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Courses | Master of Divinity (Spiritual Formation)

Below are some of the courses you’ll have an opportunity to take as a student in this program. Take a look at the list below to get an idea of the types of available courses. Also, be sure to review the official program requirements in the Biola University catalog.

Note: This list is intended to give you a quick glimpse into the program’s academic offerings, and should not be used as a guide for course selection or academic advising.

Curriculum Requirements

A study of principles or sound interpretation and application of the Bible, including analysis of presuppositions, general rules and specialized principles for the various biblical genre and phenomena and the development of an exegetical method. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students. Grade Mode: A.

A broad survey of the Old Testament books, including selected introductory and critical issues, relevant background, major themes and divisions, and crucial problems. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students. Grade Mode: A.

A general overview of the New Testament books, including selected introductory and critical issues, relevant background, major themes and divisions, and crucial problems. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students. Grade Mode: A.

History of the church from the Apostolic Fathers to the eve of the Reformation with an emphasis on the development of doctrine. Discussion of key thinkers, such as Origen, Tertullian, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas and Scotus. Notes: Required of M.A. (Theology) students. May not be substituted for TTHT 514. Grade Mode: A.
History of the church from the Reformation to the present with an emphasis on the key Continental and English Reformers, including Zwingli, Luther and Calvin. Discussion of the counter-Reformation, Protestant scholasticism, the Enlightenment, and important theological developments in the modern era. Opportunity is given for students to study the polity and history of their own denomination. Notes: Required of M.A. (Theology) students. May not be substituted for TTHT 514.Grade Mode: A.
History of the church from the apostolic Fathers to the modern era with an emphasis on the development of doctrine. Highlights key thinkers in the patristic, medieval, Reformation and modern eras. Notes: Required of M.Div. students. May not be substituted for either TTHT 505 or TTHT 506. Grade Mode: A.
An introductory study of the basic elements of New Testament Greek. Translation of portions of the New Testament in the second semester. Designed for students who have not completed a full sequence of beginning Greek courses. Notes: Not for credit in the M.Div. or M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry) programs unless the student takes it in place of elective credits. Grade Mode: A.
An introductory study of the basic elements of New Testament Greek. Translation of portions of the New Testament in the second semester. Designed for students who have not completed a full sequence of beginning Greek courses. Notes: Not for credit in the M.Div. or M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry) programs unless the student takes it in place of elective credits. Grade Mode: A.

A comprehensive survey of morphology and syntax, the building of a Greek vocabulary, an introduction to textual criticism, and the development of an exegetical methodology with reading in selected passages of the Greek New Testament. Designed to emphasize the value of Greek study as a tool for understanding the biblical text. Lecture/Lab Hours: Includes a required one hour non-credit lab. Notes: Required of M.Div., M.A. (Bible Exposition, New Testament, Old Testament, Theology), and M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry) students. Grade Mode: A.

Exegetical study of select passages from the Greek text of the gospels. Application of exegetical methodology and discussion of background issues, including historical backgrounds, composition, authorship, and distinctives of each book. Special attention given to assessment of modern critical methods for the interpretation of the biblical text. Notes: Required of all M.A. (New Testament) students. M.Div. and M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry) students may take TTNT 604 or TTNT 605. Grade Mode: A.
Exegetical study of select passages from the Greek text of the Epistles in the light of the historical framework of the book of Acts. Application of exegetical methodology and discussion of background issues, including historical backgrounds, composition, authorship, and distinctives of each book. Special attention given to assessment of modern critical methods for the interpretation of the biblical text. Notes: Required of all M.A. (New Testament) students. M.Div. and M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry) students may take TTNT 604 or TTNT 605. Grade Mode: A.
Basic grammar with translation and written exercises. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. (Old Testament) students. Grade Mode: A.
Additional grammar and syntax with emphasis on reading and translation in selected biblical texts. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. (Old Testament) students. Grade Mode: A.

Reading of Hebrew prose texts (intermediate level), including grammatical analysis and introduction to exegetical methods (especially text criticism, translation, syntax and lexical analysis). Grade Mode: A. 

Reading of Hebrew texts (advanced level) and application of comprehensive exegetical methods to selected texts. Notes: May be taken multiple times with different content. Required for M.A. (Old Testament) students. Two credits minimum required for M.Div. students. Grade Mode: A. 

A study of a pastor's call, purpose, and role in ministry. Special attention will be given to providing leadership in worship, music, ordinances, weddings, funerals, and hospital and home visitation. Notes: Required of M.Div. (Pastoral and General Ministries, Christian Education, Evangelism and Discipleship, Spiritual Formation) students, and M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry) students. Grade Mode: A.
The process of preparation that results in sermons that are biblically accurate, easy to follow, interesting to listen to and relevant to contemporary needs. Notes: Required of M.Div., M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry and Women's Ministry), and B.A. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry) students. Grade Mode: A.
Integration of all the disciplines of ministry and seminary education. It provides supervised experience in various phases of Christian ministry. One hundred hours of field experience each semester are evaluated in classroom interaction. Notes: Required of M.Div. (except Pastoral Care and Counseling, Spiritual Formation, and Missions and Intercultural Studies) and M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry); Missions and Intercultural Studies students see ISCL 791–792; Pastoral Care and Counseling see TTPT 693, 694, and 695. Offered Fall semester only. Grade Mode: A.
Integration of all the disciplines of ministry and seminary education. It provides supervised experience in various phases of Christian ministry. One hundred hours of field experience each semester are evaluated in classroom interaction. Notes: Required of M.Div. (except Pastoral Care and Counseling, Spiritual Formation, and Missions and Intercultural Studies) and M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry); Missions and Intercultural Studies students see ISCL 791–792; Pastoral Care and Counseling see TTPT 693, 694, and 695. Offered Spring semester only. Grade Mode: A.
Training in biblical interpretation and its relevance to the process and goals of spiritual formation. Emphasis is given to analysis of written communication and language usage, general rules and specialized principles for the various biblical genre, and the place of the Word of God in Christian spiritual growth from a biblical, experiential and historical perspective. Notes: Required of all SF students. Grade Mode: A.
An introductory study into the nature of spiritual formation and the various ways that Christians have sought to deepen their relationship with God, with special emphasis given to the nature and practice of prayer in the Church and the Christian life. Notes: Required of all SF students. Grade Mode: A.
An introduction to the history and theory of spiritual soul care, mentoring and direction from a biblical, experiential and psychological perspective. Specific focus is on assisting others in deepening their relationship with God through increased sensitivity and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit's presence and work in all areas of life (including the common and ordinary). Attention is also given to understanding the personal dynamics at work within and between the guide and directee and the role of spiritual guidance within the broader context of pastoral care and mentoring as well as in the more specific discipline of spiritual direction. Notes: Required of all SF students. Grade Mode: A.

An exploration of spirituality through Church history. The course introduces the student to the various traditions of spirituality (contemplative, holiness, Word, charismatic, social reform etc.) and their historical-theoretical roots (Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran etc.). Attention is given to appreciation, evaluation and critique. Various experiential projects are designed to facilitate understanding, appreciation and personal growth with respect to these traditions.

An exploration of the various stages of growth involved in the believer's journey, employing both experiential and biblical data. Particular focus is given to St. John of the Cross who developed perhaps the most elaborate and influential approach to understanding the work of the Spirit in various phases of the Christian's life and how this relates to the relationship between discursive and contemplative prayer and meditation. Notes: Required of all SF students. Grade Mode: A.
This course focuses upon the importance of self-understanding for spiritual and emotional well-being as well as effective ministry to hurting people. It includes an investigation into the impact of personal and family history on theological outlook, emotional congruence, relational attractions and moral decisions. Several personal assessments as well as one or more therapy sessions are an integral part of this course and will require an additional fee. Notes: Required of all SF students. Grade Mode: C.
An overview of personality development and the major forms of psychopathology from a depth psychological perspective (psychodynamic and existential). This course provides a framework for understanding the dynamics inherent in personality development and distortions of that development under the influence of sin. Notes: Required of all SF M.A. and M.Div. students. Grade Mode: A.
The first of a two-course sequence which facilitates development of empathic listening, interpersonal skills and basic spiritual guidance techniques that form the basis of effective spiritual direction. Attention is also given to the development of discernment in order to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in His ministry. Provides a beginning framework for understanding issues in professional ethics. Emphasizes a small, interactive group format for the development of skills. Notes: For M.Div. and M.A. Soul Care students only. A passing grade for this course is B or better. In addition, students will be evaluated to determine whether they will advance to Pre-practicum II, repeat Pre-practicum I, take an SF elective (for M.Div. students) or have the option to transfer to the M.A. Concentration program (for M.A. Soul Care students). Grade Mode: A.
The second of a two-course sequence which facilitates development of empathic listening, interpersonal skills and basic spiritual guidance techniques. Direct observation and taping of the student's first clinical spiritual direction practicum in the university's Center for Spiritual Renewal provide a supervised introduction to the spiritual direction process. It also educates students to recognize more severe disorders that require psychological or psychiatric referral. Notes: A passing grade for this course is "B" or better. In addition, students will be evaluated to determine if they will advance to Practicum I, repeat Prepracticum course(s), transfer to TTPT 791/792 Field Internship (for M.Div. Students) or have the option to transfer to the M.A. Concentration program (for M.A. Soul Care students). Course should be taken concurrently with or subsequent to TTSF 524. Grade Mode: A.
Students experience their own spiritual direction for the purpose of deepening their self awareness and relationship with God and implicit training in doing direction with others. The student is encouraged to be open and honest with the spiritual guide, hiding nothing regarding one's relationship with God and, within reason, attending to the direction of the guide. Notes: Required of all SF students each semester enrolled. Grade Mode: C.
Theoretical and experiential integration of prayer and spiritual formation into the experience of sermon preparation and preaching. Focus will be on personal prayer and preparation of the heart in sermon preparation and in understanding and relating to the spiritual dynamics of the audience in listening and responding to the Word. Notes: A directed study offered by ISF faculty and taken concurrent with TTPT 609 Expository Preaching. Required for M.Div. students only. Grade Mode: A.
An introduction to ethics including the nature of personal character, virtues and vices, and their relationship to the spiritual disciplines as means of spiritual growth into the image of Christ. Notes: Required of all SF M.A. and M.Div. students. Grade Mode: A.
M.Div. and M.A. Soul Care students are required to have a total of three weeks of extended off-campus retreat in isolation or partial isolation to explore and cultivate the inner life in the presence of God under the supervision of a spiritual guide (as designated or permitted by the faculty) and one's advisor. The first half of this classroom course, taken early in the program (2 credits for M.A. Soul Care students, 1 credit for M.Div.), will cover theory and preparation for the retreat. The second half of the course (2 credits for M.A. Soul Care students, 1 credit for M.Div.), taken late in the program, and after completing the retreat, will serve to debrief and further understand the retreat process. Grade Mode: A.
Students practice and complete a specified number of hours of individual spiritual mentoring of others while enrolled in Soul Care Practicum I. Work is done at a faculty approved site (Biola, church setting etc.) under the supervision of faculty. This also includes a weekly small group which focuses on theoretical training as well as individual supervision and training throughout the semester to foster personal growth and insight into the work of doing spiritual mentoring. Notes: Required of M.A. Soul Care students, optional for M.Div. students. Grade Mode: A.
This is the second course in which students practice and complete a designated number of hours of individual spiritual direction of others. Work is done at a faculty approved site (Biola, church setting etc.) under the supervision of faculty. This also includes weekly small group experience which focuses on theoretical training as well as individual supervision and training throughout the semester to foster personal growth and insight into the work of doing spiritual soul care. Notes: Required of M.A. Soul Care students, optional for M.Div. students. Grade Mode: A.
An introduction to theology and theological method. Scripture, including inspiration and inerrancy. God, including his attributes and triune nature. God's work of creation, including God's eternal plan, the angels, and providence. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students.Grade Mode: A.
Humanity in the image of God, including human nature, the family, and civil government. The fall and the effect of sin upon humanity. The person and work of Christ. The nature and application of salvation, including regeneration, justification, and sanctification. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students.Grade Mode: A.

The person and work of the Holy Spirit. The inception and nature of the church, both as a living organism and an organization, its function, ordinances, and mission. The broad kingdom purpose of God, including Christ's second coming, the millennial reign of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, judgment, and the eternal state. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students. Grade Mode: A.


Additional Requirements

Select two of the following:

The nature of Christian outreach; a study of principles, history, and methodology of worldwide missions. Notes: Required of M.Div. students. Grade Mode: A.
An examination of the Christian worldview and the various Christian apologetic responses in relation to the areas of history, science, and philosophy. Notes: Required for M.Div. and M.A. (Theology) students. Elective for M.A. (Philosophy) students. Grade Mode: A.
The biblical principles and practice of evangelism and discipleship. The class will seek to develop the skills of personal evangelism, determine strategies for a discipleship ministry. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. (Biblical and Theological Studies) students and M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry) students. Grade Mode: A.

The course focuses on how to develop specific strategic ministries in a local church, including, but not limited to, life-span discipling, intergenerational ministries, growing new believers, transformational Bible teaching, equipping laity for ministry, and developing innovative ministry resources. Note(s): Option within the Master of Divinity (Spiritual Formation) for two of five course selections; option within the Master of Divinity (Pastoral and General Ministries) for two of four course selections; option within the Master of Divinity (Evangelism and Discipleship) for one of four course selections. Grade Mode: A.

A study of biblical ethics and the role the local church plays in the community. Special attention will be given to major social problems such as sanctity of life, chemical abuse, domestic violence, social ills, and the political process. Notes: Required of M.A.C.M.L. (Pastoral Care and Counseling, Sports Ministries; Preaching and Pastoral Ministry may take TTPH 602 instead), M.A. Diversified, and M.Div. (except Missions and Intercultural Studies) students. Grade Mode: A.

Online Courses

The following courses are available through an online/hybrid format:

A study of principles or sound interpretation and application of the Bible, including analysis of presuppositions, general rules and specialized principles for the various biblical genre and phenomena and the development of an exegetical method. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students. Grade Mode: A.

A broad survey of the Old Testament books, including selected introductory and critical issues, relevant background, major themes and divisions, and crucial problems. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students. Grade Mode: A.

A general overview of the New Testament books, including selected introductory and critical issues, relevant background, major themes and divisions, and crucial problems. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students. Grade Mode: A.

History of the church from the Apostolic Fathers to the eve of the Reformation with an emphasis on the development of doctrine. Discussion of key thinkers, such as Origen, Tertullian, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas and Scotus. Notes: Required of M.A. (Theology) students. May not be substituted for TTHT 514. Grade Mode: A.
History of the church from the Reformation to the present with an emphasis on the key Continental and English Reformers, including Zwingli, Luther and Calvin. Discussion of the counter-Reformation, Protestant scholasticism, the Enlightenment, and important theological developments in the modern era. Opportunity is given for students to study the polity and history of their own denomination. Notes: Required of M.A. (Theology) students. May not be substituted for TTHT 514.Grade Mode: A.
History of the church from the apostolic Fathers to the modern era with an emphasis on the development of doctrine. Highlights key thinkers in the patristic, medieval, Reformation and modern eras. Notes: Required of M.Div. students. May not be substituted for either TTHT 505 or TTHT 506. Grade Mode: A.
An introductory study of the basic elements of New Testament Greek. Translation of portions of the New Testament in the second semester. Designed for students who have not completed a full sequence of beginning Greek courses. Notes: Not for credit in the M.Div. or M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry) programs unless the student takes it in place of elective credits. Grade Mode: A.
An introductory study of the basic elements of New Testament Greek. Translation of portions of the New Testament in the second semester. Designed for students who have not completed a full sequence of beginning Greek courses. Notes: Not for credit in the M.Div. or M.A.C.M.L. (Preaching and Pastoral Ministry) programs unless the student takes it in place of elective credits. Grade Mode: A.
An introduction to theology and theological method. Scripture, including inspiration and inerrancy. God, including his attributes and triune nature. God's work of creation, including God's eternal plan, the angels, and providence. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students.Grade Mode: A.
Humanity in the image of God, including human nature, the family, and civil government. The fall and the effect of sin upon humanity. The person and work of Christ. The nature and application of salvation, including regeneration, justification, and sanctification. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students.Grade Mode: A.

The person and work of the Holy Spirit. The inception and nature of the church, both as a living organism and an organization, its function, ordinances, and mission. The broad kingdom purpose of God, including Christ's second coming, the millennial reign of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, judgment, and the eternal state. Notes: Required of M.Div. and M.A. students. Grade Mode: A.