Master of Theological Studies (MTS)

MTS class

Master of Theological Studies (MTS)

The Master of Theological Studies degree serves persons who wish to explore disciplines within theology and religion, without the objective of preparing for ordained ministry. Students who wish to prepare for ordained ministry should consider the MDiv degree.

The MTS is especially suited for persons interested in some aspect of teaching and research or engagement in social issues. Students who plan to apply to a PhD program in religion or to teach at the secondary school level might seek this degree. Others may elect the degree out of intellectual curiosity.

The program focuses on historical and constructive issues of religious and theological reflection, rather than ministry. Nevertheless, the seminary community affects both instruction and the process of theological reflection, providing an enriched human and personal context.

The MTS is closer to the Master of Arts (MA) than to the Master of Divinity. The program focuses intensely on issues of academic theology and the study of religion in general. However, in contrast with the MA offered in some graduate schools, which specializes in a single area of religious studies, the MTS covers all areas of theological studies.

The program is also intentional about helping students discern their vocation through plenaries, small groups and professional development electives in areas such as Non-Profit Leadership and Management; Religion, Violence and Peacebuilding; and Youth Ministry.

Credit Hours
The 48-credit hour curriculum is structured to be completed in two 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.

All students, regardless of their area of focus, are required to complete nine hours each in courses designated as History, Scripture and Tradition; and Modern Religious Thought and Experience. Also, students must take one course in World Religions.

In addition, students have a required professional development elective, an additional 18 hours related to their declared focus, and up to nine hours of additional electives.

Students are required to enroll in an advising group focused on exploring vocational options.

Thesis and Integrative Paper
Students will complete the degree with course work plus a thesis or an integrative paper. Theses or integrative papers should be written within the declared area of focus.

Read more about the MTS degree requirements.

Candler’s MTS program enables students to go as deep as they want in a wide range of study areas within the two broad areas of History, Scripture, and Tradition and Modern Religious Thought and Experience. That means that students can design a program to fit their academic interests. Up to two-thirds of the curriculum is customizable.

  • The customized approach, in addition to better fitting students’ educational and vocational goals, allows for increased collaboration with faculty at Candler and the wider Emory University; it also encourages interdisciplinary study, the pursuit of joint degrees, and study abroad options.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

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

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

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, 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 Theological Studies/Master of Arts in Bioethics (MTS/MA)
Prepares students to work at the intersection of religion and health or health care—in bioethics, patient advocacy or pastoral care at a faith-based health care institution or organization.

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

Master of Theological Studies/Juris Doctor (MTS/JD)
For students interested in a career in law, but have deep interests in theology, church life, ethics, or social and political theory, or for students pursuing academic careers.

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

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"The MTS program has given me the freedom to explore and shape my interests and the structure and faculty support to make that exploration a focused and productive avenue to doctoral studies."
-Eric Jarrard, MTS '14