ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) — Gateway Seminary will become the first Southern Baptist seminary to offer all its master’s degrees completely online in the fall of 2019.
Approval to offer the final two degree programs online came from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) on Feb. 15.
“Having all of our master’s degrees online means that more than ever before, Gateway students have optimum flexibility to hone their ministry skills as they expand God’s Kingdom around the world,” said Kristen Ferguson, Gateway’s director of online education. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to offer this flexibility to them.”
Ferguson said professors teaching online adhere to the best practices found in the field of online education, including:
— Weekly interaction between students and professor as they engage the content of the course.
— Timely feedback on assignments so that students grow each week.
— High quality videos intentionally recorded for the online platform and for the online student.
— Contextual assignments integrated in many classes so that students learn on the field and in their own context, then bring that learning experience back to the classroom for guidance and critique.
— Class sizes limited to 24-28 students so that each professor has ample time to invest personally into the lives of each student.
“As a seminary intentionally designed for the 21st century, we are already well equipped to serve students from a distance through our library services, student support and administrative guidance,” Ferguson said.
She added that Gateway faculty members approve course templates that require the same learning objectives and signature assignments to be achieved in every course, no matter the delivery system.
“Gateway Seminary holds the online program to the same standards of excellent theological education and ministry training that a student receives on campus,” she said. “We measure the quality of Gateway’s online classes per semester and on an annual basis and consistently see that the quality is the same according to student evaluations and quality of coursework submitted by students.”
Besides all master’s degrees, selected certificates and concentrations also will be available online. The online master of divinity degree program will include concentrations in biblical studies, Christian counseling, educational leadership, global missiology, women’s ministry and youth ministry. Other online master’s programs include the master of theological studies, the master of arts in Christian counseling, the master of arts in educational leadership, the master of arts in intercultural studies and the master of arts in missiology.
The seminary taught its first online class in 1995 and in 2006 began offering the maximum number of programs allowed under ATS accreditation. In 2013, the institution became one of the first to offer a fully online master of divinity degree.
“Our hope is to not only help students gain the necessary competency in biblical knowledge and ministry skill,” Ferguson said, “but to foster a learning environment as students are actively engaged in ministry all over the world.”
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