MDiv Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an MDiv and an MTS?

The master of divinity (MDiv)  is a three-year full-time program, in which students work at the intersections of the academic study of religion and the practices of religious communities, the past and the present, classroom study and field study, and the convictions and practices of their own religious tradition and the convictions and practices of traditions other than their own. The MDiv prepares students for ministerial engagement in a wide range of settings.

The master of theological studies (MTS) program is a two-year full-time degree that enables students to explore deeply and broadly the languages, literatures, thought, institutions, practices, normative claims, and structures of a variety of theological fields and religious traditions. It also enables students to think critically, with sophistication and self-awareness, about the scholarly study of these concepts and traditions.

View a comparison chart of all HDS degree programs.

Does HDS prepare students who plan to be ordained and lead congregations?

If your call is to be ordained and serve a church, HDS has a deep and long-standing commitment of preparing people for pastoral ministry. This is supported by denominational counselors who work with students in fulfilling the specific requirements of particular denominations. Students engage in field education in church placements and take classes that meet denominational requirements. Ordination in Buddhist communities usually is arranged by that community. Similarly, ordination as a Rabbi (smicha) usually follows extensive work with appropriate Jewish authorities in addition to the degree requirements of HDS.

How should I explain an MDiv degree to my family?

The MDiv is a hands-on degree in ministry, with professional and academic components. MDiv students learn how to read carefully, write and speak expressively. Students learn the nuances of religion, spirituality, history, practice, and the human experience. Students may focus on one or more tradition, and become fluent in the histories, theories, practices, language, and writings of that religion. Engaging in the Field Education Program enables MDiv students to integrate theory and practice from the classroom with that in the field while working with a supervisor certified in supervision for ministry.

I am not Christian. Should I get an MDiv?

If you do not plan to become ordained, an MDiv can also prepare you well for interfaith work, chaplaincy, lay ministry in your own tradition, or any other field you are interested in, such as nonprofit work and community organizing. This is true for people of all faiths as well as those who are not part of a faith tradition. Unitarian Universalist students, who are not Christian, pursue an MDiv for ordination toward a vocation as a community minister.

In addition, many students of diverse faiths will complete an MDiv before going onto further professional school, such as law, medicine, or social work.

What if I don’t find a field education site from the approved HDS list? Can I design my own project or propose a site?

HDS enables students to pursue their unique calling through the student-initiated placement process to complete one of the two required field education placements. Students propose a variety of organizations beyond the HDS list; recent examples have included the Albert Einstein Institution, Centro Presente, and The History Project. Each placement is approved by the Director of Field Education to ensure the site and supervisor meet The Field Education Program’s criteria.