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Professional and Technical Standards

Professional and Technical Standards

As identified in the bulletin section The Role of the Divinity School, the principal purpose of Duke Divinity School is professional education for the Christian ministry, which in today’s world is manifested in a variety of forms. Although the conventional and inherited styles of ministry are now undergoing change, the school curriculum continues to prepare students for the informed and discriminating exercise of the church’s historic offices through the ministry of word, sacrament, order, service, pastoral care, and teaching. The school believes these offices will remain, although the form and context of the local church may change.

With this in mind, Duke Divinity School prepares students for the mature performance of their vocation in community. The school hopes to develop in each graduate a disciplined intelligence that is informed by sound learning and equipped for worthy professional service. It seeks to form leaders whose character reflects the integrity, qualities, and vision of the Christian Gospel. Its resources are offered to students with a diversity of ministerial aims. The school also aspires, by recruitment and financial support, to prepare persons for ordination or lay professional vocations in churches. In all its endeavors, the school aims to serve Jesus Christ through service to the church and world.

To fulfill the role and purpose of Duke Divinity School, all candidates applying for admission must meet the requirements and expectations of the school’s curriculum. A student needs a specific set of minimum attributes in order to succeed. All students, with or without reasonable accommodations, must meet the requirements and expectations listed below.

Intellectual, Theological, and Integrative Expectations

A student should be able to:

  • assimilate, critique, prioritize, and appropriate the Christian story as understood through scripture, tradition, reason, experience, and as centered on the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ;

  • engage and comprehend extensive theological, historical, contextual, philosophical, and biblical resources in a timely manner. This information will be presented in a variety of educational settings, including lectures, small group discussions, field education placements, preceptorials, spiritual formation groups, and seminars. The student should be able to analyze, integrate, and apply this information appropriately for forming individuals, congregations, communities, and the world;

  • display a growing ability to think theologically and critically in conversation with a diversity of viewpoints;

  • cultivate vocational imagination in light of the Christian Gospel;

  • maintain openness to vocational discernment within the church and the world; and

  • assist individuals and communities in the theological understanding and interpretation of experiences, issues, and events.

Behavioral and Social Expectations

A student should be able to:

  • uphold Duke Divinity School’s Conduct Covenant;

  • apply fully their intellectual skill, exercise good judgment, and complete all responsibilities attendant to the care of congregants/parishioners/clients;

  • demonstrate a style of leadership combining integrity, authenticity, and the practice of faith;

  • balance and manage effectively the demands experienced during theological training and in varied  contextual learning environments (e.g., dealing with frustrating or high-stress situations, performing under time pressures, working irregular schedules, handling multiple assignments and conflicting demands/priorities, reacting or responding to emergencies, performing independently or with minimal on-site supervision)

Practice of Ministry

In addition to the professional and technical standards above, the following relate to the master of divinity degree. A student should be able to:

  • offer counsel and theological reflection in the development and implementation of goals for fulfilling the church’s mission, the recruitment and nurture of lay leadership, and the ordering of the life of congregations;

  • offer appropriate leadership for the liturgical and pastoral practices of the church;

  • facilitate conflict resolution and reconciliation with individuals and within communities;

  • form a compassionate relationship with congregants/parishioners/clients while maintaining appropriate boundaries for a professional relationship; and

  • demonstrate all of these requirements in a variety of environments, including those for field education placements or other contextual learning environments.