Initial enrollment exceeded projections by more than 40 percent. One factor that helped fuel that enthusiasm was the ability for students to participate in classes through a wide variety of educational options—online learning, virtual classrooms, and summer modules, as well as traditional residential classes. The Master of Divinity degree was approved for chaplaincy preparation by the Department of Defense. A summer-only option was devised for the Biblical Counseling program.
The components that first made the Seminary an attractive option for many remain in place—graduate assistant positions, the Three + Three program that saves both time and money, and a dedicated, passionate faculty.
Accommodating Learning Styles
Maranatha Baptist Seminary offers different ways to learn, methods that work for both traditional and non-traditional students.
One of the most popular is Maranatha Online. Online courses are offered over eight-week cycles, and almost every learning activity can be accessed at a convenient time. Students can participate in classes through discussion boards and forums, or take part in synchronous learning sessions.
The virtual classroom allows the participant in full-semester courses to see and hear the lesson in real time, ask questions, and join the discussion—all from home, through computer video technology.
“Our goal is to offer as many as 75 percent of our classes as virtual classes,” said Dr. Larry Oats, Dean of the Seminary.
Modules are times of concentrated learning in which courses are completed at Maranatha during a week-long span. Classes meet in blocs of 3-to-7 hours each day. On-campus housing is available.
Helping Pay for Education
One of the Seminary’s primary goals is to allow the student to complete his education in as short a time span as possible, and as inexpensively as possible.
The Seminary’s Graduate Assistant program covers student costs and also provides a stipend in exchange for work performed for various campus departments. The College benefits from the presence of mature students who can provide spiritual mentorship and leadership for undergraduates while working at their campus jobs.
The Three + Three program allows a student to finish both his undergraduate and Seminary training in as little as six years. Up to 28 Seminary credit hours count toward undergraduate requirements. This dual-credit option can add up to significant savings in both time and money.
Maranatha Baptist Seminary prepares students to serve as military chaplains upon their graduation. The Department of Defense has approved Maranatha’s Master of Divinity for chaplaincy preparation.
Almost half of enlisted military personnel are 25 or younger, a time when a godly friend can help shape the future direction of their lives.
“This is a great opportunity,” Oats said. “The military is filled with young men and women, all at a very impressionable time in their lives. Some of them will grow up very quickly.”
Every branch of the Armed Forces offers chaplaincy opportunities for those who have completed their MDiv. Prospective chaplains are not required to enroll in the ROTC program, but may elect to do so. There are also some advantages for those who wish to serve in the Reserves or state National Guard units while completing their education.
Jason McDonnell, 25, a Seminary student from Tempe, Arizona, has been accepted by the Army National Guard as a chaplain candidate. He will be required to attend military training one weekend each month and two weeks during the summer.
“I see three real advantages to doing chaplain training through the National Guard,” McDonnell said. “First, I have a chance to gain some experience now. Second, there are health insurance and benefits, which are important to me because I am married. Third, it’s leading me directly to where I feel the Lord wants me to go.”
Biblical Counseling Summer Program
The Seminary now offers the opportunity to earn a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling by following a summer module format.
“The opportunity to earn a master’s degree in three summers, even though they will be very busy summers, will be a good, practical option for a lot of people,” Oats said.
The courses will be offered in June each year.
The 34-credit hour program includes two online classes and two modules during late June and early July. The Seminary also conducts evening classes on campus for those pursuing the master’s degree in Biblical Counseling.
“This will really appeal to school teachers and administrators and to students working as graduate assistants during the school year,” Oats said.