NEW ORLEANS (BP) — A new program by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College will allow pastoral ministry students to earn both the bachelor of arts degree and the master of divinity degree in just five years.
Made possible through an anonymous grant, the Accelerated B.A.+M.Div. program will shorten a pastoral ministry student’s time in school by two years.
“In a day when churches are struggling to find leaders, getting pastors through the preparation process and onto the church field as quickly as possible is a matter of vital importance,” said NOBTS Chancellor Chuck Kelley. “We are thrilled with this donation that will enable us to condense college and seminary education to provide maximum training in a minimum amount of time.”
The goals of the five-year initiative are to limit the debt pastoral ministry students incur in college and seminary, reduce coursework redundancy during undergraduate and graduate studies, provide meaningful practical ministry experiences in the learning process, and to see young students leave these programs with greater spiritual depth and the ability to minister well to people of all ages.
The program is designed for 18-21 year-olds entering undergraduate studies who have experienced a call to pastoral ministry. Students will be mentored by a dedicated program coordinator and students will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on ministry experiences.
“We are especially thrilled with the opportunity to enhance the mentoring support for future pastors,” Kelley said, noting the seminary’s emphasis on mentoring in recent years.
The grant will be used to fund a program coordinator, promotional items for the program and limited student scholarships. Much of the cost savings will come through reduced course redundancy between the undergraduate and graduate programs and as students use the NOBTS tuition cap. Under the tuition cap, students pay regular tuition rates for the first 12 semester hours of study. However, an additional three or six hours (for a total of 13-18 semester hours) can be taken free of charge.
According to NOBTS Provost Norris Grubbs, in addition to being 18-21 years-old and called to pastor in the U.S., ideal candidates for this program must be willing to devote themselves to full-time theological studies in order to save time in their preparation.
For prospective students interested in the Accelerated B.A.+M.Div. program, Grubbs encourages them to begin the regular application process to attend Leavell College. In addition, Grubbs encourages these potential students to send an email to [email protected] stating a desire to enter the Accelerated B.A.+M.Div. program until a program coordinator is named. Any questions regarding the program can be addressed to Grubbs’ email as well.
Grubbs noted that students currently attending Baptist colleges can benefit from the plan as well by aligning their undergraduate studies with the seminary’s Accelerated M.Div. program. Students who graduate from a Baptist college in three years (or on the traditional four-year track) with a ministry or Christian studies major are able to complete the M.Div. in two years at NOBTS.
Additional information regarding the new program, include a webpage, will be released following the NOBTS spring trustee meeting later this month.