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Special Studies and Non-Degree Programs

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Contact: Admissions
admissions@united.edu | 800.322.5817


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United provides a variety of educational offerings to meet a range of needs for theological education. Maybe you’re not yet ready to commit to a graduate degree. We invite you to explore United’s certificate, non-degree, continuing education, or Lifelong Learning opportunities.

  • Basic Graduate Theological Studies (B.G.T.S.)

    The B.G.T.S. Program Is Designed for:

    • Pastors in churches that do not require a masters degree for ordination but who would like graduate training to enhance their ministries.

    • Laypersons who desire greater knowledge of theological subjects in order to become more effective leaders in their churches.

    • Those who hold a professional masters degree and are seeking to enter the Order of Deacon in the United Methodist Church.

    United Theological Seminary offers all the courses that meet The United Methodist Church’s requirements for Basic Graduate Theological Studies. For United Methodists seeking Deacon’s Orders, this coursework must be in conformity with the requirements of the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry for the B.G.T.S. program.

    The B.G.T.S. requires 27 semester hours of graduate theological study. The standards for admission are the same as for masters degrees. This coursework is at the master’s studies level, and the standards for admission are the same as for masters degrees.


    Educational Requirements for Deacons

    The United Methodist Church has opened four different educational paths for those seeking ordination as Deacon:

    • Completion of the Master of Divinity degree.

    • Completion of a masters degree program from a graduate theological school, such as United’s M.A.C.M. or M.T.S.

    • Supplementing a non-theological masters degree with the B.G.T.S.

    • For persons 35 years of age or older who are recommended by their conference Board of Ordained Ministry, completion of a bachelors degree and professional licensing program and eight semester hours of graduate credit PLUS the B.G.T.S.


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  • Certificate of Theological Studies (C.T.S.)

    The Certificate of Theological Studies (C.T.S.) is not denomination-specific; it is a master's level certificate program offered by United that can be completed in one year of full-time study. Like the B.G.T.S., the Certificate of Theological Studies can be used for vocational training or for personal edification.

    The standards for admission are the same as for masters degrees.

    The goals of the C.T.S. are to:

    • Provide in-depth biblical/theological study

    • Guide students to examine and integrate the meaning of personal faith

    • Help students discern vocational call

    • Aid students to envision diverse and dynamic ministries for the rapidly changing world


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  • Non-Degree Graduate Program

    Admission as a Non-Degree Graduate student is available for those persons who desire to take classes without being involved in a specific degree program.

    You might choose a Non-Degree Graduate status if you:

    • Only have one or two classes that you want to take a United, either as a lay person or clergy. 

    • Are seeking to determine if United is the place for you to do theological education. 

    • Are exploring a call into ministry by beginning seminary slowly. 

    • Enroll in United classes in order to transfer the credit to another institution. 

    • Don’t have time to complete the standard application before the term begins. 

    Whatever your reason, United offers this status for those exploring the many options available in Christian ministry and theological education. 

    Guidelines for this status are as follows: 

    1. Students must submit a Special Student application and the $75 Non-Degree Graduate application fee. 

    2. Students must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. 

    3. Students must pass a background check.

    4. Students can take up to 9 semester hours under this status.  It is not a full application for admission in a degree program. 

    5. For admission to a master’s program or before one registers for their 10th semester hour, one must complete the full application process and submit the full $75.00 application fee. 

    6. All courses taken for credit will transfer into our degree programs. 

    7. Non-Degree Graduate students may register in the Fall or Spring terms as long as they have not completed more than 9 credit hours. 

    8. The cost per semester hour is $670 per credit hour.  There is no financial aid available for Non-Degree Graduate students. 

    9. Any student coming in with transfer credit or advanced standing credit is not eligible for Non-Degree Graduate status. 


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  • Deaconess and Home Missioner Program

    The offices of Deaconess and Home Missioner within the United Methodist Church require masters-level courses in Old Testament, New Testament, theology, church history, doctrine, and polity. These courses are available on a regular basis at United.

    Deaconesses (women) and Home Missioners (men) are lay people who have responded to the call of God in their lives and have been commissioned by the United Methodist Church to full-time ministries of love, justice and service.  They form a covenant community that is rooted in scripture, informed by history, driven by mission, ecumenical in scope and global in outreach.

    The standards for admission are the same as for master’s degrees.

    For more information about this program, visit the General Board of Global Ministries website.

  • Continuing Education: Lifelong Learning through United’s School for Discipleship and Renewal

    Contact: Laura Weber; School for Discipleship and Renewal Coordinator
    lweber@united.edu


    The School for Discipleship and Renewal is a collaborative, bridge-building outreach of the seminary that supports lifelong learning and spiritual formation through practical ministry training and contextual theological reflection.

    The School bears witness to the Gospel through programs and ministry initiatives grounded in the great ecumenical tradition of the Church and seeks to be distinctively multicultural, intergenerational, and engaged in communication with a digital culture.

    School programs complement and enhance the seminary’s masters and doctoral programs by offering courses, workshops, and special events open to students, clergy and lay ministers, and the community.  The Lifelong Learning staff works collaboratively to provide learning opportunities to congregations and their leaders.

    For more information about School programs, please visit the Lifelong Learning section.

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