Degree Programs

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Harvard Divinity School offers four degree programs: master of theological studies (MTS), master of divinity (MDiv), master of theology (ThM), and doctor of philosophy (PhD), key features of which are briefly compared below. While minor program requirements are subject to change from year to year, to help applicants make an informed decision about which program is the best fit for their academic and vocational goals, we encourage applicants to review and become familiar with current program requirements before submitting an application for admission.

Detailed information about the MTS, MDiv and ThM programs requirements can be found in the HDS Handbook for Students. For the PhD overview and requirements, please visit the Committee on the Study of Religion website.

(Note: HDS recently changed its doctoral designation from ThD to PhD in Religion. Those currently in the ThD program will continue to be candidates for the ThD. Starting in fall 2015 all doctoral students in religion will enter as PhD students.)

Watch a video of HDS professors and staff describing HDS degree programs during Theological Education Day 2013:

Master of Theological Studies (MTS)

  • Length of full-time study: 2 years
  • Size of program: 172
  • Financial aid available (based on eligibility): Institutional grant aid, work-study, federal loans
  • Prior graduate study required for admission: None
  • Sample core requirements (see HDS Handbook for Students for full degree requirements): 16 courses, 6 of which are in the student’s chosen area of study
  • Language requirement to be completed while at HDS: Intermediate competency in a language relevant to area of study, demonstrated through coursework or examination

Master of Divinity (MDiv)

  • Length of full-time study: 3 years
  • Size of program: 147
  • Financial aid available (based on eligibility): Institutional grant aid, work-study, federal loans
  • Prior graduate study required for admission: None
  • Sample core requirements (see HDS Handbook for Students for full degree requirements): 24 courses, field education, and senior seminar
  • Language requirement to be completed while at HDS: 3 courses in a language appropriate to the religious tradition the student is studying

Master of Theology (ThM)

  • Length of full-time study: 1 year
  • Size of program: 3
  • Financial aid available (based on eligibility): Federal loans only
  • Prior graduate study required for admission: MDiv or equivalent
  • Sample core requirements (see HDS Handbook for Students for full degree requirements): 8 courses, 4 of which are in the student’s chosen area of study
  • Language requirement to be completed while at HDS: Intermediate competency in a language relevant to area of study, demonstrated through coursework or examination

Doctor of Philosophy in Religion (PhD)

(Note: links to Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences site)

  • Length of full-time study: 5-7 years
  • Size of program: 63
  • Financial aid available: Five years of tuition and fee assistance plus stipend, including summer stipends after years one through four. The stipend in years three and four is primarily underwritten by Teaching Fellowships. The fifth year of funding is intended for a student's final year in order to complete the dissertation.
  • Prior graduate study required for admission is not required, but it is rare for candidates to be admitted without an AM.  
  • Sample core requirements: Students admitted to this program will register in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Courses pertinent to their areas of study are listed in the Courses of Instruction of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Full-time study is required during the first two years of the PhD program. This means four half-courses during each term, with a minimum average grade of B. Coursework is followed by general exams, teaching, dissertation and defense. Please explore the requirements and full timeline by reviewing the Committee on the Study of Religion's website.
  • Language requirements: All doctoral applicants are expected to have foundational language work needed for primary research (textual or ethnographic) in the area of specialization (Hebrew, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, Chinese, etc.) at the time of application. In addition, over the course of the first two years of the program, students must demonstrate reading competence in two modern languages of secondary scholarship relevant to their area of study. These languages are determined in consultation with an adviser after admission to the program. Visit the Committee on the Study of Religion’s website for complete information.

HDS Voices

Serving the local homeless community at the Outdoor Church added purpose and energy to my classroom experience. I was not learning theology for theology's sake, but as a living, breathing tradition brimming with good news even for those at the edges of our society. This realization gave clarity to my own faith and sense of vocation.
Tom Hathaway, MDiv '11
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