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5 Considerations for Pursuing an M.Div. Degree Online

What is an M.Div.? The Master of Divinity is the first professional degree of pastors and the standard theological degree. It requires three years of study.  Credit hours to complete the M.Div. range from 76 hrs. to 106 hrs. An M.Div. is unlike other master’s degrees, such as business or nursing, that are built off undergraduate degrees in the same field.

If your undergraduate degree is in Bible or Theology, your learning goals might be better served by completing a Master of Theology or a Master of Ministry Leadership. Otherwise, you may have to repeat courses in Bible and Theology you had in college. Because of accreditation standards, seminaries cannot transfer in undergraduate credit for graduate credit.

Here are some considerations for pursuing an M.Div. Degree Online:

1. What are your goals?

If your desire is to get a broader and deeper understanding of the Bible and theology, the M.Div. is the perfect choice. Master of Divinity degrees require courses in such disciplines as New Testament, Old Testament, Hebrew, Greek, Hermeneutics, Church History, Systematic Theology, Pastoral Ministry, Philosophy, Church Growth, Evangelism, and Christian Education. If your goal is go deeper into theology, you may consider a research degree such as the Master in Theology. If your goal is to serve as a staff member in Christian Education, a Master of Christian Education (MACE), or a Master of Ministry Leadership (MML) may better serve your needs.

If you desire is to teach at a seminary, you would probably need a Ph.D., which requires an M.Div. or MAT. Though some seminaries hire professors with a Doctor of Ministry, the DMin is more common for those that want to remain in the local church or other ministry organizations. The M.Div. is also a requirement for the Doctor of Ministry.

2. Ordination and Pastoral Positions

The M.Div. is a requirement for ordination in many denominations. . Check with your pastor or denomination to determine what the requirements are for ordination.  Many missionary sending organizations require an M.Div.

3. Do you want to be a military chaplain?

Military chaplaincy (and other chaplaincy positions) require an M.Div. Check with the branch of the military to see if they accept degrees earned online..

4. Time Requirement to Complete an M.Div.

While the M.Div. is a 3-year degree, because of work and ministry, students may spend four or more years completing their degree requirements. The beauty of M.Div. Program at Rockbridge is you can complete the M.Div. in 3 years by taking one class per term (six terms a year). Graduate work requires self-discipline and good time management skills.  For every hour of course credit, you should expect to spend 3 times that in preparation and work. For example, a sixteen-week three-hour course requires about 9 hours of work per week. Shorter terms will intensify the amount of study per week. Students at Rockbridge spend about 17 hours a week in their 8 week courses.

5. What is your learning style?

Some students love the engagement and flexibility of online classes. Others prefer a traditional classroom environment. Some students prefer to listen to lectures and take notes, while other prefer to work independently and collaborate with others.  Online M.Div. programs are excellent for those who want flexibility of schedule, collaboration with ministry colleagues, and completing work while serving on a church staff.  If these 5 consideration meet your ministry training needs, an Online M.Div. may be right for you.