Ministry Studies

At HDS, we define ministry broadly: a call to serve others through traditional ordination, chaplaincy, non-profit leadership, doctoral work, and many other occupations. We prepare students in the arts of ministry in a multireligious, academically rigorous environment that fosters the skills and experience needed to enter a life of ministry, however defined.

What is ministry at HDS?

The education of learned ministers has been central to Harvard since its founding. Today, the members of the HDS student body reflect an extraordinary diversity of backgrounds and ambitions, and there is something in every field of study that can support ministry preparation.

Recognizing that the world is a religiously pluralistic place, students of many faith communities—and none—study side by side here in order to foster a greater understanding of their own traditions in the context of others. Interreligious engagement is key to our approach.

Billings Preaching Prize Competition

Finalists of the annual preaching competition open to second- and third-year MDiv students, deliver their sermons.

Jeremy Battle, MDiv '13

Grounded in Tradition

"People ask: ‘Do Baptists really go to Harvard?’ When [students] come out of HDS, they are not simply the best scholars, but the best exegetes." —Jeremy Battle, MDiv ’13

Matthew Potts, Assistant Professor of Ministry Studies

Where the Spiritual and Scholarly Meet

For Matthew Potts, MDiv '08, the decision to be a priest and a professor is related to what he feels is his most central spiritual practice: loving the finite.

Why Choose the MDiv?

The three-year master of divinity degree is ideal for students in many religious traditions—or none—preparing for ordained or lay ministry in settings ranging from church congregations to college campuses, hospitals, and prisons. Many MDiv students also choose to go into teaching, scholarship, and other professions.

Authentic training for the ministry must include both practical experience and reflection on that experience. That’s why HDS ministry students integrate the knowledge gained in the classroom in other settings—hospitals, congregations, social service organizations—through our extensive Field Education program.

Learn more about the MDiv program

Why Choose HDS?

  • Preparation for ministry in diverse environment
  • Study traditions other than one’s own
  • Deep formation in your own tradition or vocational path
  • Academically rigorous environment
  • Work experience through field education
  • Take classes across Harvard or anyone of the 10 members schools of the BTI

We prepare ministers (ordained and lay) strongly formed for their own denominations, religious traditions, and vocational aspirations. We also prepare ministers to engage in the rich religious and cultural diversity of the world.

Graduating MDiv students leave HDS with skills and knowledge that prepares them to serve within a religious community, to explore the spiritually formative dimension of intellectual work, to evaluate and act on the needs and questions of religious communities and beyond, and to speak with both a pastoral and a public voice.