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Master of Theological Studies Requirements

Admissions Requirements

  1. For regular admission, applicants must hold a four-year baccalaureate degree or equivalent with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.50 or better (on a 4-point scale) from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university. The Divinity School will consider for provisional admission a limited number of applicants who do not meet all of these requirements. In such cases, the school may require admitted students to complete additional undergraduate or graduate courses over and above the regular requirements.
  2. Applicants who meet the GPA requirements stated above may receive regular admission (a) by submitting the official results from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) with scores that meet or exceed the standards of the school; or (b) by completing 12 units of courses in the program as a provisional student with grades of B or better. However, the school retains the right to require GRE scores from any applicant in advance of admission.
  3. International applicants must meet the requirements of the university for English-language competence.
  4. Students may transfer up to half the number of required units from an approved graduate or graduate professional program in another university or seminary.

Course Requirements



[Numbers in {} brackets are the minimum number of units required for students with extensive undergraduate or relevant graduate background in the specific area in question]

A. Research and Writing - 4 {4}

  • RELG 510 Research and Writing in Religion (4)

B. Biblical Languages - 8 {0}12

  • RELL 504 Linguistic Tools: Hebrew (4)
  • RELL 505 Linguistic Tools: Greek (4)

C. Biblical Studies - 16 {8}

  • RELB 501 The Old Testament and Its Communities (4)13, and/or
  • RELB 511 Interpreting OT Texts (4)14, or elective in Old Testament studies (4)
  • RELB 502 The New Testament and Its Communities (4)13,13 and/or
  • RELB 512 Interpreting NT Texts (4)14,14 or elective in New Testament studies (4)

D. Christian Ethics - 8 {4}

  • RELE 504 Christianity and Culture (4)13 and/or
  • RELE 514 Christian Social Ethics (4)14 or elective in ethics (4)

E. Christian Theology - 8 {4}

  • RELT 504 Principles of Christian Theology (4)13 and/or
  • RELT 514 Systematic Theology (4)14 or elective in theology (4)

F. History of Christianity - 8 {4}

  • RELH 504 A Survey History of Christianity (4)13 and/or
  • RELH 514 Studies in the History of Christianity (4)14 or an elective in the history of Christianity (4)

G. Seventh-day Adventist Studies - 8 {4}15

  • RELH 506 History of Seventh-day Adventism (4)13, and/or
  • RELT 516 Seventh-day Adventist Theology (4)14, or elective in Adventist studies (4)

Electives can be drawn from offerings such as:

  • RELH 586 The Life and Thought of Ellen White (4)
  • RELT 556 Issues in Seventh-day Adventist Theology (4)

H. World Religions - 4 {0* see footnote}16

  • RELG 501 The Study of Religion: Theory & Practice (4)17, or if equivalently prepared
  • RELG 511 The Religions of the World (4)16

I. Practical Theology - 8 {4}

  • RELP 504 The Calling and Spiritual Identity of the Pastor (4)18, and/or
  • RELP 514 Practical Theology (4)

J. Electives - 24 {16}19

  • Students can create discipline specific or interdisciplinary concentrations using their elective units to develop: an Emphasis (16-20 units; i.e. 4-5 courses); or a Specialization (24-28 or more units; i.e. 6-7 courses) will be noted as such on the students transcript. This requires formalization through the use of a “Concentration Contract” form. [See details below].

Total 96 {48}

Other requirements and regulations

  1. The director of academic graduate programs for the Divinity School will assign students their advisors.
  2. Full-time students will normally enroll in 3 courses (12 units) per quarter.
  3. Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.00 or better, with no individual course grade lower than C counting for credit.
  4. Electives: Students choose general program electives from among the graduate courses offered by the Divinity School that are not required for the MTS program. With the permission of the director of academic graduate programs, they may fulfill such electives through graduate courses offered by other schools of the University, or by transfer credits from other accredited programs.
  5. The adequacy of undergraduate preparation is determined on a field by field (i.e. A-I) and individual course basis. Thus, the actual number of required units will fall in a range between the minimum of 48 and the maximum of 96. A student with a La Sierra University religious studies major and pre-seminary program (with course grades at B or better) meets the entire foundational requirement for the MTS degree.
  6. Concentrations: The following are examples of areas for potential concentration drawing primarily on Divinity School resources: Biblical languages, Biblical archaeology, Christian ethics, Christian theology, History of Christianity, New Testament, Old Testament, Adventist Studies, World Religions, and Practical theology (including sub-fields like Youth Ministry, etc.). The following are examples of interdisciplinary concentrations created in cooperation with other schools of the university: Christian (Religious) education, religion and the arts, religion and literature, sacred music, Christian leadership and management, philanthropy, and social justice. Students may obtain the requirements and course suggestions for concentrations from the Office of the Divinity School or the director of academic graduate studies.
  7. Summative Concluding Project: All MTS students will be required to complete a “portfolio,” before graduation, for the purpose of summative evaluation. The portfolio will include papers and other completed tasks from the beginning of the program to the end, including each course taken; the student’s personal reflections on their individual “journeys” in their quest for theological understanding and faith maturation; explicit efforts at “integration” and overcoming the “fragmentation” of theologiae (Edward Farely’s term); documentation of extra-curricular, creative, or otherwise distinctive efforts at theological learning and doing (e.g. blogging, video productions, articles published, projects undertaken, mission trips, study tours, academic/professional conferences attended, etc.). The summative portfolio must be signed by the student’s advisor and the director of academic graduate programs, and handed into the Dean’s Office not later than the middle of the Spring Quarter of the year the student plans on graduating. Students will give an oral presentation of their portfolio to the wider Divinity School student and faculty community at an appropriately designated time and place during the Spring Quarter. The Office of the Dean has further information regarding the MTS summative portfolio.
  8. Students who have completed the MTS within 5 years will be eligible for automatic admission to the MDiv program, and receive due credit for work done. Upon completion of all requirements students will be required to exchange their MTS diploma for the M.Div diploma. Any emphases, concentrations or interdisciplinary specializations earned in the MTS will transfer and be noted as such in the M.Div transcript. MTS degrees older than 5 years will be evaluated on the individual merits of the case.
  9. Students who have completed the MTS within 5 years may request admission to the MA in Religion program with advanced standing. Upon regular admission to the MA program (by having met all the normal entrance requirements), a student may petition to have up to 8 relevant units (2 courses), at the REL_ 51_ and above level, applied to the appropriate part of his or her MA program, thereby reducing the total number of credits required.





12. Students who have completed an undergraduate course in Biblical Hebrew of at least 3 quarter units or equivalent with a grade of B or better will not have to take RELL 504. Those who have completed at least 6 undergraduate quarter units or equivalent in Beginning New Testament Greek with an average grade of B or better will not have to take RELL 505.

13. Students who have completed a comparable undergraduate survey course in this discipline of at least 4 quarter units or equivalent with a grade of B or better will take the 4-unit required course instead.

14. Students who have completed a comparable course to the required core course, at the graduate level with the grade of B or better, will take the 4 unit elec­tive in the field of the discipline.

15. Students whose faith tradition differs from that of the Seventh-day Adventist Church may substitute up to 8 units of courses from their own tradition with the approval of the director of academic graduate studies.

16. All students must register for at least four quarter units in this field (H. World Religions) at the graduate level, regardless of undergraduate preparation. However, students who have an undergraduate major in religious studies or theology, and who wish to have a full compliment of 16 electives for an emphasis in some field of Practical Theology, may elect to meet this requirement by registering to Audit the relevant class. While this will increase the student’s course load slightly, the additional four units will be at the Audit rate (see the financial section of the current Graduate Bulletin). Students that have had at least four quarter units in the “phenomenology of religion; world religions; comparative religions” field, at either the undergraduate or graduate level, must register for RELG 511 Religions of the World.

17. Students who have completed a similar undergraduate introductory or survey course in this field of at least 4 quarter units or equivalent with a grade of B or better, will not be required to take this course, but must take the required core course instead. *See previous footnote.

18. Only those without a religion/theology/pre-sem undergraduate, or career background, take this course.

19. Students electing to do a concentration must work out a “Concentration Contract: with their advisor, specifying all courses that will go towards making up the concentration, before commencing with this part of their degree. This must be signed by the academic graduate program director (and in the case of interdisciplinary concentrations by the DS Dean or Associate Dean) before com­mencement of the concentration components of the degree. Guideline sheets with sample curricula are available.



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