Opportunities for theological education exist at all levels within the Southern Baptist Convention.
The six SBC seminaries — Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California; Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana; Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky; and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas — have extension centers across the country where professors teach master's-level courses that count toward a seminary degree.
Some extension centers also offer undergraduate-level courses that count toward a bachelor's degree at one of the five SBC seminaries that house an undergraduate college — Midwestern, New Orleans, Southeastern, Southern, and Southwestern.
With seminary extension centers scattered across every region of the country, most Southern Baptists have an opportunity to take seminary classes within hours of their home. The equivalent of one year of coursework on a Southern Baptist seminary campus, however, is required to complete a seminary degree at the SBC institutions.
"The presidents of the seminaries have shown a great deal of wisdom in agreeing on the general areas where our seminaries are going to work," said Jimmy Dukes, associate provost at New Orleans Seminary. "That gives us the opportunity to focus on a particular area so we can make that theological education accessible."
Meanwhile, Seminary Extension, based in Nashville, Tennessee, was established in 1951 to offer undergraduate-level distance education to all Southern Baptists regardless of their educational backgrounds.
The Council of Seminary Presidents oversees Seminary Extension, and most colleges will accept between eight and sixty hours of Seminary Extension credit toward an undergraduate degree. Students cannot earn a degree through Seminary Extension, however.
Seminary Extension credit can be earned through correspondence courses, courses in classrooms throughout each Baptist state convention, Internet courses, and courses on interactive computer software.
"The target audience is anybody that needs education," Bill Vinson, director of Seminary Extension, said. "…Whether they're already in ministry or not is invisible to us. We're just ministering to the need."
With seven-thousand-plus students currently enrolled in courses, Seminary Extension serves those who either cannot afford to move to a seminary campus or cannot afford the tuition at a college or seminary, Vinson said, noting that tuition at Seminary Extension is approximately $30 per course.
Those unsure whether Seminary Extension or a seminary extension center best meets their educational needs should contact one of the SBC seminaries and ask questions, Dukes said.
"Probably the simplest way" to know what type of education a person needs "would be to contact one of our seminaries," Dukes said. "We have people at each of the seminaries who could certainly give them advice."
For additional information about Seminary Extension, visit www.seminaryextension.org. See the sidebar for a complete listing of extension centers for the SBC's six seminaries.
SBC Seminary Extension Centers
Golden Gate campuses are in Mill Valley and Brea, California; Vancouver, Washington; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Centennial, Colorado.
Midwestern extension centers are in St. Louis and Bolivar, Missouri; Wichita, Kansas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Courses also are offered at Cape Girardeau and Hannibal, Missouri; Norman, Oklahoma; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
New Orleans extension centers are in Baton Rouge, Pineville, Shreveport, and Lake Charles, Louisiana; Birmingham and Athens, Alabama; Clinton and Jackson, Mississippi; Graceville, Jacksonville, Orlando, Pensacola, and Miami, Florida; and Marietta and Albany, Georgia.
Southeastern extension centers are in Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Anderson and Charleston, South Carolina; Woodstock, Georgia; and Tampa, Florida.
Southern extension centers are in Springdale, Arkansas; Auburn, Alabama; Boston, Massachusetts; Burlington, Vermont; Chicago, Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio; Columbia and Silver Spring, Maryland; Fenton, Michigan; Greenville, South Carolina; Jackson, Maryville, and Nashville, Tennessee; New York City, New York; and Washington, D.C.
Southwestern extension centers are in College Station, Marshall, San Antonio, and Dallas, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Shawnee, Oklahoma; and Bonn, Germany. The J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies is located in Houston, Texas.