ThM Requirements

ThM students focus their studies around a central area of interest within the 18 established areas of focus. 

Below are the basic course requirements of the degree.  Additional requirements and details of those below may be found in the HDS Handbook for Students.

  • One year of full-time study
  • Eight half courses (four credits)
  • Four courses within the student’s declared area of focus, at least one of which must be a seminar or colloquium
  • Four electives (may be within the student’s area of focus)
  • Intermediate level reading competency in a language that is relevant to the student’s area of focus determined by either course work or through examination
  • Oral examination based on one large paper or two smaller papers written for courses

Language requirements

ThM students must satisfy a language competency requirement by demonstrating intermediate reading competency in a language of scholarship in theological and religious studies. Students in these programs are not limited to the seven languages examined by the School and may meet their requirement with another language subject to the approval of the appropriate curriculum committee. ThM students may additionally be required to demonstrate competency in a second language based on their area of concentration and particular topic of study. There are four ways ThM students may demonstrate intermediate-level reading competency to satisfy the language requirement with one of the seven languages examined by HDS:

  • By passing an HDS language qualifying examination (given in September and April; in addition, French, Spanish, and German will be offered in January). Samples of previous qualifying exams are available for practice.
  • By completing with a grade of B- or better the second semester of an HDS intermediate-level course in Greek or Hebrew (e.g., 4021 Intermediate Classical Hebrew II or 4221 Intermediate Greek II) or one semester of an HDS advanced intermediate-level course in Latin (e.g., Readings in Christian Latin: Hildegard of Bingen and the Gospels).
  • By receiving a grade of A- or higher on the final exam in a modern language course in the School's Summer Language Program.
  • By receiving an A- or better in 4414 Advanced Intermediate German Readings or 4454 Advanced Intermediate French Readings or 4464 Advanced Intermediate Spanish Readings.

For languages taught at Harvard University other than the seven offered and examined by the Divinity School, the same principles will apply for satisfying the language requirement. Students must achieve intermediate competency, which is usually measured as finishing with a B- or better the fourth semester of a language course that follows the four-semester model. For languages that do not fit the four-semester model, the student should consult with the director of language studies and provide a description of the courses from the FAS catalog or from the instructor.

ThM students who wish to have a language other than the usual seven meet the language requirement must receive approval from the appropriate curriculum committee. On such a petition, the student must demonstrate that the language is essential to their academic program.

HDS Voices

Ernesto Fernandez

The Office of Career Services team was a great resource in my ongoing professional discernment and development. Even on my busiest days, they made it easy for me to stay on top of the otherwise overwhelming number of career-building opportunities available to me as an HDS student. As my career planning transitioned into a job search, they were a constant source of knowledgeable and constructive feedback on applications.
—Ernesto Fernandez, MDiv '14
More on Career Services