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Shifts in programs at Eastern Mennonite Seminary

Eastern Mennonite Seminary faculty have approved a new curriculum, “for such a time (and place) as this,” which includes major changes to the Master of Divinity degree and minor shifts to the Master of Arts in Church Leadership degree.
The Master of Divinity degree has been decreased from 93 credit hours to 90 credit hours. However, the biggest changes in this degree are a reduction of required core classes and a more flexible “ministry track” arrangement which allows students to choose electives based on their interests and learning goals.

“We found students asking for more flexibility in the degree programs,” said Sara Wenger Shenk, associate EMS dean. “This new curriculum broadens opportunities for students to explore areas of ministry that are most exciting to them.”

The four tracks for the MDiv are: pastoral ministry (for traditional congregations and emerging church communities), academic, cross-cultural and community mission and specialized ministries like chaplain, pastoral counselor or spiritual director.

MDiv students will choose one of the four tracks in their first year of seminary. With guidance from advisers, students will choose classes that fit with their specific ministry interests and give them a range of experience in different areas of study.

In addition to these course changes, the seminary is expanding its internship requirement. MDiv students will take nine credit hours of internship/practicum work instead of the previous six-hour requirement. The three additional hours will be focus on mentored ministry in the particular track of the student’s interest.

Despite these changes, many of EMS’s distinctive educational traits will remain. There will still be a cross-cultural requirement, and the formation series has been expanded and altered slightly.

The Master of Arts in Church Leadership degree has been adjusted for more flexibility as well. Rather than concentrations, student will choose classes based on interest and availability in an identified ministry specialization.

For more information on the new curriculum or on study at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, contact the office of seminary admission, 540.432.4257, email or visit the seminary website and view the newly-revised catalog:


– Story by Laura Lehman Amstutz