Theology and Christian ministry have stood at the very heart of Olivet’s heritage since the university’s founding over one hundred years ago. Today Olivet offers a rich range of options for graduate education in religion, with nine master’s degree programs and several specialized tracks for specific audiences. The professors in the School of Theology and Christian Ministry are committed to excellence in education and to the standards of the academy. Each member of the School’s graduate faculty is committed to scholarship, publication, and the highest level of reasoned discourse in religion. Each faculty member strives for excellence in teaching. In addition, nearly all the School’s faculty members have extensive experience and a record of successful and reflective ministry. The ten master’s programs fall into three areas:
General Ministry programs
Olivet offers four Master’s programs for general ministry. Each is distinct in format, prerequisites, and the kind of student for which it is intended. Students considering a degree in general ministerial studies should understand each option and choose the best fit for their circumstances.
- Master of Arts in Christian Ministry is a gateway program that does not presuppose previous study of theology or ministry, nor does it presuppose that the student is already in ministry. Most of the required courses are semester-length courses offered only at Olivet’s campus in Bourbonnais, Illinois.
- Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry presupposes a strong undergraduate education in theology and ministry and continues that study at the graduate level. The focus of this program is on general pastoral ministry as distinct from specialty ministries, such as family or youth ministry. It does not require that the entering student be in ministry at the time of entry. During the first year, the program is a residential program at Olivet’s campus in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Most of the courses are based in the traditional classroom, although some are modular (see Program Formats section). During the second year, the student engages in mentored ministry, which may be at some distance from the campus.
- Master of Arts in Pastoral Leadership presupposes that the student is currently engaged in ministry, and has a basic education in theology and ministry. This program focuses on developing the students’ theological understanding and vision of ministry to enhance their effectiveness as pastoral leaders. It follows the cohort program format (see Program Formats section of this chapter) and is entirely online. No coursework may be transferred in for this program.
- Master of Ministry program also presupposes that the student is currently engaged in ministry, and it presupposes a basic education in theology and ministry. The courses are modular. This program does not follow a cohort model, which allows students some freedom in choosing which modules to take. Students can, but are not required to, take as part of their program appropriate regular semester-length on-campus courses. This also allows students to transfer in a limited number of courses.
Specialized Ministry programs
Olivet offers five Master’s programs for specialized ministries. Each degree is designed to provide a highly focused and powerful education for specialized ministry in the local church. These degrees prepare students for ministry to a specific audience, and they are distinct in format and prerequisites. Students considering a degree in one of the following should choose one that best suits their background and calling.
- Master of Arts in Family Ministry presupposes a strong undergraduate education in theology and ministry. The program provides graduate level study that focuses on ministry to the entire family in today’s culture in a local church context. It does not require that the entering student be in ministry at the time of entry. During the first year, the program is residential at Olivet’s campus in Bourbonnais, Illinois. This program can be completed through traditional semester-long and week-long intensive modules. In the second year, the student engages in mentored ministry, which may be some distance from campus.
- Master of Ministry in Spanish is offered entirely in Spanish. Most courses are taught online, and a few are offered as intensive week-long modules on Olivet’s Bourbonnais, Illinois campus. This program is designed for pastors ministering in Hispanic contexts in the United States and Canada. Prospective students should hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, or a “licenciatura” in theology (at the university level) from a recognized Latin American theological seminary.
- La Maestría del Ministerio en español, se ofrece totalmente en este idioma. La mayoría de los cursos se imparten en línea (internet) y unos pocos se ofrecen como módulos intensivos de una semana en el campus de Olivet, en Bourbonnais, Illinois. Este programa está diseñado para pastores que ministran en contextos hispanos en los Estados Unidos y Canadá. Los candidatos para este programa deben tener un grado de bachiller de una universidad acreditada (USA/Canadá) o una licenciatura en teología (nivel universitario) de un seminario teológico reconocido de América latina.
- Master of Divinity presupposes a strong undergraduate education, which will continue at the graduate level. With concentrations in pastoral ministry, urban ministry, family ministry, chaplaincy, and more, the program serves those who wish to seriously explore a call to Christian ministry in many different contexts. The program follows a variety of course formats: modules, half-semester, full-semester, internships, etc. The student must be able to commute to the main Bourbonnais campus to complete the M.Div.
- Master of Arts in Urban Ministry is designed to develop missional ministry leaders for service in an urban context. Intentional focus is given to forming theologically shaped leaders who are prepared practically for effective, as well as purposeful, ministry in these special urban contexts. Emphasis is placed on personal experience in urban ministry and teaching and coaching by experienced leaders in urban and compassionate ministry. This program can be completed from a distance through a combination of online and one-week intensive courses; students already serving in an urban ministry do not have to leave their current assignment. Graduates of this program are expected become leaders in the work of the church in urban contexts.
If scholarly study of the Christian faith is of interest, the following two programs are offered. The programs focus on the classic theological disciplines of Bible, theology, and church history with the application to ministry. Both are offered on Olivet’s campus in Bourbonnais, Illinois.
- Master of Arts in Biblical Studies is an excellent stepping stone for further graduate work in Biblical studies. It presupposes a rigorous background in the study of the Bible. The program focuses exclusively on the Bible, requiring just one theological course in a non-biblical discipline, to be chosen from offerings including systematic theology, historical theology, and church history.
- Master of Arts in Religion is Olivet’s oldest graduate degree and remains the most flexible for students with a variety of goals. The program allows students to mix and match courses in theology, Bible, church history, and some relevant philosophy options to form a coherent plan of study, which is approved by the program coordinator or the director of graduate studies for the School of Theology and Christian Ministry.
For further information as well as updates to rules and regulations, please visit http://graduate.olivet.edu and click on “Ministry” under the “Additional Information” tab.