Descriptions of the Degree Programs

Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.)

4 year program, 3 year option available

The Bachelor of Theology degree is a basic qualification in theology and may serve as the basis for further study at the graduate level. It is a broad residential program combining both theological and practical studies. All of the courses prescribed for the Bachelor of Theology are to be completed within four years. Select candidates with demonstrated excellence in time-management, research, and writing skills may request to be considered for an intensive three-year course sequence. The Bachelor of Theology serves as one of the principal means of training students for Ordination, active ministry, or teaching within the Church and, as such, admission to this program is limited to applicants aspiring to these goals.

Instruction is offered by means of lectures, but with a strong emphasis on in-class discussion and presentations by the students. Depending on the nature of the course, and at the discretion of the instructor, students may exhibit their mastery of a given subject by a final examination (written or oral), by presentations, or by a term paper. All classes are held at the Seminary’s main facility (510 Collier Way, Etna, California 96027−9578).

A student who has successfully completed the Bachelor of Theology program should be able to demonstrate:

  • Accurate knowledge of Orthodox theology, as held and confessed by the Orthodox Church, and proficiency in theological thought, with spiritual discernment regarding the Orthodox Christian Tradition both in historical terms and in terms of contemporary society. This objective is effected by a detailed examination and study of Orthodox dogmatic theology on the basis of Holy Scripture, Holy Tradition, the writings of the Church Fathers, the liturgical life and traditions of the Orthodox Church, and the decrees of the Œcumenical Synods, enhanced by instruction in Classical languages and civilizations, philosophy, literature, history, and the beliefs and practices of major Christian denominations and world religions.

  • The ability to understand, explain, teach, and celebrate the Divine Services of the Orthodox Church. This objective is accomplished by the study of liturgical theology, the Church’s Typikon, and ecclesiastical chant, as well as regular attendance at and participation in daily Divine Services.

  • The capacity to undertake ministry in the context of a parish or mission and to teach Orthodox Christian doctrine both to parishioners and to those seeking to enter the Orthodox Church. This is achieved by study of the issues obtaining in the various dimensions of pastoral ministry, by practical instruction in catechesis, homiletics, pastoral counseling, parish administration, and ministry to the sick, and by a firm cultivation of the faith, emotional maturity, and spiritual life that are necessary in developing the foregoing skills.

The Seminary seeks to equip Bachelor of Theology students with the necessary skills and resources to serve parish or mission communities of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece and its Sister Churches in either a clerical or lay capacity.

Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)

1 year program

The Master of Theological Studies degree is an advanced qualification in theology and may serve as the basis for further study at the graduate level in theology. At present, it is the highest degree offered by the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary. All of the courses prescribed are to be completed within one year. The Master of Theological Studies serves as one of the principal means of training students who have completed an accredited college degree for Ordination, active ministry, or teaching within the Church. Clergymen already serving in the Priesthood who have completed a primary theological degree, but wishing to complete a graduate degree in theology, may also apply to the program.

Instruction is offered by means of a series of intensive seminars in key areas of Orthodox theology. Seminars are held in the Nativity and Pascha Terms, and students complete their thesis during the Pentecost Term. All seminars are held at the Seminary’s main facility (510 Collier Way, Etna, California 96027-9578).

The thesis must be at least fifty pages in length and of publication quality. The thesis must demonstrate that the student has a good sense of critical methodology and an overall approach that is characterized not only by analytic rigor and research, but also, and even more importantly, by pious fidelity to the mind of the Church Fathers and to Scriptural precepts.

A student who has successfully completed the Master of Theological Studies program should be able to demonstrate:

  • An accurate knowledge of Orthodox theology as held and confessed by the Orthodox Church and proficiency in thinking theologically and with spiritual discernment about the Orthodox Christian Tradition both in historical terms and in terms of contemporary society. This objective is effected by a detailed examination and study of Orthodox dogmatic theology on the basis of Holy Scripture, Holy Tradition, the writings of the Church Fathers, the liturgical life and traditions of the Orthodox Church, and the decrees of the Œcumenical Synods.

  • The ability to engage in advanced theological reflection, to analyze theological texts, and to conduct research and write at a scholarly level.

  • The capacity to undertake ministry in the context of a parish or mission, as well as to teach Orthodox Christian doctrine to parishioners and to those seeking to enter the Orthodox Church.

The Seminary seeks to equip Master of Theological Studies students with the necessary skills and resources to serve parish or mission communities of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece and its Sister Churches in either a clerical or lay capacity, and to pursue further advanced academic work.

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