Master of Theology (Theology)

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Master of Theology, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate, at an appropriately advanced level, the knowledge and skills most pertinent to their major, such as: knowledge of the Bible and of relevant languages, cultures, and major interpreters; and skills of biblical interpretation, doctrinal formulation, and critical analysis (ULO 1).
  2. Formulate a productive research question and conduct advanced research and writing on this topic (ULO 2).
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of pedagogical strategies and effective teaching methods (ULO 3).

Each Program Learning Outcome (PLO) listed above references at least one of the University Learning Outcomes (ULO 1, 2, 3), which may be found in the General Information section of this catalog.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to the Th.M. program must have an earned Master of Divinity degree or its equivalent, with at least a 3.25 GPA, from an accredited school that maintains academic standards similar to those of Talbot: at least 72 semester hours of graduate study comparable to Talbot’s M.Div. curriculum, including 12 hours of Old Testament (9 of Hebrew), 15 hours of New Testament (12 of Greek), 9 hours of theology, 9 hours of practical theology, and 3 hours of church history, with the remaining hours free electives.  Students in the Theology concentration may substitute a research language for Hebrew. Students who are deficient in one or more areas may be allowed to take leveling coursework at Talbot, but such deficiencies must be made up before more than 16 credits in other subjects may be taken. Divinity degrees presented from non-accredited seminaries and theological schools are individually evaluated. Students must also show aptitude for advanced theological study and have the personal qualifications necessary for a minister of Christ, including promise of future usefulness. They must be spiritually qualified by providing evidence of a born-again experience and a consistent Christian manner of life.

Note: The minimum TOEFL score for admission to the Th.M. program is a total of 100 iBT.

Application Procedure

All applicants are required to submit a personal statement of one to two double-spaced typewritten pages expressing their career goals and personal objectives in seeking the Th.M. degree. Graduates of other seminaries must file a full application with the Office of Graduate Admissions.

Master of Divinity students currently enrolled at Talbot may file for admission by submitting a written request to the Graduate Committee in care of the Office of Graduate Admissions. This request should indicate any changes in marital status or doctrinal convictions since enrollment in the Master of Divinity degree. In addition, applicants should signify their intention to abide by the Standards of Conduct of Biola University.

Talbot Master of Divinity students who have completed 65 or more credits, and whose current cumulative GPA is 3.25 or above may be granted a concurrent enrollment option but may not enroll in Th.M. courses until a maximum of 8 credits remain in their M.Div. program. Since the first academic responsibility is to complete the M.Div., all M.Div. requirements must be completed within two semesters after concurrent enrollment has begun. (See Concurrent Enrollment Option). Interested seniors should contact the Office of Graduate Admissions for detailed information.

Applicants who have graduated from Talbot with a Master of Divinity degree may file for admission according to the following guidelines:

Less than two years since graduation from Talbot:

  • Re-admit Application
  • Personal Statement

Between two and five years since graduation:

  • Re-admit Application
  • Pastor Reference on form provided by the Admissions Office
  • Personal Statement

Over five years since graduation:

  • Full application
  • Personal Statement

Talbot graduates should include in the personal statement any changes in marital status or doctrinal convictions since graduation with the Master of Divinity degree. In addition, they should signify their intention to abide by the Standards of Conduct of Biola University.

Official documents presented for admission or evaluation become part of the student's academic file and normally cannot be returned or copied for distribution.

Graduation Requirements

Degrees are awarded to qualified candidates at the University's Fall and Spring commencements. Students are required to be present for graduation unless advance permission to graduate in absentia has been secured. To qualify for graduation, candidates must have completed all required coursework (26 credits) with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 and satisfactorily passed their comprehensive examinations. No grade less than a C (2.0) will be credited toward the Th.M. degree credits. Students who repeat courses for the purpose of raising their GPA must adhere to the University's general policy for grades, as spelled out in the catalog. Candidates for the Th.M. degree should also manifest promise of usefulness in Christian ministry, exhibit exemplary and consistent Christian character and evidence sound theological beliefs in accordance with the University's doctrinal statement. Additional requirements are as follows:

  • Residence Requirements
    A minimum of two semesters in residence at Talbot is required for the Th.M. degree.
  • Transfer Credit
    Up to 4 credits of Th.M.-level credit from another accredited seminary or theological school may be accepted toward fulfillment of Th.M. course requirements.
  • Time Limit for Degree
    All course, examination and thesis requirements must be completed within five years, beginning on the date of the student's first registration for Th.M. courses at Talbot.
  • Meeting with Graduate Graduation Counselor
    Students must meet with a Graduate Graduation Counselor in the Office of the Registrar one year prior to graduation to declare intent to graduate. (See Graduate Graduation Check description in the Admission, Enrollment and Graduation Requirements section).

Major Area of Academic Study


For students who want to take advanced coursework in historical or systematic theology.

Program Options

The Th.M. is a 26 semester-hour program with two options for program structure: a thesis track and a non-thesis track. Students choosing the thesis track will complete 20 credits of coursework and write a thesis for which they will be awarded 6 credits. Students opting for the non-thesis track will be required to complete 26 credits of coursework. They will also be asked to submit two papers to the major department which give evidence of their ability to research and write on a high academic level. The papers submitted may be the product of coursework.

Curriculum Requirements

The Th.M. 891 Research Seminar (3 credits) and TTCE 724 (2 credits) are required of all students, regardless of major. See the description of the major areas for other courses that may be required by a specific department. The program requirements for both tracks will be distributed as detailed below.

TTCE 724Advanced Methods of Educational Instruction2
TTTH 709Contemporary Theology3
TTTH 891Research Seminar3
Total Credits8
Thesis Track
Major Area12
Comprehensive Examination
Total Credits26
Non-Thesis Track
Major Area15
Comprehensive Examination
Total Credits26

Additional Requirements

Students are required to take a minimum of 14 credits in Th.M. courses numbered in the 800 series, with the remainder at the 600 and 700 levels. Up to two courses from a different department may be taken with the approval of the student’s program advisor.

A Th.M. student must carry 9 or more credits to be considered a full-time student. Those carrying fewer than 9 credits are considered part-time students. A maximum of 6 credits may be taken by Th.M. students in independent study courses. It is recommended that this be done in the middle or latter portion of the program, and in any case the advance approval of the major departmental advisor and faculty member concerned is required.

Research Seminar

All Th.M. students are required to take the 890 level Research Seminar. The seminar is designed to introduce the student to research methodology employed in the various biblical and theological disciplines. The seminar is led by faculty representatives from each of the departments in biblical and theological studies. The seminar is a foundational part of the Th.M. program and is reserved for Th.M. students only. The seminar requires each student to complete a major writing project: either, for thesis-track students, one full chapter of the thesis (ideally the "history of research" chapter); or, for non-thesis-track students, a high-quality research paper.

Concurrent Enrollment Option

Senior Talbot M.Div. students who have completed 65 or more credits and are accepted in the Th.M. program are permitted to take up to 4 credits of Th.M. coursework in the last semester of the Master of Divinity program (additional Th.M. courses may be taken in Summer session). These courses may not be credited toward the M.Div. degree and must meet all normal Th.M. standards. This option allows students who have only one or two courses remaining in their M.Div. program to start on their Th.M. program while finishing their M.Div.

Comprehensive Examinations

All candidates for the Th.M. degree must pass a written comprehensive examination over the major field of study. These examinations serve as a major means of evaluating the student’s academic competency in the major area. Comprehensive examinations may be taken any time after completion of 18 credits of Th.M. coursework. Graduates must take examinations by April 15 (spring) or November 15 (fall). Only two retakes of the examination are permitted.

Thesis Option

Students who opt to write a thesis must produce an acceptable piece of research evidencing a high degree of scholarly competence in the student's major. Information regarding thesis form and submission deadlines is provided in the Th.M. Program Handbook and the "Thesis Information" section of the Talbot graduate student handbook.

The progression of the thesis sequence is Thesis First Draft and Thesis Final Draft. Should a student need more time to develop the first draft, Thesis Continuous Registration may be taken. Once the student is enrolled in Thesis Final Draft, the thesis must be completed within that term. Only one year following the completion of coursework is normally allowed for completion of a thesis. A student may go beyond this one-year period only by advance permission of the Graduate Committee. Such permission is usually granted only in extreme circumstances. If the thesis is not completed, students will be moved to the non-thesis track; in this case, neither TTHE 891 nor TTHE 892 will count toward completion of the Th.M. degree, and 6 credits of electives must be taken in their place.