Are seminaries dressed up Bible colleges?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Paul33, Oct 13, 2004.

  1. Paul33

    Paul33
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    In any other field, after obtaining an undergraduate degree, it only takes three additional years of study to earn a Ph.D.

    But after earning a M.Div., if you want to earn a Ph.D. it takes another three years of study.

    Seems to me that a Master of Divinity degree is really just a Bible college degree. In fact they used to be called Bachelor of Divinity.

    What do you think?
     
  2. gb93433

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    A friend of mine from seminary had a lot of trouble. He had three years of Greek from a Bible collega nd came to seminary. He took the year past elementary Greek and struggled a lot to catch up.

    I have seen students who have not had as much Greek as I had after an M.Div. and they had a Ph.D. So it depends on the particular school and particular professor.
     
  3. preachinjesus

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    The basic seminary degree was indeed called a B.D. or Bachelor's Divinity for a long time and was a lengthy program (as it is now.) Students could stay around the seminary and work on a ThM (which was a year long or so...)

    Well that would do since we need clergy advancement degrees which demonstrate the academic legitimacy of a pastor (e.g. DMin). The MDiv was brought into the cirriculum (gee I actually forget when) and given the standard professional degree requirements like a doctor or lawyer (both of whom get MD or JD respectively for their 90+ hours of coursework) Thus we have the MDiv which a well-rounded degree that gives, in survey form mostly, the student access to most all areas needed for a pastorate (save business, sociology, psychology, etc.) I think the MDiv is a good degree nevertheless, and will be happy to get mine in Dec the Lord willing!

    Whether or not seminaries are glorified Bible colleges I guess depends on the particular student. I know plenty of my fellow seminary brethern who aren't challenging themselves nor preparing themselves to be the best for the church(es) they will serve. They slink through and graduate without really ever confronting most of the material. I will say that my experience is seminary is far more intense than any Bible college I know of and the academics are indeed several steps quicker than those at the Bible college level.

    Remember that at seminaries you have to have a PhD to teach, this is done so you might have a more well informed scholar educating young pastor-theologians to be. Also the intensity of studies is greatly enhanced. Of the Bible colleges I know of several do prepare their students well for seminary, but most don't and the students are group with the rest of us lackies.

    As for the PhD it takes several years past most Masters degrees (i.e. it is well over 3 years) to get a PhD. You have to do your seminars and your dissertation all of which require at least 4 years on top of your 2 year Masters Degree.

    I'll reply to any direct questions, thanks for the great post!
     
  4. Pete Richert

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    I have to agree with prechinJesus here. I don't know what schools or fields you are talking about but it usually takes a MINIMUM of four years to get your PhD. past your bachelors. If you are getting it in three you are probably not at a very challenging school or in a good program. Most direct to Ph.D students are on five year programs, in the shorter ones. Liberal arts can stretch on much longer then that. If ones does their Masters first it usually takes three years past your masters for a total of five still.

    A MDiv is not like a masters degree in another field, but as stated before is a professional degree. You can always go to seminary, study for a masters of arts instead of divinity, and get your Ph.D in a shorter time, but then you are involved more with the academics and less with all the pastoral training an MDiv will often provide.
     
  5. Paul33

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    I'm not talking about the time it takes to write a dissertation. Good point,though.

    I'm talking about the credits required for class work and dissertation combined.

    For example, at Auburn Univeristy a history or English degree requires 60 credits beyond the 30/36 credit Masters degree.

    In other words, 96 hours gets one a Ph.D. in secular fields. All we get is a M.Div. Then if you go on to Baylor or Duke or Drew, etc., we're required to do another 60 hours! What gives?

    My M.Div. program at TEDS was very good and challenging and certainly at a graduate level. That's why I'm stumped as to why we aren't farther down the road to receiving a Ph.D. when we finish.

    We already learn Hebrew and Greek. It would seem to me if we learn either French or German and write a dissertation, we ought to earn a Ph.D. I'd even accept a fourth year of seminars specializing in one area.

    But I think we are getting short-changed for the amount of work we put in. On the other hand, it sounds like some of the seminaries really are glorified Bible schools.

    How about a three year M.Div followed by three years of research, languages, and seminars in one specialized area (like Gordon-Conwell does in their D.Min. program) in order to earn a Ph.D.
     
  6. Johnv

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    My fiance has a Master of Christian Education. I'm curious if the time difference between her degree and a PhD is the same as as Master of Divinity and a PhD. Anyone know?
     
  7. spreacher

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    At the seminary I attended (NOBTS), the Master of Arts in Christian Education, MACE for short, required about half the hours of an Mdiv. I know many who went that route because it was shorter and they got a Master's in the process. Their concern was not so much the education as the diploma with "Master of . . ." on it.
     
  8. gb93433

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    Some went the MRE route because they didn't want to take the languages.
     
  9. Greg Linscott

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    As someone who only holds a bachelor of science degree (so far, anyway), I would say I'm in favor of high expectations and academic difficulty in regards to academic degrees. If it's easier in other fields, who cares? An english professor, for example, isn't dealing with matters as serious and eternal as a theologian. Degrees don't necessarily equate spiritual competency, but that's no reason to lower our expectations of study, discipline, and hard work. Why shouldn't a theologian have to put in as much or more work than a lawyer, medical doctor, or nuclear physicist? If the motivation is increased competency in your field of ministry and not the letters after your name, it shouldn't really matter anyway, should it?
     
  10. Daniel Dunivan

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    I have a B.A. in religious studies (not exactly bible college, but similar), an M.Div., and I am currently in the final year of Ph.D. coursework (I still have to write that little essay in the next year or two). I see both good and bad in the approach that schools take. On the good side, I think that my preparation at the end of my M.Div. was very good, but hardly adequate for doing real research. If we take seriously the research aspect of the Ph.D. (it is the central element in all truth), then a professional degree like the M.Div. is hardly fiting to the research quality of the Ph.D. The two degrees are different, and I would never really want either to betray its place for that of the other degree. On the other side, it is truly taxing on someone like myself who has done all these degrees without a break or another career. I am 28, and I have still never held a normal full-time job. I have an assistantship through the university where I'm doing Ph.D. studies, but that only allows us to get by. However, my wife and I would change nothing. We are exactly where God wants us.

    One other issue, most M.Div. programs don't require matriculants to have a bachelor's degree that corresponds to the M.Div. In other words, you can have a B.S. in Biochemistry, and start a M.Div. That seems a little out of place. In my opinion, this practice should either stop, or advanced placement should be given to the students who have a bachelor's degree in a related field (religious studies, theology, etc.).

    Grace and Peace, Danny [​IMG]
     
  11. NateT

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    Danny,

    Your closing thoughts are near and dear to me.

    I have a BS in Electrical Engineering, and I'm in my first semester of an MDiv at Southern. I would agree with you completely. If I went from religous studies to get a MS in EE they'd first of all laugh me out of the building, then I'd spend a lot of time taking non-credit math classes. That being said, I'm happy that they don't do that here.

    However, one thing Southern does is attempt to not make anyone take anything twice. You can "quiz" out of the languages, NT, OT and I think some of the theology classes (not sure). However, they set the standards high, because they don't just want to let anyone go to advanced classes without the foudnation.

    I think that is the best way to handle it, there are too many of us who don't have biblical studies degrees going into the ministry. But there are also a ton of biblical studies students who should not have to be bored to death with stuff they've covered 2 years ago, etc.
     
  12. Paul33

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    Daniel,

    Where are you getting your Ph.D., if you don't mind sharing?

    I agree with you. If a person has an undergraduate degree in religion, his M.Div. program should be shorter.

    Some Ph.D. programs require an M.Div. Why?

    A four year undergraduate degree in religion followed by a three year Ph.D. program seems to be the way to go. But major evangelical seminaries won't let you go that route. Why not?
     

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