Multnomah University is launching Summit, a five-year Bachelor of Arts/Master of Divinity program that reduces the time and cost traditionally spent on the individual degrees. “Summit is an opportunity for people to get into ministry sooner,” says Roy Andrews, dean of Multnomah Biblical Seminary. “It’s five years of your time — not seven — and costs about 30 percent less than it would to take the programs separately.” The savings amount to $41,000, and that’s before scholarships are added.
Summit will target high-achieving high school seniors who aspire to be church leaders. Some students will receive full-tuition scholarships covering the undergraduate portion of the program. The scholarships are primarily designed for recent high school graduates, although transfer students with a minimum 3.0 GPA will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Additional scholarships are available for Summit students who don’t receive full-tuition scholarships.
Andrews says anyone may join the program as long as they’re prepared for the academic rigor and intensive training. “Summit’s program director will help potential students figure out if they’re called to pursue ministry,” says Andrews. “Then they’ll discern if students are ready for the program. Some students might not have thought about it and just need to be exposed to it. But it’s not about arm wrestling them into it; it’s about introducing ideas.”
Besides MU’s standard admission requirements, eligible students will need a minimum 3.5 high school GPA and an additional reference letter from a church leader. “We want to affirm from their church’s perspective that they’re a good candidate,” Andrews says.
Once students jump into the program, they’ll be immersed in classes, service learning, mentored ministry and internships. “All these things are ingredients in the recipe for making people prepared for full-time ministry,” says Andrews. “Our students will get a lot of guided practical application. Though we’re condensing two programs, we won’t sacrifice the quality of either.”
Summit students will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology before earning a Master of Divinity. To remain enrolled, they must maintain a 3.0 GPA and meet all character and activity requirements for the program.
Andrews is confident Multnomah’s option will stand out from other five-year B.A./M.Div. programs. “Some products look the same on the shelf, but when you see how they’re produced, you realize they’re different,” he says. “The other programs do a fine job educating people. But we give great attention to the Word of God, and it’s part of MU’s ethos to hold in tension the two commandments of Christ: loving God and loving your neighbor. With a thankful heart, we think we’re the best at doing that.”
Summit will launch in fall 2015 thanks to a $565,000 grant from The Kern Family Foundation, an independent grant-making organization based in Waukesha, Wis. The foundation, which funds broad-impact, long-term programs, is committed to promoting strong pastoral leadership and educational excellence.
The grant will be used to support a program director, student scholarships and marketing efforts.
“The Kerns are passionate about getting young people into ministry faster with little to no debt,” says Andrews. “Summit graduates won’t be bound to the indebtedness that prevents many from getting into vocational ministry. We do have a responsibility to help these students, so this is a great gift.”