ESR Adopts New Masters of Divinity Curriculum

Earlham School of Religion will be adopting a new 75-hour Master of Divinity curriculum beginning with the Fall 2019 semester. This curriculum revision is the result of a lengthy discernment and visioning process on the part of ESR's entire faculty. Jim Higginbotham, in his new interim role as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, will oversee and ensure successful implementation of the program. 

"Our hope with this new curriculum is to reduce the time commitment and financial burden necessary to complete the degree, and better align stated completion times with actual practice," shared Acting Dean Matt Hisrich. "Beyond a mere reduction of hours, though, we also seek to more fully integrate ministry field experiences throughout the curriculum and increase flexibility for students to tailor the program to emerging calls."

The previous curriculum required 84 credits for graduation. Highlights of the change to coursework include:

  • a new formation core sequence beginning with an on-campus spiritual formation retreat course, continuing with an initial field education experience, and concluding with a course on community, conflict, and diversity
  • a new practicum course mid-way through the program meant to give students an additional opportunity to test ministries in the field before deciding on their year-long Supervised Ministry placement
  • the opportunity for all students - residential and distance - to take a general studies approach, declare a ministry emphasis for their degree, or design their own emphasis

"Our goal throughout this process is to do our best to serve the needs of both current and future ESR students," stated Hisrich.

Current students will have the option to continue under the existing 84-credit M.Div. curriculum or transfer into the new 75-credit curriculum. Their decision will be based on how far along in the program they are and what requirements of each program work the best for their needs.

For more information on ESR's degree programs, contact Julie Dishman, Interim Director of Recruitment and Admissions, at (800) 432-1377 or