Bethany Seminary Launches MA Connections Program

Church of the Brethren Newsline
Aug. 27, 2010

Since 2002, Bethany Theological Seminary has offered a master of divinity degree completion track titled “MDiv Connections” for students unable to relocate to the seminary’s campus in Richmond, Ind. On July 12, the seminary received approval from its accrediting body, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), to launch an “MA Connections” track for students working on master of arts degrees in theological reflection and research.

The seminary will officially enroll students in the new track in the Spring 2011 semester. New and continuing students interested in MA Connections can take courses prior to Spring 2011 and transfer them into the track.

Distributed education tracks offer degrees through classes in a variety of formats: weekend or two-week intensives on campus, online courses, hybrid courses (a mix of online and residential), and off-site courses. ATS requires that students take half of the courses for the degree at the Richmond campus. The other half may be online courses or taken at the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center or at other ATS-accredited schools.

The MA thesis sequence courses, which are the core classes of the program, will be offered in a variety of formats: as weekend intensives, hybrid classes, or meeting weekly with some students physically present in the classroom and others connected via video. Students enrolled in MA Connections will have access to Bethany’s library resources while they are attending classes on the Richmond campus, and to the many online resources available through the library including the American Theological Library Association’s ATLA Religion Database and ATLAS full-text PDF section. Both the MA and MDiv Connections tracks assume a part-time course load. MA Connections students will have six years to complete their degrees.

“With a growing number of students interested in distributed education, Bethany will begin to offer other courses in alternative formats in the near future,” said academic dean Steve Schweitzer. “These changes come at the same time as curriculum review is underway at the seminary, and the convergence of these factors should allow us room to think ‘outside the box’ in terms of what we are teaching and how we are teaching it.”

Malinda Berry, instructor in theological studies and director of Bethany’s master of arts program, will serve as administrator of MA Connections. Those interested in MA Connections may contact berryma@bethanyseminary.edu or the Admissions Office at enroll@bethanyseminary.edu .

— Marcia Shetler is director of public relations for Bethany Seminary.

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