Cedarville University is accepting students into its new Master of Divinity degree program for the fall 2016 semester. Additionally, Cedarville’s Master of Ministry degree program is also now available completely online.
The new Master of Divinity program includes 98 credit hours and is being offered both as a traditional stand-alone, three-year program and as an accelerated five-year program for incoming freshmen and current sophomores in the Bible program.
Students in the accelerated Master of Divinity program will take three years of undergraduate studies in the biblical studies major and two years of graduate studies. After completing the five-year pathway, students will receive both a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Master of Divinity degree.
Jason Lee, dean of Cedarville’s School of Biblical and Theological Studies, said the combination of these programs allows a student to achieve in five years what would normally take seven or more.
“That gets people into ministry sooner and with less debt,” Lee said. “As an institution, we don’t want to encourage debt. The tuition for the Master of Divinity is under $400 (per credit hour). That’s incredibly competitive. If you look at any other seminary, that is right in the market and lower than most.”
Changes to the Master of Ministry program were made so that the program could be more affordable and available to more students. Cedarville University President Thomas White said that an online program literally delivers a Cedarville education to anyone in the world.
“By making the (Master of Ministry) entirely available online,” White said in an email, “we have opened the door for better theological education for a host of ministerial roles for anyone around the world.”
While the 38-credit-hour, one-year program will still be available as a residential program, all of the courses will also be available online.
Lee said this allows for greater flexibility for students who have to leave Cedarville halfway through the program or who cannot relocate for a year.
“For a student to relocate from somewhere – leave a job, leave home, try to find all that here for a year – (it) may not be the best financial decision for them,” Lee said.
Because the online and residential programs are the same, students will be able to easily transition from either one if their circumstances change.
While both the Master of Divinity and Ministry programs are a ministry-oriented degree compatible with any undergraduate degree, the two graduate degrees have different purposes.
Lee said the Master of Divinity primarily prepares people for pastoral ministry, and the Master of Ministry prepares people for ministry as its name suggests.
“The Master of Ministry prepares people for ministry that could be perhaps lay- or director-level stuff in their church, but also some sort of para-church ministry that’s outside the church walls,” Lee said.
Additionally, Lee said someone receiving the Master of Divinity could go on to receive a doctorate in ministry or any Bible-related discipline. Individuals with a Master of Ministry, however, cannot advance to that level.
Lee said he hopes to have 20 students join the accelerated Master of Divinity program each fall, with five to 10 in the stand-alone program each year. For the Master of Ministry program, Lee said 10 to 12 students in the residential program would be a good model moving forward with an additional 20 to 30 students in the online program.
Though he hopes for a large amount of students to join one of the two degree programs, White said the programs have been designed to be sustainable with smaller class sizes.
Both programs will also have internships incorporated into the program to allow for hands-on ministry experience.
“Ultimately, what we want to do is serve the churches by providing a variety of trained workers,” Lee said. “Some of those are going to be trained in our Master of Ministry program, and some of those will be trained in our Master of Divinity program, and we’re excited about helping the church out in both those ways.”
Keegan D’Alfonso is a freshman journalism major and a reporter for Cedars. He was a sergeant in the Marines and enjoys learning about and experiencing other cultures.