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How to Get a M.Div Fully Online

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In today’s changing culture, it is not surprising that even preparation for ministry is changing. As secular schools offer more and more degree programs online, those who wish to prepare for ministry also desire to do so. While this sounds horrid to some old timers who still rightly believe in the old time mentor to student, face-to-face seminary preparation (which I am completely in agreement with, by the way), for some, the modern opportunities that online education presents are a welcome way out from a situation where, years ago, would have left many who are called into ministry and even those who are already in ministry, without preparation. I stress what I mean: Face-to-face seminary education is the best, but if you are in a situation where it is either an online education or ministry without academic preparation, then by all means, go for the online classes. You will learn much, and you can find a mentor right where you are. It is the second best thing and by no means second class ministry preparation, considering you will choose your seminary well.

Now, getting a M. Divinity online may be tricky. The problem is that not many institutions offer that degree fully online. Most seminaries will allow you to do one out of three years online, or perhaps more. That helps a lot, but sooner or later, you will have to relocate to a seminary and finish your degree and if that is impossible for you, because of distance, family obligations, or ongoing ministry, you will have a hard time finding a seminary that can help you. The reason for this is that the ATS (Association of Theological Schools), an association that accredits seminaries, will not allow for this degree to be offered 100% online. Most seminaries that are respectable are accredited by the ATS, hence the difficulty in finding a M. Div. fully online.

As far as I know, there are two seminaries that are accredited (regionally accredited) and that are not accredited by the ATS, thereby offering an online M. in Divinity: Luther Rice, and Liberty Baptist Seminary. There are others out there which have no accreditation, and you may attend them at your own risk. But look closely before you do, and make sure your chosen ministry path will not require an accredited education, or that this seminary will actually make you hard for your degree, offering you all of the knowledge you need and deserve.

If your theological beliefs are not conducive to either one of these schools and you need a M. Div., consider mixing your options. You might even save some money in the meantime and end up with a more varied education. Many seminaries will allow you to transfer in as many as 30-50 credits from another institution. That is about half of the 93 credits usually required for a M. Div. This allows you to take your ministry related required courses at the institution granting your degree and then going elsewhere for your theology classes. Your degree will show Liberty, or Luther Rice, but your transcript will show Reformed Theological or Wesley Biblical, or wherever your theology classes were taken, so that you may show them to your denomination or church. With some brief explanation, you should have no problem being respected for the classes you took wherever you go. If you plan on being a professor, however, you may want to plan a post graduate degree at an institution closer to the kind you wish to teach at. However, the extra degree should not be viewed as an obstacle, but as an opportunity.

If you choose to go this route, do not pick seminaries based on cost, but on what is closer to your convictions. You may even find a third or fourth seminary out there that has good accreditation and offers this degree fully online (though I don’t know of any and I did a pretty thorough investigation) but whatever you do, do not try to go for the easy one or the cheap one. Do make decisions based on what is best for your education and future, not on today’s needs and comforts. If taken seriously, an online education can be as good as a resident one, but if not taken seriously, it can be an enormous waste of time and of money, not to mention the damage it can do to your ministry calling.

Written by Luciana Damascena. Luciana is a student at Liberty Baptist Seminary, currently in the M. Divinity program. She is a full time career missionary with BCM International and is serving in Portugal along with her husband and two children.

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7 Reviews

  1. Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers a SACS accredited MDIV throught the Harrison School of Graduate Studies that can be completed completely online. SACS is the same body that accredits Luther Rice and Liberty, which are both great schools. Southwestern’s website is http://www.SAGU.edu

  2. Columbia International University is ATS accredited and allows students to complete nearly half of many of their Master of Divinity degrees completely online. The remaining half can be completed through week-long intensives in January and over the summer so you never have to relocate. More info can be found on their website at http://www.ciu.edu.

  3. Unfortunately, the information provided above is incorrect regarding Luther Rice Seminary’s accreditation. They are nationally accredited by TRACS. Very reputable, but not regional or ATS. I pray this clears things up for the seekers out there.

  4. Global University (affiliated with the Assemblies of God) offers an M.Div. fully via distance. Global University was granted regional accreditation a few years ago. The credit hour for courses at the master’s level (they several M.A. programs and a 90-hour M.Div.) is approximately $250. Worht considering if you don’t have access to a brick and mortar school.

  5. With very little research on this website, you can find several seminaries that do offer a Master of Divinity online. Rockbridge Seminary and The North American Reformed Seminary are just 2 of many. The question you need to wrestle with is the ATS accreditation. ATS is still in the dark ages when it comes to online education. Almost every other degree in this world you can get online, but the ATS hamstrings the church by being so strict. So every student must answer a crucial question: is ATS accredited degree important to you. If so, then do not think you would get a degree online. If not, then there are many many options. I know for me, when I stand before Jesus – I will not be asked about an ATS accredited degree. That is the barometer I used.

  6. I am an admission representative for Baptist Bible Seminary and we have all our master degrees (including our M.Div. degree) online. We are regionally accredited through Middle States. Furthermore our M.Div. degree has a one year paid internship component as part of the degree providing you with the opportunity to apply what you have learned in the classroom and gain some ministry experience. If you are all ready in ministry it can be accomplished where you serve currently. If you would like to learn more please feel free to email me at ncharlton@bbc.edu as I will not be likely checking for replies here. Hope this helps!

    • Your website says that you do not accept divorced men into your program. It seems you are barring men who have Biblical grounds for divorce from obtaining a MDiv at your school. If your reasoning is that divorced men ought not be pastors, I can understand but not all MDiv students want to be pastors.

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