students are evaluated and given credit by the group facilitators on the basis of attendance and engagement with the subject matter of the formation process. Students should register in both the fall and spring of the first year. Exceptions to this rule must be requested in writing from the director of Spiritual Life and Formation.
The M.Div. Internship
The M.Div. program requires the satisfactory completion of a supervised internship carrying 12 term hours of academic credit. While the student may register for six hours of internship credit during each of two consecutive terms, the internship degree requirement is satisfied only upon completion of the 12 term hours. M.Div. internships presuppose satisfactory completion of at least 39 term hours including six term hours of required biblical studies, The Church in Its Social Context (three term hours), Christian Heritage I and II (six term hours), Introduction to Theology (three term hours), Interpretation of the Christian Message (six term hours), Introduction to Preaching (three term hours) and Word and Worship (three term hours). United Methodist students, who are required by the Book of Discipline to take courses in United Methodist history, doctrine and polity, are advised to take these courses prior to the internship. Comparable advice is given to students from other traditions.
All internships are negotiated through the Intern Office. Students considering internship should contact the Intern Office during the year in which they will complete 39 hours of academic work to begin the placement process for their internship.
Internships are of three types:
1. In the full-time internship, which may be seven months (summer plus the fall term), nine months (fall and spring terms of one academic year) or 12 months in length, the intern faculty places the student in a full-time ministerial role in a setting appropriate to the student’s vocational goals. The majority of internships are served in congregations, but placements have also been negotiated in campus ministry, community service organizations, hospital and prison chaplaincy and other ministries. Students may have the opportunity to be placed in internships that serve various ethnicities, cross-cultural contexts and interethnic congregations. Serious consideration is given to the denominational preference of students during the placement process.
Full-time interns may not take any additional coursework during an internship. Students who wish to take a limited number of additional academic courses during internship may apply for the concurrent model.
The full-time intern receives a cash stipend. Because the student is doing full-time ministry, no outside employment is permitted.
NOTE: Student pastors who are appointed as the sole or senior pastor of a church may choose to apply for either the full-time or concurrent internship. If full-time, the student pastor must elect a nine-month or 12-month internship, and the student charge must be related to a nearby congregation whose pastor serves as mentor pastor. Salary replaces the mandated stipend for a full-time student pastor.
2. The concurrent internship is designed for students who are already employed on a church staff or in a student pastorate and who wish to use that setting for internship while continuing their academic work. The program extends over 12 months beginning June 1 and requires at least 20 hours per week of remunerated employment in the internship placement. During this time, the student continues academic coursework, carrying not fewer than three and not more than six hours a term in addition to the internship. The concurrent intern may take no more than three term hours in the summer and in the January term. Additional employment outside the internship placement site is strongly discouraged.
3. The Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship requires a full-year CPE residency (usually four units) at an ACPE approved site. Students who elect to take the first unit of CPE for six elective credit hours in Pastoral Care may not also perform a CPE residency to satisfy the internship requirement. An intern faculty supervisor will be assigned to a CPE intern and will consult with the CPE supervisor regarding satisfactory completion of the internship requirement. Students interested in including an extended CPE in their internship placement must negotiate this through an intern faculty supervisor.
The internship is designed to help students gain skill and self-confidence in carrying out the functions of ministry, learn to reflect theologically on the practice of ministry, become more effective in interpersonal relations and gain emotional and spiritual maturity, thereby increasing their ministerial self-awareness and competence.
The intern is supervised by and meets regularly with a mentor pastor. A lay teaching committee is formed in each internship setting to aid in the formulation of the learning covenant, in ongoing supervision and in the midpoint and final evaluation process. In addition, the intern meets with his or her peers in a growth group led by a consulting specialist in human behavior, in some cases assisted by the intern faculty. The intern faculty and a consultant also work with the mentor pastors to improve supervisory skills.
Early in the internship, the intern, assisted by the mentor pastor and the lay teaching committee, begins to formulate the "Covenant for Work and Learning". This is done with the guidance of the intern faculty and is used as a basis for the ensuing evaluation of the intern's progress.
Though not directly responsible for on-site ministerial supervision, the intern faculty is integrally involved with the internship through the placement process, the training of mentor pastors and lay teaching committees, supervision of the intern growth group, the conducting of the midpoint and final evaluations and participation at any time necessary to ensure a productive internship.
Interns are encouraged to be in relationship with the placement-area district superintendent or corresponding judicatory officer.
Perkins is committed to the principle of open itineracy in the United Methodist Church and will attempt to work out placement proposals in ways congruent with this commitment. The intern faculty will not consider a student's gender, race, ethnic origin or age as ground for terminating the placement process when the student is qualified for consideration in a particular setting.
Fitness for Ministry
Beyond the formal academic requirements, each student is expected to show evidence of personal fitness for ministry. This fitness may be defined positively as the presence of emotional, moral and spiritual qualities requisite for the profession of ministry. A lack of fitness for ministry may be demonstrated by patterns of personal behavior that inhibit effective ministry. Examples of such patterns include irresponsibility in social and/or professional relations and emotional instability. Formally, the presence of patterns of personal behavior tending to be seriously disabling to ministry may be grounds for the faculty to disqualify a student from graduation with the M.Div. degree, or, if the prognosis justifies it, to defer awarding the degree until such time as the disabling pattern is overcome.
It should be emphasized that personal fitness for ministry is not defined narrowly in terms of a particular form of piety or style of personal behavior nor does Perkins assume the role that belongs properly to those agencies of the church that evaluate candidates for ordination. When asked, it assists such agencies in their evaluations.
All degree requirements must be completed within seven calendar years from the time of initial registration.