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Master of Theological Studies Competitiveness

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Many on this forum have either graduated from or are present students in an MTS program. What kind of "stats" are generally needed to get into such programs, assuming the school does not conduct interviews. I'm thinking of programs such as Duke, Notre Dame, etc. What if you already have an MDiv?

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Many on this forum have either graduated from or are present students in an MTS program. What kind of "stats" are generally needed to get into such programs, assuming the school does not conduct interviews. I'm thinking of programs such as Duke, Notre Dame, etc. What if you already have an MDiv?

If you already have an MDiv, an MTS would not make any sense. You would likely want to look at ThD and PhD programs, or I know that there is also a ThM for students who already have an MDiv but want a little bit more work (I believe the programs are usually only about a year, but funding may not be available.)

With an MDiv, you would certainly want to look toward doctoral applications and perhaps taking coursework specific to remedying any weaknesses (maybe take some language courses, or whatever else you feel is missing?)

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If you already have an MDiv, an MTS would not make any sense. You would likely want to look at ThD and PhD programs, or I know that there is also a ThM for students who already have an MDiv but want a little bit more work (I believe the programs are usually only about a year, but funding may not be available.)

With an MDiv, you would certainly want to look toward doctoral applications and perhaps taking coursework specific to remedying any weaknesses (maybe take some language courses, or whatever else you feel is missing?)

Nytusse put it well. If you have the MDiv, you should consider a further degree above that level. I will add my two cents on the ThM/STM option, though. One of these degrees can be a good move for you, especially if you think you need to make up some ground (say, in languages). There are several of these around: Yale, STM; Drew, STM; Harvard, ThM; Duke, ThM; etc. Funding can be an issue, like Nytusse said, but I will say that Brite Divinity School at TCU in Fort Worth has such a ThM, which is usually funded with at least 3/4 tuition. I'm currently finishing this up myself. There are things to consider: Do you want to move somewhere for one year and then apply to other programs after that year? Is the money worth it? Otherwise, I think Nytusse's advice to find somewhere and just take a few courses is quite good.

Then again, there's always the option of doing a MA in a cognate field.

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Many on this forum have either graduated from or are present students in an MTS program. What kind of "stats" are generally needed to get into such programs, assuming the school does not conduct interviews. I'm thinking of programs such as Duke, Notre Dame, etc. What if you already have an MDiv?

ThM, STM, and MA programs are typically not competitive, since they are often un(der)funded and admit more students per academic year (sometimes there are Spring and Fall admissions).

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A MTS/MAR program can be helpful after having obtained a MDiv or equivalent studies. In contrast to the focused purpose of most ThM/STM programs, intended to further one's background in a specific topic of interest, a MTS/MAR could assist the student in attaining broader exposure across theological subjects, or more depth either outside an area of specialization or developing new areas of expertise. This could be particularly helpful for students returning to school after years in vocational ministry. For these reasons, a MTS/MAR could be an excellent option for one with an MDiv or equivalent studies, and it could also be very good preparation for PhD/ThD programs.

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HistoryFan, Notre Dame's MTS FAQ page has very helpful information pertinent to your questions, including minimum GPA and GRE scores. It also answers the following: "Q. Is this M.T.S. program appropriate for students with a M.Div. degree? A. Yes. The M.T.S. program will allow students with M.Div. degrees to further their academic training and their preparation for Ph.D. programs. Students with M.Div. degrees are encouraged to apply." http://theology.nd.edu/graduate-program/master-of-theological-studies/faq/

The following thread from last year concerning Yale's MAR and MDiv admission and financial aid may also be of interest to you:

Edited by Mathētēs

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A MTS/MAR program can be helpful after having obtained a MDiv or equivalent studies. In contrast to the focused purpose of most ThM/STM programs, intended to further one's background in a specific topic of interest, a MTS/MAR could assist the student in attaining broader exposure across theological subjects, or more depth either outside an area of specialization or developing new areas of expertise. This could be particularly helpful for students returning to school after years in vocational ministry. For these reasons, a MTS/MAR could be an excellent option for one with an MDiv or equivalent studies, and it could also be very good preparation for PhD/ThD programs.

HistoryFan, Notre Dame's MTS FAQ page has very helpful information pertinent to your questions, including minimum GPA and GRE scores. It also answers the following: "Q. Is this M.T.S. program appropriate for students with a M.Div. degree? A. Yes. The M.T.S. program will allow students with M.Div. degrees to further their academic training and their preparation for Ph.D. programs. Students with M.Div. degrees are encouraged to apply." http://theology.nd.e...al-studies/faq/

The following thread from last year concerning Yale's MAR and MDiv admission and financial aid may also be of interest to you:

Mathetes, I think some added emphasis must be put on where and when one completed her/his MDiv and where one wishes to pursue an MTS/MAR or ThM/STM. An MTS or MAR could bear significant overlap to an MDiv degree. At schools where an MTS/MAR is un(der)funded I think it is a waste to repeat classes one would have taken for an MDiv degree. For instance, the MTS degree I completed required 4 credit intro courses in NT and OT, 3 credit courses in Church History I and II, a Christian Education course, a Theological ethics course, and a course in dogma all of which were required for the MDiv degree. Some div. schools may have no overlap in curricula for their MDiv and MTS/MAR degrees, but many do. If someone could enter an MTS from an MDiv with advanced standing, not having to repeat those courses, then I think it could be worth it. If, for whatever reason, that is not possible, then I do not see the advantage of repeating all those introductory courses, especially if the div. school offers only 25-50% tuition. The factors that weigh into one's decision on what program to choose will be different for each student. Another question is: Does one intend to finish the MTS/MAR or ThM/STM? If no, then I think one has to decide what his/her main objective is in starting the degree in the first place (e.g. to pick up a language(s), to do course work in a particular field, to work under/with a specific scholar, to participate in a large consortium of schools (ACTS in Chicago, or GTU in Berkeley, CA), etc.). There are many angles/approaches to this question of what degree is best suited to prepare one for doctoral studies. It really depends on where one is at academically and what one's financial situation is. I would highly recommend that those ready for advanced work do an advanced degree, a ThM/STM. But, if an MTS/MAR is cheaper, more accessible, or generally fits one's objectives better than a ThM/STM, then go for it. Another solution, as someone already suggested, may be to take courses as a non-degree student; that may be cheaper and more fitting for students who do not wish to complete another master degree.

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To add my 2 cents--in terms of stats, I have no idea--I think it depends very much on the program you're applying to. In terms of overlap with an M.Div, it depends very much on what you're studying, as previous posters have indicated. I think the thing to do would be to scout out potential master's and Ph.D programs, looking in particular at the courses they offer each semester (so you'll know whether there will be a significant overlap in required courses, as well as whether there will be enough courses offered that you can avoid taking courses you've already taken), the languages they require and the languages they will teach you, and the kinds of programs and jobs that students from those schools typically go on to (if all that information isn't on the website, I think it'd be perfectly reasonable to ask the departmental secretary/whatever faculty member you get in touch with where you can find it). Most schools also usually offer a general range of GRE scores that they're looking for as well.

What do you want an MTS/ThM degree for, though? Do you want to teach high school? Get a Ph.D and teach college? Since you're probably going into debt (or at least sacrificing vital money-making years) to do it, and since there are so many (and yet, somehow, so few) potential applications for an MTS or ThM degree, I think it's always a good idea to have a game plan. If you're planning to apply to Ph.D programs after this, it's just not worth it to get a master's that won't put you exactly where you need to be--not necessarily in terms of prestige, simply in terms of giving you the coursework, languages, and study habits you'll need both to get into Ph.D programs and to succeed once you're there. (Or maybe I'm the only one who is still desperately trying to develop study skills.) If you want to teach high school, or go into parish ministry or some other related job, figure out what kinds of things you'll need to be competitive in those job markets, and look for a program that fits those needs.

Yeesh. Now I feel like a Debbie Downer...I guess my student loans are just weighing particularly heavily on me right now as my 20s slip by...

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After posting the above I realized that I totally blurred the distinction between an MTS and ThM degree (and between that and an MAR, and so on). I was trying to speak more generally toward master's programs in religion other than an MDiv, but I actually don't know much about the different kinds of graduate programs in religion (despite being in one).

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Another thing to consider is that MTS programs are often fairly well-funded (compared to other master's degrees), but because you would already have an MDiv, that funding might not be provided for you. It's just my own opinion, but I think applying for an MTS after already having an MDiv might look strange at some schools, and I worry that it would look even stranger if you did complete the MTS and then applied for doctoral studies.

MDivs and MTSs at my school both apply for doctoral programs; the MDivs are usually in a better position to apply for a ThD, but we do have a fair amount of ThMs as well. Religion is particularly demanding in that a master's is pretty much mandatory, but getting a second Master's in religion could not really help very much, I think.

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Doing a MTS after a MDiv would make sense, though, if your MDiv was from a, let's say, not very well respected school, or a fundamentalist school. If you want to later apply for a PhD at an Ivy League school, it would make sense to try to get into an MTS program at Harvard Divinity, or similar program.

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Doing a MTS after a MDiv would make sense, though, if your MDiv was from a, let's say, not very well respected school, or a fundamentalist school. If you want to later apply for a PhD at an Ivy League school, it would make sense to try to get into an MTS program at Harvard Divinity, or similar program.

I see that aspect, I just don't know if it would really work from an admissions standpoint. I am currently an MTS at Harvard, and the MDiv is one year longer (some MTSs actually transfer to the MDiv...not always for God-inspired reasons!) So, possessing the MDiv degree would seem to make the MTS superfluous here.

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I have a similar question. What sort of M.Div GPA would one need to get into a good ThM/STM program? For example, I'm a student interested in doing some liturgical studies post M.Div at a place like Yale, although I'm not really sure that I'm interested in doing a PhD. Thanks

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I have a similar question. What sort of M.Div GPA would one need to get into a good ThM/STM program? For example, I'm a student interested in doing some liturgical studies post M.Div at a place like Yale, although I'm not really sure that I'm interested in doing a PhD. Thanks

I think you pose a good question about these 'second masters' types of programs, because they really are helpful to folks who might not want to do a PhD. Rather than worry about the right "stats" (which I see is a common topic on these forums...unfortunately...as if people just boil down to numbers on paper...), I suggest you look into these programs at schools with good liturgical studies profs. I have a friend in liturgics, and from what I understand Boston U, the GTU, and Notre Dame often come up. Boston U has a STM, but I think a MA would be the closest options at those other two schools. Anyway, to make a long story short, look into who is where, as well as what they are doing at present, and then go from there. E-mail some folks with letters of interest and see what comes about. For a MDiv graduate with no intent of doing a PhD and who just wants to hone ministry skills, I can't see the GPA being a huge deciding factor on admission for a ThM/STM. At the end of the day, you'll just have to give an application a shot and see what comes of it!

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I have a similar question. What sort of M.Div GPA would one need to get into a good ThM/STM program? For example, I'm a student interested in doing some liturgical studies post M.Div at a place like Yale, although I'm not really sure that I'm interested in doing a PhD. Thanks

I have to put in a plug for Notre Dame liturgical studies--it's not my area, but from the courses I've taken in it and from what I've heard, the professors are by and large absolutely wonderful (and ecumenical!). I know that I've had a number of non-degree seeking students in classes, but I don't know much about admissions or costs associated with that. For the MTS program, the financial package is very generous (full tuition to all students and a small stipend to most or all); the admissions is supposed to be fairly competitive, but nowhere near what you're looking at for a Ph.D here. And LS typically has the smallest number of students, so you might have an edge compared to other areas.

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I see that aspect, I just don't know if it would really work from an admissions standpoint. I am currently an MTS at Harvard, and the MDiv is one year longer (some MTSs actually transfer to the MDiv...not always for God-inspired reasons!) So, possessing the MDiv degree would seem to make the MTS superfluous here.

I have an MDiv already and was accepted to MTS at Harvard Div and MAR at Yale Div, so it does work from an admissions standpoint. Definitely go for it even if you already have an MDiv, it will strengthen your application for PhD programs!

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