Master of Theology (ThM)

Giving communion

Master of Theology (ThM)

The Master of Theology is a one-year program of study beyond the Master of Divinity or other first-level theological degree. It is designed for students who wish to deepen their knowledge in a particular area of study in order to enhance their vocation or ministry. Typically, ThM students focus on Bible, preaching and worship, pastoral care, theology and ethics, or religious education.

The program offers international students the opportunity to broaden their education through the experience of studying abroad and domestic students the chance to gain greater expertise in an area of ministry or study.

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

  • Advanced knowledge in a particular area of theological study (e.g., Christian texts, traditions, theologies, ethics, ministerial practice) in the context of a multiethnic, intercultural, ecumenical and religiously diverse world.
  • Proficiency in the analysis of a particular area of religious and theological knowledge or practice. Advanced skills in critical and imaginative thinking, responsible interpretation and effective communication.
  • The ability to produce a substantial, summative research project that reflects knowledge of and serious engagement with the present state of the question addressed, supported by appropriate use of primary and secondary sources.

Credit Hours
The 24-credit hour curriculum is structured to be completed in one year of full-time study; the maximum length of time allowed to complete the program is two years.

GPA
3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Curriculum
Each candidate's program of study is arranged in consultation with the director of advanced studies who serves as the academic adviser for ThM students.

ThM Seminar and Major Research Paper
Students must complete a substantial (35-page) research paper written in consultation with the program director and another faculty member. The paper will be the basis for a final, oral examination.

Read more about the ThM degree requirements.

English language competency is critical for the ThM degree, so the skills of students whose first language is not English are tested in two ways:

  • A written assessment prior to fall orientation. Those who need additional work in written communication will take English as a Second Language–Written Skills in the fall semester.
  • An oral assessment later in the fall semester. If needed, those students will take English as a Second Language—Oral Skills in the spring semester.

Dr. Steven J. Kraftchick, director of the ThM program at Candler, offers a few thoughts for students considering this degree. Read his biography.

Who is the ideal ThM student?
The Master of Theology is ideal for someone who has been out of school for a few years and who has had some ministry practice but is now ready to come back school to enhance a particular area of interest. The program also is popular with students who are preparing for a PhD.

What are examples of the interest areas ThM students pursue?
Our students pursue advanced study in Candler's major areas of focus. These include Biblical Studies, History and Interpretation of Christianity, Christianity and Culture, and Church and Ministry.

What is the ThM Seminar?
The Seminar is a four-hour course designed to help students develop reading, writing and critical thinking skills and prepare a major research paper.

I teach the Seminar, and in the first third we focus on a theme to get students thinking. For example, we recently examined liberal theology, where students learn to negotiate traditional theology in contemporary settings. This was a big “Aha!” moment for them.

During the second third of the course, students begin developing their individual projects. This includes presenting their ideas and writing a thesis statement, bibliography and introduction.

During the final segment of the seminar, they present their projects at various stages; their classmates are the respondents.  The final product is typically a substantial research paper of about 35 pages.

What are examples of other courses I might take?
There are dozens of courses available, but here are a few examples: Parables of Jesus, Islamic Moderism, John Wesley's Ethics, and the Theology of Karl Barth.

How many ThM students are at Candler each year?
We currently have 22 ThM students. Just over half are from South Korea, with the rest from the United States and representing a variety of Christian denominations.

What is the history of Candler’s ThM program?
Candler started the ThM more than 20 years ago to encourage enrollment by non-U.S. students. Thomas Thangaraj, D.W. and Ruth Brooks Associate Professor of World Christianity, Emeritus, was the first director.

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"The classes I've taken here have challenged me to think of new and innovative pastoral care strategies and techniques that I could use as a spiritual caregiver. What I've gained in this degree program is a direct result of the strength of Candler's faculty and the courses offered."
-Gene Anthony, ThM '14