Masters of Divinity vs. Masters of Theology: What’s the Difference?

Selecting a degree path is both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. Students enter a program with an eye towards their future career choice, and for those looking at entering a life of active ministry, they want to begin that journey sooner rather than later. As such, students might be wondering about the Masters of Divinity vs. Masters of Theology debate, and which of those two degrees should mark the start of an academic career.  

As they say, “knowledge is power,” so prospective students should begin with an understanding of the overall educational hierarchy of theocratic knowledge. Grounded with this information, an understanding of the differences between the Masters of Divinity degree (MDiv) and Masters of Theology (ThM) degrees become clear.

Climbing the Academic Ladder of Success

All programs have an academic ladder of success established to provide the knowledge that students need to succeed in their chosen career path. That is especially true of those seeking a life dedicated to pastoral care and active ministry. Degree programs layer the skills and knowledge needed to succeed academically and professionally in a hierarchy of basic and advanced degrees.

While the sheer number of Christian denominations operating in the United States defies a single theological approach, certain Christian benchmarks exist across the spectrum like detailed studies of both the Old Testament and New Testament, as well as biblical interpretation, Evangelism, spiritual development, missions, and applied discipleship.

For the majority of established Christian denominations across North America, the MDiv degree is the gateway degree for entering a career in Christian fellowship.

The Masters of Divinity (M.Div.)

Of the Masters of Divinity vs. Theology debate, the Master of Divinity is the most common seminary degree, comparable to the Bachelor of Arts within secular educational institutions. This makes the degree the initial entry point for most seminary students.

Typically, the MDiv is the minimal requirement for pastoral ordination and characteristically trains students to perform chaplain duties effectively, counseling, as well as fulfilling an array of pastoral and missionary roles.

Additionally, students looking at a secular career in family counseling, an MDiv degree conveys instant credibility.

In terms of the whole Masters of Divinity vs. Masters of Theology question, the “vs” aspect of the question has far more to do with progression rather than value. While many seminary students will stop their studies at the MDiv, others elect to move on to attain the ThM after completing their initial degree studies.

The Masters of Theology Degree

The ThM is generally the next step in the academic ladder from the MDiv. It’s not uncommon for students to begin their careers after receiving their ThM, but some continue to other advanced degrees within the seminary field—like a PhD.

Studies within this degree field focus on an understanding of Christian thought through a close reading of the sacred texts and placing those readings in a broader context that involve language history, church history, global studies, hermeneutics, ethics, and apologetics.

So then, the ThM is more an academic exercise. The best description of a ThM is as the “book learning” behind a seminary career.

A Seminary Degree from North Greenville University

The T. Walter Brashier Graduate School is conveniently located in Greer, South Carolina, North Greenville University seeks to offer a superior education amidst an authentic Christian environment designed to prepare transformational leaders for a successful life of service in church and society. Combining cultural enrichment, spiritual growth, and hands-on service, NGU is making a difference for their students.

Learn More About Our MDiv Program


Integration of Christian Values and Psychology in the NGU Online Psychology Program.

A common exercise I have conducted in classes is to briefly discuss the difference between the Bible and our psychology textbook.  Of course it sounds simplistic, however, it still is worthy of discussion to help students develop critical thinking skills.  We know from Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is “God Breathed,” simply put, the Bible is the word of God.  We then turn our attention to which ever text is selected for the class.  We know it is written by men and women, who are not perfect, and are using the most current research from the field, as it stands at the time of publication of the text.  While the Bible is eternal, psychology textbooks are updated frequently as new research is conducted and more information is learned.  

As students progress through the psychology program, integration of faith and learning occurs at the individual course level.  For example, Foundations of Christian Psychology which provides an overview of the relationship between Christianity and the theories and practice of psychology.  The course puts an emphasis in regards to the Christian application of psychology in life and professional service.  Another popular course with psychology students, as well as students with other majors, is Marriage and the Family.  This course utilizes a Christian worldview approach to study pre-marital and marital relationships, with emphasis placed on problems of the contemporary American family.   

The above listed courses are but a couple in which students in the NGU Online psychology program learn to integrate their faith into their coursework.  The entire program is presented from a Christian worldview and students are encouraged to think critically about topics from the textbooks and apply Scriptural principals within their chosen field.  With the NGU psychology program, students are prepared to enter the field of psychology and are equipped to be a difference maker in the fine tradition of North Greenville University.  

Dr. Marti J. Glass, Dean of Behavioral Sciences, NGU Online    

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Everything You Can Do With a MA in Christian Ministry Degree

The Master of Arts in Christian Ministry  

The Master of Arts in Christian ministry degree program from NGU offers multiple formats for study. Choose between in-class, online, or a combination of the two in which to complete the 36-credit hour Christian ministry degree program. A Master of Arts degree in Christian Ministry can lead to many opportunities for service in God’s kingdom. Start the online application process to begin studying the six core courses, five electives, and one final capstone project to complete the curriculum. 

Careers for MA of Christian Ministry Graduates 

For those earning a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry degree from NGU, numerous paths are available in which to apply the leadership skills and foundational Christian practices in fulfilling and impactful ways. Traditional fields of service include opportunities in pastoral and teaching ministries.  Other avenues of ministry include chaplaincy in a hospital or military setting, positions in private Christian schools, para-church organizations, non-profit humanitarian organizations, and missions agencies. 

According to a The Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for employment in Christian ministry are expected to grow faster than average, at a rate of 12% per year. While these Christian ministry degree careers exist within local churches, denominational ministries, and missions agencies, a holder of a Master’s degree can explore other meaningful opportunities of employment, including community and social service, education, training, and library careers. 

Also, consider the many faith-based organizations and charities which hire degreed ministry students to fulfill the same opportunities which exist in any well-run business organization. From executives and management careers to marketing and social outreach support, your Master of Arts in Christian Ministry can open the door to numerous opportunities for service. 

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NGU – Available Career Paths With a Business Administration Degree

Business Admin – the Swiss Army Knife of Degree Paths

Many degrees are single purpose—they give you the skills needed to be successful in a particular career. Think engineering or medicine. Business administration, on the other hand, is more open-ended. You might consider business administration as the Swiss army knife of degrees. Your studies will prepare you for a large number of potential business administration careers.

You’ll learn principles and skills that will help you in the workforce. Topics of study include management, ethics, communication, strategic planning, leadership, accounting, finance, marketing, and information technology. [1]

Getting started on the road to a business administration job starts with education. Once again, you have plenty of options. Bachelor’s degrees can be earned typically in three to four years. Add on a master’s degree with another one to two years. The amount of time varies for each degree based on whether you’re attending full or part-time.

Armed with the knowledge you gained, you can find a business administration career in a number of fields. The most obvious would be banking and finance, but there are plenty of other business administration jobs out there, such as manufacturing, product development, human resources, IT management, and business analysis. You might work in the private sector, but government employment is an option as well as non-profit. [2]

The most pressing question for most people entering any career is typically what they can expect to earn. A business administration career is no exception. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016–17 reported a median annual salary for business administration careers falling within the $110,000–$125,000 range. Which degree you choose will also have an effect. For a bachelor’s degree, you can add $2,000–$5,000; an MBA, $7,000–$11,000. Even more good news is that business administration job growth is projected to grow at least as fast as all other occupations, with some areas showing increased growth.[3]

If you’re looking for a career with plenty of options and opportunity, business administration may be the answer.


Explaining the Differences between Master of Arts in Christian Ministry Degree Paths

The Master of Arts in Christian Ministry program equips students for a lifetime of service in a variety of church or church-related ministries. The program provides an opportunity for you to increase your knowledge of sound biblical and theological principles. In addition, you will receive practical training to help equip you for service in your area of ministry. The 36-hour M.A. of Christian Ministry degree is designed to prepare those called by God to fulfill His purpose for them in their ministry context.  Continue reading “Explaining the Differences between Master of Arts in Christian Ministry Degree Paths”

9 Reasons to Get an Accounting Degree

Let’s be honest, accounting doesn’t really inspire most people the way other high stress/high reward careers do. Accountants are often portrayed as nerdy, number crunchers locked away in some cubicle. But the career of accounting actually presents some very unique opportunities that appeal to a lot of people – everything from work/life balance, to pay scale, to flexibility. Continue reading “9 Reasons to Get an Accounting Degree”

A Mathematics Degree Opens Up Your Future

Mathematics is empowering, especially in today’s world. Think about it: Aspects of both the natural world and the man-made world can often be described, analyzed, and even predicted with mathematics. The use of probability and statistics helps us model and predict the stock market, weather patterns, and biological phenomena. The study of calculus and rates of change forms the basis for tackling many engineering projects. The internet, computer networks, and social networks like Facebook can all be modeled with discrete mathematics.   Continue reading “A Mathematics Degree Opens Up Your Future”

The Benefits of a Christian Education

Located in the Appalachian foothills of the South Carolina Upstate, North Greenville University (NGU) offers undergraduate and graduate degrees to traditional and adult learners with a Christian liberal arts curriculum. Founded in 1892, NGU is a private institution of higher learning accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The university maintains long standing affiliations with the Southern Baptist Convention and the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

The Christ-centered focus one expects from faith-based universities and Christian universities defines the experience that students benefit from at North Greenville University. Continue reading “The Benefits of a Christian Education”

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