TEDS offers a number of accredited degree programs to enable Christians to pursue God’s calling for their life of ministry. Each program, or group of programs, has specific objectives, and the student should consider these when selecting a program to pursue. Programs are briefly outlined below, followed by a fuller description in the order they appear below. (Note that admission to a particular program at TEDS does not ensure admission to another, if a student should decide to switch programs. Consult an admissions counselor for guidance on the appropriate program to make application.)

Certificate in Christian Studies

The Certificate in Christian Studies is not a degree program but is designed for persons who desire to take seminary coursework without enrolling in a program. It is also an appropriate course of study for persons who have not yet decided on a degree program or for those who simply want to enrich their Christian understanding. Courses may be taken in the Certificate in such a way that they later apply to a degree program.

Master of Arts Programs

The Master of Arts (MA) is considered an academic degree in general theological studies designed to provide a basic understanding of particular theological disciplines for further graduate study or for general educational purposes. It is designed on a two-year model for program completion, dependent upon prerequisites completed. Often the MA is a prerequisite degree for enrolling in a public university-based terminal degree or doctoral program, though this is not always the case. Many universities accept students into a master’s/doctoral program track that will award the student a master’s degree while admitting them later to a doctoral program. Students anticipating future terminal degree work are advised to consult with the institution where they anticipate undertaking doctoral studies to ensure that their graduate-level preparation will be appropriate for doctoral admission. Often such students may be required to devote the capstone project in their master’s program to the writing of a thesis that demonstrates ability to do academic research.

Master of Arts (Theological Studies): with the objective of providing a basic understanding of Christianity for general educational purposes, drawing from the breadth of the curriculum 

Master of Arts (Academic Discipline) Concentrations:

Biblical and Near Eastern Archaeology and Languages: focusing on archaeology and languages

Church History: specializing in the history of the Christian church

Educational Studies: specializing in educational ministry in the church/parachurch context 

Intercultural Studies: prepares or further equips participants for the task of Christian missions through bridging cultures both at home and abroad

New Testament: an emphasis upon intensive study of the New Testament

Old Testament and Semitic Languages: concentrates on the study of Old Testament, Semitics, Near Eastern languages and literature, and the cultural background of the Jewish people

Systematic Theology: specialized study in Christian doctrine its biblical grounding, historical development, logical coherence, and contemporary context

Specialized Concentration: by special application when curriculum objectives significantly extend beyond one department

Master of Arts in [specialized ministry] Programs

A second group of master’s degrees is explicitly designed to equip persons professionally for competent leadership in some form of specialized ministry in congregational or other settings. These degrees, designed on a two-year full-time model for program completion, are designated Master of Arts in [specialized ministry]. TEDS offers the following:

Master of Arts in Chaplaincy and Ministry Care (MA in CMC): a program designed to develop pastoral and spiritual life counseling skills.

Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling (MA in MHC): a professional licensure track program with the intent to train students to become licensed mental health professionals

Master of Arts in Ministry (MA in Min): designed for church volunteers, lay staff, parachurch workers, and persons engaged in specialized church-related service organizations, enabling them to pursue interdisciplinary studies that will equip them for competent leadership in their specific ministry context

Master of Arts in Urban Ministry (MA in UM) is based at the South Chicago Regional Center in Dolton and serves students engaged in urban ministry for further effective service in an urban context

Master of Divinity Program

The Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree is the normative degree to prepare persons for ordained ministry and for general pastoral and religious leadership responsibilities in congregations and other settings. The MDiv is also the required prerequisite degree for Doctor of Ministry programs and is the recommended graduate theological degree for those intending to pursue advanced theological research degrees (ThM, PhD). As such, the MDiv carries two roles: first, to prepare persons for ministerial leadership and possibly future Doctor of Ministry studies, and, second, to provide theological training for those anticipating enrolling in a Master of Theology or Doctor of Philosophy program when that program is housed in a private theological school. Trinity’s distinction is that our MDiv as a ministerial leadership degree heavily emphasizes general theological studies. Those persons anticipating ministerial leadership in the local church and other settings are likely best served by the MDiv degree. TEDS has recently revised the entire MDiv curriculum which allows for selection of one of two tracks:

  • Church and Parachurch Ministries
  • Academic Ministries

Master of Theology Program

The Master of Theology (ThM) degree is intended to provide advanced theological study beyond the MDiv in one discipline. The ThM may strengthen study toward future doctoral-level studies, help prepare for some forms of teaching, provide enhancement of ministerial practice, or offer a context for disciplined reflection upon a specialized function of ministry. TEDS’s ThM offers concentrations in each of the eight departments, and an interdepartmental specialized concentration as arranged at the time of application. Specifically:

  • Church History
  • Counseling
  • Educational Ministries
  • Mission and Evangelism
  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Pastoral Theology
  • Systematic Theology
  • Specialized Concentration

Doctor of Ministry Program

The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program is a professional program intended for persons engaged in full-time vocational Christian ministry, such as pastors, associate pastors, Christian educators, missionaries, workers in parachurch organizations, chaplains, and evangelists. The DMin program is designed to enhance professional ministry competencies with concentrations in the following six areas. See the Doctoral Programs section of the Catalog for a further description.

  • Strategic Leadership
  • Missional Engagement
  • Pastoral Ministry

Doctor of Philosophy Program

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program at TEDS is specifically designed for persons who wish to pursue advanced study and research in a field of interest. TEDS offers three areas of research study as follows. See the Doctoral Programs section of the Catalog for further description.

  • Educational Studies
  • Intercultural Studies
  • Theological Studies

Additional Areas of Focused Study

TEDS degree programs are offered in the disciplines above; however, many additional areas of focused study integrate coursework offered across disciplines, in a variety of departments, or on the basis of current course offerings (many times by visiting faculty). These course offerings fit into degree programs in varying ways, and students are encouraged to consult with their faculty advisor or department chair to blend course selections particular to their needs and interests. The topic areas noted below may be completed as outlined or may be completed as specialized areas in the MDiv program.


There is a rapidly growing need in the church for leadership to address bioethical challenges in the lives of individuals, families, communities, and the larger world. Such leaders ideally need more bioethics training than the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts (Theological Studies) (MA/TS), Master of Arts in Ministry (MA in Min), or Master of Arts in Chaplaincy and Ministry Care (MA in CMC) degree can provide. Moreover, there is a societal movement toward requiring a credential such as a bioethics masters degree for anyone who wants opportunities to address bioethical issues in health care (including chaplains and pastors), public policy, education, and other public arenas. In light of Trinity’s global leadership role in bioethics, and the ability of students to add the MA/BE degree from Trinity Graduate School to their TEDS MDiv, MA/TS, MA in Min, or MA in CMC degree without substantially lengthening their stay at Trinity, a multiple masters degree option is attractive for Trinity students.

Completing an MA in Bioethics requires only an additional 15 hours or so of coursework beyond the Divinity School degree.

Multiple Masters options include:

Chaplaincy Studies

Chaplains bring the presence of Christ to persons and situations that are often inaccessible to traditional pastors, missionaries and parachurch workers. Chaplaincy ministry is incarnational by nature, and a chaplain’s parish ranges from battlefields to airfields, hospital rooms to break rooms, prison chapels to ships at sea. Though chaplains are often associated with military forces or hospitals, chaplains may also serve in a number of different situations including disaster relief (first responder), corporate, fire departments, police departments, airports, race tracks, sports teams, nursing homes, hospice, and correctional. Additionally, though many chaplains serve in a full-time capacity, a number of pastors have enhanced their community outreach by serving as reserve chaplains or as volunteers with their local police or fire departments. The opportunities for chaplaincy ministry are indeed plentiful.

Trinity recognizes the value of chaplaincy studies and offers a variety of classes designed to introduce students to chaplaincy vocational options, and then train further those who desire to specialize. Since most chaplaincy programs require a Master of Divinity degree or its equivalent, students desiring to become chaplains are encouraged to enroll as MDiv students, then use their electives to specialize as appropriate.

Trinity is unique in its ability to offer not just basic chaplaincy courses, but specialized study options in related subjects including bioethics, counseling, and philosophy of religion (essential to those who will serve in pluralistic environments). Additionally, Trinity’s proximity to a major military installation (Naval Station Great Lakes), major hospitals (including the nation’s first Federal Health Care Center), an abundance of nursing home, multi-level care facilities, and other chaplaincy-related organizations make this an ideal location to pursue chaplaincy training.

Prospective chaplains may choose the following courses or others relevant to the specialization:

PT 6300Intro to Chaplain Ministries2
ME 8310Religious Pluralism & Mission3
ID 7375Clinical Pastoral Education1-2
PT 6215Personal Spiritual Formation for Ministry2
ME 8312Christian Encounter with World Religions3
CO 6120Addiction Counseling3
EM 5560Adults in Congregations2-3
BE 5000Introduction to Bioethics: Matters of Life and Dignity3
PT 7870Ministry of Mercy & Justice2
BE 5000Introduction to Bioethics: Matters of Life and Dignity3
BE 5100Intensive Bioethics Institute3
BE 5499
BE 5500
The Public Policy Context
and Bioethics and Public Policy
BE 5900Bioethics National Conference2-3
BE 6300Bioethics, Human Dignity, and the Church3
BE 6500Advanced Bioethics Institute3-4

Field education and internship credit  may be earned in a variety of ways, including attendance at Chaplain Basic Officer Training (Army, Navy or Air Force) held at Fort Jackson, SC.

For more information contact Dr. Ken Botton, Affiliate Professor of Pastoral Theology, at kbotton@tiu.edu.

Church Planting

A church planting movement is growing in the U.S. and around the world. Trinity provides both theological grounding and learning experiences that aid in preparing students for church planting ministries in various settings. Field education and internship experiences in church planting are also available in a variety of denominational and cross-cultural settings. In addition, special scholarships are available to those engaging in church planting.

Prospective church planters are encouraged to pursue the Master of Divinity degree program with the congregational pastor-teacher focus. Intercultural church planters should consider the MDiv cross-cultural ministry focus. MDiv core courses provide in-depth study in theology, biblical studies, evangelism, preaching, leadership, worship, missions, social and cultural exegesis, counseling, church history, and educational ministries—all vital to effective leadership in church planting.

Students preparing for church planting may take the following courses:

Foundations of Church Planting
PT 5150Introduction to Church Planting (for urban or intercultural contexts)3
or ME 8230 Global Church Planting and Development
Advanced Issues in Church Planting
PT 6155Advanced Church Planting2
PT 5155Church Planting Boot Camp (preparation for a specific plant)3
ME 7710Contextualization3-4
Specialized Ministry Skills for Church Planting, Depending on a Student's Area of Interest or Need
EM 5210Christian Leadership and Administration2-3
EM 6260Small Group Processes in Ministry2-3
ME 7510Missional Church3-4
ME 6963Principles of Discipleship3
PT 7848Ministry of the Urban Church2
Total Hours23-27

Field Education and Internship may be completed emphasizing church planting, urban ministry, missions, and evangelism. For more information contact Dr. Craig Ott, Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies, at cott@tiu.edu.

Clinical Pastoral Education

The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) (www.acpe.edu) is a multicultural, multifaith organization devoted to providing education and improving the quality of ministry and pastoral care offered by spiritual caregivers of all faiths through the clinical educational methods of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).

Some denominations require CPE units for ordination, and others require CPE for chaplaincy (check with your denomination). Recognizing the value of CPE, and the desire of Trinity students to participate in the experience, Trinity will grant academic credit for student participation in three ways:

  1. as Field Education credit;
  2. as MDiv Internship credit; or
  3. as elective credit by enrolling in ID 7375.

Students wishing to complete CPE for Field Education and/or MDiv Internship should contact the Supervised Ministry Office, and students wishing to complete CPE for elective credit should contact the Dean’s Office for details before they begin the CPE experience. One completed CPE unit is equivalent to two Field Education units, 2 semester hours of MDiv Internship, or 1-2 semester hours (student choice) of elective credit. (Note: One CPE unit equals 400 clock hours.)

Before the CPE experience begins, students should meet with the Supervised Ministry or Dean’s Office with the following information in hand: completed site CPE, notice of approval of acceptance by CPE trainer, start and end date for experience, number of hours being completed per week during the experience, number of Trinity credit hours desired. The Trinity portion of the experience will conclude with a debrief meeting and/or paper, presentation of the ACPE’s Certificate of completion, and course registration (at completion) for the experience.

Compassion and Justice

As today’s world becomes increasingly fragmented along socio-economic and racial lines, the ministry of the Gospel needs to engage with a widening range of social, economic and cultural issues.  The MDiv with specialized ministry focus in Compassion and Justice provides Biblical, sociological and practical perspectives in the area of compassion and justice ministry through courses from multiple disciplines as well as unique extra-curricular opportunities.  Students may choose the following courses or others relevant to the specialization.

PT 7724Ministry in Under-Resourced Communities3
ME 7722Studies in Reconciliation2
ME 8815Ethnicity: Modes of Inquiry and Analysis3
CO 6650Multicultural Issues in Counseling3
ST 7715Political Theologies3-4
ST 7710Biblical and Theological Anthropology: Race, Ethnicity, Nationality3-4
PT 7842Understanding the Urban World2
ME 8312Christian Encounter with World Religions3
Focus or general electives12
Total Hours34-36

In addition to inter-disciplinary class experiences, several extra-curricular opportunities aim to further deepen students’ learning and growth in this area of ministry.  The Mosaic Fellowship (a multiracial formation group that focuses on the Biblical calling of reconciliation), Faith Alive (a college-seminary student group that focuses on serving the under-resourced communities), and the Social Justice Living Floor (a residence hall floor that houses single students who seek to grow in the Biblical understanding and practice of social justice) offer rich and varied opportunities for learning and serving.  Finally, Trinity has been actively collaborating with CCDA (Christian Community Development Association) and North Lake County churches to create field education and internship opportunities for those who want to actively serve in under-resourced communities while doing their coursework.

Urban Ministry

Trinity maintains a regional campus center in urban Chicago. Class work at that site may be taken in the focus area of Urban Ministry, or a student may complete the Master of Arts in Urban Ministry at this site. TEDS also regularly offers a number of classes at the Deerfield campus particularly pertinent to urban ministry.