Master of Theology (ThM)
What Is a ThM Degree?
The ThM is a master of theology. The Master of Theology (ThM) program is a post-MDiv and/or post-MTS program designed for advanced study and academic research in a specialized area of the theological curriculum. This allows you to focus on a particular field or to prepare for doctoral-level work through a one- to two-year ThM program and a capstone thesis or a major research paper.
In short, the ThM program builds on the foundation of your MDiv or MTS degree to bring a new level of study and scholarship, to edify the church and the world.
What Can You Do with a Master in Theology?
Here are just some of the roles held by Christian leaders with a ThM degree:
- Youth pastor or youth director
- Worship pastor or worship director
- Ministry pastor or ministry director
- Worship pastor or worship director
- Parachurch ministry leader
- Denominational ministry leader
- PhD student
- Nonprofit leader
- School administrator
Our Master of Theology Program
A Flexible Curriculum to Match Your Concentration Interests
The ThM program offers a variety of concentrations, including:
- Old Testament: Are you ready to dig into the narratives of the Old Testament? Do you enjoy reading ancient Scriptures through a Christ-centered lens? This concentration offers an in-depth look at the Old Testament of God’s living Word.
- Ancient Near Eastern Language and Literature: Do you have a passion to know more about Old Testament history? Through this concentration you will examine the cultures surrounding the Old Testament to illuminate Scripture from linguistic, sociological, and theological perspectives.
- New Testament: Does the life of Jesus, as well as the acts of the early church, excite you? Do you pore over Scripture with an eagerness to understand more deeply? This concentration offers an up-close look at the New Testament of God’s living Word.
- History of Christianity: If you love studying history and the life of the global church, this concentration offers you a deeper study of the development of Christian communities over time.
- Systematic Theology: What is theology? Why does it matter? What is the story being told in the whole of Scripture? Explore these questions and more through the systematic theology concentration.
- Philosophical and Moral Theology: For students who have a passion for ethical living, personally and communally, this concentration offers a philosophical and practical look at moral theology. If you are drawn to the work of thought-provoking authors throughout time, energized by philosophical conversations with your peers, and curious about the implications of philosophy for the church and the world, this concentration is also your key to open doors of the mind.
- Pastoral Care: For students who are preparing for vocations in pastoral care, this concentration expands learning in areas of best practices in faith-based care for communities of believers and the general public.
- Pastoral Leadership: For current pastors or those feeling called to the role, this concentration offers insights, best practices, and spiritual grounding for pastoral leadership.
- Preaching: This concentration is designed for students looking to enrich their preaching and sharing of God’s truth through effective speaking techniques and engaging sermon resources.
- Worship: Immerse yourself in a concentration that highlights the history, role, and various expressions of worship. Worship leaders, church leaders, and all with a passion for glorifying God together are welcome.
- Evangelism: How does a missional perspective change the way we live? How can we share the Gospel with truth and grace? How can cross-cultural ministry honor all involved? Explore these questions and more through a concentration in evangelism.
- Educational Ministry: Build on your understanding of education as mission. Join with other like-minded leaders to pursue this concentration that prepares educators and administrators from preschool to higher ed to impact Christ-centered learning communities.
Develops research paper writing skills, and introduces basic research and Biblical methodologies. Students learn to analyze scholarly articles, write a 15-20 page research paper, meet with professors in the area of their specialization (biblical, theological, ministry) to finish the first draft, and then rewrite the paper.
Specialized Electives (9)
General Elective (3)
A ThM student has the option of writing a six-hour thesis on a topic within the student’s area of concentration. The student is responsible to find a supervisor appropriate for the topic. The supervisor will identify a second reader. The thesis will ordinarily be approximately 100 pages in length, not including the bibliography. The student defends the thesis before the supervisor and the second reader.
A ThM student has the option of writing a three-hour major paper within the student’s area of concentration. The student is responsible to find a supervisor appropriate for the topic. The major paper will ordinarily be 30 pages in length, not including the bibliography.
ThM Degree in Michigan or Online
The in-person program allows you to learn in our newly remodeled smart classrooms alongside your peers and mentors. Experience true community, below-market housing (optional), and a vibrant city at your fingertips.
The online, synchronous program is consistent with residential coursework but offers the flexibility of remote study. You will log in (from anywhere!) at specific times to share in live learning opportunities.
The ThM program, and all Calvin Seminary programs, are taught from a Reformed perspective. However, students from a variety of Christian backgrounds are embraced at Calvin and make our community ecumenically rich.
Academic & Vocational Support
In additional to contextual learning, the Vocational Formation Office offers students the following support during their academic journey:
Formation Groups with Peers
Both residential and distance learning students will be placed in formation groups during their first year at Calvin Seminary. Formation groups are led by mentors from both within the seminary and the broader community. Students will learn and grow alongside their peers, meeting weekly to pray, develop, and learn together. This peer group is designed to normalize peer care and prayerful support using structured conversations and reflective assignments.
Calvin Seminary’s mission is to equip ministry leaders to make disciples. Part of this process is supporting students, not only as they learn about theology or best practices in ministry, but also as they learn about themselves. Just like students learn within a classroom, self-discovery happens in community. That is why each student is connected with a vocational mentor.
A new tool of the vocational and leadership formation initiative at the seminary is a 65-year-old, strengths-based assessment called the Birkman, a tool that both Calvin Seminary and the CRCNA’s Pastor-Church Resources office is using with promising results.
Finishing Your Master of Theology
How Long Does a ThM Take?
After you have finished your MDiv or MTS, the ThM takes an additional 1–2 years to complete.
Key Learning Outcomes
The ThM program is designed to achieve these key learning outcomes:
- Academic mastery: Students have academic mastery in a specific theological discipline.
- Sound scholarship: Students can engage in sound scholarship that exhibits independent inquiry, academic research, critical analysis, and scholarly writing.
- Understanding theological approaches: Students can articulate both their own tradition’s perspective on their area of specialization and the strengths and weaknesses of other theological approaches.
- Virtuous analysis: Students exhibit the fruit of the Spirit by providing thoughtful, fair, and respectful analyses and interpretations that recognize the strengths of positions with which they disagree and the weaknesses of positions with which they agree.
- Respectful dialogue: Students can persuasively articulate their own theological positions as well as engage in informed, respectful dialogue with other points of view.
- Diversity of perspective: Through exposure to fellow students from around the world and to scholarly literature representing diverse points of view, students appreciate the ways in which various cultural and religious contexts challenge and enrich theological reflection.
- Edification: Students engage in theology that strengthens the church’s biblical and theological understanding and its ministry.
Paths to Ordination
The ThM degree is not a required step along the paths to ordination. However, the relevant coursework of a PhD could enrich your service in ordained ministry.
How to Apply
Your ThM program could be just an application away. You are encouraged to take the first step by applying now and submitting supplemental materials through our application process. This simple step could start you on the path to a degree and vocation you love, supported by a community that is theologically rich, academically rigorous, and warmly hospitable.
Applications are generally accepted on a rolling basis, but international students are encouraged to apply as early as possible to coordinate travel and immigration logistics.
The following are general application deadline guidelines:
Fall Semester (September–December)
- July 1: North American Applicant Deadline
- June 1: International Student Deadline
- March 1: Apply for this date to be considered for first round of scholarship awarding. Note: If you miss this date it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t receive a scholarship, but you may miss the first round of awarding.
Spring Semester (Late January–May)
- November 15
Summer Term (May–August)
- April 1
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Start your ThM journey today when you apply now.
Get to Know Calvin Theological Seminary
Meet Your Faculty
Faculty at Calvin Theological Seminary carry out the seminary’s mission as inspiring thought leaders, invested teachers and mentors, and committed followers of Christ.
Past graduates have applied their learning to a variety of ministry-based opportunities. Here are some of their stories.
In addition to contextual learning, the Vocational Formation Office offers students other forms of support, including formation groups with peers, vocational mentors, and assessment tools to help students identify and cultivate their strengths.