Masters of Divinity (M.Div.)

Master of Divinity degree includes training in Christian spirituality.

A Master of Divinity degree prepares you for Church ordination or to pursue other professional ministries where advanced leadership skills are essential. Those ministries include congregational pastor, healthcare and military chaplaincy, campus ministry, spiritual direction, pastoral counseling, not-for-profit work, and other community based ministries. Unlike some master of religious education programs, our M.Div. combines a framework of academic disciplines — Bible studies, theology, history, homiletics, liturgics, counseling, and Christian spirituality — with practical ministry experience.

The program fulfills the education requirements of most major denominations. Core M.Div. courses are taught in San Anselmo, but many elective and upper level courses are offered in Berkeley and at other GTU schools.

The distinguished faculty has formulated the goals of theological education at SFTS in a list of the Habits and Skills the Seminary expects graduates of our programs to display in their lives and practice of ministry. The specific learning outcomes of the M.Div. degree are to:

  • Lead and order services of Christian worship.
  • Reflect theologically on Christian faith, the church and the world.
  • Provide pastoral care and spiritual formation for individuals and communities.
  • Equip churches and communities for mission and ministry in a multicultural and pluralistic context.

Admissions Requirements

  • Completed application form
  • $50 Non-refundable application fee
  • Five personal statements of approximately 300 to 500 words each
  • Two academic or professional references
  • One pastoral reference to whom the applicant is not related (pastor, elder, deacon)
  • Official transcripts of all post-secondary schoolwork (An in-process transcript showing work to date is acceptable for students without undergraduate degrees)
  • For applicants whose first language is not English, a minimum TOEFL score of 550 on the paper test, or 80 on the internet-based tests
  • A criminal background check through castlebranch.com and a Self-Disclosure Form
  • If applying for SFTS Financial Aid and Housing, reference the Financial Aid and Housing sections on sfts.edu and complete the appropriate forms

See MDiv/MATS Application Form for detailed admissions instructions

Deadlines

  • Applications for fall admission due by May 1.
  • Applications for Spring admission due by December 1.

Degree Requirements

The M.Div. degree program consists of six semesters of course work or the equivalent and field education. The normal full-time course load is four 3-unit courses or 12 units per semester. A total of 72 semester units of credit and competence in one biblical language are required for the degree.

The required units of core courses and electives are distributed among various disciplines. For a complete listing of required M.Div. courses, please see below.

Biblical languages

Reading knowledge of one biblical language, Greek or Hebrew, is required for the SFTS M.Div. degree. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) requires competence in both languages for ordination.

MDiv Course List

The MDiv degree program consists of six full semesters of course work or the equivalent. Up to eight courses may be taken online for credit toward the degree. A total of 72 semester units plus field education are required. Required courses are distributed across areas of study as follows:

Biblical Studies

Old Testament I (OT 1200)
Old Testament II (e.g. OT 2142)
New Testament I (NT 1004)
New Testament II (NT 1005)
Language*: Hebrew and Greek
Exegesis*: OT/Hebrew (e.g. OT 3275) and NT/Greek (e.g. NT 2000)
*One language required for SFTS M.Div.; two for PC(USA)

Church History and Theology

Church History I (HS 1080)
Church History II (HS 1081)
Theology I (ST 1084)
Theology II (ST 1085)
Ethics or Public Religion (e.g. CE 2011)

Ministry and Spirituality

Spirituality I & II
Preaching (HM 1001)
Worship (LSFT 2525)

Pastoral Care & Counseling (PS 1015)
Integrative Studies
Interdisciplinary Lectures I
Interdisciplinary Lectures II

18 Required Courses
6 Free Electives
24 Total Courses

Field Education

As an MDiv student, you may choose between two field education plans. Plan A features a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) experience acquired in-house or in an approved external program. Plan B allows you to complete the requirement by part-time or summer placement in a parish or special ministries site. Each plan allows for the addition of elective experiences, providing for satisfying the various expectations of ordaining bodies. Field Education experiences are required but do not receive course credits. You must complete 24 units of MDiv course work before beginning field education.

Field Education Plan A: Clinical Pastoral Education
As a Master of Divinity student, you may meet the minimum San Francisco Theological Seminary field education requirement by successfully completing one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at an ACPE accredited site. One unit of CPE requires approximately three hundred hours of field work and one hundred hours of critical reflection through writing assignments, individual supervision, and peer group work.

Option 1: Complete one unit of CPE through the SFTS Clinical Pastoral Education program. This community-based program allows you to fulfill your clinical hours in a hospital, hospice, congregation, street ministry, or other non-traditional CPE setting. It requires a weekly time commitment of approximately 23 hours of field work and several hours of supervised critical reflection over four months. If you wish to complete your CPE unit in the SFTS program, you must apply and be admitted to the program according to its standard policies. Placement is not guaranteed based on your status in the M.Div. program.

Option 2: Complete one unit of CPE through another accredited site. Many CPE sites offer a three-month, full-time CPE internship, and a few sites offer part-time extended units that could run concurrently with seminary coursework. You will find a complete list of accredited programs at www.acpe.edu.

Field Education Plan B: Internship
Master of Divinity students may meet the minimum SFTS field education requirement by successfully completing an internship in a congregation, nonprofit, or other approved internship setting. In addition to your field work, you will be required to engage in critical theological reflection throughout your internship. Specific terms and learning goals for any internship placement must be negotiated with the internship site and approved by SFTS field education staff before you may begin your internship.

Option 1: Complete a nine-month, part-time internship that runs concurrently with seminary coursework. You must spend a minimum of ten hours a week at your internship site under the guidance of an approved internship supervisor. If you complete your internship during the academic year, you will participate in peer group meetings (one hour per week) supervised by the Shaw Family Chair for Clinical Pastoral Education, Rev. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina.

Option 2: Complete a three-month, full-time internship that does not run concurrently with coursework. Such an internship would likely be completed during a summer, but if you are consolidating coursework into fewer than six semesters, you may complete a full-time internship at another time in the year. Full-time interns who do not have access to a peer group during the summer will work with SFTS field education staff to design a plan for supervised critical reflection.

Interdisciplinary Lectures

Every Wednesday morning the entire SFTS community assembles for ninety minutes of lecture and discussion. Each week, a different member of the faculty addresses the semester’s theme from the point of view or his or her discipline. You are required to participate in four semesters of these lectures and receive three units of course credit per year. Watch views of previous lectures here.

Concentrations

As a Master of Divinity student, you may refine your academic program to reflect your individual educational and vocational goals by selecting a discipline-specific concentration. If you pursue such a concentration, you work closely with an SFTS faculty advisor to outline a course of study in one of the following areas:

History and Theology
A concentration in history or theology allows you to engage with a particular academic discipline in depth. Each concentration requires three courses (nine units) of master’s- or doctoral-level coursework beyond general requirements. If you select a history concentration, you may focus on any period or subject of the history of religion in Europe, the Americas or African Diaspora. A theology concentration might include Rev. Dr. Gregory Anderson Love’s God and Human Suffering. You also must write a paper on an approved topic.

Chaplaincy & Pastoral Care
Chaplains and pastoral care providers offer critical spiritual and emotional support to those in need. This concentration includes academic coursework in pastoral care and spirituality, a unique chaplaincy/pastoral care lecture series and a minimum of two units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) to facilitate competencies in pastoral care. It also prepares you to engage in professional requirements for chaplaincy in institutional and congregational settings. An important piece incorporated into this concentration is the requirement for CPE. Under the direction of Rev. Laurie Garrett-Cobbina, SFTS has the first endowed CPE chair within a theological seminary.

Biblical Studies
This concentration reflects the Seminary’s commitment to fostering critical biblical scholarship. In the Biblical Studies Concentration, you must have elementary knowledge of both Greek and Hebrew and do intermediate work in at least one biblical language. To complete the concentration, you must take three courses (nine units) of biblical studies beyond the core MDiv requirements, which may be selected from either master’s- or doctoral-level coursework. Students may choose from courses such as Creation Traditions in the Old Testament and its Environment with Dr. Annette Schellenberg, New Perspectives on Paul with Rev. Dr. Eugene Eung-Chun Park or Miracle Stories in the New Testament with Dr. Annette Weissenrieder. A final paper on an approved topic is also required.

Christian Spirituality
MDiv students interested in a concentration in spirituality will explore some of the depth and breadth of the Christian and world spiritual traditions: medieval mystics, contemplative theologians, Native American novelists, civil rights mothers and fathers, interfaith studies. They will take academic courses as well as practice courses. They will study classical texts as well as music, poetry, nature.  By learning more about how rich and diverse Christian spirituality is, students develop tools not only to critique their experience but more importantly to find a home in Christianity as they come to learn how sustaining and expansive Christian faith has been in times and places all over the world. This concentration allows students to deepen their understanding of the links between spiritual practice and social justice as well as to encounter spiritual friends in other religious traditions. It models ways to combine spiritual practice with academic study. Through this concentration, students will deepen their faith through academic study and focused practice. More information on this concentration can be found here.