Master of Divinity (MDiv)

graduate in front of church

Master of Divinity

The Master of Divinity is a professional degree for persons preparing for service in ministry and church leadership, social services and a variety of chaplaincy settings.

The program fosters students’ understanding of church and ministry in the contemporary world, and students’ ability to work meaningfully and creatively in a vocation of religious leadership. It increases students’ knowledge and strengthens their ability to integrate their understanding of the various disciplines of theology and ministry with their experience of the church and the world.

Through their study for a Master of Divinity degree, students will gain:

  • Formation in reflective practices of leadership.
  • Grounding in Christian texts, traditions, theologies and practices.
  • An informed sense of one’s self and one’s ministerial vocation through appropriation and integration.
  • A sense of vocation as practitioners, leaders and public theologians who will be generative of positive change and new possibilities for the church and world.
  • Knowledge and experience of a multi-ethnic, intercultural, ecumenical and religiously diverse world.
  • Skills in critical and imaginative thinking, responsible interpretation and effective communication.
  • Basic proficiency in practical skills for ministry plus specific competencies in pockets of theological expertise.

Credit Hours
The 86-credit hour curriculum is structured to be completed in three or four years of full-time study; the maximum length of time allowed to complete the program is six years.

2.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Students must complete specifically required courses such as the Interpretation of the Old Testament course sequence, Interpretation of the New Testament course sequence, Introduction to the History of Christian Thought, Systematic Theology, Christian Ethics, Introduction to Preaching, and Contextual Education.

In addition to these specific courses, students have requirements to fulfill in History of Christianity, World Religions, Introductory Arts of Ministry, Sociology of Religion or Religion and Personality, and Theology or Ethics. Students must also enroll in courses designated to fulfill the Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Contextual Education Elective requirements.

Elective courses fulfill the remaining hours required for the degree and may be used to fulfill for options such as denominational requirements, certificate or concentration courses, or language study.

Advising and Assessment
Students participate in a first semester advising course and are required to complete advising each semester and in the final year of the degree, to review their progress in their studies at Candler and to discuss vocational plans with an academic advisor.

Read more about the MDiv degree requirements.

Candler's Contextual Education program for Master of Divinity (MDiv) students sets the standard. It’s comprehensive. It’s intentional. We even wrote the book on it! After visiting 17 peer seminaries, our Con Ed Directors published Equipping the Saints: Best Practices in Contextual Theological Education. At Candler, our Con Ed Program marries thought and action by integrating rigorous coursework, supervised field experience and pastor-led reflection groups. Many seminaries require a placement in either social ministry settings or church settings. Candler requires both. First-year MDiv students spend four hours a week serving in clinical or social ministry settings, and second-year students practice ministry in ecclesial settings for eight hours a week.

The result? Our students gain an unequalled depth and breadth of practical experience to assist in vocational discernment and spiritual development—so they’re prepared to serve no matter where God leads.

Find lists of work sites, student thoughts about their experiences, and much more in the Contextual Education section of the website.

The selection of a concentration allows students to give their degree focus and depth in an area that is of particular interest to them. Students may choose from the following concentrations:

  • Criminal Justice Ministries
  • Formation and Witness
  • Justice, Peacebuilding, and Conflict Transformation
  • Leadership in Church and Community
  • Religion, Health, and Science
  • Religion and Race
  • Scripture and Interpretation
  • Society and Personality
  • Theology and the Arts
  • Theology and Ethics
  • Traditions of the Church

Learn more about how to select a concentration.

Candler offers the following certificates in conjunction with a Candler degree.

Baptist Studies
Prepares students for ordination in Baptist churches.

Black Church Studies
A theoretical and practical exploration of the black church tradition and its role in contemporary society.

Episcopal Studies
Prepares students for ministry in the Episcopal Church.

Faith and Health
An interdisciplinary study of health and health promotion practices as they intersect with various religious or spiritual traditions.

Human Rights (Emory Graduate Certificate)
Combines the resources of Emory University with the applied programs of our professional partners, including CARE USA, The Carter Center, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others, for an interdisciplinary approach to human rights scholarship and training.

Religious Education Ministries
Equips students for ministries related to teaching and learning in faith communities, schools, and wider society.

Women’s Studies in Theology and Ministry
In-depth study of the impact of gender on church and society and specific focus on issues relevant to women in theology and ministry.

Learn more about the certificates.

Master of Divinity/Master of Business Administration (MDiv/MBA)
For individuals interested in church administration, including investment management for church development, private wealth management and/or estate planning.

Master of Divinity/Master's in Development Practice (MDiv/MDP)
Teaches those working in sustainable development how to better apply their theological convictions or engage religious communities with greater openness; and religious leaders from developing countries how to address social and economic issues as part of a holistic approach to ministry.

Master of Divinity/Juris Doctor (MDiv/JD)
For individuals interested in combining academic and practical training in both law in theology.

Master of Divinity/Master of Public Health (MDiv/MPH)
Prepares students who are interested in using an understanding of religion and theology in public health care practice.

Master of Divinity/Master of Science in Social Work (MDiv/MSW)
For those considering the role of faith and religious institutions in community health and development, the care of individuals in poverty and crisis, response to systemic and institutional injustice, and issues of social transformation.

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"The biggest thing I've gained at Candler is the ability to connect all the dots, to make sense of how all the things I'm learning fit together. Whether it's the Old and New Testaments, or different traditions and theologians, it's like filling in the missing parts of a treasure map."
-Karen Slappey, MDiv '15