Jun 22, 2024  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Perkins School of Theology: Admission


Degrees Offered

Perkins offers a variety of degree programs. Education for church leadership is provided through the Master of Divinity program, intended primarily, although not exclusively, for persons seeking ordination. The Master of Arts in Ministry program has as its main objective the preparation of people for specialized church ministry. The Master of Sacred Music program is offered in cooperation with the SMU Meadows School of the Arts for the education of leaders in church music. A student seeking ordination as a deacon within the United Methodist Church may pursue required courses within any of the above degree programs. The Master of Theological Studies program is primarily for people who wish to engage in serious theological study, especially for those considering a doctoral degree. The Master of Theology program is designed for students to fulfill one or more of three goals: enhancing the practice of ministry through advanced study of a particular theological or pastoral discipline, examining a specific aspect of the Christian religion/traditions or function of Christian ministry, and preparing for more advanced study at the doctoral level. The Doctor of Ministry degree program provides advanced education for church leadership and is available for students who hold the M.Div. or an equivalent degree. The Doctor of Pastoral Music degree is intended to provide an environment for the vocational renew of practicing and experienced church musicians, and equip them for changes in the profession of church music in the areas of liturgy, cultural diversity, theological perspectives, congregational song, contextual musical analysis, and additional skills related to the performance of music in worship.

Perkins also cooperates in the Graduate Program in Religious Studies of Dedman College, which offers the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. These degree programs are intended chiefly for those interested in college and university teaching and scholarship in religious studies. Further information concerning them can be obtained from the director of the Graduate Program in Religious Studies.

Perkins School of Theology offers the graduate degrees listed below.

Transcript   Degree or Diploma
School Major Area Master Doctor
Perkins Ministry M.A.M.
Perkins Sacred Music M.S.M. D.P.M.
Perkins Theological Studies M.T.S.  
Perkins Theology Th.M. D.Min.
Dedman College Religious Studies M.A. Ph.D.

Houston-Galveston Extension Program

Courses to fulfill the requirements of the Master of Divinity (M.Div) and the Master of Arts in Ministry (M.A.M) degrees are offered in the Houston-Galveston Extension Program. All courses in this program are offered in either hybrid or one-week intensive formats. Each hybrid course will meet for ten hours face-to-face (student-professor) at the beginning of the term and for an additional ten hours at the end of the term. The remainder of the course will be taught online. One week intensive courses will usually be offered during the January term and during the summer.

The Houston-Galveston Extension Program will offer three courses per term (fall and spring) and three courses during the summer. Students who successfully complete each of these courses in the regular sequence should be able to earn the M.Div. degree in three years or the M.A.M. degree in two years.

Taking courses in Dallas will be optional. An internship requirement may be fulfilled through the Houston-Galveston Extension Program.

The admission process is outlined below. Degree program requirements are found in other sections of the catalog. Students in the Houston-Galveston program must complete registration for fall and spring H-G courses 6 weeks before the first face- to- face class session. Newly admitted Houston-Galveston students may not register for January term or Summer classes. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs may determine exceptions to this policy.

The Admission Process

Requirements for admission to each of the Perkins degree programs are specified in other sections of this catalog. Click here to find programs and their requirements. 

Persons seeking admission may apply online. The application requires supporting documents which can be uploaded online. Such documents include transcripts, resume, recommendation letters, and essay.

Application for admission also serves as your application for financial aid/scholarships. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid by January 1, is strongly encouraged. Be mindful of the following dates if you are seeking financial aid:

  • Early fall admission: November 1
  • Merit scholarship: November 1
  • Spring admission: November 1 
  • Need-based grants: March 1

For more information, contact Stephen Bagby, Director of Recruitment and Admission, 214.768.2139, or sbagby@smu.edu.

Information and applications for the Doctor of Ministry and Doctoral of Pastoral Ministry is available by contacting Pamela Hogan at 214.768.2432, or phogan@smu.edu.

Before You Begin Your Application

To get started, you will need to:

  1. create an account by clicking here,
  2. check your email to retrieve your temporary PIN, and activate your account.

Your application does not have to be completed at one sitting. Be sure to save your session by logging out in accordance with the instructions within the application.

Application Outline

Personal Information: Email, phone number(s), and address; demographic, biographical, and citizenship information; church affiliation. If you are United Methodist, please provide your Annual Conference.

Admission Information: Degree program, campus location, start term, housing needs

Academic History: List all colleges and universities, and dates attended. 

Recommendations (3)

  1. Clergy (ordained)
  2. Professor from your college or university. Applicants who have been out of school for five years or more should substitute a professional reference.
  3. Lay Leader or non-clergy individual who can speak to your faith, ministry, or potential for ministry

Resume: Attach your complete work history.


  1. Topic Choice #1: Interactive Essay
  2. Topic Choice #2: Critical theological question you hope to examine

Review and Submit: Once you submit your application, you will not be able to return to your application.

International Students

SMU|Perkins does not require the GRE for any degree. Please supply TOEFL or IELTS scores if English is not the official language of your home country. You will need an Institutional Official recommendation.

Perkins Contacts

Stephen Bagby, Director of Recruitment and Admission, sbagby@smu.edu, or 214.768.2139

SMU International Student & Scholar Services Office

SMU Residence Life & Student Housing Office

Criminal Background Check

A criminal background check is required for admission.  Upon acceptance of admission, student applicants will complete a request for a background check, which will be administered and paid for by the student via her/his application account to the third party vendor.

Should something questionable arise in the background check, the Associate Dean of Enrollment Management will follow up with the applicant about her/his background check and report any substantial findings to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of the Internship Program, as appropriate.

The Intern Program will require a second criminal background check of all students in the MAM and MDiv programs no later than April 1 of the spring semester prior to the start of the internship at the student’s expense, just as in the admission process.

Admission by Transfer

The procedures and standards for admission for students who wish to transfer from other theological schools are the same as for all new students. In such a case, the student’s academic record in seminary as well as in undergraduate study or other graduate programs will be considered. A transcript of academic credits and a letter of good standing will be required from the theological school of record. The design of the Perkins M.Div. curriculum is such that transfer into that program after more than a year of study elsewhere is ordinarily not encouraged.

A student may apply for transfer credit from schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. The work must have been completed within the past seven years and earned a grade of 2.000 or better. The registrar in consultation with the associate dean for academic affairs will determine, in each case, the number of credit hours that a student may transfer to a Perkins degree program and their allocation to the requirements of the program. The maximum number of hours that will ordinarily transfer toward a degree is as follows: 30 credit hours for the M.Div., 18 credit hours for the M.A.M. and 21 credit hours for the M.T.S. By action of the University Senate of the United Methodist Church, only online courses offered by an official United Methodist seminary or Asbury Theological Seminary may count toward a degree for a candidate seeking ordination in the United Methodist Church. Transfer credit toward the M.S.M. degree is discussed under the requirements for admission to that program in another section of this catalog.

Courses in United Methodist studies, including history, doctrine, polity and evangelism, required for United Methodist ordination are transferable only from theological schools approved by the United Methodist University Senate.

Admission by Transfer with Shared Credit

Students who wish to enter Perkins following the completion of a graduate theological degree at another school accredited by the Association of Theological Schools may be eligible for transfer with shared credit. Transfer with shared credit reduces the number of hours required for completion of a Perkins degree. In each case, a transcript of academic credits is required. The transcript must show the awarding of a degree in the last seven years with a grade of 2.000 or better. No more than half of the credits required for the degree already completed and no more than half of the credits required for the Perkins degree may be granted on the basis of transfer with shared credit. A student interested in the possibility of transfer with shared credit should notify the registrar prior to the beginning of coursework.

Admission With Advanced Standing Without Credit

A student who, by means of coursework prior to entering Perkins, has achieved competence in a given field equivalent to that normally gained through one or more of the required courses in an academic division may seek advanced standing in the work of that division. Advanced standing is granted without credit, and it does not reduce the amount of credit that must be earned in the division or in the degree program as a whole, but it enables the student to use his or her time to better advantage. A transcript of academic credits is required and, in some cases, an oral or written assessment of competence may be required. Students interested in the possibility of advanced standing should notify the associate dean for academic affairs in writing as early as possible and no later than the beginning of their first term at Perkins. Courses taken by advanced standing to satisfy the general requirements in a division may not be counted toward the hours of elective work required in the M.Div. degree program.

Withdrawal, Re-entry and Readmission

A student who withdraws from school for any reason for part or all of a regular academic year and who has been away from the University for less than three years must apply in writing to the associate dean for academic affairs for re-entry. A student who withdraws from school for any reason for part or all of a regular academic year and who has been away from the University for three years or more must re-apply through the office of admissions for readmission. For the re-entry and readmission of a previously enrolled student, the Committee on Student Development may be consulted. The committee may require information about the student beyond that which was furnished at the time of admission.

The faculty may, at any time, require the withdrawal of any student whose conduct is, in the judgment of the faculty, inconsistent with the standards of the school and the University or with the objectives of the degree program in which the student is enrolled.

Change of Degree Program

A student who is currently enrolled in the M.Div., M.A.M., M.S.M. or M.T.S. program and who wants to transfer to another of these programs must formally put forward a Request for Change of Degree form through the Office of the Registrar for admission to the new degree program. The registrar should be consulted regarding the appropriate procedure. The transfer of credit hours is subject to the direction and approval of the registrar and the associate dean for academic affairs. Ordinarily, credit is fully transferable between programs. A current student wanting to change degrees to the Th.M. degree program must formally apply for admission to the new degree program, meeting the requirements for the Th.M. degree program.

Combined Degree Programs

One may pursue two Perkins professional master’s degrees concurrently in any of several combinations. A student considering such an option should consult with the associate dean for academic affairs. No more than half the credits required for the shorter of two degree programs may be applied to both degrees.

Admission of Non-degree seeking Students and Auditors

People who have a B.A. or equivalent degree and who wish to take courses for credit but who do not wish to enter a degree program may seek admission to Perkins as a non-degree seeking student. The student must submit a completed application (available from the Office of Enrollment Services) along with official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate academic work, two letters of reference and an explanation of the proposed plan of study indicating the courses desired.

Admission as a non-degree seeking student is for one year (two terms) only. A student desiring to continue beyond the one-year limit must formally ask the associate dean for academic affairs to continue beyond the two terms. Admission as a non-degree seeking student does not guarantee, nor does it preclude, later admission to any degree program offered by Perkins. Non-degree seeking students are not eligible for any form of financial assistance from the school.

People desiring to audit a course must secure permission from the registrar and the course instructor, and must pay an audit fee before completing registration.

Other Programs of Study

In addition to its degree programs, Perkins offers various other programs of study, formal and informal. Some of these may be pursued in conjunction with a degree program, while others are independent. Some lead to ordination while others are simply opportunities for continuing education. All are described in the following sections of this catalog: Special Programs for Academic Credit, Areas of Concentration and Services in Continuing Education.