Master of Theology

The master of theology degree (ThM) is a one-year program of study beyond the master of divinity or other first-level theological master’s degree.

Overview of the Program

The ThM is designed for students who wish to deepen their knowledge in a particular area of study in order to enhance their vocation or ministry. The program is an intensive one-year course of study that focuses on one area of interest. Typically ThM students focus on one of the following courses of study: Bible, preaching and worship, pastoral care, theology and ethics, or religious education. The ThM is intended both for international students who wish to broaden their education through the experience of studying abroad and for domestic students who wish to gain greater expertise in an area of ministry or study. Through their study for a Master of Theology degree, students will gain:

  • Advanced knowledge in a particular area of theological study (e.g., Christian texts, traditions, theologies, ethics, ministerial practice) in the context of a multiethnic, intercultural, ecumenical and religiously diverse world;
  • Proficiency in the analysis of a particular area of religious and theological knowledge or practice;
  • Advanced skills in critical and imaginative thinking, responsible interpretation, and effective communication; and
  • The ability to produce a substantial, summative research project that reflects knowledge of and serious engagement with the present state of the question addressed, supported by appropriate use of primary and secondary sources.

Curricular Requirements

ThM501 Master of Theology Project Seminar

(fall semester, 1 hour)

ThM650 Master of Theology Project

(spring semester, 2 hours)

ThM-Level Courses

Three ThM-level courses of the student’s choice taken for a total of 9-12 hours. ThM-level electives may be extensions of Candler courses (three-hour course and one-hour ThM600 for a total of four hours), directed studies (four hours), or Graduate Division of Religion courses (usually three hours).


The balance of the 24 hours required for graduation will be satisfied by elective courses.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the ThM degree, a candidate must complete the following requirements:

Credit Hours

In fulfilling the 24 credit hours required to complete the ThM degree, students may not exceed the following limits: six credit hours for clinicals and internships, four credit hours for academic courses taken on an S/U basis, three hours for transfer credit (including ATA cross-registration), and nine hours for directed study. Prerequisites for mastery-level courses typically do not apply to ThM students.

ThM Additional Requirements

All ThM students are required to complete the ThM Project Seminar and a major research paper, both of which will have a focus on the student’s primary area of interest.

ThM Seminar and Major Research Paper

In consultation with the director and one other faculty member, the student must write a major research paper (typically thirtyfive pages in length) on work done in the student’s area of concentration. This paper is part of the work of the ThM seminar and must be completed before the deadline in the academic calendar for the semester in which the student expects to graduate. The student will receive three total credit hours for the ThM project seminar (ThM501, 1 hour) and ThM project (ThM650, 2 hours). Both the project seminar and ThM650 must be taken for a letter grade and will receive the same grade. The minimum passing grade is a B.


Each candidate’s program of study is arranged in consultation with the director of the ThM program who serves as the academic adviser for ThM students. Two regular semesters of study (24 credit hours) are required. Up to six hours may be credited for clinical or internship work. A minimum of 12 credit hours must be taken at the ThM level, including the required ThM project seminar, ThM project, and three ThM-level courses. Credit hours may be earned from regular courses or directed studies. Students must earn a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0. Normally a one-year program, the degree must be completed within two calendar years.

Application for the Degree

Early in the graduating semester, the candidate must make formal application for the ThM degree by the deadline stated in the academic calendar. A late fee of $25 will be assessed for applications submitted after this date. The Application for Degree is available in OPUS during a window of time set by the university registrar each semester.


Admission to the ThM program requires a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, and a master of divinity, or another first-level master’s degree, from a theology school accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (or an equivalent accrediting body outside the United States and Canada) with a grade point average of at least 3.0.

Those admitted who do not matriculate at the time for which they were admitted may request, in writing, a deferral of status for one academic year. All application materials for those who do not matriculate and who do not request an enrollment deferral will be kept on file for one academic year, after which applicants will be expected to submit a new application for admission to be considered for study in a future semester.

Application Deadline

Offers of admission to the ThM program are made on a rolling admissions basis between November and August of each year. When an application is complete, it will be reviewed by the admissions committee. Typically an admissions decision will be reached within three weeks. For priority scholarship consideration, applications should be submitted by February 15 for the fall semester. Applications received after February 15 will be considered for scholarship, based on the availability of funds. The final deadline for application is July 1 for the fall semester. Applications are not accepted for the spring semester or the summer term, although applicants may request admission for the spring semester or summer term as special students.

Application Procedures

Applicants should apply online at application. For further information, contact the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, telephone 404.727.6326, fax 404.727.2915, email: candleradmissions@

To be considered for admission to the ThM degree program, an applicant must supply the admissions office with the following:

  1. Application for admission.
  2. $50 nonrefundable application fee paid online or by mail (check or money order made payable to Emory University).
  3. Résumé.
  4. Autobiographical statement: The three-to four-page typed, double-spaced autobiographical statement is a critical element in the evaluation of your application. Please consider your response carefully, tending to content, style, grammatical correctness, and essay organization. The statement is a way to introduce yourself to the Admissions Committee. It also will help faculty advisors guide and evaluate your learning experience in your program. With this in mind, write a reflective essay about your life that addresses the following:
    • Significant life experiences that have affected your view of self, God, and the world. Include references to family members and significant others, courses, and experiences in college, church, service-related activities, and employment.
    • Aspects of your background that inform the unique perspective you would add to the diverse and vibrant community that exists at Candler School of Theology.
    • Your reasons for applying to Candler School of Theology.
    • Your plans following completion of study at Candler School of Theology.
  5. A two- to three-page statement explaining how the applicant’s proposed topic of research in the area of Bible, preaching and worship, pastoral care, theology, ethics, or religious education is best suited to Candler’s offerings in those areas required.
  6. A sample of recent academic writing.
  7. Official transcripts from all colleges, universities, graduate schools, and seminaries, regardless of when the applicant attended, how many hours completed, and whether a degree was granted. Official transcripts should be sent directly from these institutions or delivered in a sealed and signed envelope. If currently enrolled at an institution, the applicant should send an official transcript of work to date and ask that a transcript be sent promptly following the completion of the term and /or conferral of a degree.
  8. Three letters of recommendation from persons who are not family members: two academic references, provided by college or graduate school professors; and one professional reference, provided by a work supervisor or someone who has known the applicant for three or more years. Ordained persons should also provide an ecclesial reference from a bishop, district superintendent, or denominational executive showing support for participation in the program. Students who have been enrolled previously at another theological institution but have not graduated must provide a letter certifying that they leave the school as students in good standing.
  9. The admissions committee welcomes, but does not require, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). GRE scores, while not required, may be considered in applications if applicants submit them. The institution code for Candler is 5198.
  10. Persons whose first language is not English must furnish, with the application, recent evidence of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a score of at least 95 (Internet-based total) with a minimum score of 21 or higher in each of the four sub-areas, 250 (computer-based total), or 600 (paperbased total). The TOEFL results should be submitted directly from TOEFL to Candler (Institutional Code: 5455, Department 01). Applicants whose first language is not English are strongly encouraged to complete an intensive English course, at an institution in your home country, for at least six months prior to enrollment.
  11. A criminal background check is required of all students prior to enrollment at the expense of the student (approximately $18) through a vendor designated by the school. Candler School of Theology will provide information regarding the process of securing the required background check in early spring to admitted students. Reports from criminal background checks are due August 15. Students will not be allowed to register for classes— including Contextual Education—until the results of this report have been received and reviewed. Any student for whom the criminal background check has not been received by August 15 will forfeit the opportunity to participate in any program of Contextual Education for one year. Results of the criminal background check can impact placement in Contextual Education sites and may be released to a site supervisor (see page 92).
  12. SAP-G training is required of all degree and nondegree students. SAP-G is an online learning platform designed to educate students on preventing and responding to interpersonal violence, including sexual assault, harassment, domestic violence, and stalking, in the Emory community. The training is offered at the expense of the school. Students will not be allowed to register for classes until notification of the completion of part I is received. Notification must be received by August 15. Part II of the training is completed six weeks after part I. Notification of completion of part II is required by October 15 for students interested in registering in future semesters.
  13. All incoming Emory students must meet the CDC and American College Health Association immunization guidelines prior to registration for classes. For additional information, please see page 101. To access the Entrance Health Survey and Consent for Treatment Forms, visit In addition to supplying the above documents, international students (persons who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents) must comply with the following:

Upon admission, and before the visa process can begin, international students must complete the Emory University Financial Certificate, which indicates adequate financial resources to cover tuition, fees, travel, and living expenses for the first year of study in the United States. (An I-20 will not be prepared until this certificate has been approved; it must be approved by the university before July 1 for the fall semester.)

International students will be billed automatically for health insurance through Emory University unless insurance compliance information indicating proof of comparable United States–based coverage is submitted by July 1. Information regarding insurance for international students can be found online at

Admission Deposit

A nonrefundable admission deposit of $100 is required of all students enrolling at Candler School of Theology. This deposit is required by April 1 for fall admission, or within three weeks of notification of admission to the degree program, in order to secure the student’s place in the program. The deposit will be posted as a credit to the student’s Emory University account; students who pay the deposit but fail to enroll will forfeit the deposit.