What is the difference between a Master of Divinity and Master of Theological Studies degree?


If you’re considering a graduate degree in theology, you’ve likely come across the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and the Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.). What is the difference between a Master of Divinity and Master of Theological Studies degree? While they might seem similar at first glance, these degrees cater to different aspirations and career paths. Let’s break down the key differences in a straightforward way.

Master of Divinity (M.Div.)

The Master of Divinity is the most common degree for those pursuing a career in ministry. It’s designed to prepare students for leadership roles in churches, religious organizations, and beyond. Here’s what you need to know:

Duration and Structure: The M.Div. program typically takes three to four years of full-time study to complete. It covers a broad range of topics, including biblical studies, theology, church history, pastoral care, and practical ministry skills.

Practical Focus: This degree is heavily oriented towards practical ministry. For example, you’ll take courses in preaching, counseling, worship leadership, and church administration. Many programs also include internships or field education, providing hands-on experience in real-world ministry settings.

Career Pathways: Graduates with an M.Div. are well-prepared for roles such as pastors, chaplains, and spiritual leaders. Most importantly, it’s often a requirement for ordination in many denominations, making it the go-to degree for those looking to lead a congregation. At Anderson University, students can also take part in the Center for Compelling Preaching, which resources pastors as they lead.

Comprehensive Training: The M.Div. is a comprehensive program that combines academic study with practical training, equipping students with the skills necessary for effective ministry.

Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)

The Master of Theological Studies offers a flexible and academically focused degree. For instance, it’s designed for those seeking a deeper understanding of theology without necessarily pursuing ordained ministry. Here’s a closer look:

Duration and Structure: The M.T.S. typically takes two years of full-time study. It offers a broad exploration of theological topics but with more flexibility in course selection compared to the M.Div. At Anderson University, this is a 45- hour seminary program that can be completed at your own pace.

Academic Focus: The M.T.S. program attracts students interested in the academic study of theology with rigorous coursework. The curriculum includes intensive coursework in areas such as: Biblical Studies, Ethics, Theology, and Church History.

Specialization Options: You often have the opportunity to focus on a particular area of interest within theology, allowing for tailored academic pursuits.

Career Pathways: The M.T.S. prepares graduates for a variety of roles, including teaching, research, writing, and positions in non-profit and religious organizations. It’s also an excellent stepping stone for those considering further academic pursuits, such as a Ph.D.

Personal Enrichment: Many students pursue M.T.S. for personal and intellectual enrichment. For example, it’s a great fit for those who want to deepen their theological knowledge without the commitment to ordained ministry. It particularly suits individuals who want to deepen their theological knowledge without committing to ordained ministry. As a result, the program benefits those who seek lifelong learning and a profound understanding of theological concepts.

Choosing the Right Path

When choosing between an M.Div. and an M.T.S., consider your career goals and interests. If you’re passionate about hands-on ministry and leading a congregation, the M.Div. is likely the better fit. It offers the practical skills and comprehensive training needed for effective ministry leadership.

On the other hand, if you’re drawn to academic study, research, or a career in education or non-profit work, the M.T.S. provides a more flexible and in-depth exploration of theology. As a result, it’s a great option for those looking to deepen their understanding of religious studies without the specific focus on pastoral ministry.

In summary, both degrees offer valuable insights and opportunities, but they cater to different professional and personal goals. Whether you’re called to lead a congregation or to explore theological questions in depth, there’s a path that aligns with your aspirations. When you’re ready, contact our admissions team to get started!

Anderson University is on a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service, offering more than 60 undergraduate majors, 30 three-year degrees, 20 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports, alongside adult and graduate programs. The private, liberal arts institution is fully accredited and recognized among top colleges for its business, computer science, cybersecurity, dance, engineering, nursing, and teacher education programs. Anderson University was established in 1917 in Anderson, Indiana, by the Church of God.