Degree Programs

Library study desks

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 in the table 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 current program requirements can be found in the HDS Handbook for Students.

(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; the first cohort of PhD candidates will enter in fall 2015.)

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)

  • 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: Bachelor's degree or equivalent
  • Sample core requirements: Students admitted to this program will register in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Courses pertinent to their different 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, admitted students must demonstrate reading competence in two modern languages of secondary scholarship relevant to their course of study. These languages are determined in consultation with an adviser after admission to the program.

HDS Voices

Elise Alexander
Career Services at HDS strikes a wonderful balance between empowering students to help themselves through tip sheets and online resources, and providing hands-on guidance through consultations and their readiness to respond to emails. Thanks to them, I feel prepared to conduct the job search process after graduation. I’m confident that their help will prove useful long after I leave Cambridge.
—Elise Alexander, MTS '14
More on Career Services