Good news for online seminarians

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Following on the heels of this post from last week, the UMC’s education wing has relented and issued a press release which should make distance learners happy:

Having carefully considered these matters, the University Senate resolves that:

1. All United Methodist seminaries and Asbury Theological Seminary be allowed to offer two-thirds of the Master of Divinity degree online, with one third of the degree required to be in residence.
2. The only “online courses” allowed to count toward a degree for a candidate seeking ordination in The United Methodist Church be offered by one of the 13 official United Methodist seminaries and Asbury Theological Seminary.
3. The Senate reconfirms its June 2010 decision to require that all official transcripts of University Senate Approved Schools identify the courses that are taken online. For this purpose, the term “online courses” includes those that offer some instruction on campus.
4. Effective January 2011, few if any additional seminaries will be invited to join the list of non-UMC schools approved for the education of those seeking ordination in the UMC.
5. All non-UMC schools currently approved for education of UMC candidates for ordination must continue to meet the “Criteria for Evaluating Non-United Methodist Schools of Theology” contained in Appendix B of The University Senate: Organization, Policies, and Guidelines. A necessary means of fulfilling these criteria includes either (a) having at least one full-time UMC faculty member with a Ph.D. or Th.D. employed on a long-term contract teaching the course(s) in UMC history and doctrine, (b) or partnering with a United Methodist seminary to offer the required courses in history, doctrine, and polity. This policy will take effect in August 2012 and will be applied as schools are regularly reviewed.

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