Can you offer a basic outline of the MDiv curriculum?
The MDiv curriculum consists of 28 courses in the scriptures, histories, and thought of a religious tradition with field education and the opportunity to pursue elective coursework toward deep expertise in any of the Divinity School's eleven areas of study. Required courses include Introduction to the Study of Religion, Theology in the Public Square, the first-year Ministry Colloquium, and the second-year Ministry Practicum. Students likewise complete a language requirement (in a language relevant to their tradition) and two formal field education placements (in addition to the field education component of the first-year Colloquium). For a comprehensive accounting of the degree requirements, including a typical timeline, consult the Ministry Program Handbook.
Will I have space in my schedule to take elective coursework?
Yes. Many of the required courses in the MDiv program take the form of distribution requirements (e.g. "at least one course from the following areas of study…"), and MDiv students have space in their programs for unrestricted electives as well. Many use this space to pursue coursework required for ordination in their traditions, and others make use of the Divinity School’s strong relationships with other departments and schools of the University to take courses in, e.g., social work, business administration, medicine, public policy, and many disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences divisions.
What kind/amount of language work will I do as part of the MDiv curriculum?
Students acquire basic skills in Biblical Hebrew, New Testament Greek, Quranic Arabic, or another scriptural language relevant to their tradition. To do so, students usually take two quarters of grammar instruction and one quarter of exegesis during their first year of study.
What kind of advising do MDiv students receive?
MDiv students have a primary faculty advisor and are also in regular conversation with the directors of the Ministry Program, Professors Lindner and Sun, about coursework, vocational discernment, and professional development—both as part of the programs colloquia and in formal and informal consultations. Many students likewise consult with additional members of the faculty in areas of study in which they do concentrated coursework.
I have a particular vocational interest in ____________________ (e.g. youth ministry, chaplaincy, faith-based advocacy). Does the Divinity School’s MDiv program have a track for that?
The Ministry Program does not stipulate particular ministerial tracks, but most fields of study are possible in the Divinity School. Rather than asking students, “Which of the following tracks do you wish to pursue?” we ask, “What is your conception of ministry, and how can we think toward a program of study that will prepare you for the work of that ministry?”
I know that the MDiv degree originates in a Christian context, but I am not a Christian. Does the Divinity School accept MDiv students from non-Christian faith traditions? And how is the program different for non-Christian students?
The Divinity School does accept MDiv students from non-Christian traditions, and this is a growing edge of the program. Through careful conversation and discernment, students develop a program of study that makes sense in the context of their traditions, making use of the breadth of expertise amongst the School’s faculty. As an example, students from Christian traditions would normally take introductory courses in Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Theology, but a Muslim student might instead pursue parallel coursework in the Islamic Studies area.
Does the MDiv offer online coursework and distance learning opportunities?
No. The Divinity School’s MDiv program functions on a cohort model and is committed to the notion that regular, probing conversation on the practice and exigencies of ministry and its vocations in seminar-style conversation is essential to the formation of successful public religious leaders.
I’m interested in public religious leadership in an international context; what resources does the Divinity School have to support students like me?
The Divinity School supports students like you through its International Ministry Study Grant program. For more information, including profiles of students’ prior experiences, visit https://divinity.uchicago.edu/studying-ministry-abroad.
I’ve heard that the Divinity School’s MDiv program is far more academic than practical, and I’m worried that I won’t graduate with enough hands-on experience. What should I know?
Divinity School students engage in more field education than do students in many programs elsewhere, and do so in the context of an MDiv curriculum that remains demanding, intensive, and academically rigorous. MDiv students at UChicago participate in field education experiences during all three years of residence. In the first year, students engage in a ministry of presence at sites like Chicago’s Night Ministry and the Cook County Jail chaplaincy program. During the second year, students complete a year-long congregational placement, and during the third year students complete an elective field education experience (often times a chaplaincy internship or an international ministry experience). Perhaps most importantly, each MDiv cohort is small, twelve to fifteen students, so the Ministry Program directors offer support, supervision, and space for reflection on a finely tailored basis. To learn more about the role of field education in the MDiv curriculum, please feel welcome to reach out to the Divinity School's Director of Field Education and Community Engagement, Wesley Sun, at .