United Theological Seminary Distance Learning

Founded in 1869 with what was to one day become the United Methodist Church in Dayton, Ohio, the United Theological Seminary was established with eleven students and two faculty in “borrowed rooms” at the local church. It has grown since, for where it once offered theological training and Bachelor degrees, it now offers accredited Master’s and doctoral degrees that teach from a broad Christian background of theological perspective.

Maintaining a healthy religious lifestyle through required chapel and communal mealtimes, United offers graduate programs resulting in a Master of Divinity, an M.A in Christian Ministries, and a Master of Theological Studies. The M.Div. also provides concentration areas in Church Renewal, Care Giving, and African American Studies. There is also a West Virginia In-Context M.Div. that shares coursework with West Virginia Wesleyan providing education for those who are going to become religious leaders in non-Methodist areas, giving them full Protestant ordination. There is also a PhD offered in Ministry that can be completed in six semesters.

United does offer several online options for students, looking to “maximize the use of technology and minimize the amount of time and expense spent in travel”. They only offer hybrid degree programs for distance learners, but these require only a week per semester of required face-to-face time at their Dayton campus. Other than these required one week visits, the rest of coursework in entirely online.  Online degree options include an online Master of Divinity that can be completed in 3 years, a Master of Arts in Christian Ministries online that can be completed in just 2 years, and a FLEX Master of Divinity. The FLEX program is United’s Flexible Residency program, a hybrid tract that is “designed especially for students not readily served by a local seminary community”, allowing the United Methodist ordination of one-third of the degree program in residency (normally done at local churches in the other distance education programs here). The degree utilizes August FLEX Residency Weeks to bring in these students without too much interference with day to day life and less cost than routine trips to and from the campus.

For those looking to just take a few extra classes, whether a student is short a class or is just intellectually curious and looking to learn on their own time, United offers a good 20+ online and hybrid course options every semester. There is also an online certification program that requires no on campus visitation resulting in an Online Teaching and Learning Certificate, educating theological professionals in how to teach in a virtual environment. Courses are designed to be completed in 5 months total, but can be taken at any pace and are accessible just for general learning (meaning you aren’t required to work towards certification to take the classes). There is also a hybrid Course of Study for pastors to ensure their licensure doesn’t falter.

Certifications and continuing education is offered here, as they strive to keep theologians, minister, and pastors fully trained and licenses with as little strain as possible on time and wallet. For those not looking to commit to a degree program yet, these special study and non-degree programs are perfect. UMC’s certifications are offered in hybrid, with three day retreats in an intensive format yielding certifications in areas like Youth Ministry, Music Ministry, and Christian Education, among other.

One of only 13 official Methodist seminaries in the US, United brings together “a broad array of perspectives…[in] an intentionally ecumenical community” to try and provide the most accessible and informed theological education to as broad a populous of learners as possible.

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