Why Women Should Pursue a MDiv?
February 9, 2024
If you’re a woman, you might be wondering, “Can I enroll in the MDiv, too?” Well, yes, you can! As a woman, you are free to participate in all that the MDiv General Studies track has to offer, which we will discuss a bit further (the only degree program that is not available for women at Westminster is the MDiv Pastoral Fellows track). We’ll cover the value of a Westminster MDiv from a female perspective, popular career paths for women after the MDiv, as well as other benefits of the program for women.
The Value of a MDiv Degree for Women
The most invaluable benefit of Westminster’s Master of Divinity is that it will impart to you a level of biblical literacy that is unrivaled by its competitors. The church is in desperate need of women who are well versed in the Word of God and able to apply it in the context of their family, their church, and all they meet. While the MDiv is traditionally intended for men who are preparing for ordained pastoral ministry, it is designed to make students into biblical specialists and equally beneficial for those who seek personal edification or training for other applications.
The idea that such in-depth theological education is only reserved for men (and more specifically, men preparing to be pastors) is gravely mistaken. Truly, there is never an occasion in which having too much theological education is possible, and there is no such thing as knowing the Bible too well.
The Lasting Impact of Godly Women
There is a rich tradition of mothers throughout church history who prepared the way for the extensive theological impact of their sons. And behind some of the greatest theological minds are godly mothers who planted the seeds of faith in their children, virtuous and encouraging wives who navigated life’s challenges alongside their husbands, and female friends and sisters who stood as Christlike examples. Without such women, Westminster Seminary may never have existed, not to mention the countless other organizations focused on bringing the Gospel forth in a dark world that have been impacted, started, or aided by godly women.
J. Gresham Machen, our founder, speaks about an occasion in which his mother was instrumental in his theological development and the preservation of his faith.
“My mother spoke to me in those dark hours when the lamp burned dim, when I thought that faith was gone and shipwreck had been made of my soul. ‘Christ,’ she used to say, ‘keeps firmer hold on us than we keep on him.’ My mother’s word meant...that salvation by faith does not mean that we are saved because we keep ourselves at every moment in an ideally perfect attitude of confidence in Christ. No, we are saved because having once been united to Christ by faith, we are his forever.”
This impartation of biblical truth and godly influence is a tradition that stems far into history before that of Machen and his mother. In fact, it is also true of Augustine of Hippo. His mother, Monica, raised her son in the faith. When he abandoned the faith for Manichaeism, a form of dualistic paganism, she prayed consistently that he would return to the faith of his youth, the faith that she had raised him in. Ultimately, her prayers were answered and Augustine returned to Christian faith and became one of the great theologians of all of Church history. On his mother’s grave stone the following words were recorded.
“Here the most virtuous mother of a young man set her ashes, a second light to your merits, Augustine. As a priest, serving the heavenly laws of peace, you taught the people entrusted to you with your character. A glory greater than the praise of your accomplishments crowns you both – Mother of the Virtues, more fortunate because of her offspring.”
A Vital Influence on the Church
Though the value of a biblically faithful motherhood cannot be overstated, there is also a clear biblical impetus for receiving rich training and being able to faithfully instruct those in one’s sphere of influence generally. Paul, in Titus 2:3-5, lays out this concept in exhorting older women to instruct younger women in the faith. He encourages them to teach the young women to love their husbands and their children, to be sensible, pure, kind, and otherwise model what it means to be Christian so that the Word is not maligned.
The church is desperate for biblically informed mothers, Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, counselors, wives, and friends with knowledge, advice, and discernment that can only come from knowing God’s Word thoroughly. Proper training in how to interpret and apply the Word of God is thus vital to the call of every Christian, and women bear a particular role in reaching others with this truth. Westminster’s MDiv will thus prepare you to meet these needs and have a greater impact on your family and community for the faith than would have otherwise been possible without formal training.
Popular Career Paths for Women With a Westminster MDiv
The value we discussed above can be translated into a litany of practical career paths.
A Westminster MDiv is a great way to bolster your training for a career in education. Though teaching in secular public schools would require further education leading to a teaching certificate/license, most private Christian schools do not require government certification. This means that a Westminster MDiv would more than qualify you to teach at a Christian elementary or high school.
Some female students seek out the MDiv because it is the most robust of our graduate degree programs, and, as such, is well suited for students who desire to continue their studies to the postgraduate level. The MDiv prepares students very well for the rigor of advanced degree programs like the ThM and the PhD, either here at Westminster or at other institutions of theological education. If you are a woman who desires a future in theological academia, the MDiv is a great way to get an academically rigorous and confessionally reformed education en route to a PhD. This would be a necessary step for women who desire a career in theological higher education either as a professor or independent academic researcher.
While the role of pastor is reserved for men, there is certainly still room for women in the gospel ministry of foreign missions. Westminster’s comprehensive theological curriculum will be a significant asset for any women who desire to promote the gospel in a global context.
Yet another application is that of an author or professional writer. There is a need for theological writing from the female perspective, and with a MDiv you will be able to bring robust reformed theological content to a broader audience. This might come in the form of blogging, either for an organization or for personal use, in writing whole books, or contributing to theological research.
Another option available to female MDiv alumni is biblical counseling, either in a church based counselor role or in an independent biblical counseling center. All students in the Westminster MDiv receive training in biblical counseling as it is a non-negotiable theological distinctive of Westminster Theological Seminary. Though the MAC is a more focused course of study that specializes in biblical counseling, the MDiv will give you many of the skills needed to be a competent biblical counselor with a deep ability to mine Scripture thanks to additional areas of training, like the original biblical languages. Additionally, being in the MDiv General program will give you flexibility in electives to take several counseling classes that are not available in the male-only MDiv Pastoral Fellows track.
Campus ministry is another parachurch arena in which theologically educated women can make a great generational impact. College aged young women would greatly benefit from exposure to seasoned women who have been educated in the theological richness of the reformed tradition.
Parachurch ministries also greatly benefit from women with a MDiv education. These range from adoption agencies like Compassion International, to local crisis pregnancy centers around the world, and many other organizations which require the ability to bring biblical truth to challenging circumstances and various niches.
Seminary Programs for Women at Westminster
The Westminster MDiv is ideal for women who want to be trained for service in the church and for the kingdom of God. It will equip you for several areas of Christian service as well as prepare you for a number of potential career options. One thing to remember is that, while the role of pastor is reserved for men, female MDiv alumni have all the same career options available to them as men outside that of ordained pastoral ministry.
If you want to learn more about the MDiv program as a whole you can find more details here. Additionally, our admissions team is ready to help you decide which program is the best fit for you. They are happy to answer your questions and even connect you with current female students who can give first hand input on their time at Westminster. Connect with our admissions team here.
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