Houston Baptist University provides a unique path to ministry with the launch of the 5 Year BA- to-MDiv Degree program which combines the Bachelor of Arts in Christianity and the Master of Divinity. Spearheaded by Dr. Jason Maston, Associate Dean of the School of Christian Thought and former dean, Dr. Todd Bates, the program provides an innovative and cost-effective way for students entering vocational ministry to reduce the time associated with obtaining a degree from an average 7-to-8 years to 5 years.
“The program began with the felt need for undergraduates to be able to move toward ministry in an efficient and cost-effective way without sacrificing the quality of their learning,” said Dr. Philip Tallon, HBU Dean of the School of Christian Thought, who commended Maston, current director of the program, and Bates for their efforts in developing the degree plan.
Launched in 2019, the BA-to-MDiv program is an intense 156-hour academic program that allows students to complete their undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years. Built on HBU’s liberal arts core curriculum, the degree plan provides students with a broad foundation for lifelong learning while preparing them for ministry through practical hands-on training. The program’s dual-degree format reduces the time it takes to obtain a degree and, as a result, saves ministry students thousands in tuition costs.
“One of the best gifts a future minister can receive is high-quality education with little debt. The BA-MDiv can save a student 3 years and over $30,000, both of which can be spent in developing the next stage of their careers,” said Dr. Tallon.
Candidates who pursue this innovative dual degree have the opportunity to intern with local churches and ministry partners to gain practical, hands-on ministry experience that empowers them to grow spiritually with the guidance of a mentor.
“There aren’t many programs like this in the country,” said Dr. Tallon. “Given the desire for many ministers to go on and seek additional qualifications and degrees, the 5-year program gives students the gift of more time and opportunity to develop their career throughout their adulthood.”
In the Spring 2022 semester, HBU is preparing to graduate the University’s first cohort of students who will Daylon Piper started the BA-to-MDiv program at the beginning of his sophomore year. Piper values the ministry experience he is receiving through the program and appreciates that it is grounded in a solid academic foundation that he hopes will enable him to successfully pursue his PhD and equip him for pastoral ministry. He also is a member of HBU’s Honors College and has been able to handle the busy schedule entailed in both programs.
“Being able to complete a 7-year process over the course of 5 years has developed me into a far more disciplined person. The workload, though great at certain points, has definitely been manageable, and has helped me develop a better schedule. It has also taught me to manage multiple responsibilities at once, as my internship and school work often bring different challenges to the table,” said Piper.
Erin Shelly, another BA-to-MDiv degree candidate, describes the program as an absolute blessing. “I knew my second year into my biblical studies degree that I wanted to get a master’s degree in the field of theology, but realistically and financially, I knew that it would take back to school,” said Shelly. Not sure that she wanted to wait that long, Shelly was elated when she learned that HBU would be launching the unique dual-degree program and knew immediately that she wanted to apply.
Shelly is set to complete the program in May 2022 and looks forward to being among the first group of program graduates. “I couldn’t have been blessed more. The classes are amazing, the professors are superb, and it lifted the financial worry off my shoulders. I would recommend this program to any theology student who is starting their undergrad degree and knows that they want to pursue a master’s after their undergraduate studies,” shared Shelly.
Dr. Tallon has high hopes for the BA-to-MDiv program’s continued success and believes it is an attractive option for students seeking to serve in ministry.
“We hope that this will become a hallmark program from HBU’s Theology Department, attracting eager future ministers from around the country. In years to come, we expect hundreds of stories about successful ministries launched by this innovative program,” said Dr. Tallon.
The 5 Year BA-to-MDiv is a 156-hour program that combines the Bachelor of Arts in Christianity and the Master of Divinity
- An intense 5-year academic program designed to teach you the Bible, theology and ministry
- The dual degree could save you $30,000 dollars in tuition costs
- Work together in a ministry cohort and develop life-long friendships
- Intern with local churches and ministry partners to get hands-on ministry experience
- Spiritual formation and mentorships
- Complete both degrees in 5 years rather than the normal 7-to-8 years
Possible MDiv careers in ministry after graduation
- Church Planter
- Church Staff
- Youth Pastor
For more information, visit HBU.edu/ba-mdiv.