Atlanta Cumberland Theological Seminary is a graduate professional school that offers the following degree programs: Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master in Evangelism and Mission (MEM), and Master in Christian Counseling (MCC). The Master of Divinity degree program prepares persons for ordained ministry and for general religious leadership responsibilities in congregations and other settings. The MDiv curriculum reflects the mission of ACTS by introducing students to theological scholarship, fostering their growth in spiritual faith and practice, and promoting the capacity to engage in ministry within a variety of contexts that will lead toward the just transformation of the church and the world. The Master of Divinity degree program at ACTS requires a minimum of three years of study.
The Master in Evangelism and Mission prepares persons to serve as lay leaders, deacons, or directors in specialized forms of ministry. The course of study is designed to integrate biblical and theological studies with Evangelism and Mission. The Master in Evangelism and Mission curriculum reflects the mission of ACTS by introducing students to theological scholarship, fostering spiritual growth, and preparing them for a specialized ministry in a variety of contexts for the just transformation of the church and the world. Students finish their studies with an Integrative Seminar/Project which demonstrates the integration of Scholarship, Piety, and Justice in a specialized ministry. The Master in Evangelism and Mission degree program at ACTS requires a minimum of two years of study. Candidates for the order of deacon in the United Methodist Church can meet ordination requirements with this degree.
The Master in Christian Counseling program offered through rigorous coursework, experiential learning, and mentoring relationships designed to equip students to become a culturally sensitive professional counselor.
Academic preparation is crucial for a student’s success in seminary. An undergraduate degree from an accredited institution is typically required for admission to Atlanta Cumberland Theological Seminary. Within undergraduate studies, the liberal arts (English, history, philosophy, theology/religion, music and other fine arts, mathematics, sciences, and social sciences) provide a strong preparation for theological study. Atlanta Cumberland Theological Seminary recommends that pre-seminary education reflect a solid foundation in the liberal arts (typically gained in the core requirements of all undergraduate degrees). Demonstrated competence in other areas, such as business management, science, and law can also be valuable assets for seminary. In the event that a transcript of undergraduate study shows marked divergences from the guidelines recommended above, or if other academic deficiencies are indicated, the student may be admitted on probation provided some program is projected to remove the deficiencies; final approval of admission would be contingent upon the removal of the deficiencies. Denominational requirements for specific aspects of pre-seminary preparation can vary. Prospective students hoping to prepare for ordained ministry should discuss their sense of vocation and decision to attend seminary with appropriate authorities in their churches and denominations. Admission to or graduation from Atlanta Cumberland Theological Seminary does not guarantee ordination, ministerial standing, or employment by any religious body. The seminary offers a formative education for Christian ministry. However, churches and denominations retain the exclusive right and responsibility to determine the appropriate qualifications for ordained and licensed ministry, to assess the fitness for ministry of individual candidates, and to credential persons for ministerial leadership. 13 Students considering study at Atlanta Cumberland Theological Seminary should contact the Office of Enrollment Services at the earliest opportunity.
Admission Requirements (MDiv, MEM & MCC)
- Applicants with a Bachelor’s Degree Admission to the MDiv or MEM OR MCC program normally will be based on the following criteria:
1) Graduation with an appropriate bachelor’s degree from a college or Seminary accredited by an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or holding membership in the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada. Applicants whose bachelor’s degree is from a college not accredited by a recognized national or regional accrediting agency must have one complete academic year of work at an accredited institution before being considered for admission.
2) A minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA of 2.50) for all undergraduate work. Any exceptions will be on the basis of demonstrated equivalency.
3) Occasionally, students with exceptional circumstances who did not achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.50 are considered for admission to the seminary. These students must submit to an interview with the Director of Enrollment Services and a writing competency examination. The admissions committee will then make the final determination if the student should be admitted. If admitted, the student is permitted to take no more than 7.5 credit hours in their first semester.
4) Applicant’s demonstrated willingness to participate in seminary life and study in a constructive manner. Admission is without regard to race, creed, ethnic origin, or gender.
- Applicants without a Bachelor’s Degree
Admission to Atlanta Cumberland Theological Seminary is based on graduation with an appropriate bachelor’s degree from a college or Seminary accredited by an association holding membership in the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, or a college or Seminary accredited by the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada. Persons without a bachelor’s degree should first complete an undergraduate degree. However, the admissions committee will consider applications from persons who do not have a bachelor’s degree under the following circumstances:
1) Admission in this category is limited to persons who demonstrate extraordinary circumstances, either in personal life or both, that warrant an exception to the standard admission policy, and which would preclude first earning an undergraduate degree. The applicant must submit an essay in which they describe what in their estimation warrants an exception. This essay will be reviewed by the admissions committee.
2) The applicant must demonstrate the capability of doing graduate-level study. This will be determined by:
- Successful completion of any tests required by Atlanta Cumberland Theological Seminary to evaluate academic ability
- A personal interview with the academic dean and at least one other member of the admissions committee;
- The presentation of an official transcript from an accredited college or Seminary showing completion of at least 60 credit hours of undergraduate work.
- Non-Degree Seeking Students
Non-degree seeking students are those who are pursuing studies not directed toward graduation and who take a class for credit. Individuals wishing to take classes on a non-degree basis are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and to complete all admission procedures. Non-degree seeking students may receive academic credit for up to twelve credit hours before being required to commit to a degree program.
Auditors are those students who take a course without receiving academic credit for that course. Students who take a course as an auditor may not receive credit for it later unless they retake the course for credit. Auditors must complete an auditor application. Admission for auditors is granted for one semester only. A new application is required for each term. Applications for auditors are available from the Director of Enrollment Services. Permission of the instructor may be required before a student can audit a course. Auditing is permitted only if space is available after new student registration.
- Continuing Education
Continuing Education at ACTS is designed to provide opportunities for the personal enrichment of clergy and laity through classroom sessions, conferences, seminars, special lectures, and participation in workshops. One Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is equal to ten contact hours. Continuing Education programs do not award academic credit.
Admission Procedures (MDiv., MEM & MCC)
Deadlines for application to the MDiv, MEM & MCC programs are as follows: August 13 for the fall semester, January 14 for the spring semester. Each applicant for a degree program is required to furnish the Director of Enrollment Services with:
- An application for admission on a form provided by the seminary
- Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work where 12 hours or more were earned
- Three completed reference forms d. A $45 application fee
- A personal essay
The following qualifications concerning academic competency should be noted carefully:
(1) If application materials indicate academic weaknesses, especially in grammar and composition, the applicant may be required to come to the campus for an interview and preliminary reading/writing tests.
(2) If significant academic deficiencies are revealed by the interview and the preliminary tests, further testing and remedial work may be required prior to admission. Admission is by approval of the admissions committee. Before an application will be considered, the application materials listed above must be on file with the Director of Enrollment Services. All new students are also required to attend a new student orientation organized by the admissions office (see academic calendar). Student ID cards are made in the registrar’s office during this time. (The fee to replace an ID is $25.00.)
- International Student Admission Procedures
In addition to the procedures and documents outlined above, an international student must furnish the Director of Enrollment Services of the seminary with:
(1) a letter of approval from an appropriate official of the student’s denomination or church;
(2) a statement of plans for service or ministry in the country of origin;
(3) certification of proficiency in the English language through the submission of a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score (minimum 550 on the written test, 213 on the computer test, or 85 on the internet test), and a Test of Written English (TWE) score (minimum of 4.5) or an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score (minimum band score of 6.0);
(4) evidence of financial resources for educational and living expenses for the period of study planned;
(5) proof of adequate funds for travel to and from the U.S.;
(6) proof of health insurance with a U.S. insurer. The TOEFL code number for ACTS is XXXX.
A student who has not been enrolled in courses for one semester must apply for readmission, and the application must be sent to the director of admissions. Applications for former students can be obtained from admissions or online at www.memphisseminary.edu. Students whose credits were earned at Atlanta Cumberland Theological Seminary prior to 10 or more years will be subject to re-evaluation of all previously granted credits before readmission. A student under academic suspension, or who has been counseled or required to leave school for other reasons, must apply in 16 writing to the academic dean. Readmission under these circumstances must be approved by the admissions committee.
- Degree Change
Students who wish to change their degree program must first consult with their adviser. The student must also submit to the admissions committee an application for degree change. This application shall include a confidential letter submitted by the student’s faculty advisor that assesses the student’s suitability for the new degree program. Additionally, the student shall submit an essay in which she or he explains in detail the rationale for the proposed change. Part of this rationale must include a list of seminary courses the student has already taken and the student’s plan to complete the new degree. The application will be forwarded to the admissions committee for review. A decision will be made by the admissions committee regarding the merit of the proposed change in degree program.