The “Virtual” Master’s Degree in Theological Studies
Seminary-Level Education, Distance Learning, and the Institute of Theological Studies
I have had a personal goal for some time now to attend Seminary to better equip me to serve God as a teacher in my local church and as an apologist/evangelist in my ministry here at For an Answer.
My first choices in Seminaries were: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Master’s Seminary, Talbot School of Theology, Grace Theological Seminary, and Dallas Theological Seminary.
As I have family and career responsibilities, it was simply not possible for me to attend Seminary full-time or even part-time. I looked for a quality Seminary education through “Distance Learning,” a growing trend in educational circles, and well-suited to a person in my situation. Unfortunately, none of my “first-tier” Seminaries offered Master’s programs where the majority of study could be accomplished off-campus.
I did, however, find that several other fine Seminaries offered distance programs with minimal on-campus requirements. The best all-around programs I found were through Reformed Theological Seminary and Covenant Seminary.
The next obstacle to overcome was the cost of a Seminary education. This proved a formidable obstacle, and one that I was unable to completely overcome – at least at this time.
I briefly looked into several “non-traditional” schools – some which were nationally accredited (as opposed to the more widely-recognized regional accreditation) or not accredited at all. Though a few looked promising in terms of curriculum and costs, I questioned the quality of the education I would receive.
I was praying and “waiting on the Lord” to provide the means to attend Seminary, if such was His will, when I came across the Institute of Theological Studies (ITS). The Institute has been providing advanced, independent study courses since 1970 in connection with the finest evangelical Seminaries in the United States and Canada. The courses consist of recorded lectures from leading scholars in their fields (Walter C. Kaiser, Bruce Waltke, R. Laird Harris, to name just a few). These courses – and there are over 50 – are used by dozens of leading seminaries in North America (including all of those I mentioned above) to supplement their own distance learning programs. ITS courses comprise the total distance learning programs for many seminaries. Courses may be taken for credit through one of these Seminaries (at current tuition levels), or may be purchased directly from ITS for personal enrichment at a substantial savings.
ITS seemed like a perfect fit for me. By purchasing courses through ITS, I could achieve my goal of obtaining top quality, Seminary-level education "from a distance" at an affordable cost. True, I wouldn’t have those letters after my name when done, but in my situation, those letters mean very little. And, if it’s in God’s will for me to attend Seminary in the future, my education through ITS will enhance that experience tremendously.
If you’re considering furthering your Christian education, you might want to look into what ITS has to offer.
Taking the various Master’s Degrees I researched as a model, I have put together a program of study that I call my “virtual” Master’s Degree. It maps ITS courses to those in the curricula of Master’s Degree programs offered at the leading evangelical Seminaries. ITS offers over 50 courses, so it would be easy to tailor a program of study to suit your specific area(s) of interest. This program addresses my goals of studying Old and New Testaments both in survey and in depth; systematic theology; apologetics and Christian philosophy; New Testament Greek; and Church History.
I offer this program purely as an example of the fine Christian educational materials available through ITS, and what you can achieve for a relatively small investment (courses range in price from $75 - $125). It just takes time and commitment!
The “Virtual” Master’s Degree in Theological Studies
Utilizing Courses from the Institute of Theological Studies
60 Semester Hours
Old Testament (8 hours)
OT509 The Christian and Old Testament Theology (Walter C. Kaiser, Gordon-Conwell)
OT501 The Pentateuch (R. Laird Harris, Covenant Theological Seminary)
OT510 The Book of Isaiah (Allen P. Ross, Trinity Episcopal)
New Testament (9 hours)
NT504 New Testament Survey: Gospels (Terry C. Hulbert, Columbia Biblical Seminary)
NT503 Epistle to the Romans in Greek (Harold Hoehner, Dallas Theological Seminary)
NT510 Epistle to the Hebrews (Dennis E. Johnson, Westminster)
Theology (21 hours)
ST504 Doctrine of Man and Sin (Roger R. Nicole, Reformed Theological Seminary)
ST505 Doctrine of Salvation (Roger R. Nicole, Reformed Theological Seminary)
ST506 Doctrine of the Trinity (Peter Toon, Philadelphia Theological Seminary)
ST503 Contemporary Theology I (John S. Feinberg, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
PT501 Christian Ethics (James M. Grier, Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary)
PT502 Exploring Approaches to Apologetics (Gordon R. Lewis, Denver Seminary)
PT504 Christian Worldview (James M. Grier, Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary)
Biblical Languages (7 hours)
NT509 Fundamentals of New Testament Greek (Paul L. Bremer, Reformed Bible College)
Church History (6 hours)
CH501 The Ancient Church (W. Robert Godfrey, Westminster)
CH505 Survey of Church History (Garth M. Rosell, Gordon-Conwell)
Electives (9 hours)
To be selected from remaining ITS courses