where academic investigation +
christian faith +
service to others unite
Graduate studies in Divinity

At La Sierra University, our constituency is the Seventh-day Adventist church, yet we welcome students from other faith traditions. The Divinity School offers four graduate programs which fall into two categories: academic and professional.

Our professional programs are tailored for those who work, or would like to work, in some aspect of Christian ministry. We offer two professional programs: the Master of Divinity and the Certificate in Ministry. The Master of Divinity is the standard degree program for professional ministry. The Certificate in Ministry is for preparation for lay church leadership.

We offer a Master of Arts in Religion for those who are interested in focused academic study and research in specialized fields within religious studies. The Master of Theological Studies provides a broad graduate-level academic program that reaches across the spectrum of theological and religious studies.

Our Faith Statement

We see ourselves as an open community of learning and service, conviction and hospitality, solidarity and diversity, where faith seeks both understanding and transformation.

Our vision is to be attentive to the calling of Jesus Christ to present truth, while not forgetting how God has led us in our past history, and ever listening and reaching out through the empowering of the Spirit to a changing church and world.

We seek to form leaders who will be both effective and winsome spokespersons for the gospel, and capable of courageously standing for the right though the heavens fall. We seek collaborations with congregations and partner institutions where conversations can deepen our service in God’s cause in the world.

We offer the following:

Programs at a Glance

Graduate Program
Quarter Units
Minimum Time To Complete
Master of Divinity (M.Div.)1363 years
Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)48-961-2 years
Master of Arts in Religion (M.A.)481-2 years
Graduate Certificate in Ministry (C.Min.)361 year (or less)


The HMS Richards Divinity School holds accreditation with:

The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada
The Commission on Accrediting
10 Summit Park Drive
Pittsburgh PA 15275-1110

La Sierra University is accredited by:

  • AAA (Adventist Accreditation Association)
  • WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges)

Contact US

Phone: 951.785.2041

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Divinity Graduate Programs

Master Of Divinity Graduate Program

The M.Div. program allows you to study a range of diverse theological disciplines, with the possibility of focusing on one area. For example, you may choose a concentration in the field of pastoral studies, such as youth ministry, preaching, or cross-cultural missions; or you can select an interdisciplinary concentration such as pastoral counseling, chaplaincy, or religious education.

The recognized standard credential for pastoral ministry is the Master of Divinity. Our graduate professional program provides the educational preparation for pastoral ministry and offers the option of developing one or more concentrations, specializations, or emphases.

La Sierra University also offers a program that allows you to earn your M.Div. and M.B.A. degrees simultaneously through a joint program offered by the Divinity School and the School of Business.


A combined program leading to the completion of both the Master of Divinity and Master of Business Administration degrees is offered jointly by the Divinity School and the School of Business. The program is designed especially for persons inter- ested in congregational leadership, church administration, church planting, and the use of entrepreneurial skills to enhance congregational and community life.

Twelve units completed in the Divinity School by a student enrolled in the program may be used to fulfill requirements for the M.B.A. program, and twelve units completed in the School of Business by such a student may be used to fulfill requirements for the M.Div. program, with the result that twenty-four fewer units will be required to complete the combined program than would be required to complete the two degrees separately.

A student wishing to complete the combined degree must be accepted into both the M.Div. and the M.B.A. programs. For further informa- tion, please contact the Divinity School dean’s office or the School of Business dean’s office.

Patrick Reynolds, 2009 Master Of Divinity Program

WHY LA SIERRA: I was convicted to become a pastor in the Adventist church, and retired from the military. I was originally scheduled to go to another college. I chose La Sierra because the diversity of the students is unmatched in the Adventist system. That is important to me. And you can’t beat Southern California weather!

WHAT I GAINED: The fact that I attended La Sierra was an intense blessing because it opened my mind to new possibilities in the world, academically and intellectually, within the realm of theology. The faculty challenges you to think in new ways that drive you to look deeper into the Bible than you ever thought possible. It helps you to develop your theological foundation, giving you a firm start to be a pastor.

WHAT I AM DOING NOW: I am working as a youth pastor for two churches, and for the last five years we have gone to the Philippines to do evangelism. We have baptized over 1,000 people now and started a non-profit that helps Filipino children go to Adventist schools.

Master Of Theological Studies Graduate Program

The Master of Theological Studies is a broad academic program that allows you to survey the range of theological disciplines. You may choose a concentration or interdisciplinary focus. Among the areas covered and the options for concentrations are Christian theology, biblical languages, biblical archaeology, Christian ethics, history of Christianity, New Testament, Old Testament, Adventist studies, world religions, and practical theology. Examples of interdisciplinary focus include Christian education, religion and the arts, and Christian leadership and management.

If you decide within five years of completing the M.T.S. degree that you would like to continue on to the Master of Divinity program, you will be eligible for automatic admission and will receive credit for the units you have already earned. If you wish to enter the M.A. program you will receive advanced standing.

Fast Facts Master Of Divinity

Minimum Program Length3 years
Quarter Units136
Maximum Transfer CreditsUp to 68 quarter units

Fast Facts Master Of Theological Studies

Minimum Program Length1 years
Quarter Units48-96
Maximum Transfer CreditsUp to 24 quarter units

I TRULY BELIEVE THE EDUCATORS at La Sierra University make up one of the premier faculties in theology, not only in Adventism, bu”t in the world’s leading theological institutions

Patrick Reynolds, 2009 Master Of Divinity Program

AT LA SIERRA I KNEW they would give me a big picture: It’s about what we do for other ” people. Our call is ultimately to serve others.

Maritza Duran, 2007 Master Of Arts

Master Of Arts Graduate Program

If you’re interested in studying the field of religion from an academic rather than professional viewpoint, this is the program for you. The 48-unit Master of Arts program engages you in advanced academic studies beyond the baccalaureate level in a focused area and provides a step towards a doctoral program in religion.

In the Master of Arts program in religion, you can study and do research in particular fields within the discipline of religious studies.

Certificate In Ministry Graduate Program

The C.Min. program offers a first step into graduate professional studies in religion. If you have little or no theological training, the Graduate Certificate in Ministry is designed for you.

You may feel called to move into a leadership role in your local church, or maybe you’re exploring the idea of becoming a pastor. Both are good starting places for students in the Graduate Certificate in Ministry program. This 36-unit program is designed for those with little or no theological training, and can be completed in one year minimum, depending on your chosen pace.

The program provides basic foundational training, introducing you to the various disciplines that make up theological studies. It comprises the introductory one fourth of the Master of Divinity program required for those without any undergraduate religion or theology background. You can use the C.Min. as a first step to more advanced degrees such as the M.T.S. or M.Div.

Fast Facts Master Of Arts

Minimum Program Length1 year
Quarter Units48
Maximum Transfer CreditsUp to 24 quarter units

Fast Facts Certificate In Ministry

Minimum Program Length1 year
Quarter Units36
Maximum Transfer CreditsUp to 18 quarter units

Meet our Faculty

V. Bailey Gillespie
Randal R. Wisbey
DMIN, University President
Kent Bramlett, Ph.D.
John Brunt
Fritz Guy
Kendra Haloviak Valentine
Maury D. Jackson
Wonil Kim
Charles Teel, Jr.
Warren C. Trenchard
John W. Webster,