Master of Divinity (M.Div.) | Dallas and Houston Programs

Master of Divinity (M.Div.) | Dallas and Houston Programs

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:

  1. Three hours of philosophy (preferably historical or introductory courses or logic)
  2. Twelve hours of English (especially courses that include grammar, composition and creative writing)
  3. Three hours of history
  4. Three hours of social science
  5. Thirty-nine additional hours of liberal arts

The following are considered highly desirable for admission to the M.Div. degree program:

  1. Three hours of a natural science or mathematics
  2. Six hours of a foreign language
  3. 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.

Persons 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 with regard to the adequacy of their pretheological 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 GRE graduate school entry exam or the Miller Analogies Test.

To supplement the data furnished by transcripts, letters of reference and other written material, a personal interview with the associate dean for enrollment management or with a person designated by the associate dean may be required of the applicant.

Requirements for Graduation

The M.Div. program requires 73 term hours of academic credit: 64 term hours of coursework and 9 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.

Course Requirements

The course requirements, totaling 64 term hours are:

I. Twenty seven term hours of Basic Theological Studies:

  1. Twelve term hours in biblical studies, as follows:
  2. Three term hours in OT 6301 Interpretation of the Old Testament I
  3. Three term hours in OT 6302 Interpretation of the Old Testament II
  4. Three term hours in NT 6301 Interpretation of the New Testament I
  5. 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.

  6. Six term hours in the history of Christianity, as follows: Three term hours in HX 6305 The Christian Heritage I and three term hours in HX 6306 The Christian Heritage II
  7. Nine term hours in theology, as follows: Six term hours in ST 6301, 6302 The Interpretation of the Christian Message Three term hours in MT 6303 Moral Theology

II. Six term hours of Basic Ministerial Studies, as follows:

  1. Three term hours in PR 6300 Introduction to Preaching
  2. Three term hours in WO 6313 Word and Worship

III. Six term hours of Contextual Studies, as follows:

  1. 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)
  2. Three term hours in HR 6302 World Religions and Christianity: A Global Perspective

IV. Twenty-four term hours of unrestricted electives.

NOTE: United Methodist students should complete course requirements for ordination as electives in the M.Div. program. All Dallas students should complete course requirements for concentrations (optional) as electives in the M.Div. program.  Houston students will likely have to attend Dallas classes in order to complete a concentration.

Grade Requirements

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 credit 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 evidence of patterns of personal behavior tending to seriously hinder ministry. Admission to formal candidacy signifies that the student is proceeding satisfactorily in his or her course requirements, including admission to and continuation in internship courses, and possesses a seriousness of purpose, emotional stability, and likelihood of satisfactory performance of Christian leadership. Formally, the presence of patterns of personal behavior tending to seriously hinder 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 hindering pattern is overcome. A student may be considered for the degree upon completion of all the requirements, but admission to formal candidacy does not oblige Perkins to grant the degree.

Ordination Requirements

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.

Spiritual Formation

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 nine credit hours of academic credit. While the student registers for four and one-half hours of internship course credit during each of two consecutive terms, the internship degree requirement is satisfied only upon completion of the nine credit hours.

ST 6301 – Interpretation of the Christian Message I and ST 6302 – Interpretation of the Christian Message II are prerequisites for the internship course. The following courses are recommended in preparation for the internship course: two courses in biblical studies, XS 6310 - The Church in Its Social Context, HX 6305 - The Christian Heritage I and HX 6306 - The Christian Heritage II, PR 6300 - Introduction to Preaching, WO 6313 - Introduction to Christian Worship, and participation in a spiritual formation group. United Methodist students, who are required by the Book of Discipline to take courses in United Methodist history, doctrine and polity, are advised but not required to take these courses prior to the internship. Comparable advice is given to students from other traditions.

M. Div. students may choose either a full-time or part-time internship. Both are nine months long, over the fall and spring terms of one academic year. Full-time is defined as a minimum of 35 hours per week (inclusive of the internship seminar) of work in the internship setting. Part-time is defined as a minimum of 25 hours per week (inclusive of the internship seminar) of work in the internship. A third option is a full-time Clinical Pastoral Education residency, which is 12 months long. All interns receive a stipend.

All internships are coordinated through the Perkins Intern Office. The placement process begins in September when a prospective intern is invited to apply for an internship that would begin in August of the following year. A student completes an application and interviews with the intern faculty who will determine throughout the placement process the student’s readiness for internship. If at any point during the placement process, the student exhibits patterns of behavior that suggests that the student needs further preparation prior to participating in an internship, the intern faculty may conclude that a student is not ready for an internship. The intern faculty will engage in a consultative process to determine appropriate measures to help the student become prepared for internship.

If a student declines two faculty-approved intern placements in a year, the Intern Program will remove the student from the placement process for that year. A student who is removed from the placement process is encouraged to re-apply for an internship the following year; however, the student must accept a subsequent faculty approved intern placement.

A student demonstrating readiness for an internship is encouraged to pursue placement possibilities for discussion in the initial interview with the intern faculty. Internship placements include church, agency and hospital chaplaincy settings. During the placement process serious consideration is given to the student’s denominational preference.

While interns are not prohibited from taking additional Perkins courses beyond the internship course or from holding employment outside the internship placement, the intern faculty will consult individually with students to help them make the choice between full-time and part-time internship in order to balance life and learn successfully on internship.

Students who hope to do internships outside the immediate five-state area (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma) must initiate an early conversation with an intern faculty member, preferably in the first year of their degree program.

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 part-time internship. The student pastor’s salary replaces the required internship stipend.

Master of Divinity students may complete the Perkins internship requirement (nine credit hours) by successful completion of a Clinical Pastoral Education residency that consists of three units of CPE (Level II). Typically, CPE residency consists of four units (a full calendar year). However, the Perkins requirement is only nine months (mid-August to mid-May). Eligibility for consideration into a CPE residency normally requires the completion of the introductory unit of CPE (Level I).

Master of Divinity students may receive elective academic credit for PC 7639 – Basic Clinical Pastoral Education for an introductory unit of CPE (Level I) if they choose.

An intern faculty member will be assigned to the CPE intern and will consult with the CPE certified educator regarding satisfactory completion of the internship requirement.

During internship, students do ministry under supervision and reflect theologically on their experiences. As the interns become more competent and self-confident in carrying out the tasks of ministry and gain theological, emotional and spiritual maturity in their understanding of it, they prepare themselves to provide resourceful, faithful Christian leadership in the world.

The design of the Perkins Intern Program assumes interns to be adult learners who can assess and value their past experiences and vocational goals and build on these creatively and systematically in pursuing the learning opportunities offered at their particular internship site. To that end, the internship course curriculum specifies a set of required competencies under each of three categories: be aware, think theologically and lead faithfully.

The Perkins Intern Program faculty partners with pastoral staff and laity at congregations and agencies and with mental health professionals experienced in church family systems to provide supportive supervision for students during internship. The mentor pastor and lay teaching committee assigned to each intern receive orientation and training as part of the intern program.

A student’s internship begins with a required two-day Intern Orientation conducted in August by the intern faculty.

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