Master's of Divinity Vs Master's of Theology

This article covers the similarities and differences between Master of Divinity (Mdiv) and Master of Theology (MAT) degree programs, two advanced degrees that prepare students for careers in religious study, ministry, and administration. Schools offering Chaplaincy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Comparing Master's of Divinity to Master's of Theology Programs

Master's of Divinity (Mdiv)

A Master's of Divinity is a 3-year program that qualifies graduates to work as pastors, ministers, chaplains, missionaries and religious leaders in a variety of contexts. Students balance academically oriented courses about interpreting the Bible, church history, and pastoral theology with ministry centered classes like church leadership, discipleship, and worship practices. Because this is a practice-focused degree, students learn about a diverse range of issues that affect modern church communities like the arts and the church, diversity and inclusion, and feminism and gender studies in theology. While some universities do offer 100% online programs, most universities require students to complement their academic classes with a substantial commitment to hands-on ministry work in their local community. Graduates can go on to work in diverse settings as pastors in churches, Christian counselors, or chaplains in schools, the military, or prisons.

Masters of Theology (ThM)

A Master of Theology degree is a one to one-and-a-half year program designed to build upon the Mdiv degree. In a Master of Theology program, students dive deeper in the study of a niche theological topic of their choice. These programs are highly-customized to each student's needs and research interests and are more academic in scope than the Master of Divinity degree. Most ThM programs require advanced study of a biblical language like Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic. Common specializations within the program include Old or New Testament studies, church history, religion and society, or practical theology. To graduate students must either take a comprehensive exam or write and defend an original research thesis.

Degree Program Program Length Program Admission Requirements Related Careers
Master of Divinity (Mdiv) 3 years Undergraduate degree
Statement of Calling
Pastor
Chaplain
Master of Theology (ThM) 1-1.5 yearsMaster of Divinity DegreeReligious Scholar
Theologian

Career Paths for Graduates with a Master's Degree in Theology or Divinity

Chaplain

Chaplains provide religious comfort and care for patients in hospitals and hospices, children in religiously affiliated schools, soldiers in the military, inmates and personnel in prisons and individuals facing other difficult settings. Because chaplains must have a strong background in their faith to minister to others, they are often expected to have at least an Mdiv degree. Their daily responsibilities vary dramatically based on the setting in which they choose to work.

Pastor

An Mdiv degree is the basic program that prepares students to take positions as pastors, youth pastors and ministers in their church or religious institution. The pastor is responsible for leading worship and caring for the spiritual health of his or her congregation. While some pastors focus on preparing and delivering sermons, their responsibilities may also include developing youth or community outreach programs, teaching Sunday school classes, and providing counsel to church members.

Church Director

Rather than lead worship or deliver sermons, church directors hold a more hidden (but often just as important) role within churches and religious communities. A church director is responsible for developing, directing and overseeing church outreach programs. While a master's degree is not necessary, advanced understanding of ministry practice and theology is a great way to remain competitive.

Theology Teacher

Because ThM degrees provide advanced training in theology, biblical languages and religious academics, graduates are prepared to teach secondary and post secondary religion classes. Theology teachers work in private Christian high schools and non-secular colleges. They teach basic theology and help young people grapple with life's biggest questions. They may also complement their teaching duties by pursuing academic writing and research projects.

Christian Counselor

Many churches provide theologically backed Christian counselling for youth, couples, addicts and other church members navigating difficulties in their Christian life. An advanced degree in theology, particularly a ThM with a specialization in counseling, prepares graduates to undertake this challenging but rewarding career. Counselors connect struggling church members to appropriate resources, provide guidance and ensure their safety and well-being.

Job TitleAverage Salary (2019)*Projected growth (2018-28)**
Chaplain $49,6444-6% (for clergy)
Pastor$49,7694-6% (for clergy)
Ministry Director$40,8124-6%
Christian Counselor$40,00011%
Theology Teacher$45,5097-10%

Source: *Payscale.com, **US Bureau of Labor and Statistics

Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees are designed for students who want to pursue careers as religious leaders, ministers and scholars. Depending on the track students choose to take, graduates can go on to pursue careers working with people from every walk of life.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Liberty University

    Liberty University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Liberty University:

    • Master

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  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Master

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  • World Mission University

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Los Angeles
  • Winebrenner Theological Seminary

    Campus Locations:

    • Ohio: Findlay
  • Westminster Theological Seminary in California

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Escondido
  • Westminster Theological Seminary

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Glenside
  • Western Seminary

    Campus Locations:

    • Oregon: Portland
  • Yale University

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: New Haven
  • Wesley Theological Seminary

    Campus Locations:

    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington