ISP – MDiv - Master of Divinity by Extension (Indigenous Studies Program)

The Indigenous Studies Program MDiv by Extension (ISP – MDiv) is the only degree program for persons engaged in ministry in First Nations communities that is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in Canada and the United States. At the present time, the program includes students from the Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian in Canada, and United Church in Canada and several denominations in the United States.


This innovative degree program was developed in partnership with First Nations people. The primary location and context for learning is the community in which the student lives and serves. This context is crucial for the student’s effective engagement with the social, cultural, political, and religious values of First Nations communities. Denominational authorities are also indispensable partners. They nominate candidates and provide the necessary infrastructure for the delivery of the degree program.

Throughout their enrollment in the degree program, students normally continue to exercise some congregational ministry. In this fashion, students need not leave their cultural context, and their communities are not deprived of individuals who are already providing congregational leadership.


Program Length
Distance Learning

Length of Program

It takes between five and seven years to complete the Master of Divinity by Extension program. Students are also expected to attend the Indigenous Studies Program Summer School.


VST’s Indigenous Studies Program Committee, which includes members appointed by the Indigenous Ministries Consortium, has primary responsibility for the MDiv by Extension program.

The Extension curriculum encourages its students to reflect on how the gospel is continually shaped by its context, and how it is shaped within the learner’s context. Students are asked to reflect theologically on the nature and calling of the Church and the understanding and significance of the gospel to their own tradition and to the history of their people. This reflection takes place in a curriculum that uses a variety of educational media and approaches, including:

  • Audio-visual materials
  • Texts
  • Lectures
  • Self-directed projects
  • Tutor-assisted studies
  • Seminars

This course of study takes place in the student’s own community, in tutorials and seminars conducted by tutors and the School’s permanent faculty at regional sites, and in courses taught in the annual Indigenous Studies Program Summer School.

The School’s permanent faculty offer instructional resources that provide tools for historical research, biblical interpretation, theological reflection and social analysis. With these tools, students rooted and living in their own communities apply their knowledge and skills to ministry amongst Indigenous People.


Information Literacy and Research Skills

All degree and diploma students are required to complete six hours of non-credit, no-fee research modules in Information Literacy. The modules will engage students in hands-on as well as theoretical work intended to develop knowledgeable, disciplined and critically astute researchers.

See the Research Skills Module Schedule for further information.


An undergraduate degree is required, preferably in the humanities.

Distance Learning

Onsite attendance is required during the summer at ISP Summer School.