Seminary Approves New M.Div.
The Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS) faculty and board of trustees have approved a revamped master of divinity (M.Div.) degree, scheduled to launch for in-person and hybrid learning in fall 2022.
The updated program, designed to be completed in as few as three years inperson or four years for distance-learning students, has been reduced from 101 to 87 credits. Distance-learning students will complete a one-week residency on campus each semester.
“We spent nearly two years in study with the goal of retaining the center of our Reformed theological perspective and reputation of academic excellence while seeking to serve more effectively various students who have different contexts and vocational callings,” said Jul Medenblik, CTS president.
The main curricular changes to the M.Div. include renewed program goals and more effective strategies for teaching skills, such as preaching and using biblical languages to interpret Scripture.
“All of these changes look at the whole person and their goals for ministry in light of God’s calling,” Medenblik said. “We have a shared core of rich learning for all M.Div. students, but this updated curriculum will further honor students’ unique paths and diverse ministry contexts.”
CTS seeks to form M.Div. graduates who deeply consider these questions:
• What is our ministry context?
• How does the gospel engage our context?
• What is God calling us to in this context?
• What is the person and role of a servant leader in this context?
These four updated program questions served as the guiding goals in forming the revamped curriculum.
Since M.Div. students have diverse vocational interests and therefore different goals when learning biblical languages, the new curriculum offers two tracks of biblical language study.
“Some students have the goal of learning ancient languages in-depth,” said Gary Burge, CTS dean of faculty. “The language-learning pedagogy that CTS has been using for years will remain to help these students to achieve their goal.”
This pedagogical track includes 6 credits of Hebrew and 6 credits of Greek and is suited for students who wish to do advanced graduate work or be a ministry leader who can engage the original languages of Scripture with relatively little assistance from digital resources.
“For students who want to do grammatical analysis of the original languages so that they can gain exegetical insights for preaching or other types of ministry, a different pedagogy can help students achieve this goal—a pedagogy that spends less time on memorization of vocabulary and of parsing paradigms and that spends more time on strategic use of electronic language tools,” said Burge.
The second pedagogical track requires 3 credits of grammar tools for Hebrew and 3 credits of grammar tools for Greek. Each course provides an introduction to grammar and digital resources so that students are prepared to use the languages regularly in ministry.
The new M.Div. curriculum also offers customized preaching requirements for each student, contrasting the former one-size-fits-all approach in which all students take the same courses.
“Some entering students have been preaching for years or have had an excellent preaching mentor,” said Burge. “Some students want an M.Div. degree but have no interest in preaching regularly. They perhaps want to do parachurch work or serve as a hospital chaplain.”
“This new method of educating for preaching takes into account students’ diverse gifts and their vocational intentions, customizes training according to students’ individual needs, requires more evaluated sermons in ministry settings, and achieves curricular preaching goals with fewer credits,” said Burge.
Seasoned and emerging ministry professionals interested in applying to the new M.Div. program may visit calvinseminary.edu/newmdiv to learn more.