The M.Div. curriculum is designed as preparation for the pastoral ministry.
Design of the Curriculum
Concentrated study in three basic areas – Bible, systematic theology, and pastoral theology – characterizes this three-year program. In addition to preparing for pastoral ministry, the curriculum is designed to aid in the student’s sanctification.
Bible courses include the basic structure and content of each book of the Bible along with such details concerning major characters, dates, and places as are necessary. Principles of hermeneutics and exegesis, using the original languages as well as the English Bible, are also included. Students learn to apply Scripture to contemporary circumstances.
Building upon and integrated with a biblical foundation, theology is a major area of concentration. The purpose of this study is to provide the theological and historical foundations, along with current cultural contexts, to understand and live the Christian faith.
The pastoral theology courses are designed to enable students to develop competence in ministry including preaching, worship, leadership, and individual shepherding. A variety of experiences and instruction enable students to develop methods and styles of ministry suited to their individual gifts. The number of class hours per week may exceed the number of semester hours of credit. Some of the preaching and pastoral course requirements may be adjusted for women and other non-ministerial candidates so as to provide the appropriate preparation and setting for their needs. Women and other non-ministerial candidates will substitute additional elective course hours for the Preaching Labs. These elective courses may include alternative communication labs.
A student attains middler status upon completion of 36 semester hours and senior status upon completion of 72 semester hours. The curriculum is designed to be completed in three years, but many students choose to complete the curriculum in four or more years.
Field education is that area of theological education in which the theory of the classroom is tested and applied in the life and ministry of the church. The purpose of field education is to provide opportunities for M.Div. students to exercise and improve their gifts and skills and to equip them with diversified backgrounds of firsthand experience in the service to which God has called them.
Prior to or concurrent with the beginning of the field experience, students are required to take (PT502) Introduction to Pastoral and Theological Studies (Jackson) or (ST502) Introduction to Pastoral and Theological Studies (Orlando) or (PT536) Field Education Internship (Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington DC, and Dallas). At the start of their fieldwork, students should register with the Field Education Office, at which time a file of field work for each student will be established. Fieldwork not properly registered with the Field Education Office cannot be counted toward the field education requirement.
The M.Div. degree requires 400 hours of field education experience. Upon completion of this requirement, an evaluation report is to be submitted to the Director of Field Education by a field supervisor (usually a pastor, elder, or evaluation committee). Following submission of this report, the student may register for (PT534) Field Education Seminar. Completion of this seminar marks the completion of the field education requirement.
The field experience credit may be earned as a summer student assistant to a pastor, a student supply in a vacant pulpit, a pastoral internship of nine to fifteen months,
a missionary internship, a campus ministry internship, work with a parachurch organization, ministry in a national park, youth ministry, evangelistic ministry in a local church, nursing home chaplaincy, hospital chaplaincy, jail ministry, teaching home Bible classes, or other similar ministries.
- M.Div. students normally spend three years in residence to complete the required curriculum for the M.Div. degree, including a total of at least 106 credit hours. At a minimum, M.Div. students must take at least 36 credit hours at the same RTS M.Div.- degree-granting campus. A 2.0 (C) cumulative grade- point average (GPA) is required for all RTS courses taken.
- The seminary must have on file official transcripts showing that the student holds a baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent.
- The student must complete the field education requirements to the satisfaction of the faculty.
- The conduct and attitude of the student must be satisfactory according to the norms of Scripture and the Westminster Standards.
- The student must pass the English Bible and Westminster Shorter Catechism examinations.
- The student must clear all financial obligations to the seminary.
All students expecting to graduate must make formal application for graduation to the faculty through the registrar. The graduation fee will be paid at this time. Ordinarily, degrees will be awarded at the conclusion of the spring semester but may be granted in December.
Meaning of the Degree
A degree from Reformed Theological Seminary indicates that the graduate has completed the requirements for the course of study. Although the M.Div. degree meets the standard educational requirements for ordination in most denominations; the degree does not certify that the graduate necessarily possesses all the biblical qualifications requisite for the ministry or adheres to the Reformed faith. Graduation from Reformed Theological Seminary with either the M.Div. degree or diploma should not in itself be construed as a recommendation for the ministry. Ecclesiastical bodies and pulpit committees are responsible for applying their own requirements for ordination to determine the doctrinal soundness, suitability, and readiness for the ministry of a particular graduate.
A student may complete the M.A., the M.A. (Biblical Studies), the M.A. (Theological Studies), the M.A. (Religion), or the M.A. in Christian Counseling plus the M.Div degree program in four years with a total of 139 credit hours.
Hybrid M.Div. at RTS Orlando
For those unable to relocate, the Hybrid Master of Divinity is a flexible program that combines residential, hybrid, and online courses. Students in the Hybrid M.Div. enjoy a cohort-like experience as they take online courses in the fall and spring semesters and meet on campus each January and July. For most working students, the program can be completed comfortably in five years, though students have the flexibility to complete the program in as few as three years or as many as seven.