According to Bear’s Guide to Non-Traditional College Degrees, one established traditional college is closing its door forever at the rate of nearly one a week! Why? No doubt the answer lies partly in the great cost of doing business. However, there is also another reason. The American adult population has found another means of education, which is more practical and much less expensive. It is called “External Degree Program.” This program does not require attendance at a traditional college.
According to the Peterson’s Guide, “Who Offers Part-time Degree Programs,” there are 12,000,000 students in higher education. One-third of these students are over 24 years of age. The same guide also informs us that there are 3,000 accredited schools. Then we are given the names of 324 of these same schools that offer an external degree. This means that over ten percent of the accredited colleges in the United States offer an external degree. The great majority of these are state colleges and universities.
In light of these facts, we can see how remiss the Church has been in not offering bonafide education to adults through external, independent study. Summit Theological Seminary intends to correct this oversight.
The Bible, theology, education, religion, and Biblical counseling are subjects that can be learned by external methods. Unlike art, crafts, science, and vocational trade skills, these subjects lend themselves to this type of an educational approach. The reading of books, listening to taped lectures, and viewing videos and cassettes make these subjects easily grasped by the adult student. A thesis, dissertation, project, or original research demonstrates the student’s comprehension and expertise.
External degree programs are not correspondence courses, though a few correspondence courses may be allowed to be used toward the degree. There is a vast difference between correspondence courses and independent guided study.
Correspondence courses, for the most part, are usually several lessons in length, requiring “fill-in-the-blank” type questions, a short term paper, and a final supervised exam. There are 68 fully accredited colleges that offer correspondence courses in dozens of fields. We do more than that.
Independent study, on the other hand, requires the student to acquire a bibliography, independent research, assigned reading, viewing, and listening, as well as originality in producing projects that demonstrate competency in the chosen area of study.
Summit Theological Seminary will use professors who are experts in their field to lay out programs of self-study for the mature adult that will result in a practical, inexpensive learning experience. This should assure the Church in the future a “continuing educational program” that will make every Christian a more profound student of God’s Word and world.