Degree Requirements

Master of Theological Studies Degree Requirements

To qualify for the MTS degree, a candidate must complete the following requirements:

Credit Hours

In fulfilling the 48 credit hours required to complete the MTS degree, students may not exceed the following limits:

  • Six credit hours for the MTS Thesis (including three hours of Capstone).
  • Eight credit hours for Contextual Education.
  • Nine credit hours for elective courses taken on an S/U basis (including a maximum of four hours for participation in the Chapel Choir, Candler Singers or Emory Concert Choir).
  • 12 hours for summer term.
  • Nine hours for Atlanta Theological Association cross registration (counted as transfer credit).
  • 17 hours for transfer credit (including ATA cross registration).
  • 12 hours for directed study.

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Curricular Requirements

Credit hours may be earned through courses, seminars (including PhD seminars, subject to permission of the instructor), or directed study. Courses may be selected from Candler, the Graduate Division of Religion, or other university offerings subject to approval of the program director. Prerequisites for advanced courses taken at Candler usually do not apply to MTS students. Students will complete the degree with course work plus a thesis or an integrative paper. Students who plan to write a thesis are required to enroll in MTS Thesis, in the year in which they intend to complete the thesis. There is no general language requirement.

In keeping with the flexibility of the program, no maximum limit is placed on the number of courses taken in an area of focus. At the same time, a candidate should pursue a cluster of courses that reasonably constitutes interests outside of the area of focus in order to balance depth with breadth in a course of study. Theses or integrative papers should be written within the declared area of focus.

Common Requirements

First Year Advising Group

  • MTS505 MTS Advising Group (fall semester)

First-year students are required to enroll in the First Year Advising Group (MTS 505), which is composed of 10–12 first-year MTS students along with a faculty adviser. The groups assist entering students with orientation to Emory and Candler, and in exploring vocational options for the degree.

Core Courses

The following common requirements must be fulfilled by all students enrolled in the Master of Theological Studies program.

  • Six hours in History, Scripture, and Tradition of Christianity.
  • Six hours in Modern Religious Thought and Experience.
  • Six hours in Global Religions.

History, Scripture, and Tradition of Christianity courses include those typically designated as Biblical Interpretation, New Testament, Old Testament, and History of Christianity.

Modern Religious Thought and Experience courses include those typically designated as Systematic Theology, Ethics and Society, Religion and Personality, and Sociology of Religion.

Global Religions courses include those typically designated as World Religions, World Christianity, REL, and MESAS.

With the faculty adviser’s approval courses in the three areas of focus may be substituted by equivalent courses of study.

Professional Development Elective

Students are required to complete one three-hour course from a list of approved electives (or one negotiated with the faculty adviser) that corresponds to their post-MTS vocational goals.

Area of Focus

MTS students take an 18 additional hours related to their declared focus in History, Scripture and Tradition of Christianity; Modern Religious Thought and Experience; or Global Religions. Language courses may count for area of focus or elective hours.

  • Focus Courses (12 hours)
  • Research Methods Seminar (3 hours)
  • Capstone Course (3 hours)
  • MTS Thesis Option (1-3 hours)

Focus Courses are an additional 12 elective hours in a student's declared area of focus, in addition to the six hours of Common Core Courses.

During the second semester of their first year students will enroll in a Research Methods Seminar. The course will focus on research in the various fields of religious and theological studies by considering both theoretical and functional approaches to critical research and writing in the respective areas of focus. Students who are matriculating on a part-time basis are encouraged to complete this seminar in the same time sequence as full time students.

Students are required to complete a Capstone Course specific to their area of focus during their final spring semester of course work. Completion of the Research Methods Course is a prerequisite for the Capstone Course. A component of the Capstone Course is the completion of an Integrative Paper or the MTS thesis.

In addition to the Capstone Course students may enroll in MTS650: MTS Thesis for up to 3 hours of additional credit for research and writing a master’s thesis.

Additional Electives

Elective hours may be drawn from courses throughout Candler, Emory University and the Atlanta Theological Association pending approval of the faculty adviser. The number of elective hours required depends upon the election of the thesis or integrative paper within the area of focus.

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Based on the proposed plan of study submitted for admission, students are assigned a faculty adviser. This faculty adviser will assist the student in proper course selection to enhance his or her study in an area of concentration. The adviser also will help the student in selecting the thesis or integrated paper requirement. Each semester students must have an advising conversation with their faculty adviser during the advising period. Students who do not have an advising conversation prior to preregistration will have a hold placed on their OPUS account. This hold will prevent the student from registering until advising is completed and the faculty adviser notifies the Registrar’s office.

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Integrative Paper

Following the completion of 36 credit hours, students electing to write an integrative paper will do so as part of their Capstone Course. A paper topic is determined in consultation with the MTS director, the student’s adviser and the Capstone Course instructor. The paper is normally 25-35 pages in length and integrates themes from the student’s full course of study. The Capstone Course instructor and the MTS director will read the integrative paper and assign a letter grade. The minimum passing grade is B. Students who do not complete the integrative paper but have completed all courses are required to register for MTS999R (MTS Library Use) during each semester until the paper is complete.

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MTS650 (MTS Thesis) is for students who plan on writing a thesis and focuses on the preparation of a thesis along the guidelines for the MTS thesis.

To be permitted to write a thesis, a student, in consultation with his or her adviser, must obtain the approval of the MTS program director and must have at least a cumulative 3.50 grade point average at the end of the equivalent of two semesters (24 credit hours) of study at Candler. A student wishing to write a thesis must declare his or her intent by the end of the second semester. Following the approval of a thesis proposal and selection of a thesis director chosen in consultation with the MTS program director and the student’s faculty adviser, the student may proceed to work on the thesis.

Students who choose to write a thesis are expected to have done substantive course work with Candler faculty in the area in which they wish to write. A topic and a thesis director must be secured before MTS650, MTS Thesis elective, is begun. The completed thesis, normally 60-90 pages in length, is evaluated by the thesis director and a second faculty member, and is subject to approval by the MTS director. The thesis must demonstrate original research in a limited subject area. Students may receive up to six hours of credit for the thesis (letter grade only) through MTS650 (three hours) and the Capstone course (three hours).

The thesis must be submitted by the deadline announced by the director of the MTS program (usually during the first week in April). The thesis must be taken for a letter grade and the minimum passing grade is a B. Students who do not complete the thesis but have completed all courses are required to register for MTS999R: MTS Library Use during each semester until the thesis is complete.

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Application for the Degree

At the beginning of the semester in which a student plans to graduate, the candidate must submit a formal application for the MTS degree before the deadline stated in the academic calendar.

The Application for Degree is available in OPUS during a window of time set by the university registrar each semester, approximately four weeks prior to the submission deadline. A separate application is required for each degree received. Failure to apply on time will result in a $25 late fee and a paper application must be filed.

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Students must complete a minimum of three full-time equivalent semesters in residence and earn at least 48 hours of credit with a cumulative grade point average of not less than 2.0, and with at least 31 credit hours at Candler.

Students in good standing at other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools may, with approval, transfer up to 17 hours. A maximum of nine credit hours taken through cross registration at Atlanta Theological Association schools may be applied toward the degree, counted as transfer credit.

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