Empowering liberal religious leadership in ordained Unitarian Universalist ministry

The Master of Divinity degree program at Meadville Lombard provides the academic and experiential grounding you need to minister effectively in our multicultural, multiracial, and interfaith world.

A liberal religious minister is required to be many things: a preacher with a strong heart and a sharp mind, a community leader, a compassionate pastor, an effective fundraiser, an imaginative CEO, and a wise teacher. Meadville Lombard’s rigorous academic courses and integrated internships are designed to help you cultivate all of these attributes and fully bring out your gifts in ministry.

Our MDiv degree program prepares students for fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and ordained ministry in roles ranging from parish ministry and chaplaincy to nonprofit leadership. Students seeking credentialing within the UUA are guided step-by-step to ordination. The program is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools and satisfies the requirements of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the UUA.

My own sense of having a spiritual grounding and a sustaining theology came to be largely because of my experiences at Meadville Lombard.

Rev. Chris Jimmerson, MDiv '14

Degree Requirements

The MDiv degree requires 90 completed credits. The program can be completed in three years by full-time students, but is flexible to accommodate students who plan to study part time.

Below is an outline of the three-year, full-time MDiv pathway. Our Contextual Learning model of theological education allows you to learn and gain experience in your own community and/or congregation, and travel to Chicago only for Intensive classwork portion of the courses in January, March, July, and August.

You’ll complete and discuss coursework every semester with peers and faculty via Meadville Lombard’s low-residency education platform, and you’ll get hands-on experience through an internship at a nonprofit organization and a two-year internship at a congregation, which are integrated into the curriculum, as well as a basic unit of Clinical Pastoral Education. Our Director of Contextual Ministry will work with you to find the best internship site and teaching pastor for your personal formation. 

Year 1: Community Studies

  • Focus on social analysis, multiculturalism, and spiritual formation
  • Complete six academic courses during Intensives
  • Meet once a month with your teaching mentor
  • Internship: Serve eight hours a week in a community studies service site
  • Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE): Over the summer, complete a basic 10-week unit in a program certified by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education that focuses on pastoral encounters with persons in need or in crisis

Year 2: Congregational Studies

  • Focus on the arts of ministry, authority and identity, and boundaries
  • Complete five academic courses during Intensives
  • Meet weekly with your teaching pastor
  • Internship: Serve 20 hours a week in a congregation

Year 3: Leadership Studies

  • Focus on public theology, the nature of leadership, and inspiring change
  • Complete five academic courses during Intensives
  • Meet weekly with your teaching pastor
  • Internship: Serve 20 hours a week in a congregation


Signature Courses

Meadville Lombard’s Signature Courses are multi-credit, multidisciplinary, yearlong classes that help students move from discernment to leadership. They are designed to give you an opportunity to integrate your academic learning with the real-world experience of service and leadership in community and congregational settings.

Signature Courses are taken in the following sequence:  

First: Community Studies

Community Studies provides students with the ability to read and appreciate communities of difference—a key skill for religious and spiritual leaders. In your first year, you’ll serve eight hours a week in a community agency. Each student is matched to a site that stretches you to cross boundaries, learn to be of service, and experience different styles of leadership.

Second: Congregational Studies

Congregational Studies supports students in applying the skills developed in Community Studies to the nuances of congregational life. Site work is conducted most often in a congregational setting, where you’ll serve 20 hours per week. In addition to guidance from Meadville Lombard faculty, teaching pastors (experienced parish ministers) will help direct your congregational work.

Third: Leadership Studies

Leadership Studies helps students develop and hone religious and spiritual leadership abilities, most often within the context of a continued congregational internship for 20 hours per week. During this course, you’ll lead a project that helps your congregation expand its own cultural borders.