The Master of Divinity Degree Program

OFFERED ON THE ONLINE, PORTLAND, SACRAMENTO, AND SAN JOSE CAMPUSES

Program Objectives & Requirements

The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree program is designed for those engaged in or preparing for vocational ministry, including the pastorate, intercultural service, Christian education, pastoral counseling, chaplaincy, evangelism, music and worship ministries, and related areas of service. Historically, the M.Div. degree has been the recommended program for those preparing for ordination.

The M.Div. program requires a core of biblical, theological, and applied ministry studies. In addition, students select an elective track consisting either of a ministry specialization or a self-designed sequence of electives approved by a faculty mentor. This flexibility of design recognizes that many students come with differing God-given gifts, passions, talents, experiences, and goals.

The M.Div. course of study, designed to assist the local church in the training and nurturing of godly leaders, is guided by five overarching educational values which the Seminary believes are essential to that objective. Those values are:

  • Outcome-based instruction
  • Spiritual and character formation
  • Mentor relationships
  • Church relatedness
  • Global and cultural awareness

M.Div. Core Outcomes

The explicit outcomes which the M.Div. seeks to produce encompass multiple dimensions of the graduate’s life and work. This means that the M.Div. student’s educational experiences are intended to produce growth in knowledge, character, and skills for ministry. Many of these outcomes are best achieved and measured in the field, rather than the classroom. Consequently, many of the educational experiences bring the classroom and the church together in partnership to prepare the student for a life of fruitful ministry.

In addition to the Seminary’s general educational goals, the M.Div. program attempts to achieve specific outcomes:

  • Applies biblical truth to life and ministry based on a thorough understanding of the biblical canon and solid exegesis
  • Employs mature theological thinking to evaluate competing ideas, develop a personally integrated and gospel-centered expression of biblical teachings, communicate theological truths clearly, and apply theological truths to life and ministry
  • Demonstrates cultural awareness and discernment in theological thinking and ministerial practice
  • Exhibits a Christ-like character worthy of being emulated, and integrity that imparts credibility to his/her ministry
  • Demonstrates self-awareness and a commitment to an ongoing process of personal and spiritual formation that is clearly grounded in the gospel
  • Implements a gospel-centered philosophy of ministry that is biblical, missional, and transformational
  • Communicates God’s truth clearly, accurately, and convincingly
  • Nurtures and equips people so that God’s purposes are effectively accomplished in and through them

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Seminary, applicants for the M.Div. program are expected to present an accredited baccalaureate degree (or its equivalent) with a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale), including a breadth of liberal arts. Applicants who do not meet these general academic requirements may petition the Admissions Committee for consideration. A recommendation from the applicant’s pastor and three personal recommendations regarding the applicant’s Christian character and leadership potential also are required.

Transfer Credit

Upon approval by the Registrar, transfer of up to 45 hours credit is allowed toward the M.Div. program from graduate institutions accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. Students must have earned a grade of B or better for a course to be considered for transfer and coursework must have completed no more than five years prior to matriculation to Western Seminary. Alternatively, students may receive advanced standing of up to 22 credit hours of the 45 credit hours of transfer credit allowed toward their program if they are able to demonstrate current competency in required coursework based on prior study (based on parallel undergraduate work or transfer credit that is ineligible for consideration based on age). Transferability of credits earned at Western and transferred to another institution is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Consult the Registrar’s Office for information on eligibility of transfer credit and advanced standing.

Residence Requirements

For the Portland, San Jose and Sacramento Campuses:

Of the 90 credit hours required for the Master of Divinity program, a minimum of 45 credit hours must be completed through coursework completed at Western Seminary, with a minimum of 30 credit hours taken in resident study at one of Western Seminary’s physical campus locations. All work leading to the Master of Divinity must be completed within six years from the time of matriculation. Permission to extend the six year statute of limitation must be granted through submission of an academic petition. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree. All credits applied toward the degree requirements must be earned within ten years of the awarding of the degree.

For the Online Campus Only:

Of the 90 credit hours required for the Master of Divinity program, a minimum of 45 credit hours must be completed through coursework at Western Seminary, with a minimum of 10 credit hours taken in resident study through the following specific courses and program orientation:

  • During October or June of a student's first academic year, the student must travel to Portland for one week to attend program orientation and two threshold courses, SFS501 Learning to Love God and Others (2 credit hours) and MFM500 Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential (2 credit hours).
  • During the middle of a student's program, the student must travel to Portland to complete at least four credit hours of required (non-elective) courses.
  • During February of a student's final academic year, the student must return to Portland to attend the capstone course, THS508 Integrating Ministry and Theology (2 credit hours).

All work leading to the Master of Divinity must be completed within six years from the time of matriculation. Permission to extend the six year statute of limitation must be granted through submission of an academic petition. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree. All credits applied toward the degree requirements must be earned within ten years of the awarding of the degree.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Divinity degree is conferred upon the attainment of certain personal and academic requirements. In addition to the general seminary requirements, degree candidates must (1) give evidence of a genuine Christian character, orthodox belief, and conduct consistent with a God-given call to a position of leadership; (2) complete all courses in the prescribed M.Div. curriculum with a minimum grade point average of 2.5. All credits applied toward degree requirements must be earned within ten years of the awarding of the M.Div. degree.

Course Requirements

Students may complete their studies in as few as six semesters, including mentored field ministry, with a minimum of 90 credits required for graduation. The program is designed around a common core of 72 credits and an elective track of 18 credits. Each elective track contains six credits of mentored ministry. The elective track also involves either the completion of a ministry specialization (12 credits of prescribed and elective credits) or an open track (12 credits of elective credits and mentored ministry approved by a faculty member). Students in either track may choose a concentration (open track students may select as many as two concentrations).

Track or Ministry Specializations

The intent of a ministry specialization is to further equip an individual with the skills, insights, and training experiences necessary for a distinctly defined ministry role. Like the divinity core, the ministry specializations are outcome-driven. Eight to twelve credits of course work reflect a thoughtful blend of required courses and restricted electives designed to impart the character, knowledge, and skill outcomes deemed essential for each particular role.

Expositional Ministry Specialization

The Expositional Ministry specialization seeks to develop advanced skills in those whose ministry will focus especially on the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. Hence advanced studies in the biblical languages and exegetical skills are provided, along with additional training in communicating the fruit of one’s study.

In addition to the M.Div. core outcomes, the Expositional Ministry specialization attempts to achieve specific outcomes:

  • Know the full process of exegesis pertinent to biblical Greek and Hebrew
  • Be able to apply this full exegetical method to the texts of various Old and New Testament genres
  • Be able to develop and deliver expository messages and lessons
Pastoral Ministry Specialization

The Pastoral Ministry specialization is designed as the foundational preparation for those who are called to serve the local church in a pastoral capacity. The specialized courses seek to develop pastors competent to lead a church with integrity, understanding, and skill. Learning is guided by faculty and pastor/mentors in both classroom and church contexts.

In addition to the M.Div. core outcomes, the Pastoral Ministry specialization attempts to achieve specific outcomes:

  • Know the biblical, theological, and ministerial foundations for pastoral ministry including pastoral identity, the nature of pastoral ministry, preaching, soul care, and ministry programs
  • Be able to do basic, tool-assisted exegesis of texts from various Old and New Testament genre with a view to preparing expository messages and lessons
  • Be able to develop and deliver with advanced proficiency expository sermons and lessons from various biblical genres
  • Be able to perform relevant pastoral duties such as administering the ordinances, performing weddings and funerals, doing visitation, dealing with crisis situations, counseling, equipping, and practicing church discipline
  • Be able to deal with issues of leadership and management in the church, such as decision making, team building, board dynamics, conflict management, finances, buildings, legal matters, and the like
Global Leadership Specialization

The Global Leadership specialization is designed to prepare students for effective multicultural ministry in the U.S. and abroad. It provides both the foundation and the expertise for service as a bi-vocational or professional worker in a variety of contexts. It also so serves as an excellent degree program for those preparing for doctoral studies in intercultural leadership.

In addition to the M.Div. core outcomes, the Global Leadership specialization attempts to achieve specific outcomes:

  • Demonstrates self-awareness, social competence, sensitivity to diversity and teamwork in diverse cultural settings
  • Displays effective ministry competence and leadership in a global ministry setting
Open Track

Students may elect to choose up to 12 credits of course work apart from any specialization or concentration. Electives are chosen with faculty advisor guidance based on student goals, prior experiences, talents, and God-given gifts.

Reformed Ministry Specialization

The Seminary offers Master of Divinity students the option to complete a Reformed Specialization that is intentionally designed to meet the needs of students pursuing ordination in a Reformed or Presbyterian denomination. This will involve a combination of Western Seminary courses, transfer credits from an approved seminary of the Reformed tradition, or individualized studies under the supervision of an approved ministry supervisor. Interested students are encouraged to contact the Academic Dean’s Office for further information.

Program Concentrations

The purpose of program concentrations is to provide a focused, intensive preparation in one narrow area of emphasis. They may be ministry-specific, academically-oriented, or a combination of both. Program concentrations consist of at least six credits of course work in one area of emphasis, chosen in consultation with one’s faculty advisor. Courses selected for a program concentration may not come from the core of the M.Div. program. 

Program concentrations:
  • Bible 
  • Evangelism
  • Pastoral Care
  • Chaplaincy
  • Family Ministry
  • Preaching
  • Church Planting
  • Hebrew Theology
  • Intercultural Studies
  • Youth Ministry
  • Worship
  • Church History
  • Leadership Coaching
  • Educational Ministry
  • Greek
  • Pastoral Counseling
  • Pastoral Care to Women
  • Church & Culture
  • Spiritual Formation

Students may choose from among the concentrations listed above, or may propose a new concentration drawn from courses offered by Western Seminary (subject to approval). Appropriate course work from other graduate institutions might also be used in designing a concentration (subject to transfer credit provisions). These must be acceptable graduate-level work, with at least50% of the credits being taken at Western. Students may complete both a ministry specialization and a program concentration, but no more than two hours of credit may overlap and be applied to both. The successful completion of a program concentration is noted on the student’s academic transcript. No course may be applied to more than one concentration. Please consult with the Registrar’s Office for additional information.

Online Campus Students Please Note: The specific concentrations available to Online Campus students will depend on the list of courses currently available in online format and on the student's ability to travel to a physical campus to take courses if needed to complete the concentration.

Biblical Language Options

The Seminary offers Master of Divinity students two options to complete their requirements in the biblical languages: the foundational language track and the functional language track.

The foundational language track equips students with both the foundations of the Greek and Hebrew languages, including the elements of grammar, syntax, and reading, and with the skills of exegesis—the interpretation of the text. Then students will be able to read the Bible as it was written and encounter the depths of meaning that can get lost in translation. Students are introduced to a wide range of language tools, including computer programs. Following this track will lay a foundation for in-depth study in advanced classes. It will give students the strongest foundation as life-long learners to teach and preach the biblical text in an informed manner and/or to pursue advanced studies in which this level of original language competence would be expected. In addition, students in this track will be able to read advanced commentaries with greater understanding, be able to take additional elective courses in the interpretation of various biblical books, and be better equipped to evaluate commentaries, articles and theological books on their own. If the study and the preaching of God’s Word is your main focus of ministry, this is the recommended track to take. Students in the exegetical language track for all specializations except Expositional Ministry enroll in NTS508-509, OTS508-509, and NTS515 or OTS515; those in Expositional Ministry enroll in NTS508-509, OTS508-509, NTS515, OTS515, and an exegetical elective in either language.

For students who choose not to develop the skill to read and translate the Bible in the original languages, the seminary offers the functional language track. It is designed to give students the practical ability to access the original languages through the Bible Works computer program and other contemporary reference tools. Using these tools, the student will learn the essential grammar and syntax of the biblical languages. Students will use the computer to find word meanings, parsing, etc. By the end of the two-semester sequence, students will be able to use original language commentaries with discernment and do many steps of the exegetical process as they prepare sermons and lessons in ministry. Students in the functional language track enroll in NTS501-502, OTS501-502, and an additional BLS elective.

Master of Divinity Curriculum Plan

Spiritual Formation: 6 credits
SFS501 Learning to Love God and Others 2
SFS502 Practicing Prayer and Other Key Disciplines 2
SFS504 Growing into Ethical Maturity 2
Biblical Studies: 16 credits
Please note: Biblical studies, theological studies, hermeneutics and church history courses may be offered in 4-credit or 2-credit formats, depending on the campus location.
DBS506 -or- Learning to Interpret Scripture 4
DBS506X and Learning to Interpret Scripture, Part 1 2
DBS506Y Learning to Interpret Scripture, Part 2 2
BLS501 -or- Interpreting Genesis to Song of Solomon 4
BLS501X and Interpreting Old Testament I: Genesis to 2 Samuel 2
BLS501Y Interpreting the Old Testament II: 1 Kings to Song of Solomon 2
BLS502 -or- Interpreting the Prophets and Gospel 4
BLS502X and Interpreting Old Testament III: The Prophets 2
BLS502Y Interpreting the New Testament I: Gospels 2
BLS503 -or- Interpreting Acts to Revelation 4
BLS503X and Interpreting the New Testament II: Epistles 1 2
BLS503Y Interpreting the New Testament III: Epistles 2 2
Biblical Language Studies: 14 credits
Students should select either the Foundational or Functional Language track and complete all of the coursework for each language within the track selected.
Foundational Language Track
NTS508 Introducing Foundation for Greek Exegesis 3
NTS509 Greek Reading and Syntax 3
OTS508 Introducing Foundation for Hebrew Exegesis 3
OTS509 Hebrew Reading and Syntax 3
Please note: NTS/OTS515 have not yet been produced in an online format nor are they regularly scheduled on all campuses. Online Campus students may request to join these classes via web conference or may take the courses NTS510 Greek Exegesis and OTS510 Hebrew Exegesis as an alternative way to complete the language requirements.
NTS515 -or- Principles of Exegesis 2
OTS515 Principles of Exegesis 2
Functional Language Track
NTS501 Functional Foundations of Greek 3
NTS502 Functional Application of Greek 3
OTS501 Functional Foundations of Hebrew 3
OTS502 Functional Application of Hebrew 3
BLS5XX Biblical Studies elective 2
Theological Studies: 16 credits
THS501 -or- Knowing the Triune God: Theology I 4
THS501X  and Knowing the Triune God: Theology I, Part 1 2
THS501Y Knowing the Triune God: Theology I, Part 2 2
THS502 -or- Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II 4
THS502X  and Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II, Part 1 2
THS502Y Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II, Part 2 2
THS503 Living as the Community of the Spirit: Theology III 2
THS508 Integrating Ministry and Theology 2
Students complete either CHS505, CHS505X and 505Y, or CHS506 and a CHS elective.
CHS505 -or- Wisdom from Church History 4
CHS505X  and Wisdom from Church History, Part 1 2
CHS505Y-or- Wisdom from Church History, Part 2 2
CHS506  and Insight and Inspiration from Church History 2
CHS5XX Church History elective 2
Ministerial Studies: 20 credits
DIS501 Communicating Christ in Culture 2
DMS501 Thinking Theologically About Ministry Leadership 2
DMS502 Introducing Theology and Practice of Worship 2
DMS506 -or- Developing Godly Leadership for the 21st Century 2
PCW513 Women in Leadership 2
EMS505 Growing Disciples Intentionally 2
PTS503 Practicing Evangelism and Apologetics 2
PTS504 Maximizing the Church's Redemptive Influence 2
PTS507 Providing Pastoral Counseling 2
PTS508 Developing Strong Families 2
PTS510 Preparing and Preaching Expository Sermons 2

Specialization or Track: 18 credits (select one)

The 18 credits of coursework in the elective tracks may be taken in one of three ways: 

  1. A ministry specialization (minimum of 8 credits in pastoral, expositional or mission and culture courses
  2. Selecting one or more program concentrations (consisting of a minimum of 6 credits of coursework in a specific discipline)
  3. An integrated sequence of electives selected with faculty guidance

The choice among these three options is based on student goals, talents, God-given gifts and prior experiences.

Open Track (Online, Portland, Sacramento, & San Jose campuses)
Mentored Ministry: 6 credits
MFM500 Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential 2
MFM501 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM502 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM503 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM504 Mentored Field Ministry 1
Note: Check with your program advisor for MFM501-504 details.
Open electives: 12 credits
Expositional Ministry Specialization (Portland, Sacramento, & San Jose campuses)
Mentored Ministry: 6 credits
MFM500 Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential 2
MFM501 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM502 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM503 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM504 Mentored Field Ministry 1
Note: Check with your program advisor for MFM501-504 details.
Exegetical required courses: 4 credits
Note: Students must complete both NTS515 and OTS515 for the Expositional Ministries specialization. This specialization requires students to pursue the Foundational Language track and complete the second Principles of Exegesis course not completed under Biblical Language Studies: Foundational Language Track requirements listed above.
NTS515 -or- Principles of Exegesis 2
OTS515 Principles of Exegesis 2
NTS5XX -or- Exegesis elective 2
OTS5XX Exegesis elective 2
Restricted electives: 2 credits
Choose 2 credits from courses with a NTS, OTS, BLS or THS prefix, or from those with a communications emphasis such as teaching, preaching, etc.
Open electives: 6 credits
Global Leadership Specialization (Portland campus only)
Mentored Ministry: 6 credits
MFM500 Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential 2
GLS531 Field Leadership Mentorship I 1
GLS532 Field Leadership Mentorship II 1
GLS533 Field Leadership Mentorship III 1
GLS534 Field Leadership Mentorship IV 1
Note: Check with your program advisor for GLS531-534 details.
Global Leadership required courses: 8 credits
GLS510 Spiritual Formation and Discipleship in the Global Context 2
GLS515 Theology in the Global Context 2
GLS520 Leadership in the Global Context 2
GLS525 Self-Directed Learning for Global Leadership 2
Open electives: 4 credits
Pastoral Ministry Specialization (see options for campus locations)
Option One (Portland Campus only): Foundational Language Track: 18 credits
Recommended for students electing the exegetical language sequence (NTS508/NTS509; OTS508/OTS509) in the core curriculum
Mentored Ministry: 6 credits
MFM500 Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential 2
MFM501 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM502 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM503 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM504 Mentored Field Ministry 1
Required courses: 10 credits
PTS505 Providing Leadership in Ministry 2
PTS506 Providing Pastoral Care 2
PTS515X Advanced Expository Preaching I 2
NTS5XX Exegesis elective 2
OTS5XX Exegesis elective 2
Open electives: 2 credits
Option Two (Portland Campus only): Functional Language Track: 18 credits
Recommended for students electing the functional language sequence (NTS501/NTS502; OTS501/OTS502)
Mentored Ministry: 6 credits
MFM500 Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential 2
MFM501 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM502 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM503 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM504 Mentored Field Ministry 1
Required courses: 6 credits
PTS505 Providing Leadership in Ministry 2
PTS506 Providing Pastoral Care 2
PTS515X Advanced Expository Preaching I 2
Restricted electives: 2 credits
Select one of the following courses:
PTS515Y Advanced Expository Preaching II 2
EMS546 Advanced Bible Teaching 2
Open electives: 4 credits
Option Three (San Jose and Sacramento Campus only): 18 credits
Mentored Ministry: 6 credits
MFM500 Discovering and Developing Your Ministry Potential 2
MFM501 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM502 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM503 Mentored Field Ministry 1
MFM504 Mentored Field Ministry 1
Required courses: 2 credits
PTS506 Providing Pastoral Care 2
Restricted electives: 8 credits
NTS5XX -or- Exegesis elective 2
OTS5XX Exegesis elective 2
PTS5XX Communication course 2
Choose four additional credits from courses with a PTS or CNS prefix.
Open electives: 2 credits

2016-2017 Academic Catalog