Wayland to offer Master of Divinity online

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University’s School of Religion and Philosophy is taking applications for its new Master of Divinity program that will be offered beginning in the Fall 2013 semester.

Wayland’s program will be one of the few distinctively Baptist M.Div. programs that is offered completely online. Students may also take face-to-face courses at any of the Wayland campuses where master’s level religion courses are offered. Wayland operates campuses in Plainview, Wichita Falls, Amarillo, Lubbock and San Antonio, Texas, as well as Altus, Okla., Clovis and Albuquerque, N.M., Phoenix and Sierra Vista, Ariz., Anchorage and Fairbanks, AK., Mililani, Hawaii, and Kenya, Africa.

Dean of the School of Religion and Philosophy Dr. Paul Sadler said the school has been working for several years to develop the program with the expressed desire to make it accessible to students around the world. He said it was developed from an expressed interest by current students, as well as denominational leaders who saw the need for accessible education and training in ministry.

“Many of these students will be in good church ministry situations already. They will have good employment, or their spouse will have good employment and they prefer not to leave,” Sadler said. “Uprooting a family and moving to a campus can really subject a couple or family to stresses and strains.”

Sadler also said they have had a desire from military students who want to pursue ministry related careers following their military duty, but they are unable to attend seminary while still on active duty.

Sadler and Dr. Jay Givens, professor of religion for the virtual campus, have worked diligently, along with the rest of the religion faculty, to develop curriculum for the 86-hour program that can be delivered through distance education. Wayland’s program will feature a large spiritual formation component.

“Spiritual formation is more about the practice of prayer, devotional and study of the Bible,” Givens said. “Some degrees tend to focus on the head and the hands, but this one is trying to help focus on the heart as well.”

Sadler said spiritual formation encourages ministers to not only look at Biblical study academically, but also develop personal discipline in prayer, Bible study and meditation. Students will accomplish this through accountability groups that will meet online each semester. Sadler said that while face-to-face meetings will be difficult for all the students involved, online coursework and groups can be very effective in the development of relationships.

“What we have learned through our online program is that if you approach these courses correctly, the level of interaction between instructors and students, and students with each other is significant,” Sadler said.

Wayland’s program is 86 hours, including courses in Biblical languages that students may opt out of, dropping the coursework to 80 hours. Students already enrolled in graduate coursework at Wayland may transfer those classes into the M.Div. program. Transfer students who have completed or are enrolled in graduate programs at other schools may transfer up to half of the required hours into Wayland’s program.

Anyone interested in more information or enrolling for the M.Div. or the Master of Arts in Religion or Master of Christian Ministry degree may contact Sarah Langston in the Office of Graduate Programs at 806-291-3421 or langstons@wbu.edu, or call the School of Religion and Philosophy at 806-291-1160.