Interdisciplinary Study

Interdisciplinary study may be undertaken by YDS students in two ways: by pursuing, concurrent with an M.Div. or M.A.R. degree from YDS, a program leading to a joint degree, granted by Yale or another university; or by taking courses in other Yale schools or departments to be credited to a single YDS degree.

Joint-Degree Programs

YDS encourages its students to pursue concurrent degree programs that lead to the receipt of more than one degree when such programs constitute a coherent and well-defined preparation for ministry. Students may work simultaneously toward a YDS degree and a degree in certain other Yale schools. (See following list of approved joint-degree programs.) Additionally, students may earn a joint degree in partnership with the University of Connecticut’s School of Social Work.

In most cases, the period of study required to complete two degrees is less (usually by one year) than would be required to complete those degrees if they were pursued independently. Applicants are encouraged to consult an admissions officer to determine whether the reduced period of study applies to the specific program(s) of interest to the applicant. 

The administrative officers of the schools concerned arrange assessment of tuition and other fees. Students interested in pursuing one of the joint degrees should consult with each school prior to matriculating at either school. In all cases where concurrent degrees are sought, admission to the school must be obtained through the normal admissions processes established by each school.

YDS has established the following policies for joint-degree programs:

  1. Each YDS student who undertakes joint-degree work must secure a faculty adviser in YDS who will supervise such work.
  2. The student will submit to the faculty adviser and to the director of studies a program draft containing the following information:
    1. The student’s reasons for undertaking joint-degree work.
    2. A description of how the student’s expectations are to be met in the other program.
    3. A designation of someone in the other program who may serve as a contact for the YDS adviser.
  3. The faculty adviser will review the student’s progress periodically through contact both with the student and with the designated person in the other program.

Students interested in enrolling in a joint-degree program should notify the registrar and consult the associate dean of academic affairs for further information.

Joint-Degree Programs within Yale

Currently, YDS has agreements for joint-degree programs with the Yale schools of the Environment, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health. Students interested in pursuing any of these programs can obtain further information from the associate dean of academic affairs. Students generally alternate terms or years in each school. The normal pattern for joint-degree candidates in programs totaling three years of study is to spend the entire first year almost exclusively in one school and the entire second year almost exclusively in the other, combining courses from both schools and completing requirements for both degrees during the third year.

Religion and Ecology The Yale School of the Environment (YSE) and Yale Divinity School offer a joint master’s degree program in Religion and Ecology. It is aimed at students who wish to integrate the study of environmental issues and religious communities in their professional careers and at students who wish to study the cultural and ethical dimensions of environmental problems.

Students work concurrently on either a Master of Environmental Management or Master of Environmental Science at YSE and either a Master of Divinity or a Master of Arts in Religion at YDS. Within these schools, they are encouraged to take courses in environmental ethics and religion and ecology.

In consultation with the registrars and academic deans at both schools, students develop a study plan for meeting all requirements. This joint degree in religion and ecology is the first program of its kind in North America.

Religion and Law Students interested in the intersection of religion, politics, ethics, and public policy are invited to pursue a joint-degree program offered by Yale Divinity School and Yale Law School. As religion in public life and issues of social justice based on religious beliefs become more and more central to our common life, the integration of studies in both law and religion provides a unique background in both disciplines.

Students work toward both a Juris Doctor at the Law School and either a Master of Divinity or a Master of Arts in Religion at YDS. Joint-degree candidates who plan to pursue ordination with the intention of serving a faith community are advised to undertake the M.Div. degree, while those seeking to combine law and religion in a profession that does not require ordination may choose the M.A.R. degree.

Accepted students must submit a joint-degree proposal to a Law School committee after matriculating at the Law School and before completion of the Divinity School curriculum. Although students often begin their course of study at the Law School, they may choose to begin at either school. However, courses taken prior to matriculation at the Law School cannot be credited toward the J.D. degree.

Religion and Management The integration of courses in business and religion leading to a joint-degree program offered by the Yale School of Management and Yale Divinity School equips students for careers in the nonprofit sector as well as in church administration. Students preparing for ordination and parish ministry are advised to pursue the Master of Divinity/Master of Business Administration joint-degree program, while those seeking to use their business acumen in faith-based initiatives and not-for-profit social agencies usually enroll in the Master of Arts in Religion/Master of Business Administration joint-degree program.

Religion and Medicine Caring for the body and caring for the spirit need not be the domains of separate practitioners. To this end, Yale Divinity School and the Yale School of Medicine offer a joint-degree program leading to the Master of Divinity or Master of Arts in Religion and Doctor of Medicine degrees.

Due to the complexities of coordinating a Doctor of Medicine degree with a Master of Divinity or Master of Arts in Religion degree, each student’s schedule is determined on a case-by-case basis with the academic dean’s office.

Religion and Nursing In recognition of the relationship between nursing and ministry/spirituality/religion, Yale Divinity School and the Yale School of Nursing (YSN) offer a joint-degree program to individuals who seek to combine careers in advanced nursing practice, planning and policy making, and religious ministry in a variety of health care systems. Students work toward both a Master of Science in Nursing at YSN and either a Master of Divinity or a Master of Arts in Religion at YDS.

This joint-degree program is not open to YSN students enrolled in or applying to the Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner specialty. For the Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Arts in Religion joint degree, students register in the third year for one term in each school and complete both programs by the end of that year. Candidates for the Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Divinity joint degree register in the third and fourth years for one term in each school and complete both programs by the end of the fourth year.

Religion and Public Health Those who wish to improve the spiritual health and physical well-being of populations should consider the joint-degree program offered by Yale Divinity School and the Yale School of Public Health. In this program students have the opportunity to do cutting-edge research on many of today’s most pressing public health questions in conjunction with their investigations into the theological dimensions of ancient and modern thought. Doing so affords students the ability to engage with complex public health problems, be they present in a nation or congregation, while cultivating an awareness of the spiritual realities of the world and its people. Depending on the character of their vocations, students may choose to apply for joint-degree programs in either Master of Divinity/Master of Public Health or Master of Arts in Religion/Master of Public Health.

Joint Master of Social Work Degree

YDS students may apply for a joint M.S.W. degree through the University of Connecticut’s School of Social Work. Candidates for the joint-degree program may be eligible to count up to the equivalent of one term’s credit hours at the other school to satisfy course work in each program. In most cases, the period of study required to complete the two degrees is less (usually by one year) than would be required to complete those degrees if they were pursued independently. It is sometimes possible to coordinate field education/supervised ministry between the two programs. Students interested in pursuing a joint M.Div./M.S.W. are encouraged to apply to both programs at the start of the application period in the fall. For more information on the joint program, please contact the YDS Admissions Office and visit UCONN's website at

Interdepartmental Studies

YDS offers opportunities for study in other schools and departments of Yale University. Divinity students are eligible to enroll in graduate or professional school courses, within the context of their degree program, and are encouraged to do so, as long as they meet the general prerequisites for the course as prescribed by its instructor and with the instructor’s written permission. At the time of registration for a fourth course in the same school or department, the student’s program of study comes under review by the Professional Studies Committee.

Work taken elsewhere at the graduate or professional school level may be credited toward YDS degrees as long as the student meets the normal distributional requirements. These courses are governed by the regulations for the transfer of credit (see Transfer of Credit, in the chapter Standards and Requirements).

In every case, at least half of each term’s work must be taken at YDS, and the courses taken outside YDS must be clearly relevant to the student’s professional or vocational goals.