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NOBTS removes on-campus requirementcomment (1)

May 22, 2014

Alabama students at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) extensions can now attain their degrees without spending any time on the school’s main campus. Trustees approved the removal of the on-campus requirements for distance learning degrees during their April 16 spring meeting.

“This is big news for our extension center students,” said Gary Myers, director of public relations at NOBTS. “They no longer have to complete any courses on the main campus unless they choose to do so.”

There is a new way of taking classes, saving time and money

In removing the on-campus requirement for distance learning degrees, trustees acted on the notification NOBTS received in February that it had been granted “comprehensive distance learning” status by its accrediting agency, the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. Previously all master’s students were required to earn at least 30 hours of their degree on the main campus — or 18 on-campus hours for students at extension hubs in Marietta, Ga., or Orlando, Fla.

Myers believes the impact on Alabama extensions is obvious.

“Students will save a considerable amount of money on travel costs,” he said. “Most Alabama students completed all 30 on-campus hours at the New Orleans campus.”

There are still opportunities to visit the main campus

Still school officials believe certain courses and events will continue to draw some students to the main campus on occasion. Some workshops, typically offered in the summer and during fall and spring breaks, will remain an attractive option for extension students seeking specialized degrees and those who enjoy interacting with on-campus faculty as part of the main campus experience.

Trustees also approved four new extension centers including one at a state prison in Florida and four new undergraduate certificate teaching sites in Georgia. An undergraduate extension center, modeled after the successful program at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La., was approved for the Hardee Correctional Institute in Bowling Green, Fla. The new Georgia centers will offer undergraduate and graduate coursework. The new centers will be launched as soon as accreditation approval and funding can be obtained.

More options for students

NOBTS President Chuck Kelley, speaking after the trustee meeting, reiterated the seminary’s commitment to accessible education. He said these new initiatives are designed to give students more options.

“We are trying to make it possible for any student to fit theological education into their place in life and their calling from God,” Kelley said. “They will be able to flow from one form of theological education to another without penalty or extra barriers.

“So if they want to do online, classroom, residential, nonresidential — anything from a certificate to a Ph.D. — we are designing our curriculum to allow the students to tailor their study to their calling and their circumstances.” (BP)

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Comment (1)

    Lonnie Stewart 6/27/2014 3:40 AM

    As a 1983 graduate of the seminary I applaude the trustees and leadership for making this decision because it is difficult to up root a family to attend seminary. On the other other hand, I lived on campus and enjoyed my studies and felt that I was a part of the seminary when I graduated there.

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