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Master of Divinity Program

Andover Newton's Master of Divinity Curriculum

In September, 2009, the Andover Newton Faculty will begin its third century of preparing leaders for church and society with the introduction of a new Master of Divinity Curriculum. The new curriculum’s approach to ministerial preparation represents the most current and innovative thinking about adult professional education and the needs of today’s faith communities. After its first two years of existence, the new M.Div. curriculum was slightly modified. Students who entered Andover Newton between 2009 and the spring of 2011 will be able to meet the previously-designed expectations or opt into the modifications. All requirements can be altered to meet either set of requirements.


The Faculty built the new curriculum around a set of outcome-based expectations for what an Andover Newton Master of Divinity graduate should be able to be and do through his or her experiences in the M.Div. Program: :

    The M.Div. Graduate can state and explain his or her sense of the world theologically and spiritually in a critical and creative way. The graduate can teach and enable others to connect life issues with theological and spiritual traditions through various communal and personal faith practices. The graduate can form, lead and sustain faith communities with a theological and spiritual understanding of the Church’s mission in a changing world.

    An interpreter of the Bible must be able to do cross cultural work with biblical texts. To be able to work with the scriptures in this way requires grounding in critical and creative approaches to biblical texts and an awareness of developments in the study of the Christian Bible. The M.Div. graduate will understand the centrality of worship and proclamation for his or her faith journey and for a community of faith, and will have a grasp on the rituals, sacraments, and other faith expressions of his or her faith tradition(s). She or he, while engaging all the senses, can articulate why the life of faith is centered in worship and how worship and Word nurture and enhance life.

    In order to effectively lead a faith community, seminary graduates must have analytical abilities, practical skills, and an understanding of the dynamics of institutional change. Drawing upon a palette of insights and skills, they will be able to guide and empower faith communities in the search for meaning and the pursuit of their collective mission in an ever-changing and pluralistic world. They will also possess a knowledge of, and ability to implement, leadership theories and techniques that help them to guide religious organizations grappling with change. Each graduate will be able to recognize and leverage his or her own unique leadership gifts.

    God’s church is shaped by, and shapes, the culture in which it stands, both mirroring and challenging dominant trends, while seeking to advance alternative paths. M.Div graduates will embody ways of being and doing that are faithful to the best of their traditions. Graduates will demonstrate highly-developed relational competencies embodying multicultural, racial, ethnic, gender, and interfaith understanding which furthers love, justice, and peace. Graduates will not only be able to translate and articulate these understandings and skills through a public theology that can speak to both church and society, but also be able to demonstrate in one's life signs of congruence between the spoken and lived word.

In sum, an MDiv. graduate from Andover Newton Theological School is both rooted in his or her faith tradition and capable of reaching out across the boundaries that too often separate human beings from one another. The formation process toward such ends includes classes that help students to learn about, challenge, and embrace their faith traditions; integrative learning that blends lived experience with intellectual engagement, and a campus communal environment that shapes a disposition for faith commitment as well as radical hospitality.


The Master of Divinity program requires a minimum of six semesters of study with the satisfactory completion of eighty-one credit hours as described below, and a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 (C). Those who, by permission of the Academic Dean, extend their studies beyond seven years, will incur an annual extension fee. Students graduating in May must, during November of their last year, review their programs with the Registrar to ensure that they will meet all degree requirements for graduation. Students intending to graduate administratively in December must do so the previous June.

Curriculum Summary

The following outlines will help current and prospective M.Div. students to understand what will be required to earn the M.Div. degree at Andover Newton. Please consult the Andover Newton Catalogue for additional details, including:

  • Details about which courses meet which requirements
  • Recommended course sequences
  • Expanded definitions for each required area of the curriculum

Number of credits required: 81, the equivalent of approximately nine courses per year.

Varieties of Courses

The Master of the Divinity Program requires courses in a variety of ways, with different levels of choice for students depending on the role of the course in the curriculum.

  • Core courses: Only one specific course meets the requirement (few requirements fall into this category)
  • Distributional requirements: Students may choose one course among several options
  • Electives: Students may choose any course
  • Integrative catalysts: Designations on distributional and elective courses where students must take one course with each designation to complete the degree.

Curriculum Structure

Students in the M.Div. curriculum are required to pursue the following courses, 81 credits loosely in the order in which students are advised to pursue them, to meet their degree program requirements. In addition to the courses listed below, students are permitted to pursue seven electives (21 credits) which they may weave in among semesters or hold until later in their studies. Students usually use elective courses to meet denominational requirements, explore an area of interest, delve into a particular passion, or develop an area of ministry specialization.

All courses are three credits unless otherwise noted.

  • Scripture I (Core) (“Old Testament”)
  • Scripture II (Core) (“New Testament”)
  • Early Christian History
  • Ministerial Leadership
  • Christian Ethics
  • Religious Education
  • Pastoral Care
  • Christian Spiritual Practice
  • Ethics and Social Justice
  • Systematic Theology I
  • Systematic Theology II
  • Field Education (in conjunction with P3)
  • US Religious History
  • Preaching
  • Worship
  • Practicing Theology
  • World Religions or World Christianity

Integrative Catalysts

In addition to courses, students in the M.Div. program engage catalytic courses that blend lived experience with intellectual engagement. Each M.Div. student must take one course with each of the following designations:

  • Interfaith Engagement [IF]
  • Professor-Practitioner Program [P3] (In conjunction with Field Education)
  • Border-Crossing Immersion [BC]

Integrative Catalyst-designated courses can meet other requirements as well. For instance, a World Christianity course with a “Border-Crossing Immersion” designation might serve both as a distributional requirement in World Christianity and meet the requirement that all students take a Border-Crossing Immersion-designated Integrative Catalyst.

Because all Integrative Catalysts include an experiential component, students must plan ahead to meet both course requirements and Integrative Catalyst requirements. Graduation is contingent upon both earning credits and meeting these designation expectations.

Student Learning Assessment (SLA)

All Master of Divinity students, concurrently with their degree programs, must participate in a co-curricular, non-credit, mandatory Student Learning Assessment Program (“SLA Program”). The SLA Program’s purpose is to help students to track their progress toward meeting these goals through reflection, mentoring, and intentionality. The SLA Program also helps the School to learn about the impact the degree program has on students as the School assesses its own effectiveness.

Students in the MDiv program collect documents into a “Portfolio” over the course of their studies that provides evidence of their progress in the degree. They meet with their advisors for two Candidacy Reviews, one at the 1/3 mark, and one at the 2/3 mark, for reflection and mentoring. Candidacy Review I focuses on planning for the future. Candidacy Review II focuses on reflection and connection beyond the School. Students are responsible for maintaining their Portfolios, arranging Candidacy Reviews, and submitting documentation to the Registrar.

In order to graduate, students must complete Candidacy Review I, Candidacy Review II, submit all related documents, and submit a full copy of the Student Learning Portfolio.

Guidelines and more specific requirements for the SLA Program may be found in the Andover Newton Catalogue or on the Registrar's web page.

Unitarian Universalist Master of Divinity Students

Andover Newton offers special courses for Unitarian Universalist students seeking to meet both degree program and ordination requirements. On a cyclical basis, the School offers courses in UU Theology, UU History, and UU Polity. On an occasional basis, courses in Religious Education and Ministerial Leadership in the UU tradition are available. Thematic Preaching is offered annually. All UU courses, except for UU Theology, meet distributional requirements. The School also employs two denominational advisors for UU students and supports UUCANS, the student UU fellowship.

Clinical Pastoral Education

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) provides students, in supervised settings, with opportunities to learn to be in ministry with people who are suffering from fear, physical pain, remorse and loneliness — problems to be faced within many contexts of ministry. Clinical Pastoral Education is offered at several independently-accredited locations throughout New England. Students can read about sites and options at Many denominations require that students pursuing ordination earn one unit of CPE. Students may pursue one unit of CPE toward three elective credits in the Master of Divinity.

Students Who Matriculated During 2009-2011 Transition

Students who began their M.Div. programs between the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2011 entered the curriculum when it was in-transition. The curriculum has been modified slightly based on assessment during the transition. Those who matriculated during the transition have the option of completing the M.Div. as it was designed when they started or opting into the new requirements. Students may review the curriculum changes with their advisors, the Registrar, or the Dean of the Faculty for assistance in determining a course of study.

For greater detail on the curriculum changes, students who fall into the transition category should consult the Master of Divinity Program section of the Andover Newton Catalogue