Last week’s discussion on Online MDivs (“Online MDivs in Dispute“) yielded lots of discussion on the merits of online v. classroom education. Read the comments, you won’t be disappointed!
But in an update, it seems that the GBHEM has stepped back its ruling and allowed MDivs to be 2/3 online (it was 1/3 as of their last ruling).
I take personal credit in that we had a 200% jump in hits from Nashville, TN (home to GBHEM) since the publication of that blog post:
OK, probably not.
For more info, Joel @ Unsettled Christianity has the posted statement from GBHEM:
Having carefully considered these matters, the University Senate resolves that:
1. All United Methodist seminaries and Asbury Theological Seminary be allowed to offer two-thirds of the Master of Divinity degree online, with one third of the degree required to be in residence.
2. The only “online courses” allowed to count toward a degree for a candidate seeking ordination in The United Methodist Church be offered by one of the 13 official United Methodist seminaries and Asbury Theological Seminary.
3. The Senate reconfirms its June 2010 decision to require that all official transcripts of University Senate Approved Schools identify the courses that are taken online. For this purpose, the term “online courses” includes those that offer some instruction on campus.
4. Effective January 2011, few if any additional seminaries will be invited to join the list of non-UMC schools approved for the education of those seeking ordination in the UMC.
5. All non-UMC schools currently approved for education of UMC candidates for ordination must continue to meet the “Criteria for Evaluating Non-United Methodist Schools of Theology” contained in Appendix B of The University Senate: Organization, Policies, and Guidelines. A necessary means of fulfilling these criteria includes either (a) having at least one full-time UMC faculty member with a Ph.D. or Th.D. employed on a long-term contract teaching the course(s) in UMC history and doctrine, (b) or partnering with a United Methodist seminary to offer the required courses in history, doctrine, and polity. This policy will take effect in August 2012 and will be applied as schools are regularly reviewed.
A few thoughts:
- 2/3 online seems about right to accommodate rural and non-relocating students. Both United and Iliff’s current progams will be fine.
- Hybrid courses (which are mostly online but have some on-site instruction) are considered to be “online classes.” A technical detail but will impact the way how Seminaries describe classes. If they are predominantly online, they are online classes…period! Seems like all the face-to-face will have to be week intensives or Winter/Summer classes.
- Unrelated, but it’s sad to me that we say “All UM Seminaries and Asbury” in this document all the time. Sad both in that Asbury has such dominance in our seminarian crop that we *have* to pay attention to it, and that our denomination in the past didn’t just take them in under their wing and place the same requirements on Asbury that the rest of them were on. Forcing accountability back then coulda gone a long way to fixing our current predicament, and none of the solutions (ie. MEF vouchers to students rather than seminaries) would bring theological accountability to Asbury either. Sigh.
So, there you have it: 2/3 of an MDiv can be done online or in hybrid classes. What do you say?