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

Community is a signature of our M.A. program, and 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. 

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


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.

The M.A. program offers two tracks of study: one aimed at general theological education, and one for students pursuing deacon ordination or other congregational leadership positions. Find sample M.A. paradigms (courses of study) for each track.

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)
  • Black Church Studies (multiple electives)
  • Christian Education (multiple electives)
  • Pastoral Care through Anxiety and Depression
  • English Exegesis of the Book of Revelation
  • A Digital Rule of Life
  • Theological Bioethics
  • Visual Art as Theology
  • Listen, Organize, Act
  • Bible Study Programs for the Local Church
  • Cultivating Thriving Communities
  • Preaching
  • Christian Leadership and Administration

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.

Certificates and Concentrations

Duke Divinity School offers certificates and concentrations that give students the opportunity to focus their coursework on a particular area of ministry or study. The following certificates can be earned in the M.A. program:

Certificate in Black Church Studies
The Certificate in Black Church Studies offers the opportunity for critical reflection, dialogue, and practice for students who are interested in the intersection of race, faith, and Christian witness, particularly in the tradition of Black churches.

Certificate in Christian Education
The Certificate in Christian Education benefits persons seeking to practice as church educators, teachers, college chaplains, youth workers, or health care workers.

Certificate in Faith-based Organizing, Advocacy, and Social Transformation
The Certificate in Faith-based Organizing, Advocacy, and Social Transformation is designed for students interested in campaigning and advocacy work, community organizing, community development, and related forms of social, political, and economic witness from a Christian basis.

Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, Theology, and Ministry
The Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, Theology, and Ministry (GSTM) is designed to offer opportunities to women and men to study gender and sexuality in the life of the church, in the Christian tradition, and in contemporary culture.

Certificate in Methodist/Wesleyan Studies
The Certificate in Methodist/Wesleyan Studies is for pan-Methodist/Wesleyan students who wish to engage in robust and intentional training in Wesleyan theology and spiritual practice in preparation for leadership positions in Methodist and Wesleyan churches.

Certificate in Missional Innovation
The Certificate in Missional Innovation provides training in church planting and contextual evangelism for students interested in innovative forms of ministry.

Certificate in Theology and the Arts
The certificate in Theology and the Arts provides firm grounding in the key theological loci and practices relevant to a lifetime’s engagement with the arts and the church, the university, and beyond.

Certificate in Theology, Medicine, and Culture
The Certificate in Theology, Medicine, and Culture will prepare Duke Divinity students for robust theological and practical engagement with contemporary practices in medicine and healthcare.

Certificate in Worship
The Certificate in Worship prepares students to engage in practical formation and theoretical reflection on the worship of God in Christian congregations.

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.


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