M.DIV or MA?
The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Arts (MA) degree differ considerably both in format and focus. For example, the current MA in Ministry takes about two years to complete (36 hours of coursework). It can be done almost completely online with one two-day residential at the beginning. The format of the M.Div. is quite different. It takes three to four years (75 hours), involves at least two weeks on campus each year in intensive classes, then beyond these intensives can be done either online or onsite once a week.
The M.Div. is specifically aimed at local church ministry. Students are required to be in an official relationship with a local church for at least 10 hours a week, although that relationship can primarily involve chaplaincy (hospital, prison, military), and minor adjustments can be made to assignments to allow for those in unique situations (such as denominational leadership, missionaries on furlough, etc.). By contrast, the MA primarily benefits 1) those wanting to tool or retool specific skill sets quickly (e.g., leadership or youth ministry skills), 2) those in parachurch or ministries outside the local church, including lay leaders, and 3) those second career individuals who are transitioning to ministry or wondering if God is calling them to ministry.
Those trying to decide whether God is calling them to ministry might begin their program in an MA in Leadership cohort. This MA program will give you a feel for one of the key components of local church ministry without requiring you to be officially connected to a local church. It can be done online while exploring what God might be calling you to do. Then once you are a little over half way through that degree (about 24 hours), you can decide whether to transfer into the M.Div. degree.
The MA programs and M.Div. electives at Wesley Seminary at IWU are designed around what you need and want to help you minister and be a person of faith in the world. You help decide what elective courses we offer and what concentrations are available. We welcome your suggestions.