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New Funding Structure for Masters Programs

The Divinity School is making a significant new investment in funding for its Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Divinity (MDiv) programs. This new funding comes alongside the major new financial support recently announced for the Divinity School’s doctoral programs. 

“Our programs attract exceptional students. These new funding initiatives represent a further step in the School’s commitment to provide the best possible support for their endeavors,” said David Nirenberg, Dean of the Divinity School. 

In the Master of Arts program at the University of Chicago Divinity School, students explore the history, theology, beliefs, and languages of world religions with expert scholars, have access to the depth and breadth of UChicago resources, and interact with students from across the University. Students acquire the skills to develop a research agenda for doctoral studies; some go on to further study while others choose nonacademic paths. 

“The MA and PhD programs in the Divinity School are integrally tied to each other,” said Professor Jeffrey Stackert, Director of MA Studies in the Divinity School. “This new support will help us continue to attract the best MA students, many of whom will go on to doctoral work in the Divinity School or in other outstanding Religious Studies programs around the world. The new funding will also support MA students seeking to bring informed perspectives on religion to careers in education, government, publishing, non-profit workand more.” 

The Divinity School’s multi-religious Master of Divinity program, a three-year professional degree, offers students a rich blend of scholarly study in their religious tradition(s) alongside their MA and PhD peers, and experiential learning in congregations and other communities of practice, chaplaincy, faith-based non-profits, and other emerging forms of public spiritual engagement. Dual degree programs with social work, public policy and law enlarge MDiv students’ scope; students engage other disciplines across the University, and can enroll in courses in neighboring seminaries as well. 

“Our MDiv program’s unique location in a School that educates students for scholarship and teaching as well as ministry, in the midst of a world-class research university and in the heart of a cosmopolitan urban center, offers powerful training for leadership in a rapidly evolving religious landscape,” observed Professor Cynthia Lindner, Director of Ministry Studies. “This enhanced funding will provide needed support for students who are eager to bring the wisdom of religious traditions and practices to the complex challenges of human life and community in our time.” 

The new funding committed to the MA program includes a reduction in the tuition rate as well as significant scholarship and stipend support. Tuition for the Divinity School’s Master of Divinity program in public religious leadership has remained frozen for two years already; new funding this year represents a 25% increase in stipended scholarships for the incoming class. Over 90% of Divinity School students receive tuition aid. 

“Investing in students helps the Divinity School remain one of the world’s top institutions for the academic study of religion,” said Josh Feigelson, Dean of Students in the Divinity School. “We seek the best applicants for our programs across the board, and to that end we have increased the amount of aid we are giving to students by roughly a third.” 

Funding improvements are one outcome of an ongoing, comprehensive evaluation of master’s education in the Divinity School. This initiative promises continued enhancements to both the academic and vocational aspects of the master’s programs and to students’ experience in them. 

Changes will become effective as of summer quarter 2019; specific information for students, current and prospective, is available from the Office of the Dean of Students.