Southern Seminary launches the ‘Evening M.Div.,’ an innovative residential seminary experience
R. Albert Mohler Jr. today announced a new course scheduling initiative that will allow students to complete a Master of Divinity degree while working full time. The “Evening M.Div.” from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will allow students to complete a Master of Divinity program in four years exclusively through courses offered in evenings.
“This is another bold statement of our basic commitments as The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” Mohler said. “We are committed to the training of pastors, which means we are committed to the master of divinity program. We are committed to offer the finest, most accessible master of divinity program available anywhere.”
By taking four evening courses a semester two nights a week, a student living in Louisville could finish his seminary education in eight semesters. The Evening M.Div., starting in the fall 2018 term, is an important step toward making seminary education available to students with church, work, and family responsibilities, allowing M.Div. students both to support their families and to participate in rigorous residential seminary coursework.
“Residential theological education is our first priority. An institution that does really well in residential education can do really well online, but the opposite is not true. The strength has to originate on-campus, the residential faculty must be the core of the teaching, and the residential experience must undergird the online experience because it cannot happen in reverse.”
More than two-thirds of students work at least 30 hours per week, either at their jobs or local church ministries, according to research of the student body conducted by Southern Seminary. Through the Evening M.Div., students pursuing degrees in Christian Ministry and Great Commission Studies who are hampered by busy schedules will get to experience residential seminary education, register for a class schedule that fits their busy lives, and still graduate in a reasonable amount of time, according to Randy L. Stinson, senior vice president of academic administration and provost at Southern Seminary.
“Since 1859, the goal of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has been to make theological education accessible to everyone,” said Randy L. Stinson, senior vice president of academic administration and provost. “As the responsibilities of our students have increased, so has our need to provide creative options that allow students to gain the same rigorous training as our traditional student, but in a more flexible format. That is why I am so pleased with the rollout of our new Evening M.Div. in the fall.”
Patterned after similar models in fields outside Christian ministry, the innovative Evening M.Div. will offer four complementary courses during its first semester, fall 2019, each meeting one time during a two-week block. In the first week, students will take one course on Monday night from 6-10 p.m. and a second course at the same time on Tuesday night. The following week will feature a third and fourth class on Monday and Tuesday evenings, respectively. Each class will meet six times every other week for the duration of the semester for a total of 24 on-campus hours per class. On weeks when a class does not meet, the student will complete the required coursework online.
The courses available during the evenings will rotate over the next several terms, allowing students who enroll at any spring or fall semester to finish in four years while exclusively taking evening courses twice a week. After the four classes during the Evening M.Div.’s first term, the evening course offerings will vary by semester, but the Evening M.Div. will eventually expand to feature nine different evening courses each semester.
The Evening M.Div. is not an exclusive program. Any student on campus can take Evening M.Div. courses, and full-time students will be free to register for evening classes as they would any other course. This would allow full-time students to complete the requirements of their degree program even faster than before. Additionally, students primarily taking Evening M.Div. courses will be free to sign up for other standard classes during the day.
The courses will also be taught by the standard, world-class Southern Seminary faculty, allowing students to fully experience the benefits of residential seminary education at night while supporting their families during the day. Students will also regularly be on campus at Southern, allowing them to participate in more student life events and further integrating their families into the SBTS community.
More information about the Evening M.Div. is available at a dedicated web page: www.sbts.edu/evening.