Master of Divinity

The Master of Divinity (MDiv) is the basic professional degree required for ordination in most denominations.

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Because of the many specializations in ministry today, the MDiv program is flexible and seeks to prepare persons for a number of ministry vocations, including pastoral ministry in a local congregation; missions; teaching; leadership in denominational, social service, and community agencies; and chaplaincy in a college, hospital, or military setting. The MDiv is required preparation for those intending to pursue the Doctor of Ministry degree sometime in the future and is considered the best preparation for those who plan to do PhD work with the goal of teaching in a theological seminary.

Goals of the Master of Divinity Program

The goals of the MDiv program are to prepare men and women for effective, culturally relevant ministry through academic study, ministerial training, and spiritual and professional formation. Specifically, the MDiv is designed to enable students to:

  • Develop a thorough and critical understanding of Christian heritage (Bible, Theology, Church History, and Ethics).
  • Acquire an understanding of the social structures and cultural realities within which Christian institutions live and carry out their missions.
  • Exercise the various skills of ministry under the supervision of trained personnel and subject to critical reflection with scholars of religious heritage as well as the behavioral sciences.
  • Cultivate experiences through which students may grow in those qualities essential for the practice of ministry: spiritual and personal maturity, leadership, a vital personal faith, and deepening commitment to the practice of ministry.

Description of the Master of Divinity Degree

The MDiv degree consists of 108 hours and can be completed in three years of full-time study (i.e., four courses per term), though many students find that four years is a more reasonable expectation, given the complexities of their lives and schedules. The program consists of four parts.

Christian Heritage – 16 courses are required in Christian Heritage. Christian ministry arises from solid biblical, historical, theological, and ethical foundations. Therefore, MDiv students take an introductory-level Bible course; three required courses and an elective course in Old Testament and in New Testament; three required courses in Theology and in Church History; and an Ethics course. These courses should be taken at Northern Seminary with a minimum grade of C- in order to count toward graduation requirements.

Christian Ministry – 11 or 12 courses are required in Christian Ministry (see the summary below for details). Since seminary graduates pursue many different ministry opportunities, 22 students are free to select their own courses in a number of ministry areas which are grouped in three main categories: the Community of God Gathered, the Community of God in Mission, and the Community of God in Formation.

Supervised Ministry and Assessment – 4 courses in supervised ministry are required. In the first year, students complete Formation for Christian Ministry. In the second year, students complete a two-quarter supervised internship; and in the last year, they enroll in Integrative Seminar in which they demonstrate the ability to integrate biblical, theological, historical, and ethical resources with ministry skills in relevant ministry situations. Each summer students meet with their Enrollment Advisor and a member of the Supervised Ministry team in order to review and update learning and growth goals and to receive ongoing mentoring support.

Electives – students may choose 4 or 5 elective courses in areas of interest.


During the first quarter of study students are assigned a personal Enrollment Advisor who assists the student with assimilation to seminary life and provides academic counsel from the beginning of seminary studies through to graduation.

Students are required to complete the MDiv within seven years. Extensions must be approved by the faculty. A minimum cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.0 is required to graduate.

Students may transfer up to 72 hours of course work earned at another ATS-accredited theological institution; but they must take a minimum of 36 hours with Northern faculty at the Lombard campus. Online courses and courses taken at one of Northern’s satellite locations do not count toward the required number of courses to be taken at the Lombard campus. The Registrar will officially determine the number of hours of transfer credit when the student has been admitted to the seminary and has provided official transcripts of the work for which he or she is requesting transfer credit.

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Dual-Degree Option

Students can enroll concurrently in the MDiv and an academic MA, either the Master of Arts (New Testament) or the Master of Arts (Theology & Mission). A maximum of 27 quarter hours may count towards both degrees, resulting in a total number of 138 credit hours for both degrees. This dual degree option has a reduced per-credit tuition rate if the student takes the MA courses in the cohort sequence.


Summary of MDiv Degree Requirements

Christian Heritage (16 courses/48 hours)

  • IN 301 Exploring the Bible (3 hours)
  • OT 301 The Pentateuch (3 hours)
  • OT 302 The Former Prophets (3 hours)
  • OT 458 Old Testament Theology (3 hours)
  • OT Elective (3 hours)
  • NT 301 Jesus and the Gospels (3 hours)
  • NT 302 Paul’s Letters and Acts (3 hours)
  • NT 303 Letters to the Early Churches (3 hours)
  • NT Elective (3 hours)
  • CH 301 Early/Medieval Christianity (3 hours)
  • CH 302 Reformation/Modern Christianity (3 hours)
  • CH 407 History of American Religion (3 hours)
  • TH 301 Christian Theology I (3 hours)
  • TH 302 Christian Theology II (3 hours)
  • TH 303 Theology of Church and Culture (3 hours)
  • Ethics Course* (3 hours)

Christian Ministry (11-12 courses/33-36 hours)

  • Worship Course (3 hours)
  • Educational Ministry Course (3 hours)
  • Homiletics (2 courses) (6 hours)
  • Congregational Life Course** (3 hours)
  • Missions/Evangelism Course (3 hours)
  • Church and Community Course (3 hours)
  • Pastoral Care Course (3 hours)
  • Pastoral Care Elective (3 hours)
  • Spirituality Course (3 hours)
  • Clinical Pastoral Education or equivalent (3-6 hours)

Supervised Ministry (4 courses/12 hours)

  • SM 301 Formation for Christian Ministry 3*** (3 hours)
  • SM 401 Internship I (3 hours)
  • SM 402 Internship II (3 hours)
  • SM 501 Integrative Seminar (3 hours)
  • General Electives (4-5 courses/12-15 hours) (12-15 hours)

Total Hours Required: 108 credit hours

* Pastoral Ethics may be required for ABC ordination
** IN 302 Baptist Polity and History is required for ABC ordination
*** Required during the first quarter of study
 

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