Feb 28, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Ministry, M.A.M.

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The Master of Arts in Ministry degree program is intended to prepare students faith-based ministry. The goal of the program is to increase students’ knowledge about the heritage of the Christian faith, the church, and its ministries.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Interpret scripture: Students will interpret scripture effectively, using a wide variety of approaches informed by an understanding of biblical history, the social and cultural realities of ancient Israel and the early church, and the interpreter’s own context.
  2. Comprehension of history and culture: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the life and thought of the Christian community in its historical expressions and of the interrelations between Christianity and global culture.
  3. Theological and ethical reflection: Students will be able to engage in constructive theological and ethical reflection, informed by an understanding of the content of the Christian faith in its historical and contemporary articulations, as well as current Christian thinking on philosophical, scientific, political and cultural developments.
  4. Ordained leadership roles: Students will demonstrate the capacity to function successfully and effectively in the various roles of ordained leadership ministerial leadership roles, evidencing critical awareness of the social context of their ministry and the capacity to have an impact on that context.
  5. Spiritual formation: Students will demonstrate familiarity with and appreciation for the church’s spiritual traditions and the disciplines of prayer and devotion, and exhibit a capacity to evaluate specific instances of spiritual practice from an experiential and theological standpoint.

Requirements for Admission

The number of new students to be admitted each year is determined by policies of selection established by the faculty. The following considerations are decisive:

  1. Seriousness of purpose, emotional stability and likelihood of satisfactory performance in the degree program and of responsible membership in the Perkins and Southern Methodist University community.
  2. Presence of and potential for growth in those emotional, moral and spiritual qualities requisite for the profession of ministry and the absence of patterns of personal behavior tending to be seriously disabling to ministry.
  3. Academic ability as shown by a minimum GPA of 2.750 (on a 4.000 scale) in a well-balanced curriculum. Normally, an applicant must hold the B.A. or equivalent degree from a college or university which is accredited by one or more of the organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (chea.org). An applicant with a degree from an unaccredited school may be considered if the case is exceptional. It is particularly important that the student have an adequate liberal arts preparation.
  4. A reasonable program of financial support that will enable students to be devoted properly to the main business of their theological training.

Persons who have already graduated from college or who are considering the ministry as a second career are given special consideration by the admissions committee, especially with regard to the adequacy of their pretheological curriculum.

Beyond the evidence of ability furnished by transcripts, applicants may be asked to demonstrate their preparation for theological study by adequate performance on either the GRE graduate school entry exam or the Miller Analogies Test.

To supplement the data furnished by transcripts, letters of reference and other written material, a personal interview with the director of student services or with a person designated by the director may be required of the applicant.

Requirements for Graduation

The M.A.M. degree requires 37 credit hours of academic credit, inclusive of a supervised internship. Students are also required to participate in a spiritual formation group for two terms, normally beginning during the first year of study, for one credit hour, one half hour earned in the fall term and one half hour earned in the spring term.

A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 is required for graduation. The same average is required for continuation in the program beyond the first year.

All requirements for the M.A.M. degree must be completed within five calendar years from the time of initial registration.

Course Requirements

The required 37 credit hours are distributed as follows:

Required Courses

Electives (15 Credit Hours)

  • 15 hours of unrestricted electives

Custom Concentration Option (15 Credit Hours)

  • 15 credit hours of concentration-specific courses

Note: The Custom Concentration must be planned out at the beginning of the student’s career necessitating academic advising upon entry into the program.

Total: 37 Credit Hours

Note: Those seeking ordination as a deacon in the United Methodist Church will need to take a worship course (three credit hours), United Methodist studies courses (six credit hours) and an evangelism course (three credit hours). These hours satisfy most of the unrestricted elective hours.

Spiritual Formation

All students completing the M.A.M. degree are required to register for the program in spiritual formation. Students are required to attend a daylong orientation held in conjunction with the new student orientation program and are then enrolled in formation groups. These groups meet weekly throughout the fall and spring terms during the first year of the program.

Led by facilitators in groups of five to 10, students share in a formative experience designed to provide them with the framework of a common experience, emphasizing the following:

  • The opportunity to explore the vital connection between spiritual formation and ministry.
  • Opportunities to explore the central genius of spiritual traditions.
  • The development of a critical capacity that will allow the student to evaluate those traditions theologically.
  • Broad-based exposure to a variety of spiritual disciplines.
  • Experience in prayer and devotion.

Students are evaluated and given credit by the group facilitators on the basis of attendance and engagement with the subject matter of the formation process. Students should register in both the fall and spring of the first year. Exceptions to this rule must be requested in writing from the director of spiritual life and formation.


The M.A.M. program requires the satisfactory completion of a supervised internship in a church or agency setting appropriate to the student’s area of specialization. The internship is nine months long, over the fall and spring terms of one academic year, and it carries six credit hours of academic credit. While the student registers for three hours of internship course credit during each of the two consecutive terms, the internship degree requirement is satisfied only upon completion of the six credit hours.

ST 6301 – Interpretation of the Christian Message I  is a prerequisite for the Internship course. The following courses are recommended in preparation for the internship course: XS 6310 - The Church in Its Social Context , two courses in biblical studies, spiritual formation and at least one of the foundational courses for the student’s specialized degree concentration.

All internships are coordinated through the Perkins Intern Office.  The placement process begins in September when a prospective intern is invited to apply for an internship that would begin in August of the following year.  A student completes an application and interviews with the intern faculty who will determine throughout the placement process the student’s readiness for internship.  If at any point during the placement process, the student exhibits patterns of behavior that suggests that the student needs further preparation prior to participating in an internship, the intern faculty may conclude that a student is not ready for an internship.  The intern faculty will engage in a consultative process to determine appropriate measures to help the student become prepared for internship. 

If a student declines two faculty-approved intern placements in a year, the Intern Program will remove the student from the placement process for that year.  A student who is removed from the placement process is encouraged to re-apply for an internship the following year; however, the student must accept a subsequent faculty approved intern placement. 

A student demonstrating readiness for an internship is encouraged to pursue placement possibilities for discussion in the initial interview with the intern faculty.  Internship placements include church, agency and hospital chaplaincy settings.  During the placement process serious consideration is given to the student’s denominational preference. 

The M.A.M. internship is part-time, requiring 20 hours per week (inclusive of the internship seminar) of work in the internship setting. All interns receive a stipend.

Master of Arts in Ministry students may complete the Perkins internship requirement (six credit hours) by successful completion of either:

  1. An introductory unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (Level 1), or
  2. An extended unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (Level 1). In most cases the unit schedule is 20 hours per week, between seven and nine months, within the span of August and May.

Master of Arts in Ministry students who choose either option to fulfill the Perkins internship requirement may not also receive academic credit for PC 7639 – Basic Clinical Pastoral Education .

An intern faculty member will be assigned to the CPE intern and will consult with the CPE certified educator regarding satisfactory completion of the internship requirement.

During the internship course, students do ministry under supervision and reflect theologically on their experiences. As the interns become more competent and self-confident in carrying out the tasks of ministry and gain theological, emotional and spiritual maturity in their understanding of it, they prepare themselves to provide resourceful, faithful Christian leadership in the world.

The design of the Perkins Intern Program assumes interns to be adult learners who can assess and value their past experiences and vocational goals and build on these creatively and systematically in pursuing the learning opportunities offered at their particular internship site. To that end, the internship course curriculum specifies a set of required competencies under each of three categories (be aware, think theologically and lead faithfully), tailored to the student’s particular degree concentration.

The Perkins Intern Program faculty partners with staff and laity at congregations and agencies and with mental health professionals experienced in church family systems to provide supportive supervision for students during internship. The mentor pastor and lay teaching committee assigned to each intern receive orientation and training as part of the intern program.

A student’s internship begins with a required two-day Intern Orientation conducted in August by the intern faculty.

Admission to Candidacy

M.A.M. students will be reviewed for admission to formal candidacy for the degree following the completion of 12 credit hours of academic work. Students will be admitted to candidacy provided they are not on academic probation. Admission to formal candidacy signifies that students are proceeding satisfactorily in their course requirements, including admission to and continuation in internship courses. In addition to meeting these academic requirements students are expected to demonstrate professional conduct and adhere to the requirements set forth in the SMU Student Code of Conduct, and the SMU Honor Code, as well as comply with all applicable SMU policies and procedures. Students who are found responsible for violations of the SMU Student Code of Conduct, the SMU Honor Code, or other SMU policies may be subject to SMU disciplinary processes. Such processes may result in sanctions, including but not limited to, disqualification from graduation with the M.A.M. degree or deferral of the award of the degree. Admission to formal candidacy does not oblige Perkins to grant the degree.

Ordination Requirements

Students preparing for ordination should become aware as early as possible of any specific educational requirements their denomination or judicatory may expect them to satisfy in the course of their M.A.M. work. They should explore, with their academic advisers, how best to deal with these expectations. Students who are preparing for ordination as deacons in the United Methodist Church should take as their electives HX 7365 - United Methodist History , ST 7034 - United Methodist Doctrine , CA 7013 - United Methodist Polity , WO 6313 - Introduction to Christian Worship , and EV 7307 - The Theory and Practice of Evangelism .

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