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 Voices of Imani, 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), and 12 hours for directed study

Requirements for MTS Program
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 coursework plus a thesis or an inegrative essay. Students who plan to write a thesis are required to enroll in MTS650. MTS Thesis, in the year in which they intend to complete the thesis (credit, three hours maximum). 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 essays should be written within the declared area of focus.

Total Credit Hours
First-year Advising Sessions: 0 hours

Common Requirements: 21 hours (History, Scripture, & Tradition of Christianity-6 hours; Modern Religious Though & Experience-6 hours; Global Religions-6 hours; Professional Development Elecctive-3 hours)

Area of Focus: 18 hours (12 hours in Area of Focus; Research Methods Seminar-3 hours; Capstone Course-3 hours; Thesis, if elected, up to 3 hours)

Additional Electives: 6-9 hours

Total: 48 hours

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Curricular Requirements

MTS505. MTS Advising Group: Fall Semester, first year
First-year MTS students are required to enroll in the First Year Advising Group (MTS 505). This course assists entering students with library research skills, academic writing, and professional development in support of their scholarly formation.

Common Requirements

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 (typically designated as Biblical Interpretation, New Testament, Old Testament, and History of Christianity);
  • Six hours in Modern Religious Thought and Experience (typically designated as Theology, Ethics and Society, Religion and Personality, and Sociology of Religion); and
  • Six hours in Global Religions (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 (18-21 hours)

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.

MTS520. Research Methods Seminar (3 hours)
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.

MTS600. Capstone Course (3 hours)
Students are required to complete a Capstone Course specific to their area of focus during their final spring semester of course work. In practice, all three MTS capstone sections are one integrated interdisciplinary seminar in which students focus on the completion of their Capstone writing projects and explore in a unifying religious studies theme. 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 Essay or the MTS thesis.

Focus Courses (12 hours)
In addition to the 6 hours of Common Area of Focus courses students will also complete 12 additional elective hours in their declared area of focus.

MTS Thesis Option (1-3 hours)
In addition to the Capstone Course students may enroll in MTS650. MTS Thesis for up to 3 hours of additional credit in the fall or spring of the final year for research and writing a master’s thesis.

Additional Electives (6-9 hours)

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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All students admitted to the MTS standard program pursue a core-groupstudy, MTS505. Master of Theological Studies Advising Group, in the first semester (credit, 0 hours). Taught by the MTS program director, and other members of the Candler faculty and staff, the advising groups focus on library research skills, academic writing, and professional development. 

In addition to completion of MTS505, students are assigned a faculty adviser. This faculty adviser will assist the student in proper course selection to enhances his or her study in an area of concentration.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 Essay

Following the completion of 36 credit hours, students electing to write an integrative essay will do so as part of their Capstone Course. An essay topic is determined in consultation with the MTS director, the MTS520 instructor and the MTS600 instructor. The essay is ordinarily 25-35 pages in length and develops a single theme supported by readings and coursework from the student’s full course of study. The MTS director instructor and a second reader will read the integrative essay and assign a letter grade. The minimum passing grade is B.

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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 MTS520 instructor, 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.

In order to enroll in MTS650, students must complete the MTS650 form and submit it with all required information and signatures to the Candler Registrar’s Office, ordinarily by the completion of the MTS520 Research Methods Seminar. Enrollment in MTS650 ordinarily takes place in the fall of the second year.  Placement of this course for dual degree or part-time students should be in the semester prior to enrollment in the Capstone course. MTS650 enrollment requires regular participation in writing groups with the program director throughout the semester of enrollment.

The completed thesis, ordinarily 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). The thesis must be submitted by the deadline announced by the director of the MTS program (usually the first Monday 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

Early in the graduating semester, the candi­date must submit a formal application for the MTS degree before the deadline stated in the academic calendar. A late fee of $25 will be assessed for applications submitted after this date. The Application for Degree is available in OPUS during a window of time set by the university registrar each semester. A sepa­rate application is required for each degree. Students are required to be enrolled during the semester of graduation.

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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. A maximum of 12 hours may be earned during the summer term. Students in good standing at other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, or at other regionally accredited universi­ties where they are studying religion at the graduate level, 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. Students who do not com­plete the integrative paper or thesis 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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