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Divinity Degree

Divinity is the academic study of Christianity or another theology and ministry. This academic or professional degree is required for ordained ministry in most Christian denominations and many other faith communities.
For those interested in pursuing religious studies or divinity, there are a number of degree options to choose from. There are also some online programs available in this discipline.

What is the study of divinity?

The study of divinity is a program of religious study which focuses on Christian tradition and its scriptures, Christian beliefs, the history of the religion and its development, and practice.
Within divinity, there are a number of different areas which a student may choose to concentrate on during their enrollment in a divinity program.

Who should study divinity?

Divinity, ministry studies, or religious studies is primarily intended to prepare students for a career in the academic study of religion as theological researchers and teachers. Or in ministry as lay or ordained clergy, missionaries, and church youth leaders.
For those interested in the academic and theoretical aspects of divinity, careers may also be found in religious journalism, media or advocacy.
Any individual who is interested in world religion and politics, Bible study, study of other religious texts or becoming a minister must look into divinity and ministry studies.

Divinity Degree Programs

Bachelor’s Degree in Divinity

Currently, there are no Bachelor of Divinity programs accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. Instead, The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program has replaced the Bachelor of Divinity as the entry level degree required for aspiring clergy.
Students wishing to pursue careers of service within the Christian church may look into A Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Ministry Studies. This degree teaches students about the history of Christianity, advanced Bible study, the relationship between Christianity and other world religions, and an introduction to all practical aspects of the life of members of the clergy.
This program typically takes 4 years to complete.
Entry requirements

  • A high school diploma or its equivalent
  • SAT or ACT test scores
  • Minimum high school GPA
  • Letters of recommendation

This program teaches students all the foundations of Christianity and introduces them to the aspects of the life of members of clergy. As part of the program, students may be required to complete an internship in a church ministry.
Some of the courses included in this program are:

  • History of Christian education
  • Introduction to theology
  • Foundations of Christian preaching and teaching
  • New Testament doctrines
  • Christian church ethics

Master’s Degree in Divinity

The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program prepares students for a lifetime of servitude to the Christian church. In addition, due to its comprehensive approach to the study of theology, there are many other career options available to graduates in the field of ministry.
Students enrolled in this program may choose a specific area to specialize in. These include leadership, theology, chaplaincy or philosophy of religion.
The program typically lasts 3 years. For those students who wish to enroll in an online program in divinity, the duration of the program is typically 4-5 years.
Entry requirements

  • A Bachelor’s degree
  • Minimum GPA as determined by program and school
  • Letters of recommendation

It is important to note these requirements may vary with schools and programs.
Some of the courses offered in this program include:

  • Ministering to an intercultural congregation
  • Homiletics
  • Ancient biblical languages
  • Philosophies of world religions

Ph.D. in Divinity

A Ph.D. in divinity is intended for those scholars who wish to specialize in a particular aspect of religious study. Students are required to choose a specific area of concentration which they will focus on for the duration of their degree. Concentration areas can include topics such as the philosophy of religions, religious ethics, history of Christianity or history of Judaism.
This degree typically takes 5-7 years to complete.
Entry requirements

  • A bachelor’s and master’s degree in divinity or religious studies
  • Applicants may be required to have reading competence in at least two other languages aside from English

The precise curriculum of a Ph.D. program in divinity will vary depending upon the area in which the student has chosen to specialize.
In general, students can expect the following courses:

  • Sociology of religion
  • Elementary Hebrew
  • Modern Christianity in America
  • Religious ideologies and utopias
  • Theology and philosophy
  • Religious ethics
  • Gospel studies
  • History of Christian thought
  • Introduction to Judaic civilization

Job Prospects and Salary

According to data from The US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • In 2012, the annual median salary made my members of the clergy was  $44,060
  • It is projected that between 2012-22, the number of new jobs in the field will be 23,600
  • The projected rate of employment growth in that period is 10%. This rate is about as fast as the average for most professions which is 11%.
  • In 2012, the annual median salary for Directors of Religious Activities and Education was  $37,280
  • The projected employment growth for these professionals between 2012-2022 is 8%.

The academic study of divinity opens doors for those individuals who wish to serve in the Christian church or explore the academic aspects of religious study. There are several degree options available for individuals who are interested in studying divinity. Generally Master of Divinity degree is the entry level qualification required to pursue a position in ministry.


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What is a masters of divinity online?

A:The Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree is the basic professional theological degree and typically requires 3 years to complete. This degree also prepares men and women for ordination into the Christian ministry. Students who wish to work in the Christian ministry within local churches as well as Para-church organizations are advised to consider this path of education. The program gives it students an in-depth knowledge of biblical leadership principles and methods, along with a strong grasp on Scripture and Christian principles.

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