The Master of Arts in Theological Studies (M.A.T.S.) is an academic M.A. degree, designed to provide students with a deeper understanding of the content of the Christian faith. The M.A.T.S. program is ideally suited for persons wishing to gain a foundational understanding of the core theological disciplines for personal enrichment and growth, for the enhancement of their ministries in nonordained capacities and/or as an introductory graduate theological degree. This degree is also offered in tandem with several other graduate degrees in other schools of the university. The M.A.T.S. degree does not provide the breadth and depth of preparation expected or required by most churches and denominations for pastoral ministry roles or for ordination .

The curriculum includes four courses in biblical studies, four courses in Christian history and doctrine, and four elective courses. The program concludes with a capstone course in which students draw upon the biblical and theological disciplines to reflect on their faith and vocation and integrate those reflections in a coherent thesis assignment.

The requirements for the M.A.T.S. degree can be completed in two years of full-time study. The program requires at least 37 credit hours, with a minimum of 24 credit hours being completed at Beeson Divinity School.

Degree Objectives

  • Demonstrate the ability to use appropriate principles of interpretation in the analysis of English Bible texts.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use relevant biblical, historical, and theological data and methodology to articulate key evangelical doctrines in the context of one’s denominational tradition.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use relevant biblical, historical, and theological data and methodology to articulate an understanding of vocation that meaningfully informs one’s life and work in the world.

View Curriculum

Program Design

Students who fit one or more the criteria above and enter the M.A.T.S. take required courses (25 credits) and electives (12 credits) in biblical studies, historical and doctrinal studies, and a capstone course in faith and vocation. Students who complete this degree will learn how Scripture and theology inform and transform every arena of life.

Core Courses

25 Credit Hours

Beeson retains the evangelical conviction that Holy Scripture norms theology, life and ministry. Thus, students take courses in Old and New Testament Theology, four courses in history and doctrine, two courses in biblical exposition, and one course in faith and vocation. 

Electives

12 Credit Hours

Students in the M.A.T.S. program have the opportunity to customize the degree by choosing one of four tracks for his or her electives: General Studies, Biblical Studies, History and Doctrine Studies, and Greek Studies.

M.Div./MATS Scholarships, Tuition & Fees

Tuition

Earning a Master’s degree at Beeson is very affordable. Beeson offers a very competitive and affordable tuition to students. When compared with peer institutions, tuition and fees for the Beeson M.Div. are 14.7% less. Average tuition at 10 peer institutions* in 2019-20 was $18,507, compared with $15,790 at Beeson Divinity School.

Tuition for the 2020-21 academic year is $8,001 per semester.

Full-time enrollment is 9-12 credit hours (M.Div.) and 9-13 credit hours (M.A.T.S.). The tuition rate for students taking fewer than 9 credit hours is $761 per credit hour. Students taking more than 12 credit hours (M.Div.) or 13 credit hours (M.A.T.S.) are charged $761 for each credit hour above those limits.

*Peer institutions include: Asbury Theological Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary, Denver Seminary, Duke Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Tuition data derived from 2019-20 Annual Data Table, the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.

Scholarships

All Full-time Master’s Level Students Receive a Scholarship

Due to the generosity of Ralph Waldo Beeson and many benefactors after him, Beeson is able to offer approximately 35% tuition coverage ($2,500) to all full-time Beeson students.

Competitive Academic Scholarships

Beginning fall 2021, incoming students to Beesons Master of Divinity program will also have the opportunity to apply for our academic scholarships: the Timothy George Scholarship for Excellence (max 100% of tuition) and the Deans Scholarship (max 85% of tuition).

Timothy George Scholarship for Excellence is named for Dr. Timothy George, Beeson Divinity School’s founding dean and world-renowned scholar. This full-tuition scholarship is awarded to one applicant annually who demonstrates academic excellence and a sincere calling to vocational ministry and the furthering of Christ’s kingdom throughout the world.

The Dean's Scholarship (max 85% of tuition) is awarded to several applicants who possess strong academic abilities and a call to full-time vocational ministry. 

To apply for Beeson’s academic scholarships above, students must meet the following requirements:

  1. Possess significant ministry, leadership, and academic experience, with an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or above on a 4.0 scale.
  2. Commit to entering into full-time ministry in the local church or in a missions or ministry placement. (*Hutchens scholarship awardees must be called to military chaplaincy.)
  3. Complete all application requirements for the M.Div. degree, including the scholarship application (see tab on application for admission) by the deadline. For fall applicants, the deadline is the January 15 prior to the term of admission. For spring applicants, the deadline is the October 1 prior to the term of admission.

Of those who fulfill the above requirements, final candidates will be invited to participate in Beeson’s Scholarship Interview Day.

Other scholarships include:

The General James M. Hutchens Military Chaplain Scholarship is awarded to one or two recipients annually who are committed to pursuing a career in the active duty military as an officer and military chaplain. This scholarship provides 75% tuition coverage.

The John Wesley Beeson Scholarship is named for the father of our benefactor, Ralph Waldo Beeson, who was a revival preacher and president of Meridian College, a Methodist college in Meridian, Mississippi. The scholarship is awarded to several applicants who possess strong academic abilities and a call to full-time vocational ministry.

The Day-Sanders Scholarship is named for the mother and grandmother of retired Beeson professor, Dr. Norflete Day. This scholarship is awarded to one or more female students who demonstrate financial need.

The Antonio Smith Scholarship is named for the son of Dr. Robert Smith Jr., the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity and professor of Christian preaching at Beeson Divinity School. This scholarship is awarded to one African-American student annually who has demonstrated financial need.

The Gary Fenton Scholarship is named for Dr. Gary D. Fenton, retired pastor of Dawson Baptist Church in Birmingham and senior advancement officer of Beeson. This scholarship is awarded annually to one or more students who demonstrate academic excellence and a calling to ministry in the local church.

The Patricia Outlaw Scholarship is named for retired Beeson professor Dr. Patricia Outlaw. This scholarship is awarded to one African-American student annually who is engaged in full-time pulpit ministry.

The Mark Gignilliat Scholarship is named for Beeson Old Testament and Hebrew professor, Dr. Mark Gignilliat. This scholarship is awarded to a student who demonstrates academic excellence.

The Mathews-Thielman Scholarship is named for the two longest tenured professors at Beeson: Dr. Ken Mathews, professor of Old Testament, and Dr. Frank Thielman, professor of New Testament and Presbyterian Chair of Divinity. This scholarship is awarded to a student who demonstrates academic excellence.

Fees

University fee per semester is $320. Univeristy fee for a Jan or summer term is $200. Vehicle registration fee per semester is $30.

Deposit

Following the acceptance of a student, Beeson asks for a non-refundable $200 deposit as confirmation of your intention to enroll for the coming semester. The deposit will be applied toward your student account upon enrollment.

Financial Aid

Current and prospective divinity students are highly encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for need-based aid programs such as federal work-study jobs and federal student loans.

Processing time for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is up to four weeks. The FAFSA report is necessary for all student loan programs available through Samford University.

If you have questions, please contact David Dockery at 205-726-2905.

Joint Degree Programs

Joint-degree programs allow students to earn two degrees concurrently with fewer credit requirements than needed to earn the degrees separately. Joint-degree programs require separate admission applications to each of the respective schools. Students seeking to enter a joint-degree program must meet admission requirements for both schools participating in the joint program.

Beeson Divinity School's primary degree is the Master of Divinity, and our student body is small. As such, our course work offerings are limited. Classes are offered during the day only, Tuesday through Friday. The curriculum structure is integrative and requires incremental progress from one semester to the next. Joint degree students are encouraged to plan their course work well in advance to minimize scheduling or sequencing conflicts. To receive divinity school scholarships, joint degree students are expected to take a minimum of nine divinity credit hours per semester.

Juris Doctorate (J.D.)

The M.A.T.S/J.D. degree program combines work in Beeson Divinity School and The Cumberland School of Law. The program takes approximately five years to complete. Students must apply for admission to each school separately. They must complete their first semester of law school before applying to the divinity school. Law students applying to the dual degree program must maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average.

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

The M.A.T.S./M.S.W.. degree program combines work in Beeson Divinity School and The School of Public Health. Students in the program will be equipped with the theological knowledge required to integrate social work with the gospel. Students in both programs will choose a concentration in either clinical social work or global community development for the social work portion of their studies. Students must apply for admission to each school separately.

Learn More

M.Div./MATS Application Process

Admission/Scholarship Deadlines

October 1 - Spring General Admission, Academic and Tuition Scholarship
January 15 - Fall Academic Scholarship
March 1 - Fall General Admission and Tuition Scholarship

Applicant's Checklist

All items on this checklist must be received by the application deadline. Further instruction is given on the online application.

  • Completed online application
  • Personal Faith Narrative Essay
  • Academic Essay on the topic of the Apostles' Creed
  • Academic Recommendation (to be completed by a college- or graduate-level instructor)
  • Pastoral Recommendation (to be completed by your senior pastor, other member of the pastoral staff or campus minister; cannot be a family member)
  • Church Endorsement (to be completed by the governing body of your church of membership). *This may be completed, if needed, by the same person who completes your pastoral recommendation form. However, please make the pastor aware he/she will need to complete both recommendation forms.
  • Admission Interview:
    Each applicant is responsible for scheduling an interview. Interviews must be completed prior to the application deadline. It is recommended that your interview be completed on campus, but if this is not possible, interviews conducted by phone or Skype are acceptable. Schedule your interview through your application portal.
  • Official Transcript: Official transcript(s) from all undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate institutions previously attended should be mailed to:

    Beeson Divinity School
    Office of Admission
    800 Lakeshore Drive
    Birmingham, Alabama 35229

    Or, an official electronic transcript can be emailed to: shead@samford.edu.

    A final transcript also is required upon completion of your undergraduate degree. Transcripts are considered official only when they bear the issuing institution's seal and arrive with the seal intact.
  • $35 non-refundable fee that may be paid by credit card when submitting online application (not required for graduates of Samford University)

International Students

The application process for international students is unique and can seem complicated. It is our hope that this page will reduce this stress by taking you step by step through the process.

Preliminary Evaluations

Prospective international students must complete and submit the following evaluations to the Beeson Divinity School Office of Admission before beginning the standard application process for admission.

  • World Educational Service (Official course-by-course transcript of academic work sent through World Educational Services)
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Any applicant whose native language is not English must also submit a score of at least 550 (paper-based) or 80 (Internet-based) on the TOEFL. Students should arrange to take the TOEFL by visiting www.toefl.org or by writing to Educational Testing Service at P.O. Box 955, Princeton, NJ 08540.

Once the above material is completed, an international prospect may begin the standard application process by clicking on the "Apply Now" button below. Following an admission decision, the applicant will need to complete the Affidavit of Financial Support, including an official bank statement.  The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) requires proof of funds totaling approximately $30,000 (minus any scholarship assistance) in order for an I-20 to be processed, therefore it is recommended that funding is secured before the completion of the application process.

*A note regarding student visas: The United States Information Agency's insurance regulations for J visa holders require international students and their dependents to have and maintain health insurance during residency in the United States. Proof of coverage is required before registering for classes. The law mandates that Samford University must deny student status to international students who do not continue to comply. Information about specific carriers, minimum coverages, and premium costs is available from Samford University Health Services.

Please contact Jennifer Beck if you have any questions.