Bachelor of Divinity

In Western universities, a Bachelor of Divinity/Baccalaureate in Divinity (BD or BDIV) is an undergraduate or postgraduate academic degree awarded for a course taken in the study of divinity or related disciplines, such as theology or, rarely, religious studies. In most modern universities, the BD as a first degree is essentially equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts degree with a speciality in divinity. Relatively few institutions award undergraduate Bachelor of Divinity degrees today, and the distinction between institutions which do award such degrees and those which award B.A. degrees for theological subjects is usually one of university bureaucracy, rather than curriculum.

In the Catholic Universities the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (STB) is often called the Baccalaureate in Divinity (BD) and is treated as a postgraduate qualification.

United Kingdom

At the Universities of Cambridge and Dublin and previously at the University of Oxford, the BD is a postgraduate qualification, and applicants must have already completed an undergraduate degree before being accepted into the course;[1][2] the same was formerly true at the University of Oxford, where the degree ceased to be offered in 2005.[3] Registration for Cambridge's BD is only open to senior graduates of that University.[4] The BD at Cambridge is the highest ranking bachelor's degree, and it is so senior that it outranks the PhD.[5] It requires a significant contribution to knowledge in the area of Christian Theology, and is awarded based on published work, dissertation, or a combination of both.[6]

The University of Durham BD was of a similar nature, and available to graduates of seven years' standing. It was awarded on the basis of published work of a similar extent to a PhD – the usual basis for the award was a book. It is no longer awarded. St Mary's College at the University of St Andrews – where the main undergraduate award is the MTheol (Master of Theology) – offers the BD following a three-year course of study for graduates in other disciplines.

Current examples of when this degree is taught as an undergraduate programme in the United Kingdom are[7] the: King's College London (where an optional AKC can be taken side by side); University of St Andrews (where entrants must hold a degree in another discipline); Queen’s University, Belfast; the University of Wales, Lampeter; Bangor University; the University of Aberdeen; University of Edinburgh; University of Glasgow.

Heythrop College, a constituent institution of the University of London, offers the BD course parallel to a Bachelor of Arts programme in Theology.[8] However, here the BD is indicated for candidates of the Roman Catholic Priesthood. Heythrop College, first founded as a Jesuit institution, is a specialist centre for the study of Theology and Philosophy related studies.


In Ireland St. Patrick's College, Maynooth (Pontifical University) offer the Baccalaureate in Divinity (BD) Degree which is available to students who already have completed studies in Theology or Philosophy,[9] as does the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy. Most other Catholic seminaries Clonliffe College, Thurles, Carlow etc., would have awarded the BD degree.

Trinity College, Dublin, as it traditionally did for Church of Ireland clergy, offers a Bachelor in Divinity (BD); it is classified as a postgraduate course, based on the completion of eight examination papers and a 40,000 word thesis within five years.[10]

The Presbyterian Union Theological College as part of Queen's University, Belfast also awards the Bachelor of Divinity as an undergraduate qualification.[11]

Other countries

The Bachelor of Divinity degree offered in the region of South Asia by the affiliated colleges under the Senate of Serampore College is a graduate degree with post-graduate requirement for admission, in the sense that only graduates can register for BD. The university is going through change to adopt a 3-year BD course with field-work and expand its accessibility through distance education, this will be considered as the essential degree for ordination in the diasporic Christian churches. Meanwhile, the university have implemented a 5-year integrated and research oriented M.Div. program with specializations.

The same used to apply in New Zealand, where the undergraduate degree is BTheol. Until recently both were offered at the University of Otago. The BD was the older, postgraduate degree and was usually attained by people training for ministry in the Presbyterian Church. BD is no longer offered by the University of Otago.

At Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, the B.D. is classified as a post-graduate bachelor's degree in the sense that the normal entry requirement is completion of another bachelor's degree. The B.D. consists of four years of coursework in Theology with an emphasis on Biblical Studies including original languages. The degree may be awarded with honours depending on grades and successful completion of a research component.[12] The B.D. is the basic qualification for ordination in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney. Similar courses of study (often only three years in duration) at comparable institutions in Australia have been reclassified as a Masters in Divinity.

The Master of Divinity has replaced the Bachelor of Divinity in most American seminaries as the first professional degree, since the latter title implies in the American academic system that it is on a par with a Bachelor of Arts or other basic undergraduate education.

See also


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