Why online education and why just 36 hours for the Master of Theological Studies (MTS)? Is a fully online Master of Divinity (MDiv) next? I have gotten these questions a lot over the past month.
Why offer a fully online degree? To serve local churches. I am thrilled to announce that anyone serving on a church staff will receive approximately a 30% discount to the fully online, fully accredited Master of Theological Studies degree. You will pay the tuition, but we will waive the online course fee for all classes. This discount is available to all twenty-hour a week part-time and full time staff members.
In fact, local church staff members can lock in their price. So if you applied right now, you could lock in your full degree for $7,200 then pay in monthly installments and complete your degree over the next three years.
At Southwestern Seminary, we understand that the local church serves as the front lines in the Kingdom battle, and we are more than happy to do anything we can to support your eternal impact. Many, for good or not so good reasons, will never relocate to a seminary campus. Any level of equipping that we can offer, impacts positively your efforts. The new online MTS serves the church through a rigorously academic, conveniently accessible, and surprisingly affordable online education.
Why only 36 hours? To serve the student. Research shows that most students never finish long online degree programs. Many choose online degrees over moving to campus for significant reasons such as family obligations, ministry assignments or current jobs that provide for the family. The reasons they don’t relocate end up being the same reasons they don’t finish a long online degree. A ninety-hour online degree can turn into a decade project that’s necessarily abandoned when the kids or ministry take priority. A 36-hour degree can be completed in 3 years with only 2 classes a semester. Our MTS serves the student by providing an achievable goal packed with quality education.
We kept it shorter by including only the essentials. A short degree is achievable and beneficial for Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, fathers who want to lead their family well or any committed follower of Christ. Take a look at the classes for yourself:
Biblical Hermeneutics, Basic Old Testament I, Basic Old Testament II, Basic New Testament I, Basic New Testament II, History of Christianity I, History of Christianity II, Baptist Heritage, Systematic Theology I, Systematic Theology II, Christian Apologetics, and Bible and Moral Issues.
So you learn how to read the Bible, what the Bible says, then the history and theology that help you put it all together in a way that defends the faith and applies to your own life. What more do you want in an online degree?
Most importantly, our best professors teach the classes in this fully accredited degree. That means you get quality education that will transfer anywhere. If you decide that you want a full Master of Divinity then these 36 hours can be applied toward the full degree.
Why not offer a fully online Master of Divinity? We already offer every class in the MDiv online, but the degree cannot be accredited if completed entirely online. The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) has not approved a fully online Master of Divinity. If we offered one now, it would not be accredited.
I think ATS will approve it by the end of the year, during which time, we’ll likely launch our own online MDiv. I suspect all of the SBC Seminaries will do the same, and I was excited to see that my dear friends at Southeastern have already announced their intentions to do so. All of the seminaries exist to serve the local churches so seeing this happen excites me.
For Southwestern, it might look a little different. I expect we will partner with local churches for some practicum classes, allowing our students to gain experience. We will also offer hybrid classes, conference classes and other creative offerings to help students get through the degree and to maintain our high-quality education. Of course, certain classes like preaching will always work better in person. We may combine one-week or one-weekend classes with online delivery of other classes to minimize the time commitment and maximize the quality.
Waiting on the fully online Master of Divinity? I would start the MTS now! Start now and then you can transfer your MTS or complete the Master of Divinity since you are over one-third through it.
We also will start online classes in Spanish this fall with a goal toward a completely online Spanish Master of Theological Studies degree. The best news…we have an introductory offer of just $100 per class for the Spanish program.
If you are ready, start the application process www.swbts.edu/applynow
Despite our commitment to doing online classes well, Southwestern will always have a strong main campus. We still plan to prepare preachers to preach the word and to send missionaries all over the world. We have always believed and still believe that the best education happens with a teacher in a classroom—face to face. We still believe that online classes cannot duplicate life lived in the Seminary community making lifelong friends and frequent discussions over the imponderables in the coffee shops. The internet cannot replace the lesson of God’s faithfulness that many experience when leaving everything behind to head to Seminary. Toward that end, the best plan maintains a strong central campus while reaching out to serve those who cannot relocate or who already serve on a church staff through convenient online education.
I am excited about these new initiatives because I see Southwestern Seminary extending its influence in Texas and digitally throughout the world with training that is rigorously academic, conveniently accessible, and surprisingly affordable.
I hope you will join us as we Preach the Word and Reach the World.