Hermeneutics, which broadly means textural interpretation but is generally used to apply to religious and especially biblical interpretation, is a field you might choose to go into if you are interested in theology or the more academic side of spirituality. Although any theological education is likely to place some emphasis on hermeneutics, the few schools that offer actual degrees in it allow students to gain a significantly deeper understanding of the Scriptures they study.
Westminster Theological Seminary in Great Britain offers a Doctor of Philosophy Program in Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation. Students who wish to pursue the Ph.D. must have already obtained a baccalaureate degree as well as a secondary degree such as a Master in Divinity. Full-time students should plan to spend at least two years studying to obtain their Ph.D. Those who attend school part time or need more time to finish their dissertation may require more than two years.
Students earning a master’s degree at the University of Zurich in areas including theology, the study of religions, psychology and social sciences have the option of adding on a minor in hermeneutics at the master’s level. This degree program, which requires 15 course credits, introduces students to textural interpretation of many types, including scientific, philosophical, sociological and psychological readings as well as religious. Students receiving a minor degree in hermeneutics should plan on spending two to four years, depending on whether they go full or part time.
Holy Land Hermeneutics
Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, offers several higher degrees in hermeneutics. The Master’s in Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies requires 25 annual hours, as does the doctorate degree, and both require that students have baccalaureate degrees and have graduated with honors. Students in this track can choose to earn one or both degrees, but doctoral students have additional requirements such as the doctoral candidate’s seminar. For students who have already earned a master’s degree in a health-related field, there is the option of a Hermeneutics and Psychoanalysis track.
Students wishing for an intense crash course in hermeneutics should head to Oxford in England, where faculty specialists teach a nine-month master’s-level course load in Biblical Interpretation. Courses are organized around seminars that focus on both Old and New Testament topics, and require several shorter essays as well as a 15,000-word dissertation. The end of the course also includes an oral examination. Students wishing to attend must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 3.7.
Sarah Moore has been a writer, editor and blogger since 2006. She holds a master's degree in journalism.