Aim and Outcomes
The Master of Divinity (MDiv) is the “gold standard” for ministry degrees. Its aim is to equip God’s Kingdom workers for a wide variety of vocational ministerial roles, including the local church, parachurch organizations, missions, and chaplaincy (e.g. military, hospital).
Academic preparation, Spirit-led character, and theological reflection are all essential aspects of Christian ministry. To this end, a graduate of the MDiv degree will demonstrate the competencies required to:
- evaluate and synthesize interpretive methods and traditions, and apply exegetical method to the interpretation of a biblical text;
- analyze and evaluate the broader heritage of the Christian tradition, the more specific character of particular Christian traditions and communities, the ways these traditions transcend particular social and cultural settings, and the ways they come to unique expressions within such settings;
- evaluate ways in which the church engages in Great Commission application in its life and mission to the world;
- develop the capacities for personal faith, emotional maturity and moral integrity that are requisite to a life of ministerial leadership;
- cultivate the capacities for ministerial leadership within both the congregation and the broader public context.
PBA’s School of Ministry is an evangelical and multi-denominational academic community that provides an innovative seminary education anchored in the areas of Bible, biblical languages, Christian history and theology, philosophy of religion, practical theology, and hands-on ministry. Instructors in the MDiv program teach from a confessional, Christ-centered perspective and affirm the World Evangelical Alliance Statement of Faith. All students are required to abide by the student code of conduct, as discussed in The Navigator (student handbook).
Structure and Delivery
PBA’s MDiv was created from scratch with twenty-first century ministry in view. After consulting with innovative pastors and scholars and reflecting on the gaps in seminary education, it was decided to move beyond the isolated silos of traditional seminary approaches in delivery method and curriculum. The structure of the MDiv thus contains six unique features:
Cohort community: Because we learn best in a thriving community, students benefit from a cohort model, with daytime classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays;
Efficient learning: Because master-level education should build upon a solid foundation, the curriculum features advanced courses while avoiding the repetition of undergraduate introductory courses;
Integrated thinking: Because real-life ministry requires integrated thinking, students study the Bible, Theology, and Practical Theology in paired courses across disciplines;
Flipped classroom: Because learning is best experienced in safe spaces of trial and error, students learn the biblical languages through an engaging flipped classroom approach;
Leadership development: Because practitioners need intentional practice, students develop their leadership skills in three apprenticeships, serving under a ministry leader and gaining over 450 hours of hands-on experience;
Relevant education: Because we believe academic theology belongs to the church, students are able to meet in January for a weeklong intensive course with senior scholars and community pastors/leaders who model the integration of academic study and practical ministry.
The MDiv is strategically designed to be an accelerated two-year program (12–15 credit hours each semester), although students can comfortably complete the degree in three years (9–12 credit hours each semester). The degree is also flexible enough that students currently in full-time ministry are able to travel at a much slower pace and yet still be able to complete the degree in four years (6 credit hours each semester, including Summers).
All students are encouraged to register each semester (Fall/Spring) for the two courses that form an integrated block (6 credit hours). Those moving at an accelerated pace will normally also need to utilize January intensives, Summer course offerings, and two of the evening/weekend integrated blocks. Students who wish to enroll in less than one integrated block per semester should be advised that they will likely encounter scheduling challenges. Because courses are offered on a rotation, students must work closely with their academic advisor to determine the best personalized registration schedule. Students adding an MDiv concentration will want to finalize their degree plan early to ensure they are able to confirm the availability of the required concentration courses.
The admission requirements and process may be found in the relevant Admission section of the Graduate and Pharmacy Catalog.
The MDiv (72 credit hours) degree requirements include an integrated core (36 credit hours), ministry-training courses (15 credit hours), and biblical languages (12 credit hours). The MDiv also requires three elective courses (9 credit hours), at least two of which (6 credit hours) must be taken within the School of Ministry. Those adding an MDiv concentration or studying on one of the MDiv dual degree programs will have slightly modified requirements (see the relevant Concentration or dual degree information in the Graduate and Pharmacy Catalog).
Students with a bachelor’s degree in ministry-related field are given the opportunity to avoid all redundant introductory coursework because PBA’s MDiv begins at the advanced level. At the same time, students without a bachelor’s degree in a ministry-related field are able to gain a solid foundation by completing up to 15 credit hours of undergraduate, prerequisite coursework (developed on a case-by-case basis) in the areas of Spiritual Formation, Bible, History of Christianity, and Systematic Theology. These courses are offered in traditional daytime, evening, online, and synchronous Zoom formats. Students must achieve a final grade of at least a “C” on each required prerequisite course. Any student who wishes to take an MDiv course before completing their required prerequisite coursework must (a) have completed the prerequisite coursework necessary for taking that relevant MDiv course, and (b) be granted approval from the Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs. Students are limited to no more than 6 credit hours of Directed and/or Independent Study coursework over the course of their degree.
Below are the specific degree requirements for the MDiv:
For students wishing to focus in a particular area of study, the MDiv offers several exciting concentrations that require only 3 additional credit hours (for a total of 75 credit hours). Although MDiv concentrations are subject to course availability, PBA offers a wide variety of electives for those wishing to earn the MDiv without a specific concentration.
Below are the current MDiv concentrations:
Master of Divinity, Concentration in Bible Translation (75 credit hours)
Master of Divinity, Concentration in Intercultural Studies (75 credit hours)
Master of Divinity, Concentration in Philosophy of Religion (75 credit hours)
MDiv Dual Degrees
One of the benefits of studying at PBA is that students can earn dual degrees through the School of Ministry’s partnership with other Schools within the University. Dual degrees allow students to complete two degrees simultaneously with fewer credit hours than if completing those degrees separately.
Students wishing to study in one of the dual degree programs must be accepted into each program independently, complete any required prerequisites for each degree, and satisfy the specific academic policies and graduation requirements for each degree. Upon admission, students are able to enroll in courses for both degree programs during the same semester, as time and schedules permit.
Below are the current MDiv dual degrees:
Master of Divinity + Master of Arts, Intercultural Studies Dual Degree (M.Div + MAIS) (93 credit hours; earned separately = 108 credit hours)
Master of Divinity + Master of Arts, Philosophy of Religion Dual Degree (M.Div + MAPR) (93 credit hours; earned separately = 108 credit hours)
Master of Divinity + Master of Business Administration Dual Degree (M.Div. + MBA) (93 credit hours; earned separately = 108 credit hours)
Master of Divinity + Master of Science in Leadership Dual Degree (M.Div + MSL) (93 credit hours dual; earned separately = 108 credit hours)
Master of Divinity + Master of Science, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Dual Degrees (MDiv+MSCMHC) (117 credit hours dual; earned separately = 132 credit hours)
Transfer and Transient Credits
Students accepted into the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program may transfer up to 9 approved credit hours to satisfy elective degree requirements and up to 6 additional approved credit hours in biblical languages to satisfy biblical language requirements. MDiv students may count up to 9 approved transient credit hours to satisfy elective requirements. MDiv students may not, however, exceed a combined total of 15 hours of transfer and transient credits toward the MDiv degree. For additional PBA requirements and policies on transfer and transient credits, see Academic Policies in the Graduate and Pharmacy Catalog.
Ordination and Vocational Licensure
The Master of Divinity is designed to support students wishing to seek denominational ordination or vocational licensing. To accommodate those who need coursework as part of their ordination training or vocational licensing, MDiv students may seek approval to apply transient credit hours earned at another institution in fulfilment of MDiv elective requirements. For requirements and policies on transient credits, see the Transfer and Transient Credits section (see also Academic Policies in the Graduate and Pharmacy Catalog).
Because the MDiv emphasizes the integrated nature of academic study and practical ministry, students will serve in three apprenticeships under an approved supervisor. PBA makes every effort to help those students find meaningful apprenticeship opportunities that will contribute to their growth in their specific callings.
Students preparing for future postgraduate work (e.g. PhD) or wishing to undertake research may choose to write a Master’s Thesis, for a total of 3 credit hours (THL 6001 and THL 6102 ). To enroll in the Thesis courses, students must have (a) completed at least 18 credit hours of degree requirements, (b) an approved faculty supervisor, and (c) submit a formal declaration of intent to write a Master’s Thesis by October 15. Students may not enroll in both Thesis courses in the same semester. Enrollment in the Thesis is subject to the availability of a faculty advisor. Successfully completed theses will be collected and added to the Warren Library’s collection, in accordance to the process set forth in the Master’s Thesis courses (THL 6001 and THL 6102 ).
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
MDiv students have a unique opportunity to develop and integrate theological knowledge and pastoral skills in a wide variety of clinical contexts through Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), including:
- Extended care facilities
- Social-service organizations
- Social-justice organizations
- Congregational settings
The primary focus of learning are the people and relationships affected by the act of giving spiritual care, including both the one who receives and the one who gives that care. Each unit of CPE includes 300 hours of ministry in a clinical or congregational context and 100 hours of reflective work, which is divided between peer group reflection and one-on-one meetings with a CPE educator.
CPE is offered through programs accredited by the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). Although CPE is not required by PBA for any degree program, some denominations require CPE for ordination. Although PBA does not itself offer CPE, the Dean of the School of Ministry can offer assistance in filling out the ACPE application form and guidance in finding a site that best meets the student’s needs. Students can apply to these CPE programs through the ACPE website. Students are financially responsible for CPE and must pay the CPE site directly all program fees (normally between $500–$800). After the CPE evaluation and certificate have been assessed by PBA, student will pay an assessment and administrative fee to PBA of $100 (per PBA credit hour received).
For MDiv students wishing to take CPE, the following is additional academic information:
- 1 completed CPE unit = a maximum of 6 credit hours of transfer credits at PBA (if allowed under PBA’s transfer credit policy) and fulfill up to 3 credit hours of apprenticeships and 3 credit hours of electives;
- Summer CPE units last approximately 10–12 weeks; extended (part-time) units vary from 3–8 months; all require 400 hours;
To receive academic credit at PBA, students must (a) prior to starting CPE, submit a copy of their CPE letter of acceptance and a completed PBA Clinical Pastoral Education Application Form, and (b) after completing CPE, submit a copy of their CPE evaluation and a copy of the CPE unit certificate by the end of the semester in which the CPE is taken.