CIU’s Seminary & School of Ministry (SSM) offers an integrated program of study that allows academically-gifted, mission-quality high school graduates who have a clear sense of calling to vocational Christian ministry as senior or solo pastors to complete both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Divinity degree in five years.
During their first two years, students complete courses in the standard undergraduate core. During their third year, they complete courses in their Pastoral Theology major, which adds depth in Bible, theology, Biblical Languages, and pastoral ministry. A Senior Seminar allows them to integrate their biblical-theological understanding and transition to graduate-level study.
Students apply to the Master of Divinity degree during their third year of study. If they are accepted, they complete the requirements for their B.A. and begin course work for the M.Div. during their fourth year. They graduate with the B.A. in the fall of that year.
During their final year, students engage in paid internships. Those internships are in venues that allow students to be mentored by experienced pastors whose primary focus is preaching. They complete their graduate-level requirements during their fifth year and graduate with their M.Div. at the end of that year. The following table provides a basic overview of the program.
||Bachelor of Arts
||Master of Divinity
||Apply for admission to M.Div.
||Begin graduate studies
Purpose and Objectives
The Pastoral Theology major provides students with in-depth training in biblical languages, theology, and worldview. It prepares them to explain, contextualize, and defend God’s Word accurately in the contemporary world and to use their training as a foundation for graduate-level study or research.
In addition to the mission statement and general objectives and requirements of the bachelor’s degree, the objectives of the Pastoral Theology major are to enable students to:
- Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills for biblical-theological study.
- Demonstrate foundational knowledge and skills for ministry praxis.
- Demonstrate skill in Bible translation and exegesis as a foundation for graduate-level study and research.
Because they complete eighteen hours of Bible and Theology as part of the Pastoral Theology major, students also earn a Bible major.
The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) provides students with a comprehensive range of biblical-theological knowledge and practical skills for ministry leadership along with specialized skills to understand, apply, and communicate the Scriptures effectively on a regular basis in a local church context.
The objectives of the M.Div. degree are to enable students to:
- Analyze and synthesize the basic content, context, and themes of the Old and New Testaments, with an emphasis on God’s historical-redemptive mission, as revealed through Scripture’s metanarrative and exemplified in the Great Commission.
- Practice sound exegesis and exposition of the biblical text in its original languages, with an emphasis on how passages speak to contemporary issues in individual and corporate contexts.
- Engage contemporary global challenges to orthodox belief and practice based on support from key biblical passages that undergird foundational doctrines, applying insights from the history of global Christianity to twenty-first-century issues, needs, and challenges.
- Analyze cultures and worldviews from a biblical perspective as the basis for effective, biblically-contextualized ministry that equips and encourages others to grow as disciples and disciple-makers in the church, mission field, and/or marketplace.
- Apply biblical principles, techniques, and paradigms to the practice of leadership, pastoring, preaching, teaching, and counseling.
- Demonstrate proficiency in ministry and organizational knowledge, skills, and attitudes gained through MDiv studies in a focused internship under the supervision of an on-site mentor and a faculty advisor.
Admission and Continuation Requirements
Because of the rigorous nature of this program, applicants must meet the following qualifications in addition to those normally required for admission to an undergraduate degree at CIU:
- A high school GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale with a score of 27 on the ACT or a score of 1250 on the SAT.
- A letter of endorsement from a local church, a church-related ministry, or a para-church ministry documenting evidence of ministry involvement and effectiveness.
- An interview with the program screening committee during a campus visit.
A screening committee reviews each application. Applicants are expected to participate in a campus visit weekend, during which they engage in a series of interviews and group discussions as part of the admission process. The visit weekend gives the screening committee a formal venue for evaluating the academic, spiritual, and leadership qualities of prospective students. For the non-MDIV option, no special admission requirements apply (details listed below).
When students apply to the M.Div. degree during their third year of study, the screening committee again interviews them to assess their academic, spiritual, and ministry progress. Academically, they must have completed at least 72 semester hours while maintaining at least a 3.3 GPA. To measure their spiritual progress, they complete the Spiritual Transformation Inventory, an online tool that assesses personal growth in key areas of spiritual formation. To measure their ministry progress, they write a personal philosophy of ministry. If the committee’s evaluation is positive, students proceed to graduate-level study. They must also submit a letter of affirmation from a local church in the metropolitan Columbia area. If the committee determines that their progress has not been adequate, they are re-directed to another professional major available in the university.
See Undergraduate Core for B.A. graduation requirements and the Completion Requirements for Masters Level Programs later in this section of the catalog.