Degree Requirements

Master of Divinity Degree Requirements

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

Credit Hours

In fulfilling the 84 credit hours required to complete the MDiv degree, students may not exceed the following limits:

  • 15 credit hours in contextual courses.
  • 15 hours of elective courses taken on an S/U basis (excluding contextual education courses but including a maximum of four hours for participation in the Chapel Choir, Candler Singers or Emory Concert Choir).
  • Six hours of ministry internships.
  • Six hours in Clinical Pastoral Education.
  • 12 hours in the Teaching Parish program (including the eight hours taken for Contextual Education).
  • 18 hours of summer courses (no more than 12 during a summer session). 
  • 18 hours through Atlanta Theological Association (ATA) cross registration (with no more than 12 hours taken at any one school).
  • 26 hours for transfer credit or advanced standing (including ATA cross registration).
  • Six hours in directed study.

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GPA Requirements

Courses that are specifically required and courses that students elect to meet the common requirements of the curriculum must earn a letter grade of at least C, i.e., 2.0 on a scale of 4.0. Students who earn less than a C in a course intended to meet these requirements may retake the course. However, the same course cannot be counted more than once towards the total credit hours for graduation.

Students making a C-, D+, or D in the first semester of one of the Common Course sequences (OT501, NT501, or HT501) may enroll in the second semester of the sequence (OT502, NT502, or HT503) and will have fulfilled the sequence requirement, provided the grade in the second part of the sequence brings the average for the two-course sequence to at least a grade of C. Students with a sequence average (OT501/502, NT501/502, or HT 501/503) of less than C will normally repeat the course or sequence; they also may satisfy sequence requirements with alternate courses upon the advice and consent of the Academic Review Board and sequence instructors.


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Curricular Requirements

Students must complete the following courses and requirements in the MDiv curriculum.

Common Courses

Biblical Studies Courses

  • OT501 Interpretation of the Old Testament I* (3 hours)
  • OT502 Interpretation of the Old Testament II* (3 hours)
  • NT501 Interpretation of the New Testament I* (3 hours)
  • NT502 Interpretation of the New Testament II* (3 hours)

Students are required to take the Interpretation of the Old Testament course sequence (OT501/502) and the Interpretation of the New Testament course sequence (NT501/502) as part of the Common Courses requirement. Students must successfully complete OT501 and OT502 before enrolling in NT501. When two sections of OT501/502 or NT501/502 are offered, students may change instructors at the end of the first semester. Students making an F in OT501or NT501 may not enroll in OT502 or NT502.

Students who have already studied the material of OT501, OT502, NT501 and/or NT502 at a previous institution may request to substitute an elective in the same field. Refer to the Biblical Studies Course Substitution Form on the Candler Registrar’s website for additional information.

*These courses may be waived for higher level classes.

History and Interpretation of Christianity Courses

  • HC501 Introduction to the History of Early Christian Thought  (3 hours)
  • ST501 Systematic Theology* (3 hours)

Students are required to take HC501 and ST501 as part of the Common Courses requirement. Students who have already studied the material of HC501 and/or ST501 at a previous institution may request to substitute an elective in the same field. Refer to the History and Interpretation of Christianity Course Substitution Form on the Candler Registrar’s website for additional information.

*These courses may be waived for higher level classes.

Christianity and Culture

  • ES501 Christian Ethics* (3 hours)

Students are required to take ES501 as part of the Common Courses requirement. Students who have already studied the material of ES501 at a previous institution may request to substitute two ES electives. Refer to the Ethics Substitution Form on the Candler Registrar’s website for additional information.

*These courses may be waived for higher level classes.

Church and Ministry

  • P501 Introduction to Preaching* (3 hours)

Students are required to take P501 as part of the Common Courses requirement. Students who have already studied the material of P501 at a previous institution may request to substitute an elective in the same field. Students who are not planning to enter the ordained ministry after graduation may request to substitute another Introductory Arts of Ministry course. Refer to the Preaching Substitution Form on the Candler Registrar’s website for additional information.

*These courses may be waived for higher level classes.

First Year Advising Group

  • MDIV505 First Year Advising Group (1 hour)

First-year students are required to complete the First Year Advising Group (MDIV505). Advising groups will be composed of 10 to 12 first-year students along with a faculty adviser and a third-year MDiv student peer adviser. These groups will assist first-year students with orientation to the Candler community, Emory, and the first year of graduate studies.

Contextual Education

Enrollment in one of the following options fulfills the Contextual Education requirement.

Contextual Education

  • Contextualized Introductory Arts of Ministry Class (one semester only, taken concurrently with CE551a or CE551b; 3 hours)
  • CE551a. Contextual Education I Site Reflection (first semester only; 2 hours)
  • CE551b. Contextual Education I Integrative Seminar (second semester only; 2 hours)
  • CE552a. Contextual Education IIa (third semester; 2 hours)
  • CE552b. Contextual Education IIb (fourth semester; 2 hours)
  • Contextual Education Elective (CEE) (taken concurrently with CE552a or CE552b, 3 hours)
  • Any Introductory Arts of Ministry (IAM) (taken concurrently with CE552a or CE552b, 3 hours)

Contextual Education for Teaching Parish

  • Contextualized Introductory Arts of Ministry Class for Teaching Parish (first semester only; 3 hours)
  • CE551TPa. Contextual Education Ia Teaching Parish (first semester only; 2 hours)
  • CE551TPb. Contextual Education Ib Teaching Parish (second semester only; 2 hours)
  • CE552TPa. Contextual Education IIa Teaching Parish (third semester; 2 hours)
  • CE552TPb. Contextual Education IIb Teaching Parish (fourth semester; 2 hours)
  • Contextual Education Elective (CEE)(taken concurrently with CE552TPa or CE552TPb in either fall or spring semester; 3 hours)
  • Any Introductory Arts of Ministry (IAM) (taken concurrently with CE552a or CE552b, 3 hours)
  • CE553TPR. Teaching Parish (every semester after year two; 1 or 2 hours; fulfills MDiv elective credit)

Contextual Education for Episcopal Studies

  • Contextualized Introductory Arts of Ministry Class for Episcopal Students (first semester only; 3 hours)
  • CE551ANGa. Contextual Education Ia for Episcopal Studies (first semester only; 2 hours)
  • CE551ANGb. Contextual Education Ib for Episcopal Studies (second semester only; 2 hours)
  • CE552ANGa. Contextual Education IIa for Episcopal Studies (third semester only; 2 hours)
  • CE552ANGb. Contextual Education IIb for Episcopal Studies (fourth semester only; 2 hours)
  • CE553ANGR. Episcopal Studies Seminar (every semester after year two; 2 hours. Fulfills MDiv elective credit)
  • Any Introductory Arts of Ministry (IAM) (taken concurrently with CE552a or CE552b, 3 hours)
  • Contextual Education Elective (CEE) (taken concurrently with CE552ANGa or CE552ANGb in either fall or spring semester during the second year, 3 hours)

Additional Information

For all MDiv students, the first year of Contextual Education includes three interrelated courses: the fall 90-minute Reflection Group (CE551a, CE551TPa, CE551ANGa), the spring two-hour Integrative Seminar (CE551b, CE551TPb, CE551ANGb), and the contextualized Introductory Arts of Ministry course that is taken either in the fall or spring.

Students must successfully complete the fall Reflection Group in order to enroll in the spring Integrative Seminar, and both semesters must be successfully completed in order to receive credit for the entire year. Students who do not receive a passing grade in the spring Integrative Seminar also will fail the fall Reflection Group and will be required to repeat Contextual Education I at a different site the following year.

Contextual Education Elective (CEE) course options are available in both fall and spring semesters of the year of Contextual Education/Teaching Parish/Episcopal Studies II enrollment. Students are required to complete one course in either fall or spring semester of Contextual Education/Teaching Parish/Episcopal Studies II enrollment.

Information regarding registration for CEE courses is communicated by the Candler Registrar’s office prior to the preregistration period. Enrollment requires a permission number and there are a limited number of spaces available in each course.

Students enrolled in CE552a/b, CE552TPa/b and CE552ANGa/b (year 2) are required to enroll in one of the required three-hour Introductory Arts of Ministry classes in either the fall or spring semester and in one CEE in either fall or spring semester.

Common Requirements

In addition to the Common Courses, the following common requirements must be fulfilled by all students enrolled in the Master of Divinity program.

  • Three hours World Religions
  • Three hours Historical Christianity
  • Six hours Introductory Arts of Ministry
  • Three hours Sociology of Religion or Religion and Personality
  • Three hours Theology or Ethics
  • Three hours Race, Ethnicity, Gender
  • Three hours Contextual Education Elective

Each requirement may be filled by any course listed within the specific subject area.

World Religions courses include any World Religions (WR) course, any course in a religion other than Christianity or a course in comparative traditions, e.g., Christianity and Hinduism.

Historical Christianity courses include specified 500-level HC courses that cover a specified period of Christian history beyond the first 500 years.

Introductory Arts of Ministry courses include CC501, CC502, CC511, CC645, EV501, PC501, PC502, RE501, RE517, LA501, LA503, LA505, LA645, and W501, in addition to P501 and the Contextualized Introductory Arts of Ministry course taken with Contextual Education/Teaching Parish/Episcopal Studies I. See the Catalog and Handbook for more information on Contextualized Introductory Arts of Ministry course requirements. One of these Introductory Arts of Ministry courses or P501 must be taken in conjunction with the second year of Contextual Education/Teaching Parish/Episcopal Studies. Total Introductory Arts of Ministry credits, including P501 and Contextualized Introductory Arts of Ministry, will be at least 12 hours. Each of the four Introductory Arts of Ministry courses must be from a different subject area.

Theology or Ethics courses include any HC, ST or ES elective course. Does not include HC501, ST501 or ES501 or courses designated to fulfill the Historical Christianity Common Requirement.

Sociology of Religion (SR) or Religion and Personality (RP) courses include courses on sociology or psychology of religion.

Race, Ethnicity, Gender courses are designated as such on the course schedule. REG courses may fulfill other Common Requirements or Common Course Requirements. For example, a designated REG course may also be an ES course and/or a CEE course. In this case, credits for the course only count once towards the degree and the total number of elective hours required is adjusted.

Contextual Education Electives are designated as such on the course schedule. Contextual Education Elective courses may fulfill other Common Requirements. For example, a designated Contextual Education Elective course may also be an SR course and/or REG course. In this case, credits for the course only count once towards the degree and the total number of elective hours required is adjusted.

Concentrations

Students may choose to enroll in one of the following concentrations.

  • 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

Enrollment in a concentration occurs at the end of the student's first year in the Master of Divinity program, in consultation with their faculty adviser. Course work for a concentration will begin during the second year in the program. Concentrations will be 12-15 hours in length and may require prerequisites. Information on concentrations can be found in the MDiv Concentration Guide.

Courses taken to meet concentration requirements fulfill elective credit and meet common requirements when applicable. All concentrations have the option for directed studies, internships and the MDiv thesis. These cannot be substituted for the capstone courses (where applicable), but can be substituted for other requirements with the approval of the concentration coordinator(s).

Within each concentration, a maximum of one concentration course may be taken S/U, in accordance with Candler’s policy regarding S/U courses. Capstone courses cannot be taken S/U. All other concentration courses must receive a grade of C or above in order to fulfill concentration requirements. With permission of the instructor, capstone courses are open to nonconcentrators in all Candler degree programs as a general elective during the student’s final year.

Electives

The balance of the 84 hours required for graduation will be satisfied by elective courses.

A student may choose to enroll in denominational studies courses, concentration courses, certificate program courses, language courses or other courses of interest.

Course Substitution

Students who have already studied the material of a required Candler course at a previous institution may request to substitute an elective in the same field.

Students petitioning for a substitution should first discuss the matter with their adviser. The student should then submit a petition to the chair of the relevant area, who will decide whether to grant the substitution in consultation with the instructor(s) of the required course.

The student will need to document what topics the previous course covered, what textbooks were used and what assignments were required. A syllabus for the prior course will normally accompany the petition.

The student must complete a form, to be signed by the area chair, identifying both the course for which the substitution is being made and the proposed elective that will replace it. When completed, this form goes to the Registrar. This general substitution policy does not override the policy attached to P501.


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Advising and Assessment

In addition to the curricular requirements listed above, students in the MDiv program are required to complete advising each semester and to complete the Final Year Integrative Advising Conversation.

First Year Advising Group
First year students are required to enroll in the First Year Advising Group (MDIV505). Advising groups will be composed of 10-12 first-year students along with a faculty adviser and a third-year MDiv student peer adviser. These groups will assist first-year students with orientation to the Candler community, Emory and the first year of graduate studies.

The faculty adviser will hold an advising conversation with every advisee at least once each semester prior to registration for the following semester, in which the student’s progress in the MDiv program and course work for the coming term are discussed.

Students who do not have an advising conversation prior to preregistration will have a hold placed on their OPUS account and will be prevented from registering until advising is completed and the faculty adviser notifies the Registrar's office.

Final Year Integrative Advising Conversation
The purpose of the Final Year Advising Conversation is to discuss the student’s overall progress in theological studies, reflection on the Candler experience, state of vocational discernment, and post-MDiv plans (including continuing education). In preparation, students will prepare a portfolio that will be submitted to the academic advisor one week prior to the interview. The portfolio will include:

  • Faculty and supervisor evaluations from Contextual Education I and II
  • An up-to-date master of divinity plan of study
  • The autobiographical statement originally submitted as a part of the student’s application
  • The final paper from NT 502
  • Two-to-three page personal statement reflecting on the autobiographical statement, describing current vocational plans, indicating post-degree plans for continuing education, and noting any other academic or personal items of concern.
  • Other items requested by the adviser.

For those graduating after May 2014, the following also will be required:

  • A summative paper or project from a CEE course (designated by the course instructor)
  • A summative paper or project from a course taken to fulfill the REG requirement (designated by the course instructor)
  • A summative paper or project from a 600-level course (designated by the course instructor)

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Thesis Option

The thesis option provides an opportunity for independent study and research geared to the individual student’s ability and interests. MDiv students with a minimum grade point average of 3.5 at the end of  36 hours of course work, including Contextual Education I and the first semester of Contextual Education II, are invited in the spring semester of the second year to write an MDiv thesis. A maximum of 12 students per year will be selected. All course, Contextual Education and advising requirements of the MDiv program will apply to those selected to write a thesis.

Eligible students will be contacted in February of the eligible year and invited to apply. Interested students submit a one-page, single-spaced letter of intent detailing their thesis interest, plus supporting letters from the faculty adviser and proposed thesis adviser, before February 15 to the academic dean.

For most students, this will be at the beginning of the fourth semester (spring of the second year). Selection will be made before the end of the fall pre-registration advising period by the academic dean.

As the title suggests, the main feature of the thesis option is the writing of a thesis. Students selected for the thesis option are required to enroll in a directed study with their thesis adviser in the fall (typically the fifth) semester. This directed study (which may be free-standing or connected to a class that the thesis adviser is teaching that semester) will be awarded between one and three hours of credit, as determined by the academic dean in consultation with the thesis adviser. It will be focused on the thesis topic and will culminate in a 15–20 page paper to be read and assessed by the thesis adviser.

The thesis adviser determines if the paper is of sufficient quality, shows progress in research, and is leading to a clearer understanding of the thesis topic. If these conditions are not met, then the student will be given a grade for the directed study but will not be allowed to complete the MDiv thesis option. If the thesis adviser determines that the initial paper does meet these conditions, then a grade of IP (in progress) will be assigned to the directed study and the student will be permitted to enroll in three hours of MDIV650: MDiv Thesis in his or her final (typically the sixth) semester. At this stage, the thesis adviser and the student, in consultation with the academic dean, select a second reader for the thesis, who agrees to read and assess the thesis for a grade.

Students enrolled in MDIV650 will be assigned a grade for both semesters of work on the thesis on the basis of the final grade awarded for the thesis. The IP grade for the fall semester directed study will be changed to reflect the grade for the thesis once the thesis has been marked. The thesis and directed study must be taken for a letter grade, and the minimum passing grade is a B. Thesis credits do not fulfill MDiv common courses or common requirements, but may fulfill concentration requirements with the approval of the concentration coordinator. The completed thesis is normally 45–60 pages in length.

During the semester before graduation, the student must submit the thesis to both readers by the deadline announced by the academic dean. The two readers agree on a grade for the thesis, which is submitted to the registrar. In cases where the readers cannot agree on a grade, the thesis will be submitted to the academic dean for adjudication. Students who do not complete the thesis by the deadline, but have completed all other courses needed for graduation, are required to register for MDIV999R: Master of Divinity Administrative Fee each semester until the thesis has been submitted success-fully and the student graduates. For further information, contact the associate dean of faculty and academic affairs.


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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 MDiv 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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Residence

Students must complete a minimum of six full-time equivalent semesters, to include at least five fall/spring semesters with not more than 15 hours of total summer term enrollment. The last two semesters of the program must be completed at Candler.

Students in good standing at other seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools may, with approval, transfer up to 26 credit hours. A maximum of 18 credit hours taken through cross registration at Atlanta Theological Association (ATA) schools may be applied toward the degree, counted as transfer credit. Advanced standing with transfer credit may be granted on a case-by-case basis. Upon the transfer of 26 credit hours, no additional transfer work or ATA cross registration work will be allowed. Students who transfer into Candler’s MDiv program must complete a minimum of four semesters with at least 56 Candler semester hours, including completion of the four-semester Contextual Education program, at Candler. The MDiv degree 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 calendar years.


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