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New Collaboration Fast-tracks MDiv Degree at Andrews University

Two men of different ethnicities smiling and shaking hands.

Fernando Ortiz, MDiv program director, and Rodney Palmer, chair of the Department of Religion and Biblical Languages, head the new program collaboration. Photo: Jeff Boyd

The Bachelor of Arts in theology program and the Master of Divinity (MDiv) program at Andrews University are collaborating to provide an easier pathway for students to complete both the undergraduate and graduate programs. In the 2024–2025 school year, undergraduate theology students will have the opportunity to partake in 15 shared credits of upper-division classes that will count toward both their undergraduate degree and a subsequent MDiv degree. Through increased overlap and simplicity, both degree programs hope to increase efficiency for students.

Fernando Ortiz, the MDiv program director, expressed his excitement about and approval of the partnership between the undergraduate Department of Religion and Biblical Languages and the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary graduate program. “This collaboration is an unprecedented opportunity for undergraduate students at Andrews to have a seamless transition to the seminary and save time. We are thrilled to enhance the opportunities for both programs.”

Because many undergraduate theology students go on to pursue an MDiv or other graduate-level programs at the seminary after graduation, it made sense to Ortiz and Rodney Palmer, chair of the Department of Religion and Biblical Languages, to provide a simpler path for students to pursue their academic and career goals.

The partnership also allows students from the Department of Religion and Biblical Languages the opportunity to go into the pastoral field after graduation and gain valuable ministerial experience. Then, they may return to Andrews and begin a graduate degree in the seminary with a head start because of the upper-level classes they have already taken.

The collaboration is expected to benefit not only students but also the distinct programs and their faculties. Palmer stated that he believes the collaboration will allow for “a greater working relationship between the seminary and the undergrad program,” since the two programs are currently separated under different schools within the greater Andrews University umbrella. Ortiz is hopeful that the added benefits and easier connection between the two programs will entice more students to attend both the MDiv program and undergraduate theology program.

This new collaboration is one of several initiatives being developed to increase the number of theology students attending the university. For example, the Lake Union Conferencerecently announceda new scholarship program for religion and education majors who are members of the Lake Union.

Although the collaboration is designated to begin in the upcoming 2024–2025 school year, Palmer expects some current sophomore and junior students to take advantage of this opportunity and apply to earn seminary credits early. After a review of their degree progress and timeline, these students will be able to take advantage of the positive changes being made to theological studies at Andrews University.

Founded in 1874, Andrews University is a premier institution of higher education for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and offers more than 150 areas of study, including advanced degrees. Its main campus is in Berrien Springs, Michigan, but the university also provides instruction at colleges and universities in more than 25 countries around the world.