Master of Divinity
The Master of Divinity degree is the first professional degree and is designed to provide a solid foundation in the various theological disciplines and in the development of ministerial skills in order to prepare candidates for ordained ministry and qualified laity for effective ministry in the Church. The degree “prepares persons for pastoral ministry through academic study and supervised practice.” (OST Purpose)
Preparation of candidates for presbyteral or other full-time professional ministry through academic study and supervised practice.
Student Learning Outcomes
Upon completion the student will be able:
- To interpret in an ecclesially and critically responsible way the Hebrew/Christian Scriptures and theological tradition of the Christian community
- To preach effectively within the Christian community
- To lead liturgical worship in the Church
- To provide pastoral care in various ministerial settings
- To participate in the development of ministry in a collaborative style among men and women in a multicultural and religiously plural society, recognizing diverse gifts
- To accept responsibility as a public representative of the Church working for the common good in society
- To integrate theology, life experience, and pastoral practice
- See section on General Admission Requirements for Graduate Studies at Master’s Level.
- Candidates for priesthood ordination in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States must have 30 credit hours in undergraduate philosophy and 12 credit hours in undergraduate theology/religious studies as required by the U.S. Bishops’ Program of Priestly Formation.
- In addition to the specified undergraduate requirements of History and Method of Christian Thought and Reading the Bible or their equivalents, applicants must have demonstrated skill and knowledge levels in the area of public speaking. If unable to demonstrate this competency an additional undergraduate course, Rhetoric and Proclamation or an approved equivalent, is taken.
- As a Roman Catholic school of theology, OST makes special reference to the requirements of the Program of Priestly Formation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in designing the MDiv degree.
- All candidates must complete 80 credit hours of graduate course work, normally 74 required hours and 6 hours of electives. Candidates for the Roman Catholic priesthood will complete the 80-hour MDiv plus 26 hours of the Certificate in Advanced Studies for Presbyteral Ministry (106 hours); 8 of those 106 hours are electives. Students with appropriate undergraduate course work may challenge 6000 level foundational courses.
- Generally, not more than one half of these credit hours may be transferred from other graduate schools. Normally, graduate credits earned more than ten years prior to admission will not be transferred. Courses for which credits are transferred must be equivalent to Oblate School of Theology courses. Any course accepted in transfer for an elective will be accepted for no more than 2 credit hours.
- Students must complete at least two years of full-time study at OST. The degree program must be completed within seven years after matriculation.
- All students for the MDiv degree must maintain, and have at the completion of the requirements for the conferral of the degree, a minimum grade point average of 2.5 for graduate work. Low grades, indifference, or neglect of work during any semester may place a student on academic probation.
- Master of Divinity students must develop a capacity to minister in the English and Spanish languages. Any exceptions need to be approved by the MDiv Director in consultation with the academic advisor. To achieve the Spanish proficiency expected of an MDiv graduate, it is necessary to be able to celebrate the liturgy, preach, and converse in Spanish. Prior to enrolling in upper-level preaching and sacrament courses, students should demonstrate an intermediate Spanish competency. Spanish language proficiency can be demonstrated through course work assignments. In some selected upper-level courses, primarily pastoral and sacramental core courses, students should complete at least one substantive assignment in Spanish. Such requirements are specified on the syllabus.
- In the area of spiritual formation and ministerial leadership, a candidate must show evidence of characteristics that befit a professional minister of the Church.
Theological Field Education
Theological Field Education is more than the application of theology in the practice of ministry, or the acquisition and development of pastoral skills. It is, in itself, a locus of pastoral theology. Field Education provides for the ongoing relationship between theory and practice. It is an experience of learning where the student gains ministerial self-understanding and confidence as a pastoral theologian. The student is expected to participate in a variety of pastoral experiences and engage in theological reflection. The theological reflection process and methodology will lead the student to deepen understanding of self and practice of pastoral care while integrating theological studies.
Field Education not only promotes the development of the student but also provides genuine service to the Church as the student responds to the real needs of people in a ministerial setting.
Students in the MDiv program register in the Orientation to Supervised Ministry class. This class is an instruction to the practice of pastoral care and theological reflection. The first semester students attend classes in preparation for ministry placement and theological reflection in the second semester. The Director of Pastoral Formation at Assumption Seminary works with the TFE Director to coordinate their seminarians’ placements. The specific number of semester hours is listed under the degree program and requirements are described in the course syllabus.
The year-long placements for second and third year students require 150 clock hours in the actual practice of ministry, individual supervision in the placement, and participation in peer theological reflection sessions with other students, supervisors and a faculty member who serves as a theological consultant.
Application for Candidacy
The MDiv student may apply for official candidacy to the MDiv degree after successfully completing 27 credit hours of core graduate courses at Oblate School of Theology and fulfilling the language requirements. The Admissions Committee, after consultation with faculty, will decide on the applications for candidacy. Admission to candidacy is the faculty’s attestation that the student has demonstrated abilities to fulfill all academic and professional outcomes for the degree and to meet all the degree requirements..
Academic preparation and limited concurrent field education experiences provide a basic introduction to the pastoral ministry of the Church. Internship provides for full time involvement as a recognized member of a pastoral team, usually in a parish situation. OST offers a non-obligatory but strongly recommended Internship program. As non-obligatory, the credit hours earned are recorded on the academic transcript but are not applied toward the degree. Structural components of the program include a pastoral placement which ensures a wide range of ministerial experiences, a field instructor who is trained in pastoral supervision, and a lay committee representative of the parish community. Internship is an intentional educational process structured to achieve the human and faith maturation of the person, while seeking to develop competence in pastoral skills through theological reflection in the actual practice of ministry. The Internship Program normally follows the completion of three years of studies and is of nine months duration, after which the intern returns to complete the academic requirements for the MDiv degree. Twelve (12) credit hours may be earned upon successful completion of the internship requirements, but may not be applied toward the degree.
Final Qualifying Project
Integration of Theological Studies (TS 8296) is the final qualifying project for MDiv degree candidates. It is a seminar devoted to sharing and revising selected examples of their previous professional work during the MDiv program. It is normally a two-semester process which begins in the fall semester of the final year of the candidate’s MDiv program.
Continuation Outside Priestly Formation
Since the Master of Divinity Degree is the first professional degree for ministry in the Church, OST has the responsibility to evaluate an MDiv student’s accountability to the local church and continued suitability to pursue this degree for professional ministry. To continue as an MDiv student, a seminarian who initially enrolls at the School as a member of one of the affiliated formation houses and subsequently withdraws from this formational program must fulfill the following requirements:
- A new statement of Goals and Objectives
- Three recommendations including one from the previous formation director(s)
- An Interview with the Director of the MDiv program