LOUISVILLE—A new "Evening M.Div." from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, slated to begin this fall, will allow students in fulltime jobs to earn a master of divinity degree in four years through courses offered in the evenings.
President Albert Mohler Jr. said Southern Seminary is "committed to the training of pastors, which means we are committed to … offering 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.
In a news release, the seminary described the Evening M.Div. as a key 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.
More than two-thirds of Southern Seminary's 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, said Randy Stinson, senior vice president of academic administration and provost at Southern Seminary.
"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," Stinson said.
Patterned after similar models in fields outside Christian ministry, the Evening M.Div. will offer four complementary courses during its first semester, each meeting one time during a two-week block. In the first week, students will take one course on Monday night from 6 to 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.
More information about the Evening M.Div. is available at www.sbts.edu/evening. (BP)