Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS) has created a new partnership with Kuyper College through an agreement which shortens the required time for students to complete their undergraduate and graduate level work. Both of the educational institutions are in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The new arrangement will allow students to complete all their required courses for a bachelor degree from Kuyper and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from CTS in six years, an academic plan that used to take seven or more years to complete.
Administrators at both institutions have been working hard to see how a potential partnership could more efficiently prepare students interested in parish ministry, all without taking away from a student’s academic experience.
"The six-year B.S. and the M.Div. agreement does not change the requirements of either degree program," says David Rylaarsdam, acting vice president for Academic Affairs at CTS.
"It simply shows Kuyper students how to take full advantage of Calvin Seminary's advanced placement possibilities, as well as Kuyper's summer courses."
For prospective students considering the ministry, cost savings is an important factor.
"This agreement enables students to enter ministry with less debt," adds Rylaarsdam. "College and seminary education is increasingly expensive and increased debt is hard on students and churches."
In addition to cost savings, the time saved by completing such a program is also a benefit, allowing students more time for ministry-focused internships and learning experiences, or simply allowing graduates to enter full-time ministry quicker than before.
In addition to efficiency, this agreement should also help students to enter theological studies with more knowledge and ministry know-how.
Rylaarsdam says, "By granting students advanced placement for significant biblical and theological undergraduate training, Calvin Seminary seeks to meet the real educational needs of each student."
This may be the first of a number of similar arrangements.
Rylaarsdam mentioned that there are discussions occurring with other schools and organizations, potential partnerships that will continue to make Calvin Theological Seminary more accessible and affordable for those who are interested.
In the meantime, both Kuyper College and Calvin Theological Seminary hope that the creation of this partnership prepares many for a vocation of ministry.