STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT /
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF
Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee
Bethel Seminary of the East: Master Plan Amendment to Authorize Bethel Seminary of the East to establish a campus in Flushing, New York, to award the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Arts (M.A.) degrees, and to offer a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) Program and a Master of Arts (M.A.) Program in Theological Studies
May 1, 2006
Goals 2 and 4
Issue for Decision
Should the Regents authorize
Bethel Seminary of the East to establish a campus in
Required by State regulation.
The question will come before the Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee at its May 2006 meeting, where it will be voted on and action taken. It will then come before the full Board at its May 2006 meeting for final action.
Master plan amendment is
required because this would be the Seminary’s first campus in
The Bethel Seminary of the East is part of Bethel Seminary, a
The Department received Bethel Seminary of the East’s proposal in early 2005. It received additional information and conducted a site visit on October 24, 2005.
The Department has determined that the programs, if approved, would meet the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
It is recommended that the Board of Regents
amend the master plan of Bethel Seminary of the East authorizing it to establish
a campus in
Timetable for Implementation
If the Regents approve the master plan amendment, the Department will register the programs. Bethel Seminary of the East would begin offering them at the authorized campus in the semester following registration. The Department will conduct a follow-up review of the institution and of the programs’ implementation, impacts and outcomes.
Information. The Bethel
Seminary of the East is part of Bethel Seminary, a division of
B. Curriculum. Bethel Seminary of the East proposes to offer the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and the Master of Arts (M.A.) degrees in Theological Studies. The Seminary currently offers the same two degree programs at its three other sites in the Northeast.
The proposed M.Div. program, consisting of 96 semester credits, will provide students with a balanced background of studies, with courses taken from each of the departments of study. Classical areas of study include Biblical, historical, and theological studies. Applied areas are communication and preaching, discipleship in community, global and contextual ministry, leadership, and pastoral care. The aim of the program is to guide students in a process of growth through cognitive studies, skill courses and experiences, self and faculty assessment measures, counseling, and community life. Graduates of the M.Div. program will be prepared for professional ministry positions (as pastor, missionary, chaplain, denominational minister, or leader of a parachurch organization such as World Vision or Habitat for Humanity). To date, graduates of programs at the Seminary’s other locations are ministering as senior or associate pastors, hospital and prison chaplains, missionaries, and leaders of parachurch organizations.
Students in the proposed M.A. program in Theological Studies would follow a more academic course of study, with courses taken from all of the classical disciplines as well as discipleship in community, global and contextual ministry, leadership and ethics. The proposed program totals 64 credit hours. Research will be a more significant component in the curriculum, and students will undertake a capstone research project in their final year of study. The proposed program is designed for persons preparing for a missions vocation with a focus on areas such as medicine, education, agriculture or mechanics; persons planning to teach religion in an academic setting; persons serving in Christian social agencies; persons pursuing further graduate work; and individuals on a church staff who do not aspire to the senior pastorate.
Both programs are designed to help students develop and mature in theological study, personal and spiritual wholeness, and leadership ability. Each course in both degree programs will include an online component of ten hours per week to supplement the thirty hours of class time.
C. Students. The proposed degree programs will be open to students with a baccalaureate or higher degree. Selection of a particular program will be based on students’ professional or ministry goals.
It is projected that 75 percent
of the students will come from within
enrollment for the two programs within five years (the normal completion time
for the M.Div. degree) is projected at 60 students or an
All but one
faculty member hired to teach in the proposed program hold doctorates from
respected universities or seminaries; the faculty member who is pursuing his
doctorate is All But Dissertation in church history at
The Department has determined that Bethel Seminary of the East and
its parent organization, Bethel Seminary, are financially responsible
institutions. The facilities are in satisfactory condition, and have sufficient
space and equipment to accommodate the proposed program. With regard to library
facilities, the Bethel Seminary of the East
library system is supported by and is a part of the St. Paul
Bethel Seminary Library. A basic core of carefully chosen books will be on site
F. Program Registration. The Department has determined that the proposed programs, if approved, will meet the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
Need has been shown in terms of demand from students,
as well as from churches and parachurch organizations within
The constituency that Bethel Seminary seeks to serve includes many denominations, churches, and ministry agencies within the evangelical and free church traditions such as Baptist, Pentecostal, and Evangelical Free, as well as some mainstream denominations -- Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian -- within diverse ethnic groups including Chinese, Korean, African-American, and Hispanic.
The field of seminary education holds the Master of Divinity as the primary degree for senior pastors. However, in a time when many women and men serving on church staffs, as well as leaders of ministry and faith-based organizations, do not aspire to be senior pastors, the Master of Arts degree in Theological Studies is a desirable alternative and in many ways preferable. In a recent survey conducted by Bethel Seminary to which 48 protestant pastors or ministry leaders responded, 96 percent either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that “There is an ongoing need for accredited seminary training and preparation for leaders and pastors for the churches and mission agencies in the New York City Metropolitan area that currently is not being fully met.” The leader of a gathering of 1,500 church leaders from the constituency the Seminary seeks to serve stated that two-thirds of these pastors do not have seminary training. Since these pastors are already serving in full-time positions, seminary education offered in the evening and some weekends, as is the Seminary model, meets a significant need in preparing ministry leaders. The two proposed degrees will address the needs of a significant portion of those seeking graduate preparation.
In keeping with standard practice, the
Department canvassed other colleges in the