Starting in fall 2017, Talbot School of Theology will offer three fully online Master of Arts degree programs to accommodate graduate students by providing greater flexibility in course options.
The online programs include Master of Arts concentrations in New Testament, Bible Exposition and theology, with both a Greek track and non-Greek track. While these programs previously allowed students to take certain courses online, Talbot has never offered completely online programs until now. The launch of the programs follows a trend of Talbot offering online options to its students, according to Talbot director of extension and online education Dominic Vincent.
“Talbot has been, in the last three and a half, four years, really ramping up its online offerings,” Vincent said. “So we’ve been doing that on a course-by-course basis. But now we’re at the stage where we can offer a full degree online. We’ve taken … an existing program, right, and have just developed it to be fully online over time.”
Students currently have the option of a hybrid education, taking some of their classes online and others on-campus. With the fully online programs, graduate students will have their needs accommodated, according to senior admissions counselor of graduate admissions Jon Garcia.
“We see with the changing needs of our audience,” Garcia said. “Namely, the increasing amount of students that are coming in a part-time fashion because they’re working full-time. We see it as a strategic time in our history to launch fully online programs as we seek to better serve the church as well as future students that want to partner with Talbot but just don’t have the accessibility to do so.”
Talbot will also offer an online bachelor’s degree completion program for biblical studies in fall 2017. This fully online program, through which students outside of California and around the world can receive their degree from Biola, remains overdue according to director of post-traditional admissions Amy Payton.
An overdue addition
“So Biola is actually kind of late to the party when it comes to online bachelor’s degrees,” Payton said. “But really, when it comes to our mission, if we’re really serious about our mission of impacting the world for Christ, it completely makes sense to take the education that we’re offering to the world to make that impact.”
Previously, Biola offered an adult degree completion program, BOLD, from 1991 to 2013. Currently, Rosemead School of Theology offers a bachelor’s degree for applied psychology online. However, until now Talbot has never offered a fully online program.
Vincent hopes the three online Talbot graduate programs will receive an approximate total of 20-30 students for the first year, and believes the programs have the potential of having 150 students within three years. Garcia expects that students will respond well to the programs.
“For a long time we’ve had good parts of our degrees online,” Garcia said. “But now, being approved to go with three degrees fully online, we see a lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation, for students that otherwise would not be able to come because of full-time jobs or pastoral gigs or whatever. So we expect this to be very successful.”