The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree is designed for students wishing to enter full-time work in the public ministry including that of pastor. The M.Div. degree program is also suitable for persons already active in ministry who wish to further their education and qualify for a higher level of responsibility in the church. The M.Div. degree requires the ability to do exegesis in one of the biblical languages and the writing of an approved thesis in addition to the other program requirements.
– A secondary school diploma is required.
– A B.Th. degree or equivalent previous coursework in Christian theology is required of all applicants to ALS masters programs. If a student does not have this background, they will be encouraged to first complete the ALS B.Th. program. The M.A.R. degree is not required for enrollment in the M.Div. program.
– A recommendation from the student’s pastor is required.
– Students must be able to follow classes in English or Cantonese.
– Students normally will be members of a local congregation, and all who attend classes must demonstrate respect for the Lutheran character of the school. Students are to maintain good Christian character while enrolled. Admission requires character befitting of a person who aspires for public ministry as outlined in 2 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
– Admission will be granted upon approval of the ALS president after consultation with the ALS Academic Dean and faculty.
A M.Div. degree from ALS certifies that a student has a well-rounded biblical and theological education, as well as being prepared to serve as a full-time church worker. Therefore, a balance is required between courses in the various disciplines, while the student still has additional electives which allow him to follow his interests and gifts.
If they have not been taken in an earlier degree program, RES-101 and RES 102 are required courses for all M.Div. students and should be taken as early as possible in the program. BIB-101, 102, 103 and 104 are also required of all M.Div. candidates.
Candidates for the M.Div. degree are required to establish proficiency in biblical exegesis using Hebrew or Greek and use biblical language exegesis in the preparation of their master’s thesis. ALS offers language training in both biblical languages in a four-tier sequence (the beginner, intermediate, advanced, and exegete levels). M.Div. students who have already achieved proficiency in one language in a previous degree program may study the other language as part of their M.Div. program and apply up to 12 credits towards their degree. The first 6 credits of language study will be applied towards the degree as elective credits, while up to 6 additional credits can be applied to the biblical theology requirements of the degree. However, ultimately, ALS measures Biblical language training by the ability to do exegesis competently in the language, and proficiency in one language is required for graduation.
Candidates for a M.Div. degree from ALS must demonstrate an ability to do theological research in English as well as Chinese. Competency in English may be pursued at ALS through theological English courses. The master’s degree candidate will demonstrate his research ability by writing a thesis on a topic selected through consultation with the ALS faculty. The thesis must be read and endorsed as satisfactory by a committee of at least three appointed by the ALS president.
Since most M.Div. students are preparing for work as shepherds of God’s people, ALS encourages them to receive as much practical experience as possible during their seminary years. To that end, ALS will help arrange and oversee practicums as needed.
ALS, however, at this time is not able to arrange and oversee full internship programs. If a student arranges his own internship through a local church, ALS will confirm the successful completion of the internship and will add this to the student’s academic file on a non-credit basis.
Male students who wish to prepare for service in the pastoral ministry should notify the ALS Academic Dean of this as early in his program as possible. His advisor will then guide the student in fulfilling the M.Div. requirements in a way that ensures that the student is prepared for all aspects of pastoral ministry. This will entail taking and passing a full range of courses in practical theology, including preaching, teaching, worship, counseling, and administration. Upon completion of the program, if the faculty agrees that the student has the gifts and maturity to serve in the pastoral ministry, the M.Div. degree awarded will reflect that by the addition of the words “in Pastoral Studies.”
Those students who also successfully pass the exit interview described below, will have the words “in Confessional Lutheran Pastoral Studies” added to their diploma. By awarding this distinction, the ALS faculty is declaring that it deems such a student a candidate for the Lutheran ministry. This traditionally has been called C.R.M. status (Candidatus reverendi ministerii, i.e. a candidate for the holy ministry).
To be considered for a M.Div. diploma a candidate must submit to a final interview with the ALS faculty. At this interview the student will be asked to make a good confession (1 Timothy 6:12) of his or her beliefs. The faculty will evaluate the depth and adequacy of the confession on the basis of sound biblical Lutheran doctrine, and decide whether or not the student’s diploma will bear the predicate “in confessional Lutheran studies” in addition to the degree that has been earned.
Students entering with a B.Th. degree may expect to earn the M. Div. diploma in two or three calendar years by taking between twenty and thirty credits per year or ten to fifteen per semester. Students contemplating enrollment in the M.Div. program are urged to begin biblical language training already at the bachelors level.