Master of Theological Studies

MTS BannerThe Masters of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) is a 49-hour two-year academically rigorous degree program designed to prepare students for advanced and specialized work in religion.  Because of its academic nature, many students who pursue an M.T.S. go on to further graduate studies in numerous fields related to theology or serve in the non-profit sector, higher education, counseling, or various communities of faith.  The ideal candidate for the M.T.S. degree is intellectually curious, academically focused, and highly motivated.  A background in theology or religion is not required.

McAfee graduates have gone on to study at universities throughout the United States and the United Kingdom, including Princeton, Duke, University of Chicago, Marquette, Baylor, Graduate Theological Union, St. Louis University, Emory, Brite Divinity, Iliff School of Theology, Fuller, Union Theological Seminary, University of Sheffield, and University of Edinburgh. 

In partnership with McAfee’s world-class faculty and the support of Mercer University’s top-tier research resources, the M.T.S. degree allows students to undertake substantial work in one of four concentrations: Ethics, Biblical Studies, History-Theology, and Practical Theology. McAfee offers the only accredited M.T.S. degree in the state of Georgia with specific concentrations in Ethics and Practical Theology.

Within their concentrations, students will be assigned a thesis advisor in their first semester and work closely together to craft their course of study, thesis proposal, and eventual thesis project. The program’s small cohort size emphasizes individualized mentorship and professional partnership between M.T.S. students and their faculty advisors within the larger McAfee, Mercer, and theological community.

M.T.S. concentrations allow students to organize their research, professional growth, and interests within one of four broad fields, which provide the structure to develop academic depth while also allowing for the intellectual flexibility needed as students pursue their research interests.

Biblical Studies: The Biblical Studies concentration focuses on Old Testament or New Testament scholarship and the development of Biblical languages. Offerings are available in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, and Ugaritic.

Historical - Theological: The Historical - Theological concentration focuses on the development of ideas, methodology, and events within the religious and historical fields.

Ethics: The Ethics concentration, working in close partnership with Mercer’s Center for Religion in Public Life, focuses on the numerous intersections between religious life and our institutions, communities, politics, and ideas.

Practical Theology: The Practical Theology concentration focuses on the theoretical, historical, and philosophical foundations for the practices and traditions of religious communities: spiritual care, interreligious dialogue, and emotional intelligence.

The student’s individualized course of study will be constructed with the oversight of their faculty advisor with regard to their vocational interests. The course of study consists of three parts:

  • 21 hours of foundational coursework across all concentrations to develop a broad understanding of the intersectionality of theological studies.
  • 24 hours of directed electives that may include courses offered within their concentration, cross-listed with another concentration/department, or independent studies with relevant faculty members.
  • 4 hours of thesis research comprised of a 1-hour Research Methods course (taken by all M.T.S. students during the second semester of their first year) and their final 3-hour thesis project.

Admissions Requirements

Masters and Certificate applicants for admission to the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University are required to have a regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a liberal arts core or proof of an equivalent degree from a foreign university. 

Admissions requirements for the MTS program include:

  • Biographical Information: Submitted online here
  • Resume/CV: Including church positions and service; secular occupations; community involvement; academic honors; and research, civic, or leadership awards.
  • Official Transcripts: required from all higher educational institutions previously attended. Applicants are required to have a regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a liberal arts core or proof of an equivalent degree from a foreign university.
  • Background Check*: completed online at Castle Branch, or call 1-888-666-7788 for more information. Please allow up to 2 weeks for us to receive the report. The package cost is $33.50, which must be ordered and purchased directly online by the applicant. The admissions office will supply the appropriate step-by-step directions on how to complete the background check. Please download instructions to order your background check and have it sent to the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. (International students having obtained an F-1 visa are excluded from the background check requirement).
  • Application Fee: $50.00
  • Autobiographical essay: In 1250-1500 words respond to the following three questions: What factors have led you to apply to McAfee School of Theology? What are your professional goals? What are your scholarly interests?
  • Letters of Recommendation:
    • Professor
    • Professor
    • Supervisor/Professional from a work environment who can speak to your work ethic and character
  • Writing Sample: 2000-2500 words. This may be an essay or excerpt of an academic paper on any topic. Please include bibliography and in-text citations or footnotes.
  • Admissions Interview (as needed)
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 
  • TOEFL Requirements: Qualified students whose native language is not English must show proficiency by scoring a minimum of 550 Paper Based Test (PBT), 215 Computer Based Test (CBT) or 79 on the internet Basted Test (iBT) otherwise known as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of ELS Level 109.

*Failure to undergo the background check will result in exclusion from admission consideration. An individual with a criminal conviction is not automatically excluded from admission; the School will evaluate the time frame, nature, gravity, and relevancy of the conviction or charge offense in making a decision. Applicants may appeal the decision and will have the opportunity to present information to dispute the background check.


Fall 2020

 Priority Application Deadline is January 15, 2020

 Final Application Deadline is June 15, 2020