The Graduate Masters of Divinity in Islamic Studies is a three to four year program designed specifically for students who wish to become professional and credentialed Muslim leaders, spiritual care givers, or chaplains. The curriculum, presented below, was developed in consultation with some of the most prominent Muslim chaplains, therapists, bioethicists, and spiritual care givers in America, and, as a result, it offers a richness of practical education in conversation with contemporary counseling and psychology education. Our program development consultation partners also included some of America’s leading Jewish and Christian seminaries, and so students enrolling in this program benefit from the best of expert opinion, even across the boundaries of tradition.

As is evidenced below, the program requirements ensure a robust theological preparation that overlaps entirely with the Islamic Theology-track of our MA program, but – instead of awarding a Master’s of Arts in Islamic Theology at the end of the second year (the 36 credit hour mark) – the MDIS degree program requires an additional three terms of full-time, rigorous training in the core competencies Muslim spiritual caregivers and chaplains need to be effective in their day-to-day work within a North American environment. These competencies include the basics of pastoral care, psychological assessment and counseling, cross-cultural communication, conducting and/or facilitating Islamic devotional rites and lifecycle ceremonies, unique skill-sets for spiritual care within hospitals and prisons, working competently with trauma, and developing service programs to meet constituent needs.

Therefore the MDIS program consists of three to four years (72 hours) of academic study, pastoral education, and fieldwork/internship experience. This is quite consistent with the requirements found within Divinity programs at some of our sister institutions here in Chicago and across North America. While studying alongside our MA Students in the Islamic Theology track, MDIS students are required to fulfill all of the requirements for the MA, which is conceived to consist of two years of full-time study (36 credit hours). Then, in the third and fourth years of the MDIS program, students are required to take a minimum of eleven (11) courses, seven (7) of which are core requirements of the MDIS program. Each of these courses count for three (3) credit hours of study except for IS 601 (the spiritual care/leadership/chaplaincy training practicum), which includes a final paper and so counts for a total of six (6) credit hours. The required, core courses are noted by boldfaced type below while the elective courses are in regular typeface.

The required core courses are noted by boldfaced type below while the elective courses are in regular typeface.

IS 600 – Introduction to Clinical Pastoral Education
IS 601 – Spiritual Care/Leadership/Chaplaincy Training Practicum
                (400-hour internship plus paper for a total of 6 credits)
IS 602 – Islamic Pastoral and Moral Theology
IS 603 – Counseling Theory, Methodology, Assessment
IS 604 – Intercultural Communication and Competence
IS 605 – Marriage and Family Counseling
IS 606 – Youth and Young Adult Mentoring, Coaching, and Counseling
IS 608 – Correctional Counseling: Working with Offenders
IS 609 – Psychology of Trauma
IS 611 – Islamic Bioethics, End of Life Decisions and Hospital/Hospice Care
IS 615 – The Fiqh of Islamic Ritual Practices
IS 616 – The Fiqh of the Muslim Life Cycle
IS 619 – Interfaith Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care
IS 620 – Mosque/Muslim Non-Profit Organization and Management


Additional Program Requirements: Formation and “Candidacy Status”

The MDIS program includes the very important element of formation as part of a more holistic evaluation of a candidate’s readiness for spiritual care and religious leadership. This is a standard feature in Divinity programs across North America. In other words, students are required to be in regular contact with their MDIS advisor for academic advising and spiritual direction and integration of their studies and experiential education. MDIS students must meet with their advisor/director at least three times per semester.

These meetings help assess the student’s readiness for the complex demands of the spiritual care/religious leadership/chaplaincy role and also provide an opportunity for a more complete integration of his/her studies and fieldwork. The advisor’s assessment serves as part of a larger, program-wide assessment of the student’s readiness for “Candidacy Status” – a program requirement that is independent of academic credit hours.

Candidacy Status
After the MDIS student has completed the first section of MDIS specific study in his/her third year, the MDIS Advisor, together with the other MDIS faculty, will award “Candidacy Status” to the student if he/she is deemed to have

  1. met the requirements and standards of outlined objectives;
  2. completed coursework satisfactorily;
  3. maintained ‘good standing’ in academic coursework;
  4. achieved a positive recommendation from internship supervisor;
  5. demonstrated the maturity and overall readiness (emotional, spiritual, legal, and theological) for chaplaincy work and spiritual care.

Once “Candidacy Status” is achieved, the student is able to continue and complete the MDIS program with the continuing support of the MDIS advisor, in consultation with the other participating MDIS faculty. If a student is not deemed to be ready for the completion of the MDIS program, he/she can nevertheless be released with the MA in Islamic Studies (Theology concentration) in recognition of his/her fulfillment of those program requirements en route to the MDIS. This promises a just and constructive outcome for students who are deemed not ready for the psychological and emotional challenges of spiritual care and religious leadership.

For course descriptions, click here.

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