The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges to the entirety of MTSO’s campus, including our Admissions Office, which is embracing new ways to recruit dynamic and dedicated students.
Without campus visits and regional events, we’ve relied more heavily on virtual recruiting, hosting online open houses and participating in virtual graduate school events. Obviously, though, we miss the opportunity to engage in person with those who are looking into graduate theological education.
This, my fellow alum, is where we need your help. You are an MTSO graduate because you chose – before you ever set foot on our campus – to pursue a life of lasting significance. I invite you to expand your personal legacy by helping potential servant leaders in your sphere of influence consider whether an MTSO education could set them on a path to a fulfilling vocation.
Chances are, you have a friend, a colleague, a member of your congregation or even a relative who has something special to offer the world. But it might feel a little daunting to broach the subject. I’d like to make it easier for you by sharing a few ways to think about that conversation.
It’s not your job to convince someone to attend theological school. After you ask, “Have you ever considered attending seminary?” allow some time for the person to process your question. Then, listen. We once had a student who thought about seminary a full 15 years before she enrolled at MTSO.
Parish ministry is just one of many vocational paths that begin at MTSO. We have students preparing for – and graduates thriving in – such fields as nonprofit leadership, counseling, public policy, health care and community organizing. We also have welcomed students already in those fields who realize an MTSO degree enhances their ability to make a difference where they are.
Many successful MTSO students enroll before they figure out what they want to do “when they grow up.” We offer five master’s degrees: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Counseling Ministries, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Practical Theology and Master of Arts in Social Justice. Students can and do begin in one program before switching to another when their call becomes clearer. Adding a second degree is another option. They can even get their feet wet by enrolling as what we call “occasional” students, taking a few classes to see if we’re a good fit.
Scholarships can reduce – or eliminate – a student’s financial burden. Potential graduate students who are understandably concerned about educational debt will likely be pleasantly surprised to learn about the options we offer. Half of MTSO’s full-time master’s students have earned full-tuition scholarships, and more than 90 percent have scholarships of some kind. Our admissions and financial-aid folks will help to identify seminary scholarships for which incoming students qualify.
There’s more to learn after a master’s degree. MTSO’s Doctor of Ministry program provides those in ministry with advanced professional development in service to the church and the world. If you know someone who is looking to enhance their ability to analyze and conceptualize theological issues emerging from their ministry contexts, our D.Min. could be perfect for them.
Your patience and availability are valuable. Sometimes we talk to someone in the spring who ends up sitting in class a few short months later. Other times, we’ll have conversations that continue for several years before leading to enrollment. After listening to your friend’s discernment process, make it clear you’re happy to chat again sometime. Whether they end up in seminary or not, they’ll be honored by the generosity you show with your time and attention.
If your friend is ready to learn more, please share my email and phone number – or pass their name and contact information on to me, and I or one of my admissions colleagues will happily touch base. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-362-3447.
Thanks for considering this vital service to the church, the world, the school and the person you approach. I look forward to hearing from you.
Methodist Theological School in Ohio provides theological education and leadership in pursuit of a just, sustainable and generative world. In addition to the Master of Divinity degree, the school offers master’s degrees in counseling, practical theology, social justice and theological studies, along with a Doctor of Ministry degree.
Danny Russell, communications director