Master of Theology

Fine-tune your focus with this one-year program of study beyond the first master's degree.

Why the Master of Theology?

Candler’s Master of Theology (ThM) is designed for those who already hold a theological master’s degree and wish to gain greater expertise in a particular area of study. They may want to deepen their knowledge to enhance their vocation or ministry or to prepare for further academic study. ThM students focus on one of many possible areas of study, such as Bible, preaching and worship, pastoral care, theology, history, ethics, world Christianity, or Black church studies. The program is designed as an intensive one-year course of study, although some students may find it advantageous to extend their program into a second year.


What you’ll gain

Through your study for a Master of Theology degree, you 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 multi-ethnic, 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.

Master of Theology Requirements

To qualify for the ThM degree, a candidate must complete each of these requirements.

Requirements for Admission

To enter the ThM program, a candidate must have a:

  • Bachelor’s or equivalent degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Master of divinity, or another first-level master’s degree, from an ATS-accredited school
  • Well-balanced program of work in the liberal arts.

Credit Hours

In fulfilling the 24 credit hours required to complete the ThM degree, students may not exceed the following limits:

  • Six credit hours for clinicals and internships.
  • Four credit hours for academic courses taken on an S/U basis.
  • Three hours for transfer credit (including ATA cross registration).
  • Nine hours for directed study.

Prerequisites for courses in the three areas of study do not apply to ThM students.

GPA Requirements

Students must earn a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0.

Curricular Requirements

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

  • ThM501 Master of Theology Project Seminar (fall, 1 hour)
  • ThM650 Master of Theology Project (spring, 2 hours)

Three courses of the student’s choice. Post-MDiv electives may be extensions of Candler courses (three-hour course and one-hour ThM600 for a total of four hours), directed studies (four hours), or Graduate Division of Religion courses (usually three hours).


The remaining nine hours required for graduation will be satisfied by elective courses of the student’s choice.

Seminar and Major Research Paper

In consultation with the director and one other faculty member, the student must write a major research paper (typically 35 pages in length) on work done in the student’s area of concentration. This paper is part of the work of the ThM seminar and must be completed before the deadline in the academic calendar for the semester in which the student expects to graduate. The student will receive three total credit hours for the ThM project seminar (ThM501) and paper (ThM650). Both the project seminar and the paper must be taken for a letter grade and the minimum passing grade is a B.

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 the major research paper.

In the first third, students are given a theme to get them thinking. For example, liberal theology, where students learn to negotiate traditional theology in contemporary settings.

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.


Each candidate’s program of study is arranged in consultation with the director of general and advanced studies who serves as the academic adviser for ThM students. Two regular semesters of study (24 credit hours) are required. Up to six hours may be credited for clinical or internship work. A minimum of 12 credit hours must be taken at the postMDiv level, including the required ThM project seminar, ThM project, and three postMDiv elective courses. Credit hours may be earned from regular courses or directed studies. Students must earn a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0. Normally a one-year program, the degree must be completed within two calendar years.

English Language Requirement

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.
CB26 Pattern CB26 Pattern

Ready to take the next step in your theological studies with our ThM program?

How to Apply