WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees approved key changes to the seminary’s undergraduate school during their April 14-15 meeting in Wake Forest, N.C.
The changes include new majors expressly focused on missions and pastoral ministry as well as a new name for the college.
In its flagship degree program, the bachelor of arts, the college now will offer a bachelor of arts in Christian studies, replacing the former bachelor of arts in biblical studies. Bachelor’s-level studies concentrating in pastoral ministry and missions also will be offered.
Trustees also renamed the undergraduate school as The College at Southeastern, a change which better reflects its status as an undergraduate school of a thriving Southern Baptist seminary. The college previously was known as Southeastern College at Wake Forest, a name which sometimes caused confusion with Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.
“One of the most appealing things about The College at Southeastern is that we are a college on the campus of a seminary, and our status as part of Southeastern Seminary allows our students to take advantage of academic programs, faculty resources and a way of life on campus that are not available at other undergraduate institutions,” said Peter Schemm, dean of the college. “This name change reflects that strength.”
Through the new degrees in pastoral ministry and missions, Southeastern will challenge students academically and prepare them for ministry, Schemm said.
“Our desire is to meet the needs of those students, particularly Southern Baptist students, who come here to prepare for a lifetime of vocational ministry,” Schemm said. “These new majors allow us to appeal to potential students in a new and exciting way.”
The pastoral ministry major offers classes in pastoral ministry, counseling, discipleship and Bible exposition. The missions major features an emphasis on intercultural studies, church planting and anthropology and also includes a semester ministering overseas through the International Mission Board.
“The addition of the missions major demonstrates Southeastern’s commitment to missions on both the undergraduate and graduate level,” Schemm said. “It also allows us to integrate an important component of our core curriculum –- History of Ideas seminars -– toward a very practical end: Students will take what they have learned concerning great ideas and engage the nations with the greatest story, the message of the Gospel.”
A major in theology also is among the curriculum changes. Formerly known as the Christian worldview program, the name was changed to better reflect the overall emphasis on a wide variety of theological issues, including systematic theology, worldview training and apologetics.
These new and revised majors bring to seven the number of second majors offered to bachelor’s degree students at Southeastern: pastoral ministry, missions, theology, humanities, English, history and music.
Trustees also approved a new Collegiate Partnership program to allow qualified undergraduates from religious studies programs -– including Southeastern’s own undergraduate program and those of other Baptist colleges and universities -– to take a reduced number of hours to receive a master of divinity degree from Southeastern.
In essence, the partnership program allows these students the opportunity to substitute upper-level seminar classes for some they have already taken, as well as the chance to receive credit in subjects taken at the undergraduate level, after competency tests are passed. In many cases, it will allow qualified students to receive a master of divinity degree in two to two and a half years instead of the current average of three to four years.
Jason Hall is director of communications at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.