Wesley MDiv: The Basics
The Master of Divinity degree is a graduate degree that will help you fulfill the requirements to become ordained within most mainline Christian denominations.
Wesley’s MDiv will help you prepare if you are called:
- To pastor a church,
- Serve as a chaplain, or
- Do ministry beyond the local church. Many Wesley graduates go on to create innovative ministries or start non-profits with a Master of Divinity.
Yes! Online courses supplement both the residential MDiv program as well as the new Hybrid MDiv Experience, which is a non-residential degree that has 8 weeks of intense on-campus residencies during the degree, with the remainder of the course work completed online.
Wesley provides courses in a variety of formats, to fit your learning preferences and schedule:
- Online (both synchronous courses on Zoom and asynchronous courses)
- Hybrid (one intensive week per semester with the remainder of each course online)
- In person (weekly on Wesley’s campus)
- Practice of Ministry and Mission (hands-on ministry experience in churches, nonprofits, and other ministry-related entities throughout the DC region)
Most students can finish with a minimum of:
- 3 years of full-time study or
- Within 7 years from the date of admission.
We encourage you to follow one of the 3-, 4-, or 5-year plans outlined in the catalog.
You need to take 81 credit hours of coursework, including foundational and upper level courses in the following areas:
- Biblical Interpretation (BI)
- Church History (CH)
- Congregational Life & Ministry (CM)
- Christian Ethics (ES)
- Practice in Ministry & Mission (MM)
- Pastoral Care & Counseling (PC)
- Preaching & Worship (PW)
- Religion & the Arts (RA)
- Systematic Theology (ST)
- World Religions/Ecumenics (WR)
As a graduate degree program, the Wesley MDiv usually requires transcripts from previous studies indicating that you hold at least an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. Sometimes, exceptions are made for those with significant ministry experience on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Admissions to discuss your particular situation.
If you are an international student, your transcripts will be assessed by the Registrar for appropriate academic credit.
Within the first 24 credit hours, you need to take:
- Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (6 credit hours) BI-101 and -102
- Introduction to the New Testament (6 credit hours) BI-171 and -172
- The Church in History (6 credit hours) CH-101 and -102
- Spiritual Formation for the Practice of Ministry (3 credit hours) MM-101 and -102
- Foundations of Christian Worship (2 credit hours) PW-101
After the first 24 credit hours:
- Systematic Theology (6 credit hours) ST-305 and ST-306
- Christian Ethics (3 credit hours) Any 300-level ES course
- Practice in Ministry and Mission: Contextual Education (4 credit hours)
- Preaching & Worship Distribution Requirement (4 credit hours) Take two 300-level PW courses
- Practice in Ministry and Mission: Intercultural Immersion (2 credit hours) MM-350
At any other time during your attendance (check for prerequisites):
- Foundations of Preaching (2 credit hours) PW-125
- Practices of Leadership in Ministry/Church Administration (4 credit hours) Any combination of 100-level and 300-level CM courses
- Pastoral Care and Counseling (3 credit hours) PC-101 or PC-111
- Religion and the Arts (2 credit hours) Any 100-level RA course
- The Church in an Interreligious World (2 credit hours) Various courses as listed in each semester's course schedule
- Consortium Course (2 or 3 credit hours) – You must take at least one course in person, on-site at one of the other member seminaries of the Washington Theological Consortium prior to your last semester. Consortium courses can also be counted towards either a distribution requirement or the Church in the Interreligious World requirement with the approval of departmental faculty.
- Philosophy – If you haven’t had an undergraduate philosophy course (graded "B-" or above), you must complete ST-180 Philosophy for Theology, ST-181 Philosophical Backgrounds, or an equivalent before you may register for the Systematic Theology or Christian Ethics requirements.
Any additional credit hours beyond required courses are electives. You may use these to:
- Sample a range of curricular offerings.
- Concentrate your electives within a certain specialization such as Urban Ministry, Missional Church, Emerging Ministry, or Theology & the Arts.
- Satisfy your denomination’s ordination requirements
Before you choose electives, we suggest you:
- Peruse our elective options in the catalog.
- Request an advisor in a discipline to help guide you, especially if you are considering further graduate study.
- Review your ordination requirements.
The exciting new Wesley Hybrid MDiv Experience is Wesley's first non-residential Master degree program.
For those unable to relocate to Washington, The Wesley MDiv Experience will enable students to complete their MDiv in 4 years, primarily online with 8 weeks in total of intensive weeklong residencies at Wesley's DC campus.
The goal of the program is to ensure the multi-faceted formation provided by sharing learning, ministry and life together in community on campus by Wesley seminarians will also be experienced by those in the Hybrid MDiv Experience.
As with the residential MDiv program, 81 credits are required to complete the program. Tuition will be calculated on a per-credit basis (see "Affording a MDiv"). There will also be residency costs for the short, on-campus stays.
The intensive weeklong residencies will provide immersive seminary experiences where students come to campus mid-semester to advance learning and foster community through a planned set of courses and community-building experiences.
Interwoven into the intensive weeks of coursework will be regular chapel, service and other learning opportunities, making full use of the seminary’s unique placement in the heart of the Nation’s Capital. Sharing experiences such as visiting places related to coursework – the Capitol, the National Cathedral or the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture - or fun activities only possible in DC – such as viewing the national monuments illuminated at night – will form memories and connections that support the educational experience and build Beloved Community.
Building on a model similar to Wesley's highly successful Doctor of Ministry program that features short, cohort-based residencies, the Wesley Hybrid MDiv Experience will enable students to complete a 4 year MDiv degree via eight total hybrid intensive weeks on campus (2 weeks per year, one per semester) alongside online courses taken throughout the academic year (one class each fall and spring term, as well as online J-term and summer courses).
Yes! Wesley has offered a residential MDiv program with on-campus housing since its founding in 1882.
81 credits are required to complete the program. Tuition will be calculated on a per-credit basis (see "Affording a MDiv"). There is a range of housing options on-campus - dorm-style shared rooms (single rooms as required by CDC recommendations), apartments and more. Find out all you need to know about housing here. Food services are also available on campus - check with the Office of Residential Life for current services (which have adapted to pandemic requirements over the past years.)
It's amazing! The Office of Community Life and the Wesley Student Council and our many student associations work hard to foster a strong sense of community through regular communication and events, both in-person and online.
Wesley has an internationally recognized faculty of scholars, yet our seminary is small enough that professors know students by name, and opportunities to discuss research are easy to arrange.
Our Chapel Elder, The Rev. Cathy Abbott, and the faculty/student-run Chapel Committee plan Tuesday Chapel, a highlight of on-campus life at Wesley each week (with necessary accomodations made in keeping with CDC recommendations). Our community liturgical life reflects our diversity of denominations and cultural expressions, and Wesley's commitment to the integration of the arts and spirituality make for rich liturgical expressions.
Of course, Wesley's campus sits in the heart of the Nation’s Capital. Unique educational experience are found here, where meeting with politicians, activists and advocates for justice as one studies Public Theology is literally just a Metro stop away, Shared experiences with fellow students that are only available at Wesley in Washington, DC - visiting the Capitol, the National Cathedral or the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, walking the Mall or viewing monuments illuminated at night – makes memories and builds community. And there is so much more...but listen to our students share their experiences and view videos here.
Wesley MDiv: Personalizing Your Degree And Specializations
Wesley offers many ways for you to customize your MDiv to meet your ministerial and educational goals.
The Children and Youth Ministry & Advocacy specialization focuses on Christian formation for young people as well as engaging the church and public ministries in the work of advocacy, organizing, and seeking justice on behalf of children and youth. Learn more here.
The African American Church Studies (AACS) specialization was developed to prepare students to address the issues and challenges of leadership in African American contexts and communities through exposure to social, historical, and theological nuances of African American religious culture. Learn more here.
The arts specialization has been developed to explore the relationship between art and faith and develop skills for using art in worship and other areas of Christian life. Learn more about the Theology and the Arts certificate and arts courses here.
Urban Ministry Specialization
The Urban Ministry specialization equips leaders with skills that shape effective approaches in community engagement, social-entrepreneurship and ministry in metropolitan areas with transitioning communities.
Learn more about the Urban Ministry Specialization here.
The Public Theology specialization allows students to examine the relationship between Christian community and the pluralistic, complex world it inhabits.
Learn more about the Public Theology/Faith and Public Life program here.
Wesley MDiv: Requirements for UMC Candidates for Ordination
If you plan to be ordained as an elder or deacon in The United Methodist Church, the denomination ( not Wesley) requires you to take the following courses:
- History and Doctrine in Methodist Traditions (4 credit hours) ST-463 and -464
- Polity of the United Methodist Church (2 credit hours) CM-251
- Evangelism (2 or 3 credit hours) CM-270 or other courses as offered
Affording A MDiv
Wesley is committed to helping its students graduate as debt-free as possible. In addition to accessing a wide range of Wesley merit scholarships and federal aid, you can structure your MDiv to be affordable for you through a number of different ways: studying part-time, the student pastor program or on-campus working opportunities while you study. In addition, we encourage our students to be in conversation with their home church, denomination, and other entities to seek external funding opportunities.We will work with you to make your Wesley MDiv affordable.
Wesley tuition is calculated by credit hours. Current tuition (January 1-June 30, 2022) is $682 per degree credit hour, so your tuition will vary per semester, depending on how many credits you take. Remember, courses may provide 1, 2 or 3 credits towards the 81 credits required to graduate with a Wesley MDiv.
Degree candidates are certified as full-time when enrolled in at least 9 credit hours per semester. To be considered a half-time student, you must be enrolled in at least 5 credit hours per semester.
Additional Costs (Residential M.Div. Program)
- $647 per semester ($250 per term for students enrolled in less than 4 hours). For more information please visit the Catalog.
- Books and supplies estimate
- $150 per 3 credit course
- Housing (on campus, if applicable)
Visit our housing page for housing prices.