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I have seen some posts regarding seminary advice so thought I would ask for some as well.


I attend a non-denominational Bible church, which is basically
reformed, moderate calvinism, dispensational/premill (think DTS here). I am currently attending a seminary part-time (managing a family and FT job) with the goal of an M.Div. and with the hope of doing FT ministry as a pastor. Ideally I could roll onto a staff before graduating - as this has been a model used at the Bible churches I have attended. My primary interests would be training teachers, home-group leaders, and teaching adult Sunday school at a Bible church. These are areas I serve in today under our associate pastor. My goal is not necessarily being a "head" pastor but am not closing that door either.

I have been going to classes "in person" and I am not very far along (credit-wise) . However increasing tuition costs and viability have become a concern so I have also recently started taking some on-line classes at Liberty University as they have an M.Div option. It also has the benefits of lower costs and allows me to take more classes in a given semester (8wk modulars). 

I have also recently thought about doing a Masters In Theology (60+ credits as opposed to 99). This would allow me to complete the degree quicker and still allow me (I hope) to take the "missing" courses to "upgrade" to an M.Div if that was needed later.

I would like advice on some other on-line options that people know of,  especially if you have experience with the program.

I looked into DTS (http://www.dts.edu/admissions/onlineeducation/faq/) and Moody (http://www.moody.edu/edu_MainPage.aspx?id=2756) but they do not have an online program that would allow me to complete a degree.

I have looked into SES (http://www.ses.edu/DistanceEducation/tabid/63/Default.aspx) where there is no M.Div option online. The Masters Apologetics looked promising but lacked the languages and was not quite what I was looking for (Theology and some Greek).

The questions:
1) Based on the stated goals should I stick out an M.Div or is a Masters/Theology adequate training?

2) What are some good on-line seminary programs that would fit the basic doctrinal outline - (conservative would be good but Dispensational is not required) above and that offer an M.Div and/or Masters in Theology?

Thanks for any and all advice.
Mike B

Tags: education, online, seminary

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i think Liberty is most economical for a full degree, but DTS is better than it initially looks regarding cost, because there is a lot of student aid available, especially for the THm. Masters Seminary in California has courses that are done mostly at home, but you have to do a couple weeks on campus each year. I think Masters is priced between Liberty and DTS. Good luck with it.

I went to a local Bible College here in Houston and many of the grads are pastors - my interest is prison ministry on a volunteer basis, so I'm using TTP for additional learning. It is most cost effective.
MDivs are pastoral in orientation. MTh programs are probably fine for what you are looking to do. You can always supplement or get a second Masters if that's where you find yourself going. It's really not about the degree, it's about preparing yourself.

I'm somewhat less concerned about a school's given doctrinal bent--you are looking for conservative training but the emphasis is on training.

I've been looking at online training programs for a while. I still see this as being given second fiddle by most schools. Depends on your personal discipline. How good are you at pushing yourself to do above and beyond when it comes to study? That will make or break you if you go online.
I did my MATS through Covenant Seminary via long distance learning.

When I did it, the course was 60 hours. But they had been discussing moving to 48 hours. But I believe it is now called ThM in Biblical and Pastoral Theology and is only 30 hours. But things have changed, so you'd need to check more out.

Covenant is a reformed seminary, so would not really be in line with dispensational thinking. But I am a full continuationist with regards to the gifts of the Spirit and they are more soft-cessationist. So, there were 'conflicting' views, but I got along quite well with the programme and my professors.

Also, if you ever wanted to listen to a taster lecture and see study notes, you can download such for free from their Worldwide Classroom website. There they offer all the audio lectures and study notes for 23 of their master's level classes.

Let me say with regards to an MDiv - Unless you are desiring to actually become ordained in a particular church denomination, taking the MDiv path is probably not the best. So, an MDiv at Covenant would prepare one to be an ordained pastor in the PCA church. Thus, you take a lot more classes in their particular vein of theology. Not necessarily bad, but by the time you finish, you have taken the equivalence of almost 3 masters.

Now, with an MATS or ThM in Biblical and Pastoral Theology, I suppose you will not be required to take languages. And I am pretty sure Covenant (and most seminaries) will not offer the languages via long distance. Thus, without taking the MDiv, you could do something like a regular ThM or Masters of Arts in Exegetical Theology and take the languages. But, again, you probably won't be able to do things long distance for the full programme because they would not offer the languages. But, you could consider starting a programme via long distance, and then finish up with the last half of the Masters on campus.

Hope these thoughts help.
John A. English said:
i think Liberty is most economical for a full degree, but DTS is better than it initially looks regarding cost, because there is a lot of student aid available, especially for the THm. Masters Seminary in California has courses that are done mostly at home, but you have to do a couple weeks on campus each year. I think Masters is priced between Liberty and DTS. Good luck with it.

I went to a local Bible College here in Houston and many of the grads are pastors - my interest is prison ministry on a volunteer basis, so I'm using TTP for additional learning. It is most cost effective.

The family wasn't ready to pack up and move to Dallas... :)
I will look at Master's online options. Thanks!
@ScottL

I will look @ Covenant's options and see what they offer now...
I appreciate the heads up on the denominational aspect of the MDiv. The M.Div from Liberty would be from a Baptist POV, but other than the one "Baptist History" course I don't see much problems there. The theology courses will likely have a Baptist leaning but that should mesh with my current theological positions.

The languages could be an issue. The current plan would be to take those classes at a local seminary "in person" and transfer the credits in.

Thanks!
The languages could be an issue. The current plan would be to take those classes at a local seminary "in person" and transfer the credits in.

Yes, that was an option for me from a more liberal seminary in my home town. But I decided not to worry about it for now. I can take them later if I want.
I checked out Masters site but could not find any information regarding online/at home options.

I did find some interesting information regarding cost...
http://www.tms.edu/AdmissionsTuitionComparison.aspx

Masters and Liberty are on the lower cost side
Dallas is mid/lower
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is on the higher side...

Lots of other schools to look into as well... :)
Check out a 100% online seminary named Rockbridge Seminary (http://www.rockbridgeseminary.org). This might be an option for you. I was part of the launch team back in 2004.

We are on the final lap for accreditation with North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
@ScottL

I looked @ Covenant - some of the classes at the Worldwide Classroom looked good but I did not see anything regarding a degree program online...

Thanks
Mike
@Sam

Thanks for the information, I'll check it out.

Mike
Hi Mike,

I was researching online seminaries for quite some time and finally settled on Reformed Theological Seminary's Virtual Master's program (60 credits). It has a very good reputation academically and is fully accredited. I am only in my 1st semester there but so far so good. The program seems well thought out and the admin staff have been very good to work with. You can complete the entire program on-line except for two on-campus seminars at the beginning and end of the program.

You can visit this web page, that shows some of the fruits of my research on seminaries. There's a section there on seminaries recommended by Desire God (John Piper) ministries. Also visit my distance education page.

Like you, I also am not sure that my ultimate goal is pastoring, but I believe that a Master's is a good foundation for my future goals. It depends on where you want to pastor whether they'll require an M Div.

As I am reformed in my theology, I was preferring a school with a Reformed emphasis. However I also considered conservative schools that aren't necessarily reformed. SES seems to have very good programs if you're interested in Apologetics and was reasonably priced. Covenant looked very solid and is associated with the PCA. Southern Baptist was one of my top choices, but doesn't offer a completely online program. They do however have extension sites in various places. The Master's College has a very good reputation academically but I don't think it had distance programs. You might consider Bethel, which has several "InMinistry" online programs.

As you probably are aware, all the good, ATS accredited reformed seminaries (SBTS, RTS, Covenant, Westminster Cal or PA, Gordon-Conwell) are very expensive. For this reason I also strongly considered Columbia Evangelical Seminary, a non-demoninational, unaccredited school that offers great flexibility in designing your own program and is also very inexpensive. However in the end I decided against this school because there is a bias in the marketplace against unaccredited schools.

There are non-accredited, reformed schools that seem to offer a solid education at less expense. Some of these schools are accredited by non-ATS organizations (so they may not be considered as "real"accreditation). Check out the article on the distance education page about this.

Happily I discovered that my work offers tuition reimbursement for any Masters degree, which covers a good deal of my school expenses.

I have seen a lot of programs offered at Liberty at what seems to be a reasonable cost I feel they are extremely biased against Reformed theology and Calvinism so I personally would not go there.

I hope this is helpful.
I looked at the Covenant Seminary web site and found this:

Distance Education
Our distance education students now learn under a revamped program, which mirrors a typical on-campus course. Features include:

* Four online classes offered each semester. Along with audio or video versions of courses taught by Covenant Seminary professors, peer-to-peer learning is fostered through online postings and discussion forums.
* Classes led by a faculty/mentor team who facilitate discussions.
* Required testing and completion dates.
* A revised summer schedule with four two-week residency sessions that bring together on-campus and off-campus students for intensive learning.

Whether you want to simply enrich your life and ministry or begin a degree or certificate program, our grace-centered Reformed curriculum is designed to help you grow in grace and as you are further equipped for ministry.

However I am unclear as to whether they allow a "complete" degree to be earned via online/distance learning.
Does anyone have experience with there current offerings?

FYI:
Alexander just started looking at your web page - lots of great stuff.
Just wanted to let you know this link is broken:
http://www.covenantseminary.edu/learn/degreecourseinformation/dista...

Thanks,
Mike

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