Master of Divinity Degree (Online M.Div)

Credit Hours

Years (full-time)

Time Commitment

Part-Time or Full-Time

In-Person or Online?

Both

Most of the M.Div courses are taught online. A few courses are taught on-site at LTS, as intensives. Students also take active learning roles in their community congregations.

Accreditation

ATS

Application Deadline

No deadline. Rolling admissions.

Program Start

Rolling start date.

A Professional Master’s Degree Program Designed to Help Individuals Preparing for Christian Ministry

Lexington Theological Seminary is an ATS-accredited theological school in Lexington, KY. We offer an in-person and online M.Div program. Most of the M.Div courses are offered online. Students must complete 24 of the program’s 76-hour graduation requirement on campus. Our 10-day, in-person intensives are held on campus twice a year, in January and June. The on-campus courses are offered in 3-day segments. Students can choose to take one course or all three, depending on their personal availability.

Our M.Div program is an affordable, flexible course of study. It’s designed for busy professionals who feel called to ministry, but who don’t want to quit their jobs or move their families to pursue higher education.

This degree is required for ordination by many denominations, including: United Church of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Methodist Church, and the Presbyterian Church. Our students study in-person, online, and in the community. Our hands-on approach integrates academic study with real-world experience. Students graduate fully equipped to engage modern congregations in practical transformational ministry.

Why Choose Lexington Theological Seminary’s Master of Divinity ONLINE Degree?

Jesus Christ told his followers to make disciples of all nations.

Our M.Div graduates leave LTS equipped with the skills they need to build and nurture modern congregations—either directly through pastoral ministry or as change agents in their greater communities—so the saving message of Christ can continue to be shared with the world.

Your education at LTS will be guided by a diverse faculty of thought-leaders who are dedicated to empowering others to build inclusive communities in Christ.

Our in-person and online master’s program allows students to pursue theological study and academic knowledge while simultaneously learning the practical skills needed for a career in ministry in its many forms. We place a high priority on community engagement as a pathway to transformation. The LTS learning community is online, on-site and in the congregation.

We believe answering God’s call should not be unattainable for financial reasons, so we strive to keep LTS an affordable seminary option for our students.

Our program’s flexibility also allows students to enroll without interrupting their day-to-day lives which often include full-time jobs outside the church.

Take Your Next Steps With a Community-Centered Program

The LTS M.Div program pairs the benefits of both online and in-person courses of study for a comprehensive degree program that is 90% online, with short on-campus intensives twice a year.

Our in-person and online master’s program allows students to pursue theological study and academic knowledge while simultaneously learning the practical skills needed for a career in ministry in its many forms. We place a high priority on community engagement as a pathway to transformation. The LTS learning community is online, on-site and in the congregation.

  • FLEXIBLE: Enjoy the convenience of completing most of your coursework online, without sacrificing the in-person community and fellowship of traditional, on-campus higher-ed.
  • DIVERSE: Our location-independent online program allows students from diverse geographic areas to enroll, resulting in a diversity of perspectives and life experiences represented.
  • HANDS-ON: On-campus Intensives provide the practical experience needed to gain career skills without interrupting daily life.
  • CONVENIENT: Online courses allow students to work toward a higher degree without spending extended time away from their families.
  • COMMUNITY-CENTERED: Spending time with peers both online and in-person cultivates community and encourages professional networking.

 

What will I learn in the LTS M.Div program?

M.Div students at LTS work to gain the necessary academic knowledge and applicable leadership skills to successfully interpret Scripture for the church in a contemporary context. Students learn from a diverse faculty of thought-leaders who are dedicated to empowering others with the skills needed for building inclusive communities in Jesus Christ.

Our students learn to think critically and creatively about the Christian faith so they can grow into the skilled church leaders needed for effective ministry leadership in the Christian community. Through biblical studies coupled with the practice of spiritual discernment and spiritual formation, M.Div graduate students learn to apply the teachings of the Gospel to varying socio-cultural and ecclesial contexts.

Students will learn to integrate the spiritual, intellectual, and practical aspects of ministry through courses in:

  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Church History
  • Homiletics
  • Christian Apologetics
  • Theology
  • Pastoral Care
  • Church History
  • Congregational Leadership
  • Worship Leadership
  • Teaching the Faith
  • Stages of Faith/Faith Development
  • Church Administration
  • Social and Racial Justice Issues

What Can I Do With a Master of Divinity Degree?

Graduates of our in-person and online M.Div program have gone on to roles in ministry and as well as reflective, action-based leaders in various fields and communities.

Some potential career options for graduates of our program include:

  • Ordained ministry
  • Pastoral ministry
  • Relational ministry
  • Youth ministry
  • Church leadership
  • Non-profit leadership
  • Denominational work
  • Missionaries
  • Para-church organizations (e.g. Kentucky Council of Churches, Church World Service)

 

The LTS M.Div degree is both in-person and online. Most of our courses are online, with a select few required courses scheduled as on-campus intensives.

Most students complete the program within 5 years, but time to completion depends on how much time a student can devote to coursework.

Most students spend around 10 hours per week on coursework plus 10 hours per week in hands-on practice in their congregation.

The M.Div degree includes a congregational component of approximately 10 hours of practical, supervised experience. Students already working in a church can use their work experience to supply this field-based learning. If not working in a church, one needs a congregational sponsor.

LTS is dedicated to making our degree programs accessible to students from all walks of life. All M.Div students receive 30% off tuition (full tuition is $480/credit hour).

Students who are members of the Disciples of Christ or United Church of Christ and are under the care of their ordaining bodies receive a 50% tuition waiver.

We also offer 10 full scholarships for M.Div students, regardless of denomination, who show potential for congregational and transformative ministry, and who can successfully complete 12 credit hours per year.

A further 10 75% tuition waiver scholarships are awarded to M.Div students, regardless of denomination, who show potential, demonstrate need, and can successfully complete 12 hours/year.
Outside scholarships are also available. Learn more about our scholarship opportunities, student loans, and payment plans by visiting our Student Services page.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, and many other denominations require an M.Div for those seeking ordination. A Master of Theology (MTS) degree requires fewer hours and can be used for church leadership or to go on to doctoral level work. LTS MTS classes are on the same track as M.Div students. The major difference between the M.Div degree and the MTS degree is that MTS students take fewer classes and complete fewer credit hours than M.Div students do.

Divinity schools are often associated with larger universities, while seminaries tend to be stand-alone institutions. Lexington Theology Seminary, as our name indicates, reflects our commitment to sound theological education that prepares students for ministry.

Professors, employers, ministers, and conference or regional leaders in the church can write letters for applicants.

Our Curriculum

Level I: Apprentice Level (500 Level Courses) 50.0 credit hours
Areas of Ministry
Succeeding in Seminary (SIS) 2.0
Interpreting the Scriptures for the Church (IS) 10.0
Interpreting the Past for the Church (IP) 4.0
Interpreting the Faith for the Church (IF) 10.0
Interpreting the Behavior of the Church (IB) 4.0
Leading the Church Through Care (LC) 4.0
Leading the Church in Worship (LW) 6.0
Leading the Church into Mission (LM) 6.0
Leading the Church in Formation (LF) 4.0
Level II: Journeyer Level (600 Level Courses) 18.0 credit hours
Level III: Master Level (Capstone Project) 6.0 credit hours
Covenant Groups 2.0
TOTAL HOURS 76.0

View Course Catelog

On Campus Intensives

Our hybrid program provides flexibility for the modern theology student without sacrificing in-person fellowship.

Most M.Div coursework can be completed online. However, we require that students complete 24 of the program’s 76-hour graduation requirement in-person during our 10-day on-campus intensives, which are offered twice a year.

During an on-campus intensive, a typical 2-month, 2-credit course is covered in 3 days of full-time coursework. Students can select from classes in the categories of Leading Care (Pastoral Care), Leading Worship (Planning Worship/Sermon Preparation), Interpreting Scripture (Biblical Studies), Leading Mission (Mission/Church Governance/Administration), Interpreting Faith (Theology), and Doctoral classes in studying culture and congregations.
These intensives give students the opportunity to finish some of their coursework at an accelerated pace. Spending time together on campus also provides time for students to worship, study, dine, and relax together in a community of Christ.*

*Please note that a community luncheon is provided each day of Intensives. Transportation, accommodations, and meals are not included in tuition.

Time to Graduation

This program can be completed in 3 years for full-time students and in 4-6 years for part-time students. 

Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dean and Professor of Constructive Theology

M.Div Courses Taught

  • DMin 814

The Rev. Dr. Loida I. Martell joined the LTS faculty in August of 2017. Prior to that, she was Professor of Constructive Theology at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Martell is a licensed doctor in veterinary medicine as well as an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches/ USA. She is a bi-coastal Puerto Rican who has taught in various institutions of higher learning including Gordon Conwell’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education in Boston, and the University of Puerto Rico’s College of Allied Health Professionals.

She pastored in New York City for 15 years, and served as President of the Board of American Baptist Churches/ Metro New York City from 1994–1996.

Dr. Martell pioneered the study of evángelica theology. She has published articles on evangélica soteriology, Christology, doctrine of God, eschatology, Scriptural hermeneutics, globalization, embodiment, and vocation. Her research on Taíno religious beliefs led to the publication of “My GPS Doesn’t Work in Puerto Rico,” on evangélica spirituality. She co-edited Teología en Conjunto: A Collaborative Hispanic Protestant Theology (1997), and more recently co-authored the well-received Latina Evangélicas: A Theological Survey from the Margins (2013).

Dr. Martell is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association. As a member of the American Academy of Religion, she currently serves as President of La Comunidad of Hispanic Scholars of Religion. She was appointed to represent the American Baptist Churches/ USA on the National Council of Churches Convening Table for Theological Studies and Matters of Faith and Reason. The American Baptist Home Missions Societies awarded her the 2015 Richard Hoiland Christian Education Award, its highest recognition for “faithful and effective leadership in Christian education,” for her long-standing work in nurturing culturally and racially diverse classrooms and for exceptional leadership.

Dr. Martell is an avid amateur photographer.

Professor of Biblical Studies

Dr. Sumney joined LTS in 1997. Prior to that time he taught in the religion department at Ferrum College from 1986-1997.

Dr. Sumney is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and is past president for the Southeastern Region of the Society. At the national level, he also served as the chair of the steering committee for the Theology of the Disputed Paulines Group from 1996-2001 and as the chair of the steering committee for the Disputed Paulines Section from 2004-2012. He also chaired the Pauline Epistles and Literature Section of the International Meeting of the SBL 2003-2008.  He was elected to membership in the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (SNTS) in 2005.

He has written seven books: Paul: Apostle and Fellow Traveler (2014); The Bible: An Introduction (2010; 2nd edition, 2014); Colossians; A Commentary, New Testament Library Series (2008); Philippians, A Handbook for Second-Year Greek Students (2007); Servants of Satan, False Brothers, and Other Pauline Opponents (1999); Preaching Apocalyptic Texts (co-authored with Larry Paul Jones; 1999) and Identifying Paul’s Opponents (1990).

He is editor of Reading Paul’s Letter to Romans (2012); The Order of the Ministry; Equipping the Saints (2002) and co-editor of Theology and Ethics in Paul and His Interpreters (1996) and Paul and Pathos (2001).

He also has written over 30 articles in journals and books. He also contributed entries to the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible and the Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, and the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics. In addition, was a contributor to the The College Study Bible and the CEB Study Bible.  He is currently working on a book on Paul’s use of tradition, a commentary on 1 Corinthians, and the Bible study section of an issue of the New International Sunday School Lesson Annual.

Sumney has presented papers at regional, national, and international academic conferences.  He has also led numerous workshops for elders and deacons, and Bible study workshops and series, including in the Lay School of Theology at LTS and in the school for licensed ministers sponsored by the Kentucky region of the Christian Church.

He is the regular teacher of an adult Sunday School Class in his home church.

Dr. Sumney and his wife, Diane, have three daughters: Elizabeth, Victoria, and Margaret.

Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship

The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade is the Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky. An ordained Lutheran minister (ELCA) for more than twenty years, Leah earned both her MDiv and PhD degrees from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (now United Lutheran Seminary). She has pastored three Pennsylvania congregations in suburban, urban, and rural contexts.

Her book, Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019), explores how clergy and congregations can address controversial social issues using nonpartisan, biblically-centered approaches and deliberative dialogue. She is also the author of Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015), as well as For the Beauty of the Earth , a Creation-centered Lenten devotional (Chalice Press, 2019). She is co-editor and author with Margaret Bullitt-Jonas of Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019), and co-author with Jerry Sumney of Apocalypse When?: A Guide to Interpreting and Preaching Apocalyptic Texts. She is also the EcoPreacher blogger for Patheos.

In December 2021, Dr. Schade was elected 2nd Vice President of the Academy of Homiletics, a three-year position that will culminate with serving as President of the Academy in 2024. She has been a featured speaker for the Festival of Homiletics, leads workshops and retreats, and keynotes events throughout the country. She is the director of a Wabash grant exploring the use of deliberative dialogue in congregations and theological education and is part of a research exchange with the Kettering Foundation studying the role of religious organizations in democratic community building. Dr. Schade is also conducting a longitudinal research study about ministry, preaching, and social issues that has surveyed nearly 3,000 clergy and 1,000 laity since 2017.

Dr. Schade received the Kentucky Council of Churches award in 2019. She is also co-founder of the Clergy Emergency League, a network of more than 2,600 pastors throughout the U.S. who provide support, accountability, resources, and networking for clergy to prophetically minister in their congregations and the public square in this time of political upheaval, social unrest, and partisan division.

Visiting Assistant Professor for Pastoral Leadership and Ethics.

Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis is a United Church of Christ Pastor and Professor. She brings over 30 years of experience as a pastor and chaplain. She is a Womanist Practical Scholar and Ethicist and serves Lexington Theological Seminary as the Visiting Assistant Professor for Pastoral Leadership and Ethics.

Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis lectures both nationally and internationally in Sexual and Domestic as they intersect with issues of race, class, culture, gender, gender identity and the Criminal Justice System. Sharon served over thirty-one years as a career Chicago Police Officer. In this capacity she served as patrol officer, police chaplain, and a criminalist in the Department’s crime laboratory division, examining evidence from crime scenes and testifying in court as an expert witness in forensic science. Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis is a trainer with the FaithTrust Institute based in Seattle, Washington and offers training to pastors and church leaders in the areas of Safe and Healthy Churches and Healthy Clergy Boundaries. Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis earned her M.Div., (Pastoral Care), and Ph.D., (Theology, Ethics and the Human Science, sociology) from Chicago Theological Seminary and McCormick Theological Seminary, respectively.

She serves as Affiliate Professor with McCormick Theological Seminary and served as Mentor of Doctor of Ministry Students, United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH, leading over 30 Doctor of Ministry Students successfully through the program earning their degrees. Sharon is a published author. She published in 2014, as part of her PhD studies and research, African American Battered Women: A Study in Gender Entrapment. Her most recent book was recently released, (July 2022), The Trauma of Sexual and Domestic Violence: Navigating My Way Through Individuals, Religion, Policing and the Courts. Sharon is a Board-Certified Chaplain, (BCC) with the Association of Professional Chaplains, (APC).

Prerequisites for the LTS Online M.Div Degree:

  • Bachelor’s degree* with a 2.5 GPA or higher
  • Letters of reference
  • Sponsorship by a congregation in which one can practice ministry

Application Deadline: August 1

Program Start: October 1

*Applicants who do not have a bachelor’s degree can earn the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry and later transfer those hours into the M.Div program.

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