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Education Routes

Basic Graduate Theological Studies

All deacons and elders are required to complete the Basic Graduate Theological Studies in the Christian faith (minimum of 27 semester hours). These may be completed as part of a theological degree or in addition to a master’s degree and/or professional certification in specialized ministry. 

Students must take at least one course in each of these Basic Graduate Theological Studies categories:

  • Evangelism
  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Church history
  • Theology
  • Mission of the church in the world
  • Worship/liturgy
  • United Methodist doctrine
  • United Methodist polity
  • United Methodist history

Three Educational Routes

Route One:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master of divinity (or equivalent) or other theological master’s degree. The degree must be earned at a school approved by the University Senate. Studies must include the Basic Graduate Theological Studies courses listed above)

Route Two:

  • Bachelor's degree
  • Master's degree in an appropriate area of ministry specialization
  • Completion of Basic Graduate Theological Studies courses listed above (from approved school)

Route Three (and option for people beginning candidacy at age 35 or older):

NOTE: For missional purposes exceptions to the undergraduate degree requirements may be made in consultation with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.


Scholarships are available for Basic Graduate Theological Studies courses for those who have completed the online candidacy form (initiated by her/his district superintendent) and have been assigned a candidacy mentor. Complete and submit this form to apply for Deacon Studies/BGTS scholarship funds.