7.0 Degree Programs

Degree-seeking students typically are accepted to LTS in a specific course of study.

Should the student desire a change in program, from the M.T.S. to the M.Div. or vice-versa, or a change from non-degree to degree-seeking status, a request for the change must be submitted to the Director of Admissions. The request must contain the reasons for the request and the planned completion of the new course of study, and it must be signed by the student’s Faculty Advisor. The Director of Admissions will review the request and make a decision or request additional information.

 7.1  Master of Divinity (M.Div.):  The M. Div. is a professional degree designed to help persons preparing for Christian ministry. This degree is required for ordination by many denominations. The total number of hours required for graduation is 76. There are four primary goals to the M.Div. degree at Lexington Theological Seminary.  They are:

  • that students will learn to think critically and creatively about the Christian faith;
  • that students will gain the skills and knowledge in the fields of theology, church history, ethics, and Biblical studies that are needed for effective leadership in the Christian community;
  • that students will gain specific pastoral and leadership skills appropriate to ordained ministry, including teaching, preaching, and pastoral care;
  • that students will learn to appropriate the Gospel for their varying contexts; and that students will learn to integrate the spiritual, intellectual, and practical aspects of ministry.

7.1.1  Time Limit:  The Master of Divinity degree must have been completed within ten years prior to the granting of the degree.

7.1.2  Curriculum Requirements:  The degree can be completed in three years by taking twenty-five to twenty-six hours each year. It can be completed in four years by taking nineteen hours each year. Students must fulfill the curricular requirements in place when they enter the degree program. (For more information on allowable transfer credits, see Section 5.9, Transfer Credit.)

7.1.3  Ministry Site:  A major component of the Master of Divinity degree is the participation in the life of a congregation. Students will serve in an accountable ministry in a congregational setting throughout their degree program.  (See Appendix K, Accountable Ministry Site) In the experience of this ministry site, students will benefit from the distinctive formation of congregational life and leadership.  A student who wishes to have a fulltime chaplaincy position recognized as an accountable ministry site must petition the dean for an exception to this policy.  Renewal of this exception must be requested annually, and will be limited to one third of the student’s program.  Being granted this exception does not release the student from congregation-based course assignments.

7.1.4  Mentors:  Each Master of Divinity student will be partnered with a local mentor during his/her degree program. The mentors help students reflect upon the ministry in which they are participating as well as participate in the evaluation of the students’ competency exercises and consult with them in the development of their capstone project in Level III of the degree program.

7.1.5  Covenant Groups:  Master of Divinity students participate in a covenant group for no less than 4 terms.  Each term of a covenant group last three months and earns .5 credit hour toward the degree.  The covenant groups meet twice a month and are co-led by a professor and an experienced pastor.  Students will participate in two covenant groups during Level I of their program before their competency exercises are completed, one during Level II, and one during Level III.

7.1.6  Competency Exercises – Requirements

  • The competency exercise integrates two subject areas, ordinarily one from the Interpreting area and one from the Leading area.
  • The core of a competency exercise is an event or series of events in a student’s accountable ministry site that displays a coherent pastoral practice or set of practices.
  • Competency in each of the two subject areas, as well as their integration, is to be exhibited in this pastoral practice or set of practices.
  • The student builds a portfolio of materials around this event or events that displays the pastoral practice(s).  This portfolio is the basis for instructor evaluation of the student’s competency.  The portfolio includes the following types of materials:
    • advanced writing about the pastoral practice from the perspective of the two subject areas as a preparation for the event(s) that display the pastoral practice;
    • a recording of the event(s), e.g., a videotape of a worship, a pastoral care verbatim, or an audio tape of a meeting;
    • written evaluations by the church, the student, and the student’s mentor of the efficacy of the pastoral practice displayed in the event(s).
  • The instructors will prepare a description of the work the student must do to complete the exercise and an assessment rubric identifying the specific knowledge, skill and character competencies on which the student will be assessed.  This rubric should be structured in correlation with the five curricular goals for the M.Div.  The instructors also design the assessment instruments used by church, student and mentor to record their evaluations of the student’s performance.
  • The faculty member in each subject area assigns the grade for that subject area.
  • If a student fails a competency exercise, he or she is allowed to re-take that same exercise once.  If the student fails the second time, she or he may not continue the M.Div. program.  The student is eligible to be considered for transfer to another of the seminary’s programs.

7.1.7  Competency Exercises – Procedures

  • The dean will review competency exercises designed by adjunct faculty to ensure consistency with the above framework and its implementation by regular faculty.
  • The subject areas paired in each competency exercise are chosen by the student.
  • Students will both register separately, and receive separate grades, for each area of a competency exercise.  For example, an IF-LM competency exercise is actually registered as two separate items, an IF competency exercise and an LM competency exercise, for which the student receives separate grades.

7.1.8  Competency Exercises – Effect of Waivers

Students may receive a waiver for competency exercises in specific subject areas by virtue of transfer credit.  Since competency exercises normally integrate one Interpreting subject area and one Leading subject area, waivers may create two kinds of exceptional situations that this policy addresses.

  • If, due to waivers, a student is left with a single subject area that cannot be paired with another to create a competency exercise, the student is not required to complete a competency exercise in that subject area, but must take 500-level courses in the subject sufficient to complete the credit hour requirement in that area, and must take a 600-level (Level II) elective that integrates that subject area with another.
  • If, due to waivers, a student cannot match Interpreting and Leading subject areas for every competency exercise, the student may complete one competency exercise matching two Interpreting subject areas or two Leading subject areas.  However, the student must take a 600-level (Level II) elective in the subject areas that were waived initially.

7.1.9  Policy for Moving from Level I (Apprenticeship Stage; 500-level) to Level II (Journeyer Stage; 600-level) Coursework

Students may begin to take Level II courses when they have passed one Competency Exercise. In order to take Level II courses in a subject area in which they have not passed a Competency Exercise, students must have completed at least 60% of the Level I credits in that subject area.

7.1.10    Capstone Project:

  • The Capstone Project that constitutes the Master level of the M.Div. curriculum begins with a proposal from the student that defines a project that the student will carry out in an accountable ministry site and around which the student will build a portfolio of materials that provides the basis for evaluating the student’s performance.
  • The Capstone Project usually will be carried out in the student’s accountable ministry site or another congregation where the student is well known.  Students may petition the dean for an exception  to this requirement.  The student will developed this petition in consultation with her or his faculty advisor.
  • The amount of work entailed by the Capstone Project is a combination of reading, activities and writing that represents 6 credits of work according to the school’s established norms.
  • The project should be completed and the portfolio submitted to the evaluators within not less than 3 months and not more than 6 months of the approval of the proposal.
  • A proposal for the Capstone Project is developed by the student in consultation with his or her faculty advisor (as well as other persons the advisor deems appropriate), who gives approval when she or he judges the proposal to be sufficiently well-developed.  A completed proposal should include at the following items:
    • The issue faced by the congregation that will be the focus of the project.  This should be more in the nature of an on-going problematic faced by the congregation than a problem for which an immediate solution can be constructed.
    • A sketch of a multi-layered strategy for responding to the issue, including a hypothesis or other definition of success in addressing the issue.
    • A sketch of the biblical, theological, historical, and ethical foundations for analyzing the issue.
    • A sketch of pastoral leadership approaches for addressing the issue, including liturgical, educational, programmatic, and missional.
    • An initial annotated bibliography of resources related to the issue.
    • The contents of the portfolio that will be submitted for evaluation at the end of the project.
    • The name of the local expert (e.g., local clergy mentor, work supervisor) who will serve as a consultant for the student during the carrying out of the project and join the faculty advisor in evaluating the portfolio at the end of the project.
  • Although the contents of each portfolio will be adapted to the particular nature of the project the student proposes, every portfolio should include items in the following broad areas:
    • Significant writing that develops an integrated analysis of the issue drawing on appropriate Interpreting and Leading subject areas, including but not limited to prior work in the degree program;
    • A thorough description of the approaches for addressing the issue, drawing on appropriate Interpreting and Leading subject areas  (including but not limited to prior work in the degree program) to undergird the choice of approaches;
    • Any work products actually used in carrying out the project in the congregation;
    • Evaluations of the project’s performance by recipient of the ministry;
    • The student’s reflection on: how well the various aspects of the project worked, and why; how the student’s analysis of the issue is changed by his or her experience of the project; what the student sees as the next steps in addressing the issue now that the project is completed.
  • Students register for the Capstone Project in the month after their proposal is approved.
  • The local expert named in the proposal joins the faculty advisor in evaluating the portfolio and offering the student feedback.  The evaluation team may ask the student to re-work some part of the project or portfolio before a final grade is assigned.  The faculty advisor assigns the grade for the Capstone Project.  A passing grade for the Capstone Project is C (i.e., 73 or higher).  A student who receives a lower grade may re-take the Capstone Project once.  A student re-taking the Capstone Project may be asked to re-write all or part of their proposal.

7.1.11    Gerontology Program:  The University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging offers a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. The program requires twelve hours of classroom work and a field experience for which three hours of credit are earned. LTS will accept the fifteen hours of work for transfer into the Master of Divinity degree program. The LTS Professor of Pastoral Leadership will work with the academic advisor at UK in an effort for the UK field education to count as one of the electives at LTS for M.Div. students.

7.2  Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.):  The Master of Theological Studies is a program designed to prepare men and women for a wide variety of ministries including advanced graduate study in one of the theological disciplines. It introduces students to the main theological disciplines, provides opportunity for some specialization, and requires a thesis relevant to the student’s goal. It is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate preparation for a variety of vocational goals.

7.2.1  Time Limit:  Coursework counted toward the completion of the Master of Theological Studies degree must have been completed within ten years prior to the granting of the degree.

7.2.2  Master of Theological Studies Basic Curriculum Requirements:  For information on allowable transfer credits, see Section 5.9, Transfer Credit. For an overview of the curriculum structure, go to ___________.

7.2.3  Ministry Site Course:  Students may receive credit for a single course for work in a ministry site after completing 20 credit hours of work in the program. The student will register for this work as a Directed Study with the Professor of Pastoral Leadership.

Each credit hour of supervised practice must include:

1) at least 100 hours of supervised practice,

2) under the supervision of that faculty member before the supervised practice begins, an articulation of the learning goals to be accomplished,

3) a final evaluation from the supervisor of the practice, and

4) a structured reflection with that faculty member about achieving the learning goals.

This course may be taken for between 1 and 3 credit hours.  Students will receive only Pass/Fail grades for the directed study in a ministry site.

7.2.4  Gerontology Program:  The University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging offers a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. Students in the Lexington area may enroll in this program. The program requires twelve hours of classroom work and a field experience for which three hours of credit are earned. Lexington Theological Seminary will accept the fifteen hours of work for transfer into the Master of Arts degree program.

7.2.5  Master of Theological Studies Thesis:  The M.T.S. thesis is the culmination of the Master of Theological Studies degree at LTS.

Standards for an M.T.S. Thesis:  The thesis should not be less than sixty pages in length. It must follow Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th ed., (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007) in matters of form and style. The thesis should build upon coursework and demonstrate an advanced level of research and thought.

The M.T.S. thesis is normally an academic research project, though the student may choose to relate the research to a question or issue in a religious community. It is expected that the M.T.S. thesis will demonstrate an advanced level of thought and facility in a field of religious studies.

The project provides an opportunity for candidates to engage in an inquiry which will:

  • Develop and demonstrate a deep and coherent understanding of an area of religious studies;
  • Further refine and integrate various elements of candidates’ academic work;
  • Represent an advanced degree of knowledge and skill in a particular area.

Thesis Proposal Due Dates:  The process of thesis submission begins with the thesis proposal. Master of Theological Studies students must submit a thesis proposal to the faculty for approval. The following guidelines apply:

  • Proposals are due after students complete thirty-three credit hours and no later than the completion of thirty-nine hours.
  • Proposals are due in the Office of the Dean on the third Friday of the month proceeding the month the proposal is being presented to the faculty.
  • Students who do not submit their proposals by the time they complete thirty-nine hours will not be allowed to register for subsequent coursework. The Registrar’s Office will be responsible for identifying students who are not allowed to register for further coursework.

Thesis Proposal Preparation and Submission:  Before beginning to write the proposal, a student must select a proposed Thesis Advisor from among the faculty and that faculty member must agree to advise the student. The student should confer with her/his proposed Thesis Advisor about procedures and faculty expectations. The proposed Thesis Advisor will engage the student in a discussion of the main considerations in the proposal.

Before the proposal is submitted for approval, the student will:

  • Review the thesis proposal with and receive approval from the proposed Thesis Advisor.
  • Select proposed thesis readers from a related field. One of the readers may be from an institution other than LTS. Any outside reader must be approved by the Thesis Advisor and Dean. M.T.S. thesis readers must be faculty or retired faculty members of LTS or another institution accredited by the Association of Theological Schools and/or have their accreditation recognized by the United States Department of Education (or international equivalent), and must be involved in a discipline related to the content of the thesis.
  • Secure from the readers their consent to serve.

The thesis proposal is an 800 to 1,300 words, 12-point font, double-spaced document which shall contain the following elements:

  • Title
  • Thesis Statement
  • Methodology to be applied
  • Brief discussion of the existing scholarship on the topic
  • Statement of the nature and purpose of the thesis
  • Outline of the basic content of the thesis
  • Working bibliography, and
  • Names of two readers who agree to serve along with the Thesis Advisor as the Thesis Committee.

When the Thesis Advisor has approved a satisfactory draft, the student will prepare the final copy. The top of the first page of the proposal should contain the student’s and the Thesis Advisor’s typed names, signatures, and date signed.

The proposal is handed to the Dean’s office according to the above timetable.

The faculty will review the proposal at the faculty meeting following the due date of the proposal. Faculty meetings are generally the first Monday of each month. Faculty reserve the right to postpone review of any proposal to balance the distribution between meetings. Students will be advised of postponed proposals.

When the proposal comes before the faculty, it may be approved, returned for revision (of either content or designation of readers), or rejected. Should the proposal be rejected, the student must begin formulating another thesis proposal. All thesis proposals must be approved by the faculty.

Thesis Writing, Completion and Defense:  When writing the thesis the student must work closely with his or her thesis advisor sending portions or sections of the thesis to the advisor for feedback and modifications.

When the student and advisor agree that the thesis is close to completion the student may register for the thesis course credit.  Students should register for their thesis only in the month in which they expect to defend it.  Those who do not complete the thesis in the expected month will receive an NC as a grade until the thesis is completed and defended.

  • Students will submit a copy to each of the faculty members on their thesis committee.
  • Students will schedule a time for the thesis defense that is no less than 1 month before the date of graduation.

The defense is open to the entire faculty and is chaired by the Thesis Advisor.  Should others beyond faculty members wish to attend a thesis defense, they may do so only with the consent of the Thesis Advisor and Dean of the Seminary and only under whatever conditions the Advisor and Dean choose to impose.

Thesis Grade and Final Requirements:  As soon as possible after the defense, the student’s thesis committee will communicate the results of its evaluation.  The thesis committee will normally convene immediately following the defense so that they may convey the results of their deliberations to the student without delay.

Students may receive a grade on the thesis, a grade dependent upon revisions being made and approved by the Thesis Advisor or thesis committee, or, instructions to make substantial revisions and appear again to present a defense.

When the thesis is approved, the thesis committee members will sign the title page of the thesis in the appropriate place and the thesis advisor will submit the grade to the registrar.  A thesis will receive a grade of Credit or No Credit.

  • A minimum of a C performance is required for a thesis to receive a mark of Credit.
  • A thesis may also receive an “Honors” designation if the thesis committee determines that it is of superior quality.
  • For an M.T.S. thesis which is not complete at the end of the month for which it was registered, a No Credit (NC) will be reflected on the transcript until the thesis is successfully completed.

When the thesis committee has accepted the thesis, the student will submit two copies to the office of the Dean.  The copies must be submitted unbound on #16 Roman 12-point type on at least 50% cotton paper (twenty-weight).  No credit will be given for a thesis that does not conform to the correct form and style.

The Seminary will have the copies of the thesis bound.  One copy will remain in the Library and the other will be returned to the student.  Graduation fees that cover these costs are to be paid to the Business Office.

7.3  Master in Pastoral Studies (M.P.S.):  The purpose of the degree is to prepare Roman Catholics for lay ministry at a diocesan or parish level.  The degree is designed only for Roman Catholics who do not seek ordination.  Others will not be admitted.  Graduates of this program will have a basic knowledge of scripture, contemporary biblical scholarship, the Christian tradition, theology, moral theology, and sacramental traditions.  They will have skills in developing and executing programs of education, administration of parish life, and pastoral care and nurture of Christian communities.

7.3.1  Time Limit:  Coursework counted toward the completion of the Master in Pastoral Studies degree must have been completed within ten years prior to the granting of the degree.

7.3.2  Curriculum Requirements:  M.P.S students may transfer up to 15 hours into the program.  For more information on allowable transfer credits see section 5.9, Transfer Credit.  For an overview of the curriculum structure go to ___________________.

7.4  Doctor of Ministry:  The Doctor of Ministry program at Lexington Seminary is an advanced professional degree, designed to strengthen ministry practice and leadership in the midst of today’s rapidly changing cultures.  The program seeks to train students to be critical interpreters of culture and theology, skilled practitioners, and faithful leaders in ministry.  D.Min. studies call for rigorous academic work within the context of collegiality, spiritual formation, and a high level of commitment to the life and witness of the Church.  Our goal is to integrate an advanced level of theological reflection and the practice of ministry, thereby raising the standards of ministry and contributing to the continuing renewal and mission of the Church.

7.4.1  Time Limit:  Course work counted toward the completion of the Doctor of Ministry degree must have been completed within ten years prior to the granting of the degree.

7.4.2  Curriculum Requirements:  D.Min. students may transfer up to 3 elective hours into the program.  For information on allowable transfer credits see section 4.8, Transfer Credit.  For an overview of the curriculum structure go to  ___________________________.

7.4.3  Submission of Project Proposal:  After completing 20 hours in the program, and prior to the completion of 26 hours, the student will submit a Project Proposal to the D.Min. committee and the faculty.  The proposal should be three pages, single-spaced, in length; in addition a substantial bibliography (including key sources in the proposed field of study) must accompany the proposal.  A faculty member will be assigned by the D.Min. Director as advisor to the student prior to the writing of both the proposal and the final project.

The Project should arise from the practice of ministry in the congregation or church agency served by the doctoral candidate, and it must represent an advanced level of theology, research, and practice.  The goal is to require candidates to express her or his calling as practical theologians in defining and reflecting on an issue of significance in the life of the church or church agency.

The Project must reflect substantive, scholarly research in the area of inquiry.

Depending upon the nature of the Project, candidates may be required to enlist a collaborative team of leaders from the congregational or agency context in which they serve.

7.4.4 Models for the Project are:

  • Action/Reflection – The development and implementation of a program in a congregational or church agency setting, with particular emphasis on the theological grounding and the critical evaluation of the program.
  • Extended Research Essay –  An inquiry into a topic related to the integration of theology and the practice of ministry in a congregation or church agency.

7.4.5 Project Dates:  Candidates will register and pay tuition for the D.Min. project in the semester in which they present the project.  The Seminary requires that projects be submitted to the D.Min. Director by February 1 of the proposed graduation year.

Following the presentation and any required revisions and ultimate approval, two copies of the final approved project are to be sent to the D.Min. Director by May 1 of the year in which the degree is to be conferred.

7.4.6 Project Format:  The optimum length of the final project is approximately 125 pages, and there is an absolute maximum of 150 pages.  The paper must follow Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007) in matters of form and style.

7.4.7 Project Completion and Committee Presentation:  The following steps describe the process of preparation, oral presentation, revision and final submission of the project following acceptance of the project proposal:

  • The candidate is required to submit chapter drafts to her/his Project Advisor.
  • When the project is completed and receives final approval from the Project Advisor, three copies of the project are submitted to the D.Min. Director.
  • Upon receipt of the project, the D.Min.. Director appoints a third faculty reader.
  • The candidate must schedule the oral presentation when the final project is submitted to the Director of the D.Min.. Program.
  • The oral presentation meeting will last approximately one hour.  The candidate will give a brief summary of the project.  Committee members will then ask questions of the project.
  • The Committee will give a decision on the project as soon as possible following the meeting. The Committee may approve the project and inform the Registrar of the grade for D.Min. 858 in the candidate’s records; or, may delay its decision on the project and ask for revision of the final project at specific points. (This action could result in postponement of graduation.)
  • The project is not complete until the candidate has made any needed revisions and the Project Advisor has approved the final copy.

7.4.8  Project Submission

  • Two copies must be submitted unbound on #16 Roman 12-point type on at least 50% cotton paper (twenty-weight).
  • The Seminary will have these copies of the project bound.  One copy remains in the Library and the other is returned to the candidate.
  • Graduation fees that cover these costs are to be paid to the Business Office.
  • When the final project is submitted, it must be accompanied by a one-paragraph abstract of 100 words or less.  This abstract will be published in the American Theological Library Association’s Research in Ministry (RIM):  An Index to Doctor of Ministry Theses and Projects.