Accelerated program allows Wayland graduate to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees

PLAINVIEW – Christian James Vaughn has become the first Wayland Baptist University student to graduate with the Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s Degree, and he’s done it in record time while juggling lots of other responsibilities.

On Saturday, Nov. 10, Vaughn received the dual degree that incorporates a Bachelor of Christian Ministry and a Master of Divinity. The graduate, who is married and has a small child, completed the five-year accelerated program in four and a half years while also serving as the youth and university pastor at First Baptist Church of Plainview. He also played football for the Wayland Pioneers.

“Christian has done very well throughout the program,” said Dr. Stephen Stookey, Dean of Wayland’s School of Christian Ministries. “He’s a high-achieving student. I’m looking forward to seeing what God is going to do with Christian in the future. I hope he goes on to do doctoral work.”

And that is exactly where the graduate says he is headed.

“Right now, I plan to stay on at FBC Plainview as the youth and university pastor, but once I earn my doctorate, I’m planning on becoming a professor. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do while finding ways to maintain church involvement and pastorates.”

Vaughn finished the five-year accelerated program early because Wayland accepted dual-credit courses he took while in high school in Houston. Then, he jumped at the chance to take part in the university’s first Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s Degree program when it became available in 2019. He was a sophomore at the time.

Stookey described the accelerated program as “a win-win for the school and the student.”

“We were the first among Texas Baptist schools to do this,” he explained. “The accelerated bachelor’s degree allows the student to proceed from one degree to the next seamlessly and allows them to be efficient with their hours and efficient with their money. It doesn’t compromise the degree at all because it is the full 72-hour Master of Divinity degree. It just allows us to not duplicate courses along the way.”

The lack of duplication allowed Vaughn to move through his studies swiftly while reducing costs.

“Getting this degree made it quicker and easier in terms of the normal process, which is the four-year bachelor’s and two-to-three-year master’s level program that you have to go through,” he said. “I was able to knock it out in less than five years as opposed to seven. For me, there was the added benefit that I took classes in high school before I came to Wayland. It means a lot to me to have been able to accomplish this, especially with having a young family and being able to provide for them by earning that extra income I’ll get from having that master’s degree.”

Stookey explained how the Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s Degree works.

“Students working on a bachelor’s degree earn graduate-level credit for their junior- and senior-level courses,” he said. “These courses transfer directly into the master’s program, shortening the length of time needed to complete the degree. The program allows students the opportunity to trim up to two years off the traditional seven-year college and seminary path.”

He also noted that the accelerated timeline allows students to save on tuition while offering mentored ministry experiences that enhance classroom learning.

Because of the mentoring process, Stookey confidently proclaimed at a recent School of Christian Ministries graduates recognition ceremony that Vaughn has “demonstrated all the qualities of a prospective minister.”

Noting it has been an honor and a unique opportunity to be the first accelerated degree graduate, Vaughn said, “It was all God’s timing. I am truly blessed.”