Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.)

Graduates of theological schools of recognized standing who have obtained the B.D. or M.Div. degree may be admitted to a program of studies leading to the Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) degree.

The work for this degree may be regarded as a fourth year of preparation for the Christian ministry. It may be used for advanced training in a specialized form of Christian service such as a college or university ministry; chaplaincy in industry, institutions, or the armed services; urban or inner-city ministry; ecumenical or interfaith leadership; the directing of continuing education; international missions; or ministry with LGBTQ youth, refugees, or the elderly. The S.T.M. program may also be used as a year of specialized work in one of the theological disciplines or as preparation for doctoral studies. The schedule of courses may involve offerings in other schools or departments of the University.

Each candidate is required to plan, submit for approval, and pursue an integrated program designed to serve one of the purposes stated above, and a minimum of three-fourths of the courses taken must be related to a designated field of concentration. However, candidates who use the program as a general preparation for ministry may request a waiver of the normal requirements that there be a specific area of concentration and that the written project be related to this field.

A candidate for the S.T.M. degree must complete the equivalent of at least twenty-four credit hours of graduate study beyond the B.D., M.Div., or equivalent degree. Only course work graded High Pass or above is credited toward the S.T.M. degree. A thesis, major paper in a regular course, or other acceptable project in the selected field of study is required. The option of a Credit/No Credit grade is not available for the S.T.M. degree.

YDS M.Div. students accepted into the S.T.M. degree program and in need of financial aid will need to submit a new financial aid application. A new award will be calculated that is not based on previous scholarship aid received at YDS. Federal loan programs will be available, provided that Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is maintained.

The work for the degree may be undertaken in one year, or distributed over two, three, or four years; it must be completed within four years after matriculation. In the case of students who wish to extend their studies, nine credit hours is the minimum course load that can be regarded as a full-time program of study. Normally no work taken prior to matriculation will be counted toward the degree, nor will credit be transferred from other schools unless approval to count a course to be taken elsewhere has been given in advance. Students will not receive financial aid for course work beyond the requirements. International students are permitted to take three terms to complete their S.T.M. degree.

An extended paper, an independent thesis, or a project in the candidate’s area of concentration is required for the S.T.M. degree. Extended papers are written in conjunction with the regular requirements for courses credited toward the S.T.M. degree. Candidates who choose to write theses or pursue projects must register for one or two terms of REL 3999, S.T.M. Thesis or Project, three credit hours per term. Projects are restricted to programs focusing on some aspect of ministerial practice. Candidates must present a proposal stipulating which of these three options they intend to pursue. The academic adviser, the adviser chosen to direct the thesis or project, and the director of S.T.M. studies must approve the proposal in advance. Normally the adviser who directs the thesis or project will also serve as academic adviser. A thesis, project, or extended paper must demonstrate independent research and critical inquiry.

The length of manuscripts submitted to satisfy the S.T.M. thesis or project requirement will vary, depending on the subject matter. In conceptual fields, a one-term thesis or project report will normally be 50–60 pages long; a two-term thesis or project report, 100–120 pages. In text-based fields, shorter theses may be more appropriate. Candidates must submit a completed thesis or project report by the specified deadlines set for that academic year to the academic adviser and an additional faculty reader. If both readers judge a thesis or project to be distinguished or of exceptional quality, such distinction will be recorded on the candidate’s transcript.

After an S.T.M. thesis has been approved by faculty readers, and prior to 5 p.m., May 9, 2019, a candidate must provide one correct copy to be microfilmed for the Divinity Library. This copy must be presented to the registrar’s office unbound and in final form. It must have a title page, be free of typographical errors, and employ an acceptable literary style, including standard forms for references. (Recommended manuals include the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers; The Chicago Manual of Style; Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations; and The SBL Handbook of Style for Biblical Studies and Related Disciplines.) Candidates will receive a form in regard to microfilming and copyright, to be submitted to the library with the final copy of the thesis.

An extended paper is written in conjunction with regular requirements for a course in which a candidate is currently enrolled or which the candidate has previously completed. The length of an extended paper should normally exceed the usual requirement for a term paper by one-third to one-half. Only the instructor of the course will evaluate the manuscript submitted, and the only grade recorded will be the grade for the course. As a rule, extended papers will not be deposited in the Divinity Library, although an instructor may recommend the submission of a paper of exceptional quality. The final decision on this matter will involve the judgments of a second reader and the director of S.T.M. studies.


Academic Affairs

(203) 432-6340
(203) 432-7475