The Basics of Baptist Colleges
More than 1,000 faith-based colleges and universities dot the nation, including an estimated 50 with a direct connection to the Baptist church. Some schools present a rigorous Christ-centered education with campus-based ministries, while others are historically faith-based colleges that focus on secular higher education. Baptist colleges boast either regional or national accreditation, with specific accreditations for programs such as law, engineering and nursing.
In a Christ-centered education, ministry and missions are embroidered into every strand of college life. Schools may follow a creationist approach to the teaching of science and most require a study of the Bible as part of the curriculum. Student service ministry or community outreach often complement classwork, and students can opt for study abroad or overseas mission opportunities. The school may also have college-sponsored chapel services or evening worship requirements. A Baptist college, one school claims, should offer an education that is “biblical, transformational, experiential, and mission-focused”.
For students planning to enter the ministry, many Baptist colleges offer tracks that meet general undergraduate education requirements along with core classes in ministry and leadership. Bachelor’s degree programs provide a solid foundation for students who want to become pastors, youth leaders and church educators. The Master’s of Divinity degree or doctoral degrees are terminal credentials of choice for those entering the ministry.
The Master’s of Divinity takes two years to complete. Some 72-106 credit hours make up the most-common professional degree offered by Christian schools. Coursework includes studies in the Bible (Hebrew and New Testament), theology, church history, philosophy, evangelism, Christian education, canon law and related languages (Latin, Greek). Some schools offer specific degree tracks in fields such as mission leadership, youth program ministry and education and pastoral ministry.
Distance Learning at Baptist Colleges
Like non-denominational institutions, many Baptist colleges have developed the support services, curricula and technological infrastructure to accommodate distance learning. Dallas Baptist University, for example, has dozens of online courses, certificate programs and degree programs available for its undergraduate students. Those enrolled participate in synchronous (real-time) learning that includes group projects, weekly chat sessions and timed exams. The college’s online services also include 24-7 help, computer/tech support and a Blackboard system.
This real-time mode gives students a great balance of independence and collaboration. Working students can focus on work and family while working toward a degree. Of course, some Baptist colleges offer students asynchronous (self-paced) degree programs and courses for maximum flexibility. This distance-learning option allows students to read, submit coursework and take exams when and where they’d like. Some asynchronous programs may have weeklong timelines to keep students on track, but others offer the full self-paced experience.
Of course, a quality Baptist education remains high on the list for potential students who share that faith. But for those who need to be mindful of money and other responsibilities, more factors come into play. For example, the rising cost of college makes tuition, fees and other expenses important to consider. Baptist colleges can run a little more than public colleges and universities, although the extra cost often goes to supporting the school’s ministry. Regardless, finding a Baptist college that fits your budget makes sense.
In addition, more and more students today view distance learning as a necessity and not a perk. College students -- even those who commit to the same faith – often need to manage family and a career. Therefore, a healthy collection of online course options and support services can be just as attractive (or even more so) as any other decision-making factor. The best of all worlds is when academic faith, flexibility and affordability come together. The following list of Baptist represents the very best across the board.