New Degree Programs? Why? Needed?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Rhetorician, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. Rhetorician

    Rhetorician
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    Hello to all:

    It has been a while since there has been much movement on the BB. I thought I would stir things up just a bit.

    Is there any insight from any of my fine colleagues as to why there has been a plethora of new kinds of degree programs started, especially on the master's level? It seems the Master of Divinity and the 4th year ThM (or MTh, or Master of Sacred Theology) are not the industry standards that they once were.

    There are:

    1. The Master of Christian Studies (MCS) degree;

    2. The Master of Ministry (MM) degree;

    3. The Master of Theology (MTh I think) degree as a stand alone not built upon the MDiv degree. This one is built upon the Bachelor's degree alone. It seems to follow the British model if I have understood correctly? The one I am thinking about is at the Campbellsville University in Kentucky.

    4. And there may be some more types of Masters out there with which I am unfamilar?

    And insights? I would like to hear and any/all of you who know more than I do?

    "That is all!" :smilewinkgrin:
     
  2. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
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    Well I'm not an expert on this stuff but a couple of my observations might be useful (which is assuming a lot.) ;)

    (these numbers don't correspond to yours)
    1. Several of the graduate degree expansions are indeed helpful. For instance I love the concept behind DTS' ThM degree. A four year graduate professional degree for ministry. I wish the SBC schools we have would seriously consider it. It is a great programme.

    Honestly I almost transfered from SWBTS to do the degree. I was really torn. One of the things I've been struggling with (in terms of ministry prep) ever since is the lack of robust practical training that takes place in most MDiv degrees. I mean how many people can honestly say their MDiv really prepared them for every day ministry stuff? I think modifying the current SBC MDiv to look a little more practical would be helpful. The DTS ThM is a good shell to consider.

    2. A lot of institutions in the US (and Canada...hey they're our hat its okay to include them) are happy to add more degree types because they might appeal to more tuition paying students while only having to add a class or two.

    3. I've seen a lot of good thoughts from seminary leadership about the MDiv being the central degree at a seminary with specializations from that degree. If we could do something like that it would be super.

    4. As a final thought, and I'm poking here, how relevant is the seminary masters in music anymore? I mean when was the last time you heard a growing church say, "Hey we need a new worship guy...let's go see what XYZ Seminary has out there?" I just don't see it. Has the music programs at our seminary's simply tanked because they don't offer relevant fields of study? (Yes, I am going to say that a masters or doctorate in organ performance isn't relevant to the vast majority of growing churches)

    Anyhoo, probably isn't helpful but some thoughts. Cheerio! :)
     
  3. exscentric

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    Mebe they is jest spredin a bigga net tu get dem bucks, the $ kine not da pointy kine.
     
  4. Greektim

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    I'd say that most SBC seminaries have this in place. If you want both the relevant ministry training classes as well as rigorous academic training, then you could simply load up on ministry in the MDiv and then load up the academic stuff in the ThM. If people want both, they have only but to do an extra year or year and a half to complete the ThM.

    (I say "most" b/c NOBTS's ThM is part of their PhD program).
     
  5. Martin

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    Hi Rhetorician! Long time no read. Hope all is good with you and yours.

    ==I think it is the nature of our society. Two things (1) Time and money. A masters degree that takes three to four (or more) years is not what many people are looking for. They are limited in their budget and in their time and are looking for something that is more brief and affordable. In other words, the two-year master degrees are better suited for most people today. (2) Focus. People are more specialized today. People want to study a certain field or skill, few are interested in the broad scope degrees anymore. This is true in Divinity, History, and even Medicine.


    ==I really doubt I know more than you. There are other degress than the ones you mentioned. I have seen several schools offering MA degrees in Apologetics, New Testament, Old Testament, Church History, Christian Ministry, Student Ministries, Music Ministries, etc. Looking over that list it really reinforces my second point (above).

    Is this trend good or bad?

    I think it depends on how you look at it. If you are for the traditional MDiv -> ThM -> DMin or PhD model than you will probably think it is a bad trend. However if you are like myself, and believe that education at the graduate level should be focused on a certain area of study, than you probably think it is a good trend.
     
  6. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
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    Yeah, I don't know how many folks actually do this though. For instance in my time at SWBTS, most of my fellow students were more likely to add tons of theology classes in their MDiv versus doing a ThM at the end. In fact I only know of three or four of my classmates who did what you are recommending. Most got their MDiv and went out to find a church position.

    That said I'm not saying that the SBC schools are set up any worse than anyone else. I'd personally like to see more emphasis put on a core MDiv with different ministry tracks. The core programme should have an equal mix of practical. Right now, looking at a basic MDiv degree completion plan biblical and theological courses out number more practical matters 19 to 3. That's a pretty hefty difference.

    I just keep hearing from my friends and colleagues who have left vocational pastoral ministry that while they had a lot of theological education they were definitely unprepared for the day-to-day management tasks of ministry. I think that a more robustly practical degree is needed. :)
     
  7. PilgrimPastor

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    I think there is merit to what you say. However, aren't there just some things that "must" be learned by doing in the pastoral ministry? While earning the M.Div. with Liberty online I pastored churches. While some balk at online education, I think the NEED to apply what I was learning in the pulpit and pastoral leadership office was invaluable.

    I am also finding it interesting that in the D.Min. I am doing with Temple Baptist with emphasis in Expository Preaching, their is a great deal of practical emphasis because the focus in on preaching. In this case does the D.Min. sort of do what you are talking about in reverse? Theology in an M.Div. then more practical work. One could do a D.Min. in pastoral counseling or conflict resolution (I have seen offered in the D.Min. somewhere that I can't recall...)
     
  8. TomVols

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    One, I think there are more colleges offering more meat in their religion/Bible majors, and the Bible college model is getting better. Clear Creek, Boyce, Cedarville, etc., are giving students what they would not have gotten on the undergrad level 30 years ago. Most people who graduate with 60+ hrs in theological and ministerial studies don't want 90 hours of redundancy. I didn't. I still think there's a place for the Engineering B.S. or the Liberal arts B.A. to go for a 90 hr M.Div out of necessity. But there should be another option for the person, like myself, who basically did seminary in their Bachelor program.

    Two, it's about time and money, as well put above.

    Three, market share. Undergrad schools are rolling out one to two year master programs like crazy, and that's going to cut into some seminary M.Div programs. Seminaries are going to be forced to do something to compete.
     
    #8 TomVols, Mar 15, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2011
  9. Rhetorician

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    Hello Dear Colleague

    Hello Tom,

    So is it safe to say "cash cow?" No derogatory meaning, just frank open discussion sought.

    "That is all!" :thumbs:
     
  10. preachinjesus

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    One of the things I struggled with during my MDiv was this exact thing. I also saw a lot of what was being taught at a Masters level seminary course as almost introductory level or remedial level theology. One of the benefits of my SWBTS education is that they recognized my biblical studies degree and put me on the Advanced Track program which allowed me to cut out previously taken classes and substitute in more advanced work.

    That seriously kept me in seminary. I don't think I could have done New Testament Survey I and II again...in its place I got to take two courses with E Earle Ellis, which was wonderful! :)
     

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