New 82-hour Southwestern M.Div. faithful, flexible, future-focused

January 30th, 2019 / By: Alex Sibley / comments

New 82-hour Southwestern M.Div. faithful, flexible, future-focused

Faithful to the institution’s core commitments yet focused on meeting the needs of current and future generations, Southwestern Seminary’s new Master of Divinity (M.Div.) program will make theological education even more accessible to God-called men and women as they seek to prepare for a lifetime of ministry. 

The 82-hour degree includes training in biblical languages and competency areas of preaching, pastoral ministry, missions, evangelism, church planting, Christian education and academic ministries. In addition, the degree includes 12 hours of free electives so that students can pursue a variety of concentrations*, and further elective options in the areas of discipleship, ethics and philosophy, making this degree more flexible than the previous M.Div. The degree is available in on-campus, online and hybrid formats.

“Southwestern’s new M.Div. offers an updated, streamlined, cost-effective avenue to its world-class training for ministry,” says Interim President D. Jeffrey Bingham. “We have always been devoted to making disciples from all the nations for all the nations and to equipping them for servant-leadership within the local church, on the mission field and in a variety of other settings. Southwestern’s new M.Div. offers God-called students an excellent, well-rounded, efficient and affordable mentoring experience that yields the necessary skills and knowledge for ministry.”

Mark Taylor, interim senior associate dean for the School of Theology, says the length of the new M.Div. brings the degree in line with other M.Div. programs, both within the Southern Baptist Convention and the broader evangelical world. “Simply put,” he says, “students will be able to complete the degree in less time without sacrificing anything in terms of robust training for a wide range of ministries. Both the motivation and the benefit are to provide the best training possible for our students and to put them out on the field as soon as possible.”

With changes to the overall M.Div. program, Southwestern’s 2 2 program (M.Div. with concentration in international church planting) has also been modified to allow students to get to their mission fields sooner. Furthermore, the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program, though still 36 hours, has been revamped, with changes including the reincorporation of Baptist Heritage and the choice between Christian Apologetics or Bible and Moral Issues.  

Bart Barber, chairman of the academic administration committee of Southwestern’s board of trustees, says these changes have been made because of the different role theological degrees now play in ministry. Once “an additional equipping step” taken primarily by pastors who wanted to grow in ministries that had already started, seminary master’s degrees have become for most Southern Baptists “the hurdle that one must clear” before being able to move into full-time ministry, Barber says. 

“In light of this reality, alongside our desire to equip pastors thoroughly, we want to acknowledge that there are challenges in terms of money and time that motivate students to seek to complete a degree in a timely fashion. … We believe that these changes make a degree at Southwestern accessible to anyone bound for ministry.”

“[B.H. Carroll’s] motivation for opening a seminary in Texas was to have a school with a strong focus on the practical needs of the churches,” Barber says. “With our strong focus on evangelism, missions and expository preaching, Southwestern offers degrees that live up to the vision of B.H. Carroll. Now, achieving one of those degrees just became more accessible than ever before.”

Current students may switch into the new programs immediately by completing the online degree change form. Students who anticipate that the curricular changes will enable them to graduate this spring are encouraged to contact the Registrar’s Office for advising at 817-923-1921, ext. 2000.

* A portfolio of 28 ministry concentrations is available for the 2018-2019 academic year, including administration; biblical archaeology; biblical counseling; biblical theology; chaplaincy; family and children’s ministry; church ministries; church music; church planting; collegiate apologetics; collegiate ministry; ethics, philosophy, and apologetics; evangelism; family ministry; Hispanic studies; Islamic studies; missions; New Testament; Old Testament; pastoral ministry; preaching; family and recreational ministries; student ministry; teaching; theological studies; women’s ministry; women’s studies; and worship.