The qualifications required to teach at a seminary vary from school to school, but most professors at accredited seminaries have a doctoral degree. This does not have to be a Ph.D., however, and some professors that teach at accredited theology schools do not even have a doctoral degree. More advanced degrees, though, open up more teaching opportunities.
Seminary Professors with Ph.D. Degrees
The standard degree for any professor, whether at a seminary or another academic institution in the United States, is a Ph.D. (or a D.Th. if trained in Europe). This is an academic doctoral degree. As such, it academically qualifies one to teach at any accredited Bible college or seminary.
(Although a Ph.D. meets the academic requirements for teaching at a seminary, it hardly guarantees one a position as a seminary professor. Professorships are extremely coveted positions).
Seminary Professors with D.Min. Degrees
The D.Min. is another doctoral degree, on par with the Ph.D. The D.Min. degree is more of a professional degree for pastors than an academic degree for professors, though. Many seminary professors have a D.Min. degree instead of a Ph.D., and they should not be looked down upon, for the D.Min. is a doctoral degree.
At seminaries where there are professors with Ph.D.s and professors with D.Min.s, those with D.Min. degrees usually teach the practical theology classes. Professors with Ph.D.s tend to be given the language and Bible courses, for their degrees focused on those disciplines more. Professors with D.Mins. tend to teach classes on worship, spiritual development and running a ministry, because that is what they have studied and have experience in.
Seminary Professors with Th.M. and M.Div. Degrees
A number of accredited seminaries have professors who do not have a doctoral degree but hold either a Th.M. or an M.Div. These professors tend to be the junior members of the faculty, and they are usually not voting members.
Professors who only have a Th.M. or M.Div. generally fall into one of two categories. Some may be working on a Ph.D. or have completed some Ph.D. studies. It is not uncommon to teach courses while completing a doctoral degree. Others may have extended experience in a specific area. They may be brought on as adjunct faculty to teach an elective or two in their area of expertise.
At most seminaries, there are professors with Ph.D.s, professors with D.Min.s and professors with M.Div.s. Those with a Ph.D. have the most opportunities in academia, but those with a D.Min. or M.Div. may be just as well, or better, equipped to train students in a specific area of ministry.
(This is the third post in our Q&A series. You can find the entire series here.)