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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
All Full-time Students Receive a Scholarship
Due to the generosity of Ralph Waldo Beeson and many benefactors after him, Beeson offers scholarship assistance to every full-time student. There are two tiers of scholarship available.
Tier One Scholarships
Tier One Scholarships cover 65-100% of tuition. The scholarships in this tier include the Timothy George Scholarship for Excellence (max 100% tuition) and the Dean’s Scholarship (max 85% tuition).
Incoming students to Beeson’s Master of Divinity program who meet the following requirements will be considered for a tier one scholarship:
- Possess significant ministry, leadership, and academic experience, with an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or above on a 4.0 scale.
- Commit to enter full-time ministry in the local church (Timothy George Scholarship) or in a missional, Christian academic or ministry placement (Dean’s Scholarship).
- Complete all application requirements for the M.Div. degree by the scholarship application deadline. For fall applicants, this deadline is February 1 prior to the term of admission. For spring applicants, the deadline is October 1 prior to the term of admission.
- Complete the additional Apostles' Creed essay requirement by the tier one scholarship application deadline (see tab in the application portal).
Of those who fulfill the above requirements, final candidates will be invited to participate in Beeson’s Scholarship Day.
Tier Two Scholarships
Tier Two Scholarships cover 30-45% of tuition. The scholarships in this tier include the John Wesley Beeson Scholarship ($7000/year) and the Ralph Waldo Beeson Scholarship ($5000/year).
Incoming students to Beeson’s Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Theological Studies programs who complete the application requirements by the general tuition deadline and who do not receive a tier one scholarship will receive one of these scholarships. For fall applicants, this deadline is March 15 prior to the term of admission. For spring applicants, the deadline is October 1 prior to the term of admission.
Based on a student’s application, the admission committee may also award the following scholarships to supplement* the tier one and tier two scholarships described above.
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 Hutchens Military Chaplain scholarship replaces the tiered scholarship amount.
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.
University fee per semester is $320. Univeristy fee for a Jan or summer term is $200. Vehicle registration fee per semester is $30.
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.
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 Theresa Kanute 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.
M.Div./MATS Application Process
October 1 - Spring General Admission and Tier One Scholarship Deadline
February 1 - Fall Tier One Scholarship Deadline
March 15 - Fall General Admission Deadline
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 and Vocation Essay*
- Academic Recommendation (to be completed by a college- or graduate-level instructor)
- Character Recommendation (to be completed by a pastor, church member, campus minister, mentor or employer who can speak to your Christian character and calling to ministry; cannot be a family member)
- Church Endorsement (to be completed by your senior pastor or church elder; cannot be a family member).
- Admission Interview:
Each applicant is responsible for scheduling an interview prior to the application deadline. It is recommended that your interview be completed on campus, but if this is not possible, interviews conducted by Zoom are acceptable. Schedule your interview through the application portal.
- Official transcript(s) from all undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate institutions previously attended. Please see the application portal for instructions about how to send the transcripts.
- $35 non-refundable fee (may be paid by credit card when submitting online application). The fee is waived for graduates of Samford University and students who come to a Preview Day or an official campus visit.
*Students applying for a tier one scholarship must also write an essay on the Apostles’ Creed and submit it by the scholarship deadline.
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.
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. Please contact Jennifer Beck if you have any questions.
*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.