The Master of Divinity (M. Div.) degree is the normative first-professional post-baccalaureate academic degree designed to prepare candidates for ordained ministry and for general pastoral and religious leadership responsibilities in parishes and other settings. It is the required degree for admission to Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) degree programs, and the recommended first theological degree for admission to advanced programs oriented to theological research and teaching. Admission into the Master of Divinity degree program (CIP 39.0602) is offered to candidates for priestly formation who have earned a baccalaureate and/or a higher academic degree from an accredited institution of higher education, or have attained baccalaureate equivalency.
The M. Div. degree program is the primary program by means of which St. Tikhon’s Seminary accomplishes its institutional mission of professional Orthodox theological education, “providing the necessary theological, liturgical, spiritual and moral foundations for Orthodox men to become, as God so wills, good shepherds of His Holy Orthodox Church (Seminary Bulletin).” We are committed to a program of integrated theological learning that challenges the assumption that ministry is a craft defined by the sum of acquired academic knowledge plus the many separate tasks that need to be done in order for the local parish to be maintained as a healthy religious and social unit. We lift up, instead, a cohesive image of the priest as theologian, a spiritually mature person of prayer and theological reflection, engaged in active ministry to God and fellow man. Such an image locates all significant aspects of ministry and professional tasks not in some ivory tower, or medieval fortress, but within the foundation and force of the Christian faith itself, lending quality and integrity to the witness of the Church.
To be considered for admission to the M. Div. program, applicants should submit appropriate evidence of:
- a completed baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by an agency recognized by the Commission on Higher Education Accreditation or holding membership in the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada, or the educational equivalent; a limited number of candidates for the M. Div. may be admitted without a baccalaureate degree on merit, based on life experience and academic promise, on a case-by-case basis;
- personal commitment and qualities desired for pastoral leadership;
- academic ability to engage in graduate education;
- an adequate liturgical competency in either Church Slavonic or Greek (upon matriculation, this prerequisite may be satisfied by examination or by taking a non-credit qualifying course offered by the Seminary);
- an adequate working knowledge of New Testament Greek (upon matriculation, this prerequisite may be satisfied by examination or by taking a non-credit qualifying course offered by the Seminary).
Prior graduates of St Tikhon’s Diploma in Orthodox Theology Program, or its equivalent, should consult with the Academic Dean about applicable requirements.
Graduate First-Professional Curricular Goals and Performance Standards
The teaching and learning process at the Seminary is comprehensive and time-intensive, and includes both the academic curriculum and the co-curriculum, which involves experiential learning in the framework of community life. Such an approach not only provides, in general, for integrated historical and theological knowledge of the roots and contemporary realities of the Orthodox Christian faith, but also, in particular, for an experiential and practical understanding of priestly ministry. Student learning, gained through academic study, community living and worship, as well as applied practical theology and field experience, becomes a substantial and continuing framework for a life-long pursuit of educational, liturgical, pastoral, and administrative responsibilities in the Church.
an in-depth pursuit of a broad spectrum of theological knowledge, personal spiritual growth and maturity, as well as the development of professional skills and competencies in basic elements of pastoral praxis, are required from the student. Candidates for the Master of Divinity degree are therefore challenged to attain the following professional competencies:
- Students will articulate essential theological concepts of Orthodox doctrine and praxis through preaching, teaching and writing;
- Students will integrate and synthesize Orthodox theological understanding with reference to Scriptural revelation, apostolic preaching and patristic teaching, in the context of the historical experience of the Church and in practical situations of contemporary Christian living;
- Students will comprehend and interpret the cultural frameworks within which the Church is called to live and minister, in their universal (global) and local (regional) dimensions;
- Students will engage prayer and theological reflection on personal and community levels, demonstrating familiarity with liturgical expressions of the Orthodox faith, and with methods of patristic spirituality;
- Students will acquire and synthesize an appropriate professional style in practical ministry, and be able to provide necessary leadership and counsel in the exercise of the public ministry of the Church.
To achieve these outcomes, an extensive content-based program curriculum envisioning a broad distribution of courses balanced among a range of theological disciplines in four core areas is prescribed by the faculty and introduced in the classroom:
- Scripture core (18 hours required, 24 hours possible): New Testament; Old Testament
- Theology and Spirituality core (24 hours required, 30 hours possible): Comparative Theology; Dogmatic Theology; Ethics; Pastoral Theology; Spirituality
- Church History and Patristics core (18 hours required, 27 hours possible): Early Church; Byzantine Church; Slavic Christianity; America and Orthodoxy; Patristics
- Liturgical Arts and Pastoral Praxis core (27 hours required, 33 possible): Canon Law; Homiletics; Liturgics; Practical Theology, including Field Education, Parish Administration, Evangelism and Mission; and Sacred Music.
Students typically acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are presupposed by the professional competencies by gaining academic proficiency in a high-standard, content-rich theological curriculum, structured to allow for a three-year classroom learning experience.