Perkins School of Theology-SMU to Offer Spanish-Language Th.M. Degree

Landmark program to welcome first students in Fall 2017

DALLAS (SMU) – Perkins School of Theology-Southern Methodist University will offer a Spanish-language Master of Theology (Th.M.) degree beginning in Fall 2017.

This advanced Master’s degree, the first of its kind among the 13 United Methodist-related schools of theology, will be a non-residential program designed for experienced full-time pastors or Church/academic leaders.  Pending approval by appropriate accrediting and regulatory agencies, it is anticipated that the intensive cohort-based courses will be held in Dallas and onsite in Latin America, and also will include online class contact and mentorship.
The Spanish-language Th.M. degree will be a two-year, 24-hour program designed for those in Latin American settings who want to enhance the practice of ministry through advanced study of a particular theological or pastoral discipline; undertake scholarly examination of a specific aspect of the Christian religion/traditions or function of Christian ministry; or prepare for more advanced study at the doctoral level.

The Hispanic population of the United States is increasing rapidly, and it is anticipated that the non-Hispanic white population of the United States will be a minority by 2040.  One of the fastest-growing segments of the Protestant Church in America is made up of denominations with Spanish-speaking ministries, and the Protestant Church is expanding exponentially in Latin America. 

Although there are many Hispanic and Latino/a pastors and church leaders who have Master of Divinity degrees, further advanced training is rare.  The Spanish-language Th.M. degree will be built on completion of either the M.Div. degree (U.S. and Canada) or the Licenciatura en Teologica degree (Latin America).

“The need for trained theological leadership in Spanish-speaking churches and communities has never been greater,” said Perkins Dean William B. Lawrence. 

“We have the resources and the faculty to host this important initiative, which will prepare recipients of the Spanish language Th.M. for the professorial, decanal (dean), and presidential positions in theological education that are essential in preparing faithful leaders in Christian ministry within the Hispanic and Latino/a constituencies,” he said.

According to Dr. Hugo Magallanes, director of the Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions, Perkins is “ideally suited” for a Spanish language Th.M. degree.

“Perkins School of Theology is uniquely positioned to begin this program,” he said.  

“Although a number of other seminaries have degrees or certificates taught in Spanish, Perkins — with our location in Texas, which has a large Spanish-speaking population and also has one of the busiest airports in the United States (DFW) with many connections to Latin America — is ideally suited for this task.”

Five full-time Perkins faculty members are Hispanic, and three administrators are bilingual in English and Spanish.  In addition, a significant collection of Spanish language biblical and theological materials are included in the world-class collection at Bridwell Library.

The new degree program will be open to Hispanic or non-Hispanic students who are living and ministering in Spanish-language settings and who have fluency in Spanish.  Six students in the initial cohort will receive funding as part of a three-year, $500,000 grant made recently to The Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions at Perkins School of Theology by The Henry Luce Foundation’s Theology program.  

Applications for the Spanish language Th.M. degree will be accepted starting August 1, 2016.


Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music (June 2016) as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.