Two international locations allow students in the Graduate School of Theology’s online master’s program the chance to complete their degree without having to travel to Abilene.
Students in Accra, Ghana, and Zagreb, Croatia, now have the opportunity to complete a master’s degree through the Graduate School of Theology thanks to a combination of online courses and international residency courses.
The three options for master’s degrees being offered are the masters in global service, the masters in Christian ministry and the masters of divinity. Every degree requires the student to take four residential classes in Accra, Zagreb, or Abilene, while the rest of the degree can be finished online.
Although the GST has offered online courses since 1999 and courses abroad for decades, the international residency sites are something that will allow more students access to high-quality theological education.
Students who want to complete the online courses previously had to travel to Abilene to fulfill coursework requirements, which could be costly and inconvenient. Dr. Tim Sensing, professor of homiletics and associate dean of the Graduate School of Theology, said are benefits for some students to the international residency option that eliminate or help reduce the travel costs and hassles.
“Most GST students are already working in ministerial contexts,” says Sensing. “The ability to stay close to home and continue their employment makes it more affordable and increases the efficacy of contextual learning.”
Students also get the benefit of increased intercultural experiences relating to the field of work they want to transition into. Caroline Nikolaus, a graduate student who is completing her MAGS degree, says the program is a needed option.
“I am taking classes that are not only pertinent to where I am but also to what I am already doing for work,” says Nikolaus.
Partnerships with two educational institutions, Heritage Christian College in Accra and the Bible Institute of Zagreb, have made the international option available. There are 20 students in the Accra location and 10 in the Zagreb residency. The degrees earned by these students are fully accredited, and Sensing says the courses are up to the same standard as any other offered by the GST.
“The only difference is the delivery mechanism,” Sensing says. “It is the same faculty, syllabi, textbooks, assignments and student learning outcomes. The GST is committed to quality assurance.”
“I know the GST is serious about the level of education and growth they want to provide students,” Nikolaus says. “They have spent a lot of hours figuring out how to make this program work and are being extremely intentional with their distance-learning students.”
Sensing said he hopes to expand the number of international locations available to students in the program, as well as further the growth of the program’s online presence. No matter where students end up, they will experience the same fostering of ministerial formation a student in Abilene would.
“The curriculum is designed to fulfill the mission statement of the GST,” Sensing says.