WTS Online (or other recommended online seminary/Master's program)

AWorkerApproved

Puritan Board Freshman
I'll start with a little bit of background...

Currently I am active-duty military and will be transitioning out of active service next year. I am looking to continue to work outside of vocational ministry, and my timing does not allow for me to get into full-time in-person seminary. My goals are to remain committed to service within my local congregation, and (Lord willing) I would love to one day serve in leadership (Ruling Elder or Deacon). Also, I would just appreciate the chance to extend my education with a Master's degree and study the things that I am very interested in to become a better educated lay church leader. Due to not (currently) seeking full-time vocational ministry as a Minister/Pastor, and my inability to get into a in-person program, I am considering more of an online Master of Arts degree.

Does anyone have any experience with WTS's relatively new online programs? The production quality and organization seems like it could be very good, but would appreciate any feedback from someone who has actually experienced it. Additionally, RTS has a long history/much infrastructure with the online degree world - any comparisons to WTS's programs or others? Anything/place else to really consider?

Thank you guys for your inputs and help!
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Junior
Hi Davis,
You sound like exactly the kind of person we created our MATS program for. If you DM me, I can connect you with some folks who would be happy to share their experiences in the program. Ditto if you have more questions. I direct the Online learning programs at Westminster (among other things).
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Sophomore
I had a very positive experience at RTS from 2010-2017 when it transitioned to fully online. Considering you are OPC, Westminster definitely makes sense. PRTS is definitely another but last I checked it isn't 100% online and there is some travel.

I would listen to some lectures of as many professors of the seminaries you are checking out as you can to evaluate their teaching to see what suits you best. RTS also used to post all their class syllabii online which was incredibly helpful to see the lecture and readings breakdown. Not sure if that is still available or not. When I called Westminster to ask for an example syllabus for their ThM program, they told me it was classified ;).

Also, looking at the credit requirements, the online only MATS at Westminster is 36 credits whereas it is 66 at RTS so that is definitely a factor to consider depending on your situation. For myself, I liked the amount of courses I took at RTS as I got to take all the classes I wanted.

Consider how much biblical languages training you want and need as well. RTS has an MABS online degree that has languages included. I would say if you are not exegeting texts week in and week out as a pastor, I would personally opt for more Bible and Theology classes instead of languages.
 

AWorkerApproved

Puritan Board Freshman
I had a very positive experience at RTS from 2010-2017 when it transitioned to fully online. Considering you are OPC, Westminster definitely makes sense. PRTS is definitely another but last I checked it isn't 100% online and there is some travel.

I would listen to some lectures of as many professors of the seminaries you are checking out as you can to evaluate their teaching to see what suits you best. RTS also used to post all their class syllabii online which was incredibly helpful to see the lecture and readings breakdown. Not sure if that is still available or not. When I called Westminster to ask for an example syllabus for their ThM program, they told me it was classified ;).

Also, looking at the credit requirements, the online only MATS at Westminster is 36 credits whereas it is 66 at RTS so that is definitely a factor to consider depending on your situation. For myself, I liked the amount of courses I took at RTS as I got to take all the classes I wanted.

Consider how much biblical languages training you want and need as well. RTS has an MABS online degree that has languages included. I would say if you are not exegeting texts week in and week out as a pastor, I would personally opt for more Bible and Theology classes instead of languages.
You bring up some great points - I have been comparing the MA degrees between the two seminaries pretty heavily. It seems the "Master of Arts in Religion" at WTS more closely resembles the MATS or MABS (or MAR) at RTS, at least in terms of course load and subjects.

If it is alright for me to ask - what sort of goals did you have when choosing the MATS at RTS? Do you have any further goals down the road with your degree? Any desire to either keep going in academia (ThM or PhD?), or did you need "credentials" for work? This may sound very optimistic, but I would not be potentially opposed down the road to start further work on the academic side, or maybe even pursue full-time vocational ministry (just not in my timing right now, among some other things). Tons of random options, I know, but just thinking out loud.
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Sophomore
I did it simply to better minister in church as a lay person and elder. I looked into both ThMs and PhDs, accredited and unaccredited, and nothing was really the right fit. I don't have any desire to do unique research (PhD focus) as I feel the bigger need is simply educating people on the vast amount of great Bible and theology that has already been done. I had no real desire for formal academia as I don't really have the temperament for the nonsense that often goes along with it.

I can say that investing the time at RTS over 7 years was worth every penny and second and it has served me very well and the people I have ministered to. It was definitely hard and I gave it my all.

I will always be a lifelong learner and I do appreciate what formal degree programs can offer (discipline, focus, accountability) but since I have no idea what God really wants out of me concerning a career, I can't really justify the time and expense investing in further formal study at this time. Maybe some day if the path ahead gets a bit clearer.
 

AWorkerApproved

Puritan Board Freshman
I did it simply to better minister in church as a lay person and elder. I looked into both ThMs and PhDs, accredited and unaccredited, and nothing was really the right fit. I don't have any desire to do unique research (PhD focus) as I feel the bigger need is simply educating people on the vast amount of great Bible and theology that has already been done. I had no real desire for formal academia as I don't really have the temperament for the nonsense that often goes along with it.

I can say that investing the time at RTS over 7 years was worth every penny and second and it has served me very well and the people I have ministered to. It was definitely hard and I gave it my all.

I will always be a lifelong learner and I do appreciate what formal degree programs can offer (discipline, focus, accountability) but since I have no idea what God really wants out of me concerning a career, I can't really justify the time and expense investing in further formal study at this time. Maybe some day if the path ahead gets a bit clearer.
That's great insight - and I appreciate the focus you have on still using your education primarily for ministering to the church. That is ultimately the goal.
 
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