Nashville Masters in Theology Graduate Schools & Programs
Masters in Theology Schools are a forum for exploring the divine with other students who are just as passionate about theology as you are. Theology masters programs explore religious beliefs about God, the divine, and the soul, using philosophy, religious texts, and scholarship to do it.
Students might hone research skills, study the writings of great thinkers, and engage in active classroom discussions to hone their theological expertise. These programs may appeal to students of all shapes and sizes, from those who want to support their efforts in ministry or church leadership, to curious students who are passionate about studying theology for its own sake.
Why Earn Your Theology Degree in a Graduate School Setting?
Faith communities are just that—communities. So it makes sense that you’d want to study theology in a community-oriented setting. Masters in theology schools offer exactly that. Earning your theology degree on campus, you could get more than just academics out of the experience. You’d study alongside peers who are just as excited about religion as you are. That means you could learn from their experiences and perspectives, build friendships, and support one another.
That’s not the only reason to earn your masters in a program on campus. There are also the resources you might find there to support your study.
From the research support and academic libraries you could access, to the personal guidance you might lean on in academic and career services. You could build relationships with your peers.
Some programs might even have opportunities for you to get involved and get experience through campus ministry or programs! And best of all, many graduate schools offer flexible scheduling, so you could balance your education with your other obligations, while still becoming part of your campus community.
Types of Masters in
It might seem like theology masters programs are self-explanatory, but there’s actually considerable variety within the category. In many ways, that could be an advantage, because it means you could look for a program that’s tailored for you, rather than settling for something that, while awesome, maybe doesn’t quite fit what you need. To narrow down your choices of schools to earn your master's in theology, consider the different qualities listed below.
- Academic vs. Applied Theology Programs: This is probably the biggest factor that differentiates masters in theology programs. Scholarly programs are exactly that. They focus on developing research and writing skills, analyzing scholarship, teaching in a university theology department, and preparing for future study at the doctoral level. Applied theology programs, on the other hand, focus on how to use theology expertise in the real world, such as in education, ministry, in pastoral roles, etc. Sometimes, applied theology programs might look toward a specific type of career or vocation, whereas others might be designed more broadly.
- Previous Experience: Some programs may be designed for experienced students. That could mean a few different things: a previous degree in theology or religious studies, a religious-oriented career, or even both. Other programs might be oriented toward students with unrelated degrees or careers. Choosing a program appropriate to your overall knowledge and experience could help ensure that your classes approach the material in a way that works for you.
- Religious Tradition: Often, theology programs start with some kind of presumption of belief in the divine. However, some programs take that a little further, anchored in a specific faith or religious tradition. Some schools may even require that students affirm their commitment to that tradition or certain facets of it in order to apply. This could be useful, especially if you are interested in working within your church—but it’s not the only option. Some theology programs may be broader, or even secular in nature, allowing you to learn about a larger variety of perspectives.
Types of Theology Masters Degrees
So you’ve decided whether you want to attend an applied or academic theology program. You’ve evaluated your level of experience, and figured out whether you would prefer a program within your own faith tradition or not. The next step is to choose the type of degree you’d like to earn. Theology masters programs may offer any of a variety of specific types of masters degrees. Each of these may have unique qualities and advantages for different students. Several examples are described below.
- MA Theological Studies (MATS): These programs may be either scholarly or applied—or even support both objectives. They’re fairly broad, and are often designed to support a wide range of student personal and vocational goals. Students might aspire to anything from pastoral leadership to continued study. The prerequisites may vary on an individual basis, and may not always require students to have prior experience.
- Master of Divinity (MDiv): These degree programs are often found at seminary schools and schools of divinity. However, some university theology departments may also offer this option. Master of Divinity programs are often applied or practice-based. Often, they’re designed to support one’s role in church leadership, using theological expertise to guide members of a congregation in their spiritual lives. Because they tend to be professionally-oriented, the prerequisites for enrolling in a program may include related education or professional experience requirements.
- Master of Theological Studies (MTS): Unlike the similar-sounding MATS programs, MTS programs are typically academic in nature. In addition to general theology expertise, these programs typically hone research and writing skills, to help students prepare for future study at the doctoral level.
- Master of Theology (Th.M): Master of Theology programs are sometimes offered as a post-masters degree. As such, some programs may require a previous theology masters degree as a prerequisite. Th.M programs are often scholarly, focused on honing research skills and experience. Some programs are also designed to be terminal, helping students move into professional roles—such as teaching undergraduate theology courses—rather than looking specifically toward doctoral programs.
- Master of Sacred Theology (STM): As with the Master of Theology, STM programs are also sometimes treated as post-masters programs, with prerequisites that include prior theology masters education. STM programs may vary depending on the faith tradition of the school offering the degree program. (In fact, some Roman Catholic universities may issue STMs as honorary degrees in the Dominican order, in addition to offering it as a scholarly program.) STM programs tend to be academic in nature, and focus on building up one’s research repertoire in preparation for study at the doctoral level.
Remember, while the above descriptions may apply to many programs, not all schools may match in every way. Some schools offer options not listed here, or construct their theology masters programs differently from what is described. If you have specific preferences related to the above, make sure you follow up with the schools you’re considering to better understand how their programs are constructed.
Search for Masters in Theology Schools
Find graduate schools to earn your masters degree in theology! GradSchools.com can help you get started. In fact, we’ve collected Sponsored Program Listings right here for that purpose. Simply review the listed programs, and click on the names of any that sound like they might be a good match, to read more or get in touch. Then you can request more information, schedule a campus visit or interview, and even start your application!
- Nashville, GANashville, GA
Vanderbilt Divinity School is a liberal ecumenical school of theology situated in the middle of a small and accessible university of very high quality. We are an ecumenical school. Our faculty includes Protestants, Catholics, and Jews and our students c...