How intense is a Master’s in Divinity? Will I be able to work while studying?

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How many credit hours?

By judging intensity by credit hours required to complete a M.Div., these programs are demanding. The typical master’s degree consists of 30 to 40 hours. On the other hand, some may be more and some less depending on the discipline. Many factors influence the length of time needed to finish a graduate degree. In addition to the credit hours, an internship or research project could be part of the curriculum. A practicum or real-world experience may also be included in the study plan. All of these can add credit hours and months before attaining your graduate diploma.

Employed individuals working a 40-hour workweek can manage the typical master’s program, either online or at a nearby campus. College advisors opine that it takes at least two hours each week per credit hour. A full-time student might tackle 15 credits per semester, whereas a part-timer may take as few as 6 hours each semester. Therefore, depending on your work schedule, it may require 12 to 30 hours per week to review class lessons, prepare for the next task, and study time. A rigid plan like this does not allow much time for friends, family, and personal activities. Those with family life have to deal with and overcome the dedication required to earn a degree while working.

Thus far, we have looked at the average hours for a master’s degree; however, a Master of Divinity doesn’t meet the definition of the above-referenced averages. This degree far exceeds the 30-36 credit hour programs at most schools and 18 to 24-month completion timeframe. The M.Div. program may have 90 credit hours, which is a deterrent for some students. Not all reach schools require this level of hours. Some are as low as 70. Regardless, the credit hours generally are far more than those for most other graduate degrees are. On the low side, thirty credits for a master’s degree save time and money – and allows you to use the degree much sooner!

An accelerated program is a means to complete your degree faster. The College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers an accelerated Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering. With a minimum of 30 credits needed for graduation, students could finish in twelve months. This curriculum type might be more attractive for the working professional than a heavy workload of 80+ credit hours. The latter taking up to three years to finish.

Since most schools charge tuition by the credit hour, the more significant number of hours elevates to the total cost of one’s education. The financial burden might add to the intensity and stressfulness of the program. Knowing you will resume normal activities within 18 months is less intense than one that will take 36 months to complete.

Anyone with a full-time job and enrolled in a M.Div. is probably in an online program. The format provides more time to study without the inconvenience and expense of traveling to campus, parking, walking to class, and returning home. By choosing an asynchronous learning format, you log in and access the lessons on your schedule, not the school.

Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, is the recipient of awards and recognition for their online degrees. The institution received an award for the Best Online Colleges in Virginia by the Center for Online Education in 2020. The Master of Divinity is 75 credit hours, which students can earn in 24 months. Students access the courses in a flexible 8-week format with no set login times.

The Liberty program might be more manageable than the 80 semester-unit (120-quarter units) degree at Fuller Theological Seminary. According to their website, students enrolled part-time may take 4-5 years online and 3-4 years on-campus. The curriculum also has a nine-month apprenticeship. One could conclude that the duration of the Fuller study plan escalates the intensity dramatically. If the timeframe doesn’t increase the intensity, the cost might. Fuller calculates the M.Div. tuition on the quarter units’ number (120) at $435 each. Hence, the total is an estimated $52,200 for campus and online!


Studying for a graduate degree while working demands self-discipline and the willingness to sacrifice much of your personal life for several years. As emphasized, the typical 30-36 credit degrees are attainable quicker. They allow the individual to resume an everyday existence as it was before engaging in the graduate program. These shorter degrees contrast to the longer 75-90 Master of Divinity program, which disrupts one’s activities for up to four years. Consequently, some prospective graduate school candidates may think twice about pursuing a degree while working.

Related Resources: 

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I was raised in a different religion from the one I practice now. Will this hurt my chances of being accepted into Divinity programs?

Should I have the ability to be fluent in another language for a Master of Divinity?

What areas of study, other than religion, should I consider if I want a Master of Divinity?