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Master of Divinity
The NYTS Master of Divinity (MDiv) is a 90-credit graduate degree designed for women and men who are already serving full-time in ministry, who are bi-vocational, or who are contemplating a shift from a secular to a religious vocation. The MDiv is the standard graduate degree for professional ministry in the United States and Canada. It is designed to provide exposure in considerable depth to the broader range of theological disciplines (biblical studies, history, theology, ethics, sociology of religion, and the arts of ministry) in a manner that integrates theory and practice, or reflection and action. Many churches require the MDiv for ordination, and while others may not make it a requirement, they often encourage their pastors or other leaders to secure the degree to prepare them for more effective leadership.
At NYTS, classes in the MDiv program are offered in the evening and at other times that are accessible to those who work full-time in either religious or secular employment. The curriculum is designed to be completed over a four-year period, although some are able to complete it in three years while others elect to take longer. As with other programs at NYTS, the MDiv is oriented toward ministry in the contemporary global urban context. The Seminary places a strong emphasis upon the life of churches and other religious communities who are considered the Seminary’s partners in the educational venture, but keeps in view the wider horizons of the global urban context as the arena in which ministry and transformation occur.
Students in the MDiv program at NYTS represent a wide range of cultural identities, professional experiences, and theological commitments. Many commute a considerable distance to avail themselves of the rich educational opportunities that the Seminary has to offer. We place a great deal of emphasis not only upon diversity but also inclusion at NYTS. Students from all walks of life will find themselves welcomed into a community of learning that takes seriously their call to ministry.
As the continuation of The Biblical Seminary in New York, NYTS affirms both the centrality of Bible and the diversity of its interpretation and application. Students in the MDiv program are expected to gain a thorough acquaintance with both the First and Second Testaments (or the Old and New Testaments), as well as skills in exegesis and interpretation for ministry. There are opportunities for learning biblical languages and doing advanced work in biblical exegesis. Students are also expected to develop a deeper understanding of their own historical and theological
identity through the classical disciplines of study as they develop an ability to analyze and engage the social, political, economic, and cultural forces that are encountered in the world around them. A rigorous supervised ministry program places emphasis upon pastoral formation in diverse professional contexts, while classes in the arts of ministry seek to hone student’s skills in preaching, teaching, leading worship, providing pastoral care, organizing, administering, and more.
The Seminary offers a modified Korean and Spanish language track as part of its MDiv program. Courses in the arts of ministry are offered regularly in these languages, designed to enable students who minister within these contexts to do so with increased competency. Additional courses explore the nature of leadership in a particular cultural context, or the history of a particular cultural community. Courses dealing with issues of justice and transformation, the empowerment of women, building capacities for ministry, and the diversity of expressions of spirituality are all likewise part of the program’s curriculum, reflecting the Seminary’s commitments to diversity and inclusion.
These orientations and emphases make NYTS distinctive among theological seminaries in the United States. Without dormitories, dining facilities, or other appurtenances of residential seminary life, a unique community of learning emerges year after year among students and faculty. Regular small group work in classrooms, weekly opportunities for corporate worship and prayer, and two overnight retreats each year contribute to building community life in the program. In addition, the Seminary’s strong commitment to the life of the churches and other religious communities in New York City and beyond allows students to draw upon them for resources as they engage in the transformational processes of theological education.
Under the guidance of an outstanding and diverse faculty of women and men, students are invited to synthesize life experience with the academic study of religion, and to gain and enhance skills relevant to the constituencies they expect to serve. Through the programs of the Center for the Study and Practice of Urban Religion, the life of the church and the life of the city are brought together for interactive learning. The Center for World Christianity helps students gain a fuller understanding and appreciation of the global dimensions of their faith and to learn to see the contributions of their own communions or denominational traditions to the larger church at work in the world. The Resource Center for Women in Ministry seeks to empower women and men to minister together more effectively at every level, attentive to the needs of women from diverse cultural settings and contexts throughout the academic program.
In line with the Seminary’s “Mission Statement,” the MDiv seeks to prepare men and women for ministry who are:
- informed biblically
- steeped in Christian thought and tradition
- skilled in the practice of ministry for personal, ecclesial and social transformation
- committed to the call of the Gospel for reconciliation, justice, evangelism and transformation
- equipped for diverse and inclusive partnerships in congregations, the city, and the world
- centered in a spiritual tradition which is dynamic in its formation and open to God’s continuing revelation
The MDiv is open to women and men who:
- possess a BA, BS, or equivalent undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year college (applicants holding degrees or diplomas from another country may be required to provide a translated copy and to provide further information to help the admissions committee determine equivalency)
- demonstrate evidence of an ability to do graduate level study, primarily assessed through the written answers to the application essay questions and through recommendations
- are able to articulate an understanding of their call to ministry in a manner that is appropriate to their own experience and faith tradition
- belong to a community of faith or have a specific ministry setting in which the applicant exercises responsibility
Application, Acceptance and Enrollment
NYTS has a rolling application process. Applications are received at any time during the year and reviewed as soon as possible thereafter, usually within one month. In order to be considered, the application must be complete, including a photo, the application fee, required essays, transcripts, data sheet, and recommendations. Following the receipt of a completed application, an interview is scheduled with the Dean of Student Affairs or another member of the faculty.
Upon acceptance, a student may enroll for classes beginning with the next scheduled semester or intensive period. Normally students who are accepted into the MDiv enroll in the first year sequence of courses that begins in the fall semester with Introduction to Theological Education. Students who begin the MDiv program in the winter, spring or summer enter as unclassified and can take elective courses until the fall semester when they matriculate and become part of the first year class.
Students from any of the theological schools with which NYTS has cross-registration agreements (Union Seminary, General Theological Seminary, and Drew Theological School) may register for any course offered at the Masters level through their own institutions, paying tuition to their home institution and being enrolled as a regular NYTS student for that particular course. Cross-registered students do not receive an NYTS student identification card and are not expected to attend NYTS student retreats or other such events.
For further information, contact:
Office of Vocational Discernment
New York Theological Seminary
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 500
New York, NY 10115
The MDiv curriculum at NYTS is structured along both traditional and nontraditional lines, with flexible and innovative methods of teaching and administration, sensitivity to matters of cultural diversity, and a clear commitment to academic excellence. A typical course progression totaling 90 credits is shown below. Students are strongly encouraged to move through the four-year curriculum in sequence. The curricular divisions reflect the NYTS mission statement that recognizes the Seminary’s historic focus on the Bible, its strong emphasis on Christian thought and tradition, and its commitments to preparing men and women for ministry in the city and world. These in turn reflect the three areas of study that make up the NYTS curriculum: Biblical Studies; Christian Thought and Tradition (encompassing the disciplines of history, theology, ethics, and sociology); and Mission and Ministry Studies. Many courses in the curriculum are interdisciplinary in nature, reflecting the faculty’s commitment to collaborative models of education that integrate theory and practice.
There are 60 required credits in the MDiv curriculum, distributed across all three fields. The remaining 30 credits are free electives. Elective courses are generally offered on a one to three year rotation, but may be offered only on an occasion basis. Electives are also offered each January, June, July and August. Students who seek to complete the MDiv in four years usually find they must plan to take some summer electives in order to reach 90 credits in that period of time.
Courses taken through cross registration at Union Theological Seminary, General Theological Seminary, or Drew University School of Theology, only count as electives unless arrangements have been made by the deans of both schools. Elective credits may also be transferred from the collaborative programs at Queens College department of Urban Affairs (MA), Fordham University (MSW), or Blanton-Peale Institute. Biblical language courses are available on a regular basis at NYTS, as are Hebrew and Greek exegesis classes, which require these language skills.
All candidates for the MDiv must complete 8 credits of Supervised Ministry, which are normally earned over the course of the final four academic semesters of the degree program. Supervised Ministry takes place at a designated site of ministry and is based on learning goals to be determined in consultation with the student, the site supervisor, and an NYTS advisor. Procedures are described in a separate handbook available from the Office of Supervised Ministry. Students in Supervised Ministry meet in small groups once a month on Saturday mornings each semester. The purpose of these meetings is to sustain students in a peer group context where ministerial experiences can be shared and evaluated and where ongoing theological reflection can occur.
Candidates for ordination are provided with polity courses covering a number of denominational traditions, and students are strongly urged to register for these courses. Candidates for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA) are strongly urged to contact Auburn Theological Seminary, which provides additional resources for Presbyterian students at NYTS. Special arrangements will be made by the office of the Academic Dean to accommodate any student requiring polity for a denomination that is not regularly offered.
Most NYTS courses in the MDiv are offered Monday through Thursday evenings from 6:10 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Required courses are offered sequentially in the first two years, with some having as prerequisite the completion of earlier courses in the program. Students are strongly urged to follow the regular sequence as they move toward graduation. Required courses identified as part of Year A and Year B in the curriculum (see the chart on the following page) are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Other required courses in Year C and D may be offered on Mondays or Wednesdays. Supervised Ministry classes are held one Saturday a month. Occasionally courses may be offered as one-week intensives, study trips, retreats or conferences. Classes are mostly held in the Martin Luther King, Jr. educational wing of The Riverside Church, located at 490 Riverside Drive (between 120th and 122nd Streets) in Manhattan (entrance is on Claremont Avenue). NYTS does not maintain a circulation library of its own, but provides access to the collections of Columbia University Library System, which includes full access to the Burke Library of Union Seminary on Broadway at 121st Street. Additional library resources are available through New York Public Library.
Education at NYTS takes place in community. Research arising from practical or field-based experience and learning from the more traditional bibliographic resources are equally valued. Both provide substantive content for courses. One will find the learning process to be both inductive and student-centered. We continue to rely considerably on writing assignments and assigned readings, but the overarching pedagogical concern of the faculty is to connect the evening classroom experience with the daytime working experience and the church responsibilities that most students manage to carry.
As part of its overall ministry, NYTS seeks to work collaboratively where possible with other accredited seminaries in addressing the needs of theological education in the city. Because NYTS offers courses in the evening and throughout the summer, a number of students who are enrolled in other seminaries take classes at NYTS each year with the intention of transferring the credits to their regular institution. Such students must complete the regular application process for NYTS and are enrolled as unclassified. Unclassified students at NYTS may not take more than 30 credits without matriculating in the seminary or meeting with the Academic Dean for permission to continue.
Language Track Programs
NYTS offers opportunities for students who are bilingual in either Korean or Spanish and English to complete the MDiv with some courses in the student’s primary language. The courses that are offered in Spanish and Korean are typically in the area of Arts of Ministry. In addition, a course in writing for ministry is offered every semester. Students who need further work in basic English are strongly encouraged to apply to one of the many English as a Second Language (ESL) programs that are located throughout the New York region, including the Riverside Language School which is located on the 3rd floor of the Martin Luther King Educational Building in Riverside Church (across the street from The Interchurch Center). Private tutorial assistance is available on a non-credit basis through the office of the Academic Dean.
Students entering the MDiv bilingual track must possess a minimal ability to read and comprehend written English. The Seminary does not administer a placement test to determine English proficiency, but the Dean may request such a test of any student who is reported by a member of the faculty to be having difficulty with either written or spoken
communication in English. The test will be administered by the Riverside Language School or another qualified testing agency of the Dean’s choice. The cost of any such proficiency test will be borne by the student. Students may not continue in good standing within the MDiv program without demonstrating proficiency in English after their second year of study.
The MSW with Fordham University
Through collaborative planning with Fordham University, it is possible for students at NYTS to pursue a Master of Social Work degree (MSW) at Fordham while doing the MDiv at NYTS. Separate applications must be made to NYTS and to Fordham for this program. For further information, contact the Office of the Academic Dean at NYTS.
|Master Of Divinity Degree Curriculum|
|Area I: Biblical Studies|
|BBH100||Bible I: Introduction to First Testament||4|
|BBN101||Bible II: Exegesis Practicum||2|
|BBN100||Bible III: Introduction to Second Testament||4|
|One additional Bible elective (at least 3 credits)||3|
|Area II: Christian Thought and Tradition|
|TTU101||Introduction to Theology||4|
|HHU100||Church History I: (to 1453 CE)||4|
|HHU101||Church History II (1453 to 2000)||4|
|EEU101||Introduction to Christian Ethics||4|
|SSU100||Church and Community Analysis||4|
|Area III: Mission and Ministry Studies|
|MMU102||Foundations of Ministry||4|
|MMU111/12||Supervised Ministry I/II (2 fall/ 2 spring)||4|
|MMU113/14||Supervised Ministry III/IV (2 fall/ 2 spring)||4|
|One additional elective in Preaching (at least 3 credits)||3|
|BTM100||Introduction to Theological Education||2|
|BTM500||Practice of Prophetic Ministry||4|
|Total required credits||60|
|Total credits for MDiv degree||90|
|Master Of Divinity Curriculum Design|
|Year A||Introduction to Theological Education
Foundations of Ministry
|Year B||Introduction to Theology
Church History I
Church History II
|Year C||Supervised Ministry I & II
(2 & 2)
|Church & Community Analysis
|Year D||Supervised Ministry III & IV
(2 & 2)
|Practice of Prophetic Ministry