KANSAS CITY (BP) – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Jason Allen announced Sept. 14 that the seminary has reviewed its retooled 81-credit-hour master of divinity degree after its initial year and concluded that it has benefited students toward completing their ministry education and training more efficiently and effectively.
Previously required to take 96 credit hours to earn the degree, students now have the opportunity to finish their M.Div. studies in a shorter amount of time, getting them into their ministry calling more quickly and assisting them financially as well.
“When restructuring our new M.Div. a year ago, we barraged every aspect of the program with one driving question – how do we best prepare our students to serve the church?” Allen recounted.
“We pruned the edges, strengthened the core and produced an 81-hour M.Div.,” he noted. “We are insisting every master of divinity student get the full complement of ministry preparation, including the classic, timeless disciplines of theological education. Yet, we have structured the M.Div. with student concerns like affordability and attainability in mind.”
In the world of theological education, Allen said, the master of divinity degree has long been the gold standard for ministry preparation, offering the complete tool kit for ministry service, including: Greek and Hebrew, New Testament and Old Testament, theology, church history, preaching, pastoral care and counseling, evangelism, missions.
“As an institution that exists ‘For the Church,’ Midwestern Seminary abides under an Ephesians 4 mandate, equipping pastors, ministers and missionaries for local church service,” Allen said. “While not every graduate will minister within a local church setting, seminary students should view their calling through the prism of serving the church. There is no better degree for preparing a student for ministry than the M.Div.”
Students in Midwestern’s new M.Div. format also enjoy other benefits, including: the M.Div. is the ideal degree for further study at the doctoral level; the seminary affords students flexibility in accomplishing the M.Div. by offering it in residence, online or in a combination of both; students are never more than eight weeks away from starting M.Div. degree course work; and many courses offer church-based practicums that provide both academic and real-world ministry experience.
Another recent programmatic addition to Midwestern’s offerings, called Accelerate, allows incoming students to earn their bachelor’s and M.Div. degrees in five years. To learn more about this degree track, click here.
Midwestern Provost Jason Duesing explained that nothing is sacrificed academically or professionally by the seminary offering its 81-hour M.Div. degree format.
“We’ve sought to challenge the status quo regarding what is a healthy M.Div. by not only considering the number of required hours but also what is required in those hours,” Duesing said. “Less hours does not have to, and often does not, mean less quality.
“The revisions Midwestern has made reflect a commitment to the trusted core of what has made the M.Div. the acclaimed standard for academic training for pastoral ministry, while at the same time resetting the anchor of that training in the 21st century,” Duesing said.
Allen and Duesing both noted that less emphasis has seemingly been placed on the M.Div. within theological education in recent years. This move by Midwestern Seminary, however, is intended to bring a refocus to this training program that will enable students to enter ministry with the best possible preparation for serving the local church.
“We will know we have succeeded in reviving the M.Div. when more and more churches who are searching for pastors don’t merely ask if their candidates have attended seminary, but specifically whether they have earned an M.Div.,” Duesing said.