College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Philosophy and Religion

Pre-Theology Advising

Butler University Center for Faith and Vocation

Theological School / Graduate School Information

The following information has been assembled for the benefit of Butler students considering graduate theological school or graduate study in religion.

General Resources

First of all, make maximum use of our local sources of information:

The Center for Faith and Vocation
Located in the Blue House (4615 Sunset)

The Office of Pre-Graduate & Pre-Professional Advising
153 Jordan Hall
A source of information about all aspects of researching and applying to graduate programs, including the GRE exam.

Internship and Career Services
315 Atherton Union
Mr. Gary Beaulieu, director (
Source of information about all aspects of career development.

Pre-Theology Adviser
Dr. Paul Valliere (
202 Jordan Hall 

Second, visit the websites of national organizations dedicated to promoting discussion of theological vocations and monitoring graduate programs in theology and religion:
Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation. The national network of which Butler's Center for Faith and Vocation is a member. and
Both are maintained by the Fund for Theological Education. Note that the FTE offers fellowship programs and other opportunities for undergraduates considering a theological vocation and for first-year theological students.
Site sponsored by the Pastoral Leadership Search Effort, a national talent search for young people interested in religious ministries.
Site maintained by the American Academy of Religion. The AAR maintains a survey of all fully accredited universities, theological schools, and seminaries in the United States and Canada that offer an academic doctoral program in religious studies or theology. Even if you are not considering a doctoral program, the survey can still provide insights into the nature of graduate theological education. You can find the results of this survey at:
Site of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.


Master of Divinity (M.Div.)
This is the standard program to prepare candidates for ordination and leadership in congregations, chaplaincies, social service agencies and higher education who are fully engaged in constructive service to their faith traditions and the world at large. It is the most comprehensive and practical degree in theology. The coursework is typically completed in three years.

Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)
The M.T.S. degree provides a foundation in theological disciplines and a concentration in a particular area of study, often for those who intend to pursue further academic studies or those who wish to explore the Bible and theology without taking on pastoral roles. It is in general a two-year program and often includes language requirements.

Master of Arts (M.A.) and Ph.D. in Religion
These two degrees are designed for advanced academic training on a specific subject in any number of areas within the religious studies domain in preparation for teaching and research. A Ph.D. program builds on the more general foundation offered in a Master's degree and leads to more advanced positions. Master's degrees are often designed as two-year programs, while a Ph.D. demands at least another four years. Both require language study.

Other Degrees

Some institutions offer advanced theological degrees for students who have already earned one of the master's degrees described above. These include the Doctor of Theology (Th.D.), Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) and Master of Sacred Theology (M.T.S.)

Some institutions also offer a variety of other degrees, such as the Master in Church (or Specialized) Ministries (for ordination as a deacon). These take on a slightly different character than the degrees mentioned above, maintain different requirements and are often geared toward specific ends (as with the M.C.M.).

It is also not uncommon for theological schools to offer a range of counseling and therapy degrees, such as a Master of Science in Marital and Family Therapy, Master of Arts in Family Studies, and Doctor of Theology in Pastoral Counseling. You can learn more about these offerings by researching the schools that appeal to your particular interests, goals and academic needs, or by searching for particular terms.

View the following examples:

Christian Theological Seminary (Disciples of Christ):
Offers MA in Psychotherapy and Faith, MA in marriage and Family Therapy, as well as doctoral degree in Pastoral Care and Counseling.
Indianapolis, Indiana

Louisville Theological Presbyterian Seminary
Offers MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, and Religion, and Divinity (dual degrees)
Louisville, Kentucky

Loyola University (Jesuit, Catholic)
Offers MA in Pastoral Care and Counseling, MA in Spirituality and Spiritual Direction.
Chicago, Illinois


There are in general four types of institutions: university divinity school, interdenominational seminary, denominational seminary and university graduate school. However, some institutions, such as the University of Chicago, offer more than one option for graduate theological degrees, i.e. a divinity school as well as a graduate program in religious studies. Additionally, some denominational schools offer non-denominational programs. These are noted below, but be sure to do research on your own, too. Note: "seminary" and "theological school" generally mean the same thing.

University Divinity Schools

University divinity schools are institutions of religious study that are connected to a larger university and its other professional schools. Students in these programs often find their studies and conversations making contact with subjects outside the immediate jurisdiction of the divinity school.

Boston University School of Theology (Methodist/ecumenical):
B.U. offers degrees through its divinity school, as well as graduate degrees in religious studies.
Boston, MA

Drew University Theological School (Methodist/ecumenical):
Drew offers graduate degrees in religious studies, as well as divinity degrees from the theology school.
Madison, NJ

Duke University Divinity School (Methodist/ecumenical):
While supported by the United Methodist Church, Duke Divinity School is ecumenical in practice. In addition to a range of divinity-related degrees, the Duke University Graduate School offers degrees in religious studies.
Durham, NC

Emory University Candler School of Theology (Methodist/ecumenical):
With a base in the United Methodist Church, Candler also offers programs in Baptist, Episcopal and Catholic studies. In addition to the divinity programs, the Emory University Graduate School offers a Ph.D. in religious studies.
Atlanta, GA

Harvard Divinity School (ecumenical):
Harvard Divinity School offers the M.Div., M.T.S., Th.M. (Master of Theology) and Th.D. (Doctor of Theology). Harvard University offers a Ph.D. in religious studies.
Cambridge, MA

Samford University-Beeson Divinity School (Southern Baptist):
Beeson offers a M.Div., M.T.S. and D. Min. (Doctor of Ministry).
Birmingham, AL

Southern Methodist University-Perkins School of Theology (Methodist):
Perkins offers a wide range of ministry-related degrees mainly for students preparing for service in the United Methodist Church; SMU's graduate school offers a M.A. and Ph.D. in religious studies.
Dallas, TX

Texas Christian University-Brite Divinity School (Disciples of Christ/ecumenical):
Brite offers a wide range of ministry-related degrees in an ecumenical setting.
Ft. Worth, TX

University of Chicago Divinity School (ecumenical):
In addition to the M.Div. program, Chicago's Graduate School offers a couple different Master's degrees and a Ph.D. in religion.
Chicago, IL

Vanderbilt University Divinity School (ecumenical):
The Vanderbilt Divinity School offers a M.Div. and M.T.S.; the Vanderbilt Graduate School offers a M.A. and PhD. in religious studies.
Nashville, TN

Yale University Divinity School (ecumenical):
Yale Divinity offers three divinity degrees: the M.Div., a Master of Arts in Religion (M.A.R.-for preparation for lay service), and a Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.); the Yale University Graduate School offers a Ph.D. in religious studies.
New Haven, CT

Interdenominational Seminaries

Interdenominational Seminaries are private institutions independent of any university affiliation and not affiliated with a particular church denomination.

Princeton Theological Seminary:
PTS offers three masters and two doctorate degrees related to studies in ministry.
Note: PTS is not part of Princeton University.
Princeton, NJ

Fuller Theological Seminary (evangelical):
Fuller offers a wide range of master, doctorate, intercultural and therapy services degrees.
Pasadena, CA

Graduate Theological Union (ecumenical):
GTU is a consortium of nine theological seminaries and eight centers and affiliates and a graduate school offering academic programs leading to the degrees of M.A., Ph.D., and Th.D. in a wide range of fields in theology and religious studies.
Berkeley, CA

Denominational Seminaries

Also independent of any university, denominational seminaries offer programs designed to prepare students for service in a particular denomination of the Christian church body. Students from other denominations are usually welcome, and coursework is often applicable to the ordination requirements of other denominations. Check the websites for specific degree information.

  1. Lutheran
    1. Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA:
    2. Luther Seminary, Minneapolis, MN:
    3. San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Francisco, CA:
    4. Concordia Seminary (Missouri Synod), St. Louis, MO:
  2. Presbyterian
    1. Union Presbyterian Seminary, Richmond, VA:
    2. Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY:
    3. Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, TX:
    4. McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL:
    5. Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA:
  3. Methodist
    1. Methodist Theological School in Ohio (Methesco), Delaware, OH:
    2. Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL:
    3. Iliff School of Theology, Denver, CO:
  4. Baptist
    1. Southeastern Baptist Theological School, Wake Forest, NC:
    2. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY:
  5. Episcopal
    1. Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, VA:
    2. The General Theological Seminary, New York, NY:
  6. Disciples of Christ
    1. Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, IN
  7. United Church of Christ
    1. Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL:
    2. Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO:
    3. Andover Newton Theological School, Newton, MA:

University Graduate Programs

In addition to the graduate programs mentioned alongside the university divinity schools, there are many reputable graduate programs in religious studies at universities that do not have a divinity school. These are strictly Ph.D. and/or M.A. programs. See the AAR website for a complete listing.

Campus Visits

Many schools offer campus visits year-round. Because of the often personal nature of the work done in theology schools, it is important that you choose one that is a good fit for your interests and personality. Campus visits provide perhaps the best impression of how you will get along in any given campus community. Be sure to plan ahead, as visitation days follow individual campus schedules and are not offered on a daily basis.

Many institutions offer special visit days, sometimes called "exploratory weekends," for prospective students. These dates generally offer special programming that provides a more in-depth look into the kind of life and education you can expect at that particular school. Visit the websites of the schools that interest you to find out more about these kinds of visitation options.


Application deadlines tend to cluster around the beginning of November and December for admission the following Fall semester. However, many institutions offer rolling admissions, which might start as early as October and continue through April or May. Regardless of the type of admissions policy you encounter, it is very important for you to stay on top of the process. Only your careful management can ensure that all deadlines are met.

Financial Aid, Admissions Policies, FAQ's, etc.

Each institution maintains its own set of policies regarding admissions, the disbursement of financial aid, as well as helpful lists of frequently asked questions. Check the websites of the institutions to which you hope to apply and investigate these issues. Again, actively managing the process of applying for admissions and financial aid is essential to completing it successfully.

Note that application deadlines for scholarships and other special financial aid are often earlier than general application deadlines. Stay on top of the process!

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