Academic Programs

Basic Requirements of the M.Div./M.Min. (84 hours)

1) Biblical Studies (12 hours)

Biblical studies form a foundational core of ESR’s M.Div./M.Min. curriculum. Introductory courses in Old Testament and New Testament are required.* 

In addition to the introductory requirements, students in this program take at least two 300 level biblical studies courses for three semester hours each. Students preparing for a ministry in which the use of the Bible will be central (e.g., pastoral ministry, religious education) will be advised to take more than the minimum twelve semester hours.

Though neither is required for graduation, Biblical Hebrew and Greek are offered on alternating years. 200 level Biblical courses will count only as fulfilling a general elective for ESR students.

2) Formational Studies (9 hours)

Spiritual formation is a primary process in preparation for ministry. Formational studies help students develop spiritual practices, consider their place within a corporate setting, and discern their call and gifts for ministry. Spiritual Formation and Personal Practice and Spiritual Formation and Public Ministry should be taken during the first year of residential program, and during the first two years of ESR Access. Discernment of Call and Gifts is a prerequisite for Supervised Ministry.

3) Historical Studies (9 hours)

Another core area for seminary education is the area of historical studies. Course work covering two of three major periods of church history provides the required foundational introduction to this field. Students will take two of the following three courses: History of Christianity I, History of Christianity II, or American Religious History.*

The third course in this area should be a historical or polity course from the student’s own faith tradition. Quaker students take an additional course in Quaker history to fulfill this requirement. Students from other denominations may substitute an independent study or a transfer course from his or her own denominational history and polity when it is not Quakerism.

4) Theological Studies (15 hours)

Five required courses fulfill the fifteen hours of this core discipline. All students take Introduction to Theological Reflection, usually in the first year of study.* This course may be omitted by passing a proficiency exam. Upon passing the proficiency exam, the Theological Studies requirements are reduced by three semester hours, and an elective is substituted. The total number of semester hours required for graduation is not reduced. Two courses designed to demonstrate the contemporary value of theology are Interfaith Dialog, and Theology in Context. The former is designed to develop the capacity to understand differences and engage in a constructive dialogue with persons of other faiths. The latter reflects ESR’s commitment to introduce the dynamics of ministry in cross-cultural settings by immersing students in cultures other than their own. A fourth required course is Christian Ethics, which requires students to integrate theological conviction with complex issues and practical realities. The final required course is Constructive Theology. This course provides an opportunity for students to construct their own systematic theology and is best reserved for the final year of study.

5) Peace and Justice (3 hours)

Peace and justice studies have deep roots in the Quaker tradition, and also in ESR’s curriculum. All residential students will take a 300 level PJ course as part of their course of study. ESR Access students take Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies (PJ 101-O) online. Many other Peace and Justice courses are available at ESR for those students with a strong interest in this ministry.

6) Synthesis Capstone (12 hours)

During their final semester, seniors in the residential M.Div./M.Min. program take Comprehensive Seminar. For ESR Access students, this course is a year-long online course. This course enables the student to have an experience in integrating learning from all areas of the curriculum around a given problem and helps the school assess the quality of student learning. The experience requires students to draw deeply from their accumulated reservoir of learning and demonstrates their own readiness for ministry.

Supervised Ministry provides the opportunity to test and refine gifts for ministry in a practical setting. It includes supervision, theological reflection, and a classroom component. This is a two-semester course, worth nine hours.

7) Practical Education (24 hours)

As a professional degree, it is important that the M.Div./M. Min. include ample opportunity for developing ministry skills that can be applied in students’ area of ministry. ESR offers courses in the area of Christian spirituality, pastoral ministry, ministry of writing, leadership, pastoral care, writing, Quaker ministry, and peace and justice. In the residential program, students choose from among seven emphases, each of which requires four courses related to that ministry. These, plus four electives, provide the necessary twenty-four hours. The competency for ministry curriculum used with ESR Access allows students to choose eight courses of practical studies in place of an emphasis plus electives. In consultation with the student’s advisor, these selections should mix a balance of competency in ministry with the student’s ministry interests.

* A student may bypass introductory courses in Christian History, Old Testament, New Testament, and Theology by passing a proficiency exam, if the student has done previous college level work in the appropriate area of Biblical studies. A student is charged a $250 fee for the exam, made payable to Earlham School of Religion and submitted to the Business Manager. Passing an exam earns the student three credits towards the degree. A student wishing to take any of these exams should contact the instructor who teaches the course.