The M.Div., a three-year degree program, prepares individuals for ordained ministry in the Church and for vocations in Pastoral, teaching, agency, governing body, or ecumenical staff ministries as well as ministries of social service and chaplaincy.
The M.Div. degree must be completed within six years of matriculation into the program. Students will plan their course of studies with an advisor according to guidelines outlined in the Master's Level Campus Life Handbook.
Requirements for the Degree
Pilgrimage in Faithfulness (PIF)
All masters level students must successfully complete the course titled Pilgrimage in Faithfulness. PIF is an integrative course designed around major themes and traditions in Christian life, worship, and witness through the ages and in today’s world. The course brings the entire entering class together with a team of faculty for plenary and small group meetings, a common meal, and worship. It meets every Tuesday during the fall semester from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Leadership Amidst Diversity
Sexual Misconduct Workshop Requirement
All Masters level students are required to take a six-hour workshop on preventing clergy sexual misconduct before graduation. Students in the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Ministry programs must take the workshop before beginning field studies.
The Master of Divinity degree is awarded for successful completion of an approved 27-unit course of studies which include academic, field-based, and integrative studies in the fields of Bible, History, Theology and Ethics, Ministry, and three Practica.
Required Courses: Prerequisites and Distribution
Nine courses at the introductory level are required and prerequisite to most other courses in their fields:
- I-301 Pilgrimage in Faithfulness
- I-302 Leadership Amidst Diversity
- B-300 Introduction to Biblical Studies
- H-300/301 History Survey I / II
- T-300 Introduction to Christian Theology
- E-300 Introduction to Christian Ethics
- MIN-404/405 Reflection on Ministry
These courses include methods and the conceptual language and range of content basic to their fields. They are foundational for theological education at McCormick. Students with sufficient background in any of these fields may move directly to more advanced courses, following an assessment of their previous study by the Associate Dean for Student Academics and/or teaching faculty of the field.
The distribution of courses required for the M. Div. degree is as follows:
- Integrative Courses: two courses, I-301 and I301.
- Biblical Studies: five courses, including B300 and at least two courses each in Old Testament and New Testament. Hebrew Exegesis I and II and Greek Exegesis I and II may only be counted as free electives, not as biblical studies requirements.
- Church History: three courses, including H300 and H301.
- Theology: three courses, including T300.
- Christian Ethics: one course, E300.
- Ministries: six courses, including MIN404 and MIN405.
- Free Electives: seven courses.
Evening Division Program
The Evening Division Program provides theological education for women and men who are only able to enroll in classes during the late afternoon and evening. For students admitted to the program, the seminary provides a course of study that makes it possible to complete the Master of Divinity degree in five years by taking a prescribed set of courses each academic year. Degree requirements are the same for Evening Division students as for other students in the Master of Divinity program. For further information, please contact the Admissions Office.
Biblical Exegesis in the Original Languages
McCormick Theological Seminary is committed to teaching exegetical skills based on the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible. Because such skills must be demonstrated to pass the Standard Ordination Examination in Biblical Exegesis given by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the two double courses in Hebrew and Greek are considered a normal part of the M.Div. program for Presbyterian students. McCormick maintains that the full, double-course sequence in each language is needed to provide a foundation for exegetical competency. No grade or credit is recorded in either Hebrew or Greek exegesis until the full sequence in each language is completed. Please note, however, that the language courses are not required for the M.Div. degree.
Experiential Education and Field Studies
The Experiential Education and Field Studies Program is designed to provide an integrative experience of study and reflection on the theology and practice of ministry. Students engaged in experiential education and field studies are in a process of spiritual, academic, personal, and professional formation while simultaneously developing, practicing, and refining the arts and skills of ministry.
A two-semester indivisible field studies sequence is required of all M.Div. students for graduation. One unit of credit is granted for each semester for a total of two credits. It is expected that all M.Div. students will satisfy the requirement in one of three ways:
- Participate in one year of ministry under supervision within an approved agency or parish setting while enrolled in MIN-404/MIN-405 Reflection on the Practice of Ministry; or
- Receive transfer or equivalency credit from another accredited seminary or theological education program upon approval from the Associate Dean for Student Academics, or
- Persons currently engaged in full-time Christian ministry will enroll in MIN-404/MIN-405 Reflection on the Practice of Ministry and be assigned a mentoring pastor for reflection, guidance, and evaluation.
Ordinarily, students who are in good standing register for field studies upon the completion of nine units.
Some students may choose to add a fourth year to their program by taking an internship. This choice is encouraged by the Seminary. Yearlong placements must be approved by the Director of Experiential Education and Field Studies for students who wish to immerse themselves, as part of their theological education, in the life of a congregation, social agency, or other expression of the church’s life. Placements can be found overseas as well as in North America.
Internships are generally taken between the middler and senior years, though some students choose a postgraduate internship before seeking full-time employment. Credit will be awarded only in conjunction with an approved independent study contract to be developed in consultation with the Office of Experiential Education and Field Studies and approved by the Associate Dean for Student Academics.
The major purpose of the Practica offered each year is to provide “how to” and “hands on” instruction in various areas of ministry that are not ordinarily part of regularly scheduled course offerings. The Practica meet for one day, generally on Friday afternoon/ evening and all day Saturday (12 hours). Although Practica are noncredit bearing, they are listed on the transcript. M.Div. students are required to complete three Practica prior to receiving the degree, one of which must be “Tending the Spiritual Life of Religious Leaders.” Practica topics are available by contacting the Registrar.
Readiness for Ministry
The award of the Master of Divinity degree is a statement by the Seminary that the graduate is educationally ready to consider and be considered by a presbytery or other church authority for ordination. The Seminary does not prejudge the conclusion that should be reached, nor does it substitute its judgment for that of the ordaining body. The faculty’s judgment of each student’s progress toward the degree and its final decision as to whether to recommend the student favorably to the Board of Trustees is based upon the satisfactory completion of educational requirements.
Candidates for the degree are cautioned that fulfillment of the formal academic requirements is a necessary but not sufficient condition for graduation. The ability of persons to communicate with and relate effectively to peers and faculty, to act responsibly and with integrity as a member of the community, and to demonstrate capacity for ministry in field education settings are criteria which are important to the faculty in determining readiness for ministry.
Readiness for ministry implies achievement in developing a body of knowledge, relevant skills, and a faithful and coherent set of values in relation to areas of ministry required for effective practice. The five ministry areas are preaching, caregiving, education, administration, and public ministry. Education for those ministry areas takes place in field sites, internships, and participation in churches and related organizations as well as in courses, library work, practica, and workshops. The recognition of student achievement in these various areas is to be jointly done by seminary faculty, field faculty, lay ministry team members, and the student.
Applicants who intend to seek ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ordinarily should come under the care of a presbytery prior to entering the Seminary. If this is not possible, the applicant will plan to come under care of a presbytery by the conclusion of nine full courses. Students from other denominations are advised to sustain appropriate relationships with their governing bodies.
Dual Competency Programs
The Seminary, in conjunction with other Chicago area seminaries, has developed a program whereby students in the M.Div. program may enroll in an approved master degree program in a coordinate discipline such as social work. These opportunities for dual competency degrees provide an enriched preparation for ministry and a coordinate field. Students who wish to study for the McCormick M.Div. as part of the dual competency program must indicate that desire during the admission process and receive written approval for their proposed programs from the Associate Dean for Student Academics within the first year of the M.Div.
The Hyde Park Cluster of Theological Schools cooperates in some aspects of the dual competency program as they pertain to the School of Social Service Administration of the University of Chicago. McCormick M.Div. students may propose dual competency programs in other schools in the Chicago area such as The Loyola School of Social Work, The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University or in areas other than those in which the Seminary presently maintains regular relations. All dual competency degree programs must be approved by the Associate Dean for Student Academics before making application to the coordinate masters degree program.
The dual competency program may take one of several configurations, such as two years at McCormick, followed by two years of work in a coordinate field, or one year at McCormick, two years in the coordinate field, and a final year at McCormick. Each student’s program is individually designed in consultation with the Associate Dean for Student Academics and her or his faculty advisor. Ordinarily, up to nine units of study may be transferred from the coordinate program toward the Master of Divinity degree.
Students in the dual competency program will be expected to complete a field studies placement in conjunction with M-404/405 as part of the M.Div. program. Students must register for the noncredit bearing Dual Competency Seminar during the two years of study in the coordinate field. This seminar will be a joint offering of the Hyde Park Cluster of Seminaries.
Coordinated Program with the Divinity School, University of Chicago
The Divinity School of The University of Chicago and McCormick Theological Seminary offer a coordinated program which allows McCormick M.Div. students to take courses at the University and facilitates application to the University’s Ph.D. program. A McCormick M.Div. student who wishes to pursue this program must do the following:
- Receive the written endorsement of the McCormick Associate Dean for Student Academics as a candidate for the program (this endorsement usually is secured during the student’s first year of study, and may be secured no later than the January term of the second year of study);
- Complete at least three courses offered by the area in which the student will concentrate Ph.D. study by the autumn quarter (on the University of Chicago calendar) of the third year.
The student who does this may then apply to the Ph.D. program by submitting a course of study petition, a graded paper, and a transcript during the winter quarter (on the U. of C. calendar) of the third year. The format and nature of the course of study petition are described in the Divinity School’s Guidelines of the Committee on Degrees. Copies are available in the Divinity School Dean of Students Office (Swift 104).