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Degrees and Programs

Academic ceremony at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Garrett-Evangelical is truly a world-class place for those preparing to be pastors, deacons, chaplains, educators, scholars, counselors, musicians and more. You will be stimulated and challenged intellectually, spiritually, and vocationally.

Garrett-Evangelical offers a comprehensive set of degree programs for those seeking preparation for ministry in congregations or in community leadership, service, and ministry. The Seminary also offers degree programs for those preparing for teaching and research in theological seminaries, colleges, universities, and the church. In fact, Garrett-Evangelical is one of 20 schools that prepares the great majority of faculty in theological seminaries.

Though Garrett-Evangelical is a seminary related to The United Methodist Church, students come from many denominational traditions. Those seeking ordination are supported in meeting denominational requirements.

Non-Degree Programs


If you are just beginning to feel called to ministry, aren’t yet sure where to begin, and want to “try” theological education without the larger time and financial commitment of a degree program, certificates are an affordable way gain up to 15 credit hours toward a degree program as you continue to discern God’s call in your life. Certificates offered include:

United Methodist Programs

Basic Graduate Theological Studies
For those seeking Deacon's orders in the United Methodist Church
Certification Studies
For those seeking Certification in the United Methodist Church. Certifications offered include:

Course of Study School
For United Methodist local pastors
Advanced Course of Study
For local pastors who have completed Course of Study School and are seeking Elder's orders in the United Methodist Church

Enrichment Studies or Auditing a Class

Enrichment Studies           
For those interested in taking classes for their personal enrichment only, or for those interested in exploring a degree program by taking one class at a time. A maximum of 5 classes may be taken as an enrichment student.
Auditing a Class

Auditing a course is a good way to learn more about a topic of interest or to brush up on new information. The option to audit a course is open to any admitted student at the institution at the discretion of the faculty member. Those not already enrolled normally would need to apply to a degree or nondegree program in order to audit a course.

Auditors do not receive academic credit for the course, but receive learning and knowledge from the experience. Expectations for participation are coordinated directly with the course instructor. There is a reduced tuition rate for those auditing a course.

As a service to our alums, we have a simplified process in place for graduates to return to audit courses for continuing education or personal enrichment. 

Alums complete the Alum Auditor Request Form and submit the completed form directly to the registrar ( The registrar will then confirm availability with the course instructor and set up the registration. Alums pay the current audit rate for degree students to participate in the course.  Alums receive 1 CEU per semester hour of the course completed.

Alums who are interested in an upcoming class should complete the form at least four weeks before term start. 

Which Degree Is Right For Me?

Students responding to a call for congregational pastoral leadership or, in The United Methodist Church, ordination as an elder, should enroll in the Master of Divinity program.

Students responding to a call to ministries that bridge the world and the church or, in The United Methodist Church, ordination as a deacon, should enroll in the Master of Divinity, a Master of Arts program, or the Basic Graduate Theological Studies program.

Students seeking to fulfill educational requirements in a specialized ministry should enroll in a Master of Arts (MA) program. In most cases, MA degrees may be added to a Master of Divinity with an additional year of course work.

A selection of options of ministry training is suggested below:

  • Students interested in youth ministry should enroll in the concentration in youth ministry in the MA in Christian education as well as work in a field education site in youth ministry.
  • Students interested in spiritual formation should enroll in the MA in spiritual formation and direction.
  • Students interested in music ministry should enroll in the MA in music ministry. Courses in music and performance can be added through Northwestern University.
  • Students interested in pastoral counseling should enroll in the MA in pastoral care and counseling.
  • Students interested in Christian social work should enroll in the joint MDiv/MSW program between Garrett-Evangelical and Loyola University.
  • Students interested in Christian Education or children’s ministry should enroll in the MA in Christian education and complete a field education placement in a Christian education ministry. 
  • Students interested in community organizing, ecological regeneration, racial justice, and/or child advocacy should entroll in the MA in public ministry. 
  • Students interested in social justice, urban, or multi-cultural ministries will find supportive course work in the MDiv, MA, or MTS programs. The Chicago area contains many field education placement options in urban ministry and social justice ministries.

For advanced preparation in ministry, the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program provides training in leadership and congregation, evangelism and mission, and spiritual formation and direction. In addition, Garrett- Evangelical works in cooperation with the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) Doctor of Ministry in Preaching program.

For those seeking to study and conduct research about Christian faith, the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) provides concentrations in biblical study, theology and ethics, church history, liturgy, and religion and personality.

For those preparing for ministries of research and teaching, for teaching in theological seminaries and church-related colleges, or for serving the church through teaching and scholarship, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program has a 100-year history of leadership in preparing scholars for theological education. Specialized foci are offered in the practices of ministry and the Christian tradition including programs in historical, moral, and systematic theology; liturgy; Christian education and congregational studies; and pastoral theology, psychology, and culture.

Programs for United Methodists

Garrett-Evangelical works in cooperation with United Methodist district committees of ministry and conference boards of ordained ministry to assist students as they clarify their call to ministry, engage in spiritual formation, and develop the understandings, skills, and practices for faithful church leadership.

  • Students seeking ordination as elder in The United Methodist Church usually enroll in the Master of Divinity program. Most students are full-time; however some of the program may be completed part-time.
  • Students seeking ordination as deacon working in specialized ministries may enroll in the Master of Divinity program, one of the Master of Arts programs, or in the Basic Graduate Theological Studies (often referred to as Deacon Studies) program. Students may enroll in these programs full-time or, as in-ministry students, take intensive courses in January and summer terms.
  • Students seeking a United Methodist certification in Christian education, evangelism, music ministry, or spiritual formation may complete educational requirements either in a degree program or through our certificate programs.
  • Garrett-Evangelical also participates with The United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry in providing a Course of Study School for those seeking to serve in ministry as local pastors. The Basic Course of Study Program is provided in English, Spanish, and Hmong. The Basic Course of Study program is administered by the Course of Study office at Garrett-Evangelical.
  • Courses for those interested in the Advanced Course of Study, leading to ordination as an elder, are also available in English and Spanish. The Advanced Course of Study requires the completion of at least 32 semester hours of graduate level course work after the completion of the 5-year Basic Course of Study. Advanced Course of Study students must be admitted to Garrett-Evangelical and take classes alongside other graduate level students.

Digital Learning

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary continuously implements emerging technologies to reach out to as many people as possible and to prepare spiritual leaders in every stage of their lives and ministries. While we honor the traditional methods of instruction and rich heritage of academia we also embrace non-traditional methods such as online learning and hybrid classes.

We have twelve accredited online courses offered in a two-year rotation. These classes fulfill the requirements for the Basic Graduate Theological Studies (BGTS) program, and many of the first-year required courses for our master's degree programs and United Methodist Certification programs. In total, Garrett-Evangelical students can currently complete up to 1/3 of a degree program in an online format.

All online courses are open to students enrolled in one of Garrett-Evangelical’s graduate degrees, certificates, or enrichment programs. Priority registration is offered for new students and students currently in ministry beyond the Chicago area. One month before classes begin the remaining seats in an online course are made available to all students for registration.

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