FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has received approval from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) to offer its Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Arts in Christian Education (MACE) degrees completely online, effective Aug. 8, 2013. The decision from the national accrediting agency removes residency restrictions on the seminary’s two most prominent degree programs, making them more accessible to students around the world.
“How grateful we are that the Association of Theological Schools has made it possible for our M.Div. and MACE degrees to be available worldwide to those in search of theological education,” seminary president Paige Patterson said in response to the decision.
“Now students on mission assignment or residents of countries denied access to the United States by monetary constraints or a pastor ministering in a strategic U.S. city can access the finest theological instruction. While I am still deeply committed to residency, the expanded opportunities of internet education should profoundly influence the biblical and theological grasp of our people and prepare hundreds more for service.“
In a letter to the seminary, the ATS board of commissioners said, “All appropriate resources and services are in place. The school's assessment plan and efforts are robust and have been in place for many years, allowing for some longitudinal studies. Data to date indicates virtually the same assessment results for both onsite and online students.”
Southwestern has offered online courses since 2000 and has continually expanded online course offerings over the years. Prior to ATS approval, a student could only complete a portion of the M.Div. or MACE degree online.
The additions of the online M.Div. and MACE represent a growing number of fully online programs at Southwestern. Earlier this year, the seminary launched its fully online, 36-hour Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree<http://www.swbts.edu/mts>, including a version completely in Spanish<http://www.swbts.edu/campus-news/quicktakes/southwestern-offers-promotional-tuition-for-online-spanish-mts/>. Additionally, the seminary now offers a 45-hour MTS with a concentration in cross-cultural missions<http://www.swbts.edu/campus-news/news-releases/southwestern-launches-innovative-degree-for-imbe28099s-macedonia-project/>, which exists to train missionaries as they serve on the field and is especially adapted to meet the needs of the International Mission Board’s Macedonia Project.
For more information on Southwestern’s degree programs, visit www.swbts.edu/admissions<http://www.swbts.edu/admissions> or www.swbts.edu/mts<http://www.swbts.edu/mts>. Those interested in enrollment in the online M.Div., MACE, or MTS programs can contact Southwestern’s Office of Admissions toll-free at 1.800.SWBTS.01.
Keith Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.