Aug. 7 we will welcome the first class of seminarians enrolled in a bold, new Master of Divinity program designed to address the contemporary needs of the church and the realities of students’ lives.
The New Lancaster Master of Divinity builds on the enduring values of this historic 190-year-old graduate school of theology while offering a innovative curriculum that is relevant to contemporary life and modern ministry, and featuring two tracks to graduation that make it possible to balance work and school. The New Lancaster Master of Divinity replaces the MDiv program that has been offered, with modifications, since 1970.
“With a fresh, focused curriculum, a streamlined schedule, and flat-rate tuition that includes post-graduate courses, the New Lancaster Seminary Master of Divinity will put a quality seminary experience within reach for those who need an advanced degree but never thought it was financially or practically possible,” said Dr. Carol E. Lytch, President of Lancaster Theological Seminary. “The timing of classes and the predictability of the curriculum provide opportunity for students who must work either part-time or full-time while attending.”
The Seminary’s Board of Trustees last year noted that enrollment at most seminaries across the United States, including Lancaster, has been declining under pressure from a number of factors including exploding student debt that deters enrollment, and students’ need to work while pursuing an advanced degree.
“We are delighted that Lancaster Seminary rose to the challenge by taking the lead in building an entirely new Master of Divinity designed to educate and nurture leaders to serve today’s church and the changing world with confidence, agility, and well-informed faith,” said Dr. Richard Kratz, chair of the Board of Trustees.
The new curriculum is grounded in historical and theological wisdom while leading a digital generation toward the belonging, meaning and competency that they seek. It is designed to address the needs of churches for innovative pastors who can steer congregations effectively in a new religious climate, and to educate leaders to embody the gospel in a society fraught with religious and social tensions.
Among the 15 foundational courses are Old and New Testament, Preaching, and Theology. The seven integrative courses uniquely combine disciplines to address modern issues facing the church and society including Making Disciples, Developing Leaders, and the Church and Social Change.
Another distinctive feature of the curriculum is the addition of two advanced courses included in the tuition to be taken after graduation.
In addition to the pioneering curriculum, the structure of the New Lancaster Master of Divinity is unique with two tracks to graduation, both of which make time for both study and employment. The Day Track, leading to graduation after completion of three years of study, holds classes three-and-a-half days per week. The Weekend Track, which leads to graduation after four years, has classes on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, with some online components.
While breaking new ground, the new program continues the emphasis on learning in community, with and from one another, which is a hallmark of a Lancaster education.
“We value and prioritize personal, face-to-face learning that takes place both in the classroom and in community with fellow students, faculty and staff,” President Lytch explains. “Online technology supports our learning environment but it does not replace it. Theological formation requires those in-person connections and skills that are often lacking in the online world. We believe that you should learn the way you lead – with people.”
Applications are being accepted now; classes begin in August 2015. Students currently enrolled in the Master of Divinity program at Lancaster Seminary may be eligible to transfer into the new program based on a number of factors including the number credit hours remaining until degree completion.
Details on the new program are available at mymdiv.com.