Difference between theology degrees (M.A., M.Div, M.Th, etc.)


#21

[quote="RevDrNorth, post:20, topic:220446"]
The MAR is generally a degree for someone interested in religion (eg someone such as a writer wishing a degree in that field) or for certain other professional goals. It is generally not meant for heavy duty theological studies in Protestant denominations since it is approx 1/3 the length of a MDiv. In fact, at some schools (eg Liberty University) if you get the MAR it will fold into the MDiv since it is about the first year of MDiv studies (if you later wanted to get an MDiv).

The MDiv is the standard degree for those wishing to enter the ministry as clergy.

For heavy duty theology a sequence might look like MDiv - MTh - and then the PhD. The Master of Theology (MTH) is the 4th year of theology and comes after the MDiv (for serious theologians). Some schools (eg DTS) as I recall only offer the MTH (so you take 120 graduate hours). I have seen good theology doctoral programs that will not accept the MDiv for entry but require the additional MTH (hours). Hardcore theologians therefore have the equivalent of about 180 graduate hours of theology. All that and as someone pointed out the market in academia is not that good.

An MAR may get you into a PhD in general Biblical Studies as opposed to more stringent theological studies doctoral program.

[/quote]


#22

There are other combinations that one can get, but they take a long time. For example, in my community everyone must have an M.Div, which we do in four-years, regardless of whether you're going to be ordained or the porter. However, some universities offer an M.Div/MA, which is how I started. The M.Div is considered a practical degree. It's meant for people who are going into ministry. It's often referred to as a terminal degree. If you get the M.Div/MA, it adds another year to your studies, but prepares you to enter the ecclesial degrees or the PhD. There is a slight difference in the amount of credits involved. The PhD is shorter than the STD.

When I went through it back in the late 70s and earl 80s I finished with an M.Div and an MA witha a major in spiritual theology. Then I went to Rome for the STD and went straight through for another four years. The PhD is about half of that. The difference is that the STD is a research degree. You go through the entire cylce non-stop: STB, STL and STD. You don't write a thesis or dissertation until the end. But you must take qualifying examinations along the way. In the USA they are called Comps.

It is not true that you cannot teach with an STD. That's how I got the JReducation. I've always taught, until two-years ago when I changed religious communities and went into pro-life ministry. I taught at semianries, universities, theologates and novitiates. The problem is with many secular universities and colleges. Many of them do not recognize ecclesial degrees, because they are usually foreign. There are three schools, that I know of, in the USA that can grant ecclesial degrees: Josephenum, Dominican House of Studies and Catholic University of America. I can only speak for Catholic University, which is where I did my M.Div. They used to give you the right courses so that you could qualify for the PhD while working on the STD. I did not get my STD there. I went to Rome. They did not have a PhD program at the time. I believe they may have it now.

I was never ordained. But that was not the goal for our community. My community's goal was to prepare me to be a theologian who would form deacons, priests and lay ministers teaching Mystical and Ascetical Theology. The STD progam is very focussed, whereas the M.Div is like studying medicine.

When you finish your M.D. You're a Doctor of Medicine, but you're not a physician until you complete the residency and pass the boards in those places where boards are a requirement. The same is true of a graduate with an M.Div. He has a theology degree, but he is not a theologian. That's the degree that most priests have and why they are not considered theolgians. The STD and the PhD prepare you in a very focussed branch of theology. You cannot get an STD in Scripture, Canon Law or Ministry. Those have their own doctoral programs. These fields are not considered to be theological. They are professional, just like a medical and legal degree are not academic. They are professional degrees. An academic degree would be a PhD in English, History, Biology, etc.

If what you want to do is practice, then the route to go would be: M.Th, M. Div, M.R.E. or M.A.R.E. then go for the corresponding doctorate, which would be DD, PhD or D.Min.

If your interest is academic then the M.Div./MA, followed by the STB/STL/STD would be the way to go. Be prepared to spend many hours in the library and also be ready to learn languages. You're usually requied to be proficient in at least two modern languages and at least one ancient language, either Latin or Greek.

If you're going for Mystical Theology you will need Latin, and the most useful would be Spanish.

Obvioiusly, if you're going to study in Europe of Latin America, then you need the local language. No one teaches in Latin anymore. Even in Rome, they teach in Italian and Spanish, some professors use German or English.

You should also consider cost. The less expensive schools, but just as good as the Josephenum, Dominican House of Studies and Catholic University are in Latin America and in Europe. Even though the Euro may be higher at times than the dollar, the tuition is less.

Peru, Chile, Rome, , Spain, Germany, France and Belgium have very good pontifical schools of theology for about 40% less than the cost of an American education. I understand that the John Paul Institute in Washington is now very competative in academics. I don't know how competative they are in cost. It's been a long time since I was a full-time student of theology. I've gone back for courses, not for a degree. The last course that I took in the USA was at CUA and it cost a fortune, even with the religious discount.

Notre Dame has MA, and PhDs in theology. An M.Div you can find almost anywhere in the USA. I have always been very impressed by the folks who come out of Mount St. Mary's more than the folks from Notre Dame, with all due respect to UND.

The degree that always frightened me was Sacred Scritpure, because of the demands in ancient languages. But some people are very good with languages. I went for Mystical Theology, because I had done my M.Div/MA in Spiritual Theology. Mystical and Ascetical Theology were a natural continuation. Today, you can actually get them combined under one degree, Spiritual Theology. In my day, they were two majors. You had to do double major and double comprehensive examinations, besides a dissertation and a defence.

After all that is said and done, just like a medical doctor, your not a theologian. You have the academic credentials. But only the Church can give you the title Catholic Theologian. You must apply for it. You're a Doctor of Theology, not a theologian. This means that you cannot teach as a Catholic Theologian. You can teach theology as a Catholic who is a theologian, but not as Catholic Theologian. There is a difference.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#23

I have two priest friends who went from the M.Div/MA into the STL program at CUA. They both had to write a thesis and take comps for the STL degree plus take Comps. One went on for his STD in Rome and the other is hopefully completing it this spring at CUA. Of course they had to write a dissertation for the STD.

None of my MAs required writing a thesis. One required a summative seminar with a lengthy paper and the other required written and oral Comps. The D. Min. required a project that involved extensive research and surveys on a pastoral topic. I chose consummerism and faith formation for First Holy Communion ( I sub-title it - “It’s all about the Dress…and the Party.” and some of my research prooved that).


#24

[quote="Joannm, post:23, topic:220446"]
I have two priest friends who went from the M.Div/MA into the STL program at CUA. They both had to write a thesis and take comps for the STL degree plus take Comps. One went on for his STD in Rome and the other is hopefully completing it this spring at CUA. Of course they had to write a dissertation for the STD.

None of my MAs required writing a thesis. One required a summative seminar with a lengthy paper and the other required written and oral Comps. The D. Min. required a project that involved extensive research and surveys on a pastoral topic. I chose consummerism and faith formation for First Holy Communion ( I sub-title it - "It's all about the Dress...and the Party." and some of my research prooved that).

[/quote]

I didn't do my ecclesial degrees at CUA. I wouldn't kow what they're doing or how. I went from the M.Div/MA to Rome, this was from 1976 to 1981. I know that things have changed there too. In fact, the areas in which I majored have been merged into one. They were two separate areas back then.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#25

Thanks to everyone for the replies, though to be honest, I'm more confused now than when I started. Not only do I still not know which major is the best for me, but now I don't even have a clear idea of what anyone does with any major! I guess the takeaway message is that it doesn't really matter, and that any major in theology is essentially what you make of it?


#26

[quote="jbach, post:25, topic:220446"]
Thanks to everyone for the replies, though to be honest, I'm more confused now than when I started. Not only do I still not know which major is the best for me, but now I don't even have a clear idea of what anyone does with any major! I guess the takeaway message is that it doesn't really matter, and that any major in theology is essentially what you make of it?

[/quote]

No, although it may be confusing, there are some degrees that point you one way others that really go a different direction.

Not to be pedantic, but you might scroll through the various replies, make a matrix, and write down the comments as to where they lead.

A degree is going to take too much time and too much money to simply throw your hat in the ring if it is not a ring that leads you where you want to go.

Suggestion: find a university which has at least undergraduate classes in theology; talk to some of the professors who teach that, and use them to source out where you might want to go and what you might want to study.


#27

Thank you so much… I have been struggling with this regarding my studies.


#28

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