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Master of Pastoral Care and Counseling

Master of Divinity

The Antiochian House of Studies (AHOS) has been offering programs of theological study in a distance-learning format for over 35 years. The Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree is designed to equip students with comprehensive theological knowledge and train them for various ministries in the Church. It is also intended to prepare qualified Orthodox students and seminarians to be ordained to the priesthood and/or pursue postgraduate degrees. In this professional degree, the Master of Divinity students become well-versed in Orthodox history, Biblical and Patristic writings, and in practical methods that can be applied in priestly practices. The essential value of this degree lies in nurturing students’ spiritual, personal, and vocational formation under the guidance of their professors and spiritual Fathers.

Courses and Credits:
For non-Antiochian students, the program requires completion of 114 total credits. Antiochian students are required to complete an additional three courses (9 credits) in Arabic language, for a total of 123 credits. The MDiv program requires at least three years to complete. 

Residency Requirement:
MDiv students are required to attend a total of seven (7) weeks of in-person Residency, as follows: There is a two-week in-person Residency at the START of the first academic year, and another two weeks of Residency at the start of the second and third years of study, with a final week of Residency at the conclusion of the program (7 weeks total). Students are responsible for the cost of attending Residency – including lodging, meals, and transportation. These costs are completely separate from the Tuition & Fees due to the Antiochian House of Studies.

Practicum Requirement:
The MDiv Practicum is the portion of the program where academic principles and theories are put into action within the parish life setting.

MDiv Practicum I: Introduction to Teleliturgics I/II and Homiletics I
MDiv Practicum II: Introduction to Pastoral Care I and Homiletics II
MDiv Practicum III: Introduction to Pastoral Care II and Orthodox Priestly Ethos
MDiv Practicum IV: Teleliturgics III, Church Administration, and Cure of Souls
MDiv Practicum V: Local Pastoral/Ministry Placement
MDiv Practicum VI: Local Pastoral/Ministry Placement

Regarding Ordination:
Prospective MDiv applicants who are members of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese are recommended to read this October 7, 2022 news article regarding the Antiochian Archdiocese policy on applications for ordination, and applications to any MDiv program. While the MDiv program of the Antiochian House of Studies provides preparation for students on a path to ordination, the determination regarding a student’s ordination into Holy Orders lies at the sole discretion of the student’s ruling hierarch. 

Courses & Requirements

The courses and general requirements of the Master of Divinity program are as follows:

Unit I (Fall – Year One):

  • Fundamentals: An Introduction to Orthodoxy
  • Church History I: The Christian Church from Its Foundation through the Seventh Century
  • Introduction to Liturgical Theology, Baptism and Eucharist
  • New Testament Greek I
  • Old Testament Hebrew I
  • Church Music I 
  • MDiv Practicum I

Unit II (Spring – Year One):

  • Church History II: The Orthodox Church from the Seventh Century to 1453
  • Holy Scripture I: The Old Testament
  • New Testament Greek II
  • Old Testament Hebrew II
  • Church Music II
  • Homiletics I
  • Teleliturgics I
  • MDiv Practicum II

Unit III (Fall – Year Two):

  • Liturgical Theology II: Sanctification of Life and Time
  • Holy Scripture II: The New Testament
  • Patristics I: The Fathers of the Church During the First Five Hundred Years
  • Homiletics II
  • Teleliturgics II
  • Church Music III
  • MDiv Practicum III

Unit IV (Spring – Year Two):

  • Doctrine I: The Doctrine of Knowledge in the Tradition of the Church
  • Pastoral Theology I
  • Biblical Studies (Patristic perspective)
  • Church Music IV
  • Christian Ethics
  • Church Administration / Financial Management
  • MDiv Practicum IV

Unit V (Fall – Year Three):

  • Doctrine II: The Orthodox Doctrine of the Holy Trinity
  • Pastoral Theology II: Spiritual Care to Suffering Persons
  • Canon Law: The Canon Law of the Orthodox Church
  • Two elective courses: Arabic language, Spanish language, French language, Ethics of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Advanced Youth Ministry, Bioethics, Christology and Life after Death, Curing Spiritual Illness in the Patristic Tradition, History of Antioch/Antiochian Heritage and Local Counsels, and Missions and Evangelism.
  • Local Practicum V / Pastoral/Ministry Placement (“Field Work”)

Unit VI (Spring – Year Three):

  • Master of Divinity Thesis
  • Orthodox Priestly Ethos
  • Fundamentals of Youth & Adult Education
  • Local Practicum VI / Pastoral/Ministry Placement (“Field Work”)
Additional Course Requirements for Antiochian Students

Antiochian Seminarians: required to take three additional courses in Arabic language (3 credits each).

MDiv Practicum

Under the supervision of His Eminence Metropolitan SABA and his auxiliary bishops and AHOS professors, the MDiv Practicum prepares MDiv candidates to provide pastoral care to their congregations in full accord with the Orthodox Christian Theological Tradition.

Practicum Objectives
The objectives of the Practicum are organized around the following three interrelated areas:
• Development of Spiritual Therapeutic Skills
• Contextualization of Pastoral Work within the Antiochian Orthodox Worldview
• Formation of a Personal Priestly and Pastoral Identity

Development Of Spiritual Therapeutic Skills
In this area students will strive to acquire skills specific to providing therapeutic care in
response to various pastoral needs and to acquiring the methodological framework that will equip them to continue their pastoral maturation. This purpose implies the following goals:
• To demonstrate the ability to establish a pastoral bond with individuals, couples,
groups, and families experiencing spiritual problems,
• To demonstrate basic ministry skills, including listening, empathy, reflection, analysis
of problems, conflict resolution, theological reflection, and the demonstration of a critical eye for the examination and evaluation of spiritual illnesses,
• To demonstrate the ability to make pastoral diagnoses in the light of nosology and the
central role of the ascetic path in effecting spiritual healing,
• To demonstrate the ability to engage in a helping relationship with persons of different
social, cultural, and religious backgrounds,
• To demonstrate the ability to understand and deal with children, preteens, teens,
young adults, adults, and the elderly,
• To demonstrate the ability to communicate with individuals, especially among the sick
and the suffering, of differing levels of faith commitment, including nominal and lapsed
• To demonstrate familiarity with the literature and insights of the Orthodox field of
pastoral ministry, especially in the area of marriage and family life, in cooperation with the Orthodox Family Center (OFC).

Contextualization Of Pastoral Work Within the Antiochian Orthodox Worldview
In this area students will strive to articulate the Antiochian Orthodox worldview.

At the end of each semester the evaluation will be made by students, spiritual fathers, and preceptors. The director of the MDiv Pastoral Care Practicum shall give to the Academic Dean an annual strategic evaluation report.


All M.Div. students are required to attend four intensive 2-week Residencies over the course of their studies: one at the start of each of the three academic years and a final Residency at the end of the last academic year. These take place in late August/early September, and are held at the Antiochian Village Conference & Retreat Center in western Pennsylvania.

Master’s Thesis

Students who successfully complete the required coursework of the Master of Divinity curriculum may enter the thesis phase, which includes:

  • Presentation of a Thesis Proposal (abstract)
  • Thesis research and preparation
  • Thesis approval process and deadlines
  • Completion and defense of the Master’s Thesis.

Please note that the programs of the House of Studies do not guarantee ordination. All policy regarding ordination resides with the student’s respective hierarchy.

Review the Application Process or Apply Now.

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