REAL Possibilities: Candler School of Theology Launches Five New Degree Programs
Candler School of Theology is reaching out to doctors, lawyers, peacemakers, social workers, music directors, youth ministers and senior pastors with five new degree programs designed to expand the possibilities of reaching more people who want to make a real difference in the real world.
"Professionals in health care, law and many other fields—including ministry—tell us they need help in navigating the theological challenges they face on the job every day, whether it’s in the hospital, court room or sanctuary,” says Candler Dean Jan Love. “Our new programs are designed to deepen their theological understanding and equip them with improved practical skills for tending to their communities."
The new degrees include a Doctor of Ministry,* Master of Religious Leadership, Master of Religion and Public Life,* Master of Divinity/Master of Development Practice, and Master of Divinity/Master of Social Work.*
Doctor of Ministry: Fall 2014
Candler is reintroducing its DMin degree, originally offered more than 15 years ago, with a vastly new format designed not only to meet the 21st century needs of ministers but also to be distinctive from other DMin programs in the nation.
"The DMin is for ministers who graduated with their MDiv, but then got out in the real world and got to know what they didn’t know. The DMin has real-world, practical application for pastoral leaders," says Brent Strawn, associate professor of Old Testament and director of the DMin program.
At least four elements set Candler’s new DMin program apart from others on the market. First, 90 percent of the three-year program takes place online so pastors remain fully engaged in their congregations and apply what they learn in the program.
Second, Candler’s full-time faculty—not adjuncts—are teaching the DMin courses, and doing so as part of their regular semester course load, not as an add-on program during off-periods. This insures that students get access to, and the undivided attention of, Candler’s world-renowned faculty.
Third, the DMin offers two tracks, which Strawn says are “hyper-focused on the strength of Candler’s faculty.” Track one, Church Leadership and Community Witness, is geared toward students interested in models of ministerial leadership both inside and outside the walls of the church. Track two, Biblical Interpretation and Proclamation, focuses on the Bible, its theology, interpretation, and its teaching and preaching. The two tracks enable students to form a cohort and collaborate throughout their three years together.
The fourth and final aspect is the final degree project. Rather than requiring its completion at some point after the three years of course work, the final project is “scaffolded” into the curriculum so that it is completed at the end of year three. But even more importantly, the final project is germane to each participant’s ministry and presented publically on campus at Candler and also in wider forums.
"The program has been carefully designed by the faculty for maximum utility,” Strawn says. “It’s ideal for ministers who both need and want to dig deeper for the sake of their ministries and churches."
Adds Love, "Reintroducing the DMin program with the support of our outstanding full-time faculty, and with this thoughtful online approach that allows ministers to learn and grow while remaining in their congregations, demonstrates Candler’s commitment to serving the Church."
Master of Religious Leadership: Spring 2014
The MRL is a two-year degree designed for people who want to enhance their leadership potential in Christian service. It offers five concentrations that, like the DMin’s tracks, are designed based on the strengths of Candler’s full-time faculty: Mission, Evangelism and World Christianity; Justice Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation; Pastoral Care; Ministries with Youth; and Worship and Music.
The MRL includes a six-hour contextual education component, based on Candler’s national model for blending service with learning in a way that increases academic rigor and student success. Con Ed provides practical experience in social or ecclesial settings aligned specifically with the MRL concentrations and the needs of students.
Students can complete the MRL on a full-or part-time basis, and they have access to Candler’s online and hybrid courses. And, the MRL will support United Methodist students preparing for deacon’s orders.
Master of Religion and Public Life: Spring 2014
The MRPL is Candler’s own creation—no other seminary offers it. A one-year degree that is targeted toward professionals in nonreligious fields—lawyers, doctors, nurses, social workers—the MRPL is aimed toward those who serve a socially engaged clientele and could benefit from a greater appreciation of the role of religion in people’s lives.
Dual Degrees: Fall 2013 and Fall 2014
Beginning this fall, the Master of Divinity/Master of Development Practice is offered for those interested in sustainable development who want to shape their work with vulnerable populations with theological convictions, and for religious leaders from developing countries who want to address social and economic issues as part of a holistic approach to ministry. Offered in partnership with Emory’s Laney Graduate School, it includes four years of residential instruction and two summer international field practicums.
Next fall, in partnership with the University of Georgia, the Master of Divinity/Master of Social Work, will be available for those interested in considering the role of faith and religious institutions in community health and development, the care of individuals in poverty and crisis, responses to systemic and institution injustice, and issues of social transformation. It is a four-year residential program divided between Candler and UGA’s campus in Athens. It includes contextual education, which can be completed in Atlanta.
"We’re looking forward to welcoming new communities of the Christian faithful to Candler,” says Love, “particularly the engaging dialogues and wealth of perspectives that will enrich our student body."
*Pending approval by appropriate governing bodies.