The Graduate School of Theology announced its new affordability initiative which aims to reduce tuition costs for students pursuing a career in ministry.
The program will start in the summer and will be in effect beginning with the 2015-2016 catalog year.
With the new initiative, a student’s degree program will determine his or her tuition costs. Once registered, the student will pay a fixed rate that will not increase as long as he or she remains continuously enrolled.
The Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Arts in Global Service and other Master of Arts degree programs will be affected by the change. On average, the tuition rate will drop by approximately 41 percent.
Dr. Tim Sensing, associate dean of the Graduate School of Theology, said he believes the affordability initiative serves a greater purpose than just reducing tuition costs.
“ACU is committed to reducing the cost of graduate theological education and graduating ministers with less debt,” Sensing said. “Doing so will help reduce the burden of financial pressure and will allow ministers to serve more effectively in churches and other ministry contexts.”
Dr. Ken Cukrowski, dean of the College of Biblical Studies, said he expects to see a great degree of growth in the Graduate School of Theology, especially in the form of online students.
“(The affordability initiative) allows us to help with student debt,” he said. “It also allows us to enter an online market which we really weren’t able to do before.”
Cukrowski said he expects the Master of Divinity and Master of Christian Ministry degrees will be able to be completed online with two residencies in Abilene and that the Graduate School of Theology is already an attractive option for students, and the affordability initiative will help ensure it stays that way.
“One of the things the students (appreciate) the most is mentoring,” he said. “We have weekly mentoring with the professors; there’s lots of student-professor contact.”
Cukrowski said the College of Biblical Studies’ scholarship opportunities and undergraduate programs help set the Graduate School of Theology apart from similar schools.
“The typical seminary may have one or two New Testament professors,” Cukrowski said. “Once we add in our undergraduate population, we can add people who have special offerings. The normal seminary is not going to have five New Testament professors. There are also some generous scholarships that not all seminaries are going to have.”
Currently, 141 students are enrolled in the Graduate School of Theology.