Why This Program?

The Master of Arts in Christian Practice (M.A.) degree is designed for students to engage in disciplined theological reflection to enrich their Christian service in the church and world. The degree, which combines intensive on-campus sessions with live online learning, offers students the opportunity to reflect theologically on practices of lay professional ministry or other Christian service. This program is designed primarily for those seeking to enhance lay vocations while remaining in full-time ministry or in other professional positions.

Spiritual Formation

Deepen Your Practices and Discern Your Vocation

The thread that runs through the M.A. program is spiritual formation. Each new cohort of students is assigned a mentor that will direct their spiritual formation until graduation. You will deepen your own spiritual practices by cultivating habits and rhythms for sustaining a lifetime of Christian service. You will also have time, space, and mentoring to discern your future vocation.

Building Community

Cohort Model Allows Relationships to Form

The first interaction that students have with their peers in the M.A. program is an intensive study period. Relationships form quickly as students wrestle with the biblical and theological frameworks shared in class. Though students come from diverse backgrounds and positions of Christian service, their cohort of peers in the M.A. becomes a touchstone throughout their degree. Community is a signature of this program, though it is the only master’s-level program at Duke Divinity School that does not require full-time residency.

Fulfill Deacon’s Requirements

United Methodist Certification

The M.A. degree is designed to meet the course requirements for United Methodists seeking certification studies (in, for example, children’s or youth ministry) and fulfills the Basic Graduate Theological Studies requirements for ordination as a deacon. Stay in close conversation with your conference officials to ensure your requirements are met.

Program Overview

Curriculum

The program’s core course sequence is designed to deepen students’ knowledge and appreciation of the Bible and Christian theological tradition.

Program courses, both online and on campus, are taught by regular Duke Divinity faculty and give students the opportunity to engage in a world-class education no matter where they are located. In addition to their classes, students participate in an ongoing seminar in Christian formation that seeks to integrate learning with spiritual practice.

Sample M.A. course of study:

First Year

August

Introduction to Mission and Ministry

Introduction to Old Testament

Spiritual Formation

January

Introduction to New Testament

Introduction to Church History

Spiritual Formation

May/June

Introduction to Christian Theology

Introduction to Christian Worship

Spiritual Formation

Second Year

August

Elective
Elective
Spiritual Formation

January

Elective
Elective
Spiritual Formation

May

Elective
Elective
Spiritual Formation

Specialized Electives

Specialized electives build upon the core curriculum, engaging students in contemporary practices of ministry. Each student will work towards a certificate in their own field of specialty by assembling electives, which may include a selection from, but are not limited to, this sample list of course offerings:

  • Missio Ecclesiae (Missional Church and Evangelism)
  • Intergenerational Christian Education and Formation
  • Black Church Studies: Leadership and Justice in Communities of Faith
  • Theology and Film
  • Death, Grief, and Consolation
  • Listen, Organize, Act
  • Pastoral Care
  • Bible Study Programs for the Local Church
  • Cultivating Thriving Communities
  • Christian Leadership and Administration
  • Preaching in the Methodist/Anglican/Latinx Tradition

Graduation Requirements

The Master of Arts in Christian Practice is normally completed in two years. Requirements for graduation are:

  • Twelve courses completed in no less than two academic years, plus satisfactory participation in an ongoing spiritual formation seminar
  • Student portfolio: compile a portfolio to be reviewed by a faculty advisor
  • The maintenance of a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0
  • Completion of all degree requirements for the degree within a four-year period

Please note that students enrolled in the M.A. cannot apply transfer credits from another institution to their program.

Hybrid Format

Flexibility Without Sacrificing Holistic Learning

The hybrid learning environment offers M.A. students the best of both worlds. Six one-week intensive residential sessions scheduled over the course of two years take place at Duke Divinity School’s campus in Durham, N.C. Students also participate in online learning that includes scheduled online classes (using Zoom) and self-paced learning. In this way, students are able to remain in ministry while also engaging in rigorous theological reflection.

Specialized Electives

Degree concentrations build upon the core curriculum, engaging students in contemporary practices of ministry. Concentrations include:

Serving Congregations
Engage in specialized training for students interested in serving congregations in positions such as youth and children’s ministers, pastoral caregivers, mission and outreach directors, and church business administrators. This track enables United Methodist students to fulfill requirements for ordination as a deacon.

Engaging the World
Study practices of reconciliation, Christian responses to poverty and injustice, and ministry in intercultural contexts.

Forming Scriptural Imagination
Reflect deeper on Christian practice within the context of your current vocation (law, medicine, and more).

Affording Duke

An education from Duke Divinity School is worth your investment and you do not have to figure out the finances alone.

All M.A. students receive funding.

Duke Divinity School is investing in you, too. It is an investment in your education, the church, and our shared future. All M.A. students receive scholarship support from Duke Divinity School that will cover 25% of tuition, and there is no separate application needed in order to be considered. Many other internal and external scholarships, as well as federal financial aid in the form of work study and loans, make it possible for students to afford Duke Divinity. FAFSA should be completed for external aid. More information can be found in our Financial Aid section.

Lifelong Dividends

In addition to earning a degree from Duke Divinity School, you also receive benefits that continue to impact your life long after you leave. You will gain insights to launch a new vocation or transform the way you see your current context. Space is given for the cultivation of holy friendships that will sustain you. The overwhelming majority of our students say their investment is worth it.

Resources

We’re available to answer any questions you might have. Please contact us at admissions@div.duke.edu or (919) 660-3436. The resources below will also help you learn more about our programs