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Opinions on Master's International University of Divinity
#1
I just finished the MTS at NationsU and would like to go on to a PhD in Biblical Studies program but I'm having a difficult time finding a program that 1. is legitimately accredited (regionally or nationally) and 2. is affordable. I would love to find a PhD program at a school that is financially and academically structured like NationsU (monthly tuition fee rather than per credit - study at own pace). I've looked extensively at Liberty University's PhD in Bible Exposition but it would cost $14k and this is the cheapest regionally accredited online program I could find. There is one nationally accredited program Antioch School but their program is a DMin and it ends up costing $11k after purchasing textbooks, etc.

If I went the non-accredited route I like Columbia Evangelical Seminary, though there seems to be a cloud hanging over the school due to the James White ThD issues with his dissertation. The price hovers around $6k, but that price I think is too high for an unaccredited school.  I do really like their student-designed curriculum and all writing format (not tests). I also like that you have a mentor assigned throughout the entire program rather than jumping from professor to professor.

Someone online recommended the school he got a PhD from: Master's International University of Divinity. I've looked into it extensively as well and I really like it. Not as much as Columbia's student designed curriculum. But, I got my hands on all the syllabi for the PhD in Biblical Studies and compared the requirements with Liberty's PhD program and they are essentially the same. Liberty leans heavier on quizzes and exams while Master's leans more on writing assignments. MI is also at your own pace whereas Liberty you are hampered by semesters (which is ridiculous). The overall price for MI would end up costing less than $2000 since I can put 40+ hours a week into study and they have a monthly payment plan of $200 down, $105/month and when you graduate you're done paying. The program does have a dissertation at the end with a dissertation defense online. It is exactly the same for Liberty and the dissertation page count minimum requirement appears to be exactly the same between them.

My problem is: this school is non-accredited. I have to ask why. Why not go through the process of getting at least nationally accredited. They have affiliate status with a national accreditor (not sure what that really means or why an accreditor would do that) and there are regionally accredited schools that work with MI. A quick search online shows many people in church ministry and non-accredited academia with degrees from the school. It's in my price range, it's the right degree and I could finish in about 6 months. But, am I going to be paying $2000 for a useless degree in the end?

I really can't justify paying $14k for a degree from Liberty when seminaries are pumping out Doctorates by the truckload. There's no chance I can get a job teaching online or even at a seminary. Not sure I would even want to. I have no real interest in paid ministry (I have a comfortable job already and after that job is over I will retire). I am doing the groundwork now on launching courses online with the possibility of starting an online philosophy/theology school focused on the subjects I'm really passionate about. Tuition would be free. No degrees. Just a certificate for each course and for finishing the entire program. 

I've seen other para-church ministry teachers get sketchy PhDs so they can put the "Dr." title on their books and training material for marketing purposes. But that just seems a little sleazy. I have a Master's in Theology from a nationally accredited school. I would imagine that would be fine. It is certainly not to teach at unaccredited seminaries. They all want PhDs. Nations wants PhDs and you don't even get paid there, its all volunteer teaching. Redemption Seminary (which I would love to teach at) currently requires a PhD but it does not have to be accredited. But, they said if they ever get accredited (which means they're moving that direction) then unaccredited PhD's would be out on their ear. 

I would like nothing else than to just start working on my online curriculum and launch courses I'm interested in and enjoy teaching (even if I don't make money at it - this is really not the goal). But, for some reason, I can't get the idea of completing a PhD out of my mind. I keep coming back to it. It keeps me up at night. I think I would enjoy the program at MI, but after all that work, all that effort, will it be a degree that I would have to explain and will always have that stigma of "unaccredited" attached to it?

Do you personally know of anyone who's gotten a doctorate from an unaccredited school that is happy with it, gainfully employed at an unaccredited seminary or school or teaching ministry? Or would I be better off to just call it quits and move on without the degree?
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#2
Here is a better alternative. It is an accredited school.

https://www.sats.edu.za/pricing/cost-calculator/
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#3
(11-16-2020, 04:57 AM)asianphd Wrote: Here is a better alternative. It is an accredited school.

https://www.sats.edu.za/pricing/cost-calculator/

This would be a better alternative than Master's International due to accreditation, but the PhD in Theology is 5 phases long and would cost over $15k - more than Liberty. It also takes a minimum of 3 years to complete while Liberty's program can be done in 2. I was hoping for something between Master's International (<$2000) and Liberty ($14k) on price while retaining the accreditation of Liberty and the format (at own pace) of Master's International.

To be honest, I really don't think there is a seminary or school out there that fits my requirements.
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#4
It really depends on your current location and willingness to travel places. For example, Virginia Bible College (TRACS-accredited) offers a three-year Doctor of Ministry program with a $163 per credit hour tuition. Since each of their courses is valued at 4 credits and 36 credits constitutes the required total, you would end up paying $5,868 USD. While the program is online, you would actually need to travel for a couple of on-campus seminars.

As for Master's International University of Divinity, you can get the same ABHE accrediting body affiliation and a lower price with Andersonville Theological Seminary. However, I am not convinced that this would be a good route for any type of academic teaching. It would be a huge risk in terms of future prospects due to the lack of accreditation, or even a state degree-granting license (the latter being seen with non-accredited, but genuinely state-licensed institutions like Florida Christian University). We're talking about mere religous exemptions in those two cases, which means that these schools aren't even recognized within their states. They are just allowed to operate and grant degrees due to separation of church and state, as it is understood within a particular state.
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#5
(11-16-2020, 05:02 AM)isaachunter Wrote:
(11-16-2020, 04:57 AM)asianphd Wrote: Here is a better alternative. It is an accredited school.

https://www.sats.edu.za/pricing/cost-calculator/

This would be a better alternative than Master's International due to accreditation, but the PhD in Theology is 5 phases long and would cost over $15k - more than Liberty. It also takes a minimum of 3 years to complete while Liberty's program can be done in 2. I was hoping for something between Master's International (<$2000) and Liberty ($14k) on price while retaining the accreditation of Liberty and the format (at own pace) of Master's International.

To be honest, I really don't think there is a seminary or school out there that fits my requirements.

It cost only about $7000 if I set my location to Indonesia. So it depends on the location I suppose?

What is your denomination preference? Is there any possibility to relocate, let say abroad? Do you have a recommendation from a church?
In Progress:
BS Statistics + Medical Physics
PGDip ML/AI (IIITB). MSc still unsure.
Completed:
BE Civil Engineering, Universitas Pelita Harapan, 2017
Postponed:
MM Marketing, Universitas Tarumanagara, 2020
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#6
(11-16-2020, 07:46 AM)openair Wrote: It really depends on your current location and willingness to travel places. For example, Virginia Bible College (TRACS-accredited) offers a three-year Doctor of Ministry program with a $163 per credit hour tuition.  Since each of their courses is valued at 4 credits and 36 credits constitutes the required total, you would end up paying $5,868 USD. While the program is online, you would actually need to travel for a couple of on-campus seminars.

Virginia Bible College would be the perfect fit except it is not a PhD program. It's a DMin which is ministry oriented while the PhD is typically academic in approach. I could "theoretically" be open to travel. Of course, at the moment everyone is getting locked down in my state and national lockdowns are sure to follow after January so that will not be a feasible option I would say for another year or two if not more. But my preference would be for a school that was 100% online. NationsU did this quite well right up to the end and then they sprung the comp exam on me (did not mention it previously) so I had to scramble to find a proctor. This is why I'm drawn to CES as it is writing based, though again it has no accreditation. VBC is similar in many respects to Antioch School. Nationally accredited and around the same price but there are in person project requirements and the degree is a ThD and not a PhD.

Quote:As for Master's International University of Divinity, you can get the same ABHE accrediting body affiliation and a lower price with Andersonville Theological Seminary. However, I am not convinced that this would be a good route for any type of academic teaching. It would be a huge risk in terms of future prospects due to the lack of accreditation, or even a state degree-granting license (the latter being seen with non-accredited, but genuinely state-licensed institutions like Florida Christian University). We're talking about mere religous exemptions in those two cases, which means that these schools aren't even recognized within their states. They are just allowed to operate and grant degrees due to separation of church and state, as it is understood within a particular state.

I'm well aware of Andersonville. But, like you said, it is not a good route for academic teaching. Whether the school itself or its curriculum is challenging doesn't really matter when it has such a negative cloud over it. It kind of makes me sick. Academic instruction should be based on the merit of the curriculum alone. Not on a popularity context or how much the school has paid to some private company to play ball. I've compared the curriculum between MIUD and Liberty - they are virtually the same! Liberty's program takes 2 years. MIUD would take me 6 months. Not because it's less work but because there's no arbitrary or fabricated structural limits imposed like there are at Liberty. If I were allowed to progress through courses as I finished assignments and met requirements rather than being stuck in a semester basis (which is in place more for the school to make money than for any other reason) I could finish that program in 6 months too. 

I would jump at the chance to attend Redemption Seminary even though it is not accredited. I really like the competency based program and the individual mentorship rather than individual professors. But, they do not have a PhD at the moment, just an MDiv. Plus, for an unaccredited school, their tuition is WAY too much. Same with Grace School of Theology. Except they have no PhD program and tuition is over $400 / credit.

(11-16-2020, 08:04 AM)asianphd Wrote: It cost only about $7000 if I set my location to Indonesia. So it depends on the location I suppose?

What is your denomination preference? Is there any possibility to relocate, let say abroad? Do you have a recommendation from a church?

NationsU price is based geographically too. I'm okay with that. But I am not willing (or really able) to relocate. I have no recommendation from a church which is another reason I would like to pursue an academic program rather than a ministerial one.

I would go on to the MDiv at NationsU but after checking into the program it is not at all what I'm interested in and not at all adaptive to my research interests. Interviewing 90 people does not sound like something I would be good at! When I first started at NU it did not have this odd practicum in the program. Instead it had a dissertation-like research project but the student had to select from the community 3 people who would be on your committee. They would do the reading and approve or disapprove your work. I found this to be very odd as well. It would be akin to me handing out my dissertation to say 3 strangers on the street or posting it online and asking for unqualified feedback. It appears they've scraped this for the practicums. 

With the state of the internet today, it is a shame there are not real solutions available that don't price people out. But, I guess if everyone was able to afford a PhD they would mean less than they already do.
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#7
If you are okay with unaccredited you can see https://seminary.reformed.info/

You may want to try http://www.theology-gst.com/ 
The degree will be conferred by The Theological University of Apeldoorn 


Both are Reformed
In Progress:
BS Statistics + Medical Physics
PGDip ML/AI (IIITB). MSc still unsure.
Completed:
BE Civil Engineering, Universitas Pelita Harapan, 2017
Postponed:
MM Marketing, Universitas Tarumanagara, 2020
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#8
(11-17-2020, 09:09 AM)asianphd Wrote: If you are okay with unaccredited you can see https://seminary.reformed.info/

You may want to try http://www.theology-gst.com/ 
The degree will be conferred by The Theological University of Apeldoorn 


Both are Reformed

Yes, I have looked at Greenwich School of Theology. Unfortunately, the fine print reveals the student must travel to the school for the dissertation defense. This is not an option for me. Not to mention I'm not very comfortable with non US schools, despite the claims from some that they are equivalently accredited. 

As for Whitefield - I'm sure it's a fine school. But the tuition for the PhD is $8,000. For an unaccredited school this is way overpriced. I can attend CES for $6000 and have the flexibility of designing my own curriculum. MIUD is <$2000 for a PhD. All of these, though, are unaccredited schools. They might serve a great purpose in providing credentials recognized by church leaders but they will not provide legitimacy for researchers or professors in academia (maybe in unaccredited schools, but even those seem to lean toward requiring PhDs from accredited institutions for their faculty). 

What we need is for some (or all) of these unaccredited institutions in the US to step up and follow NationsU in seeking and securing accreditation from a National or Regional accrediting agency while at the same time keeping tuition really affordable. Until then, many students will be barred from advanced academic study or, worse, will be required to take on future economic enslavement (indentured servitude) in order to level the playing field so they can obtain a legitimate degree. 

Alternative: legitimate accreditation changes and is subsequently based on curriculum competency rather than artificial seat time, semester length requirements. If accreditation and legitimacy was based on objective standards of rigor, schools like CES and MIUD would immediately qualify and would not have to change anything. But, I don't see this happening.
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#9
Just wondering why are you looking for a PhD in Biblical Studies, what's your end goal?  And also curious if you're looking for similar alternatives?  If other alternatives are acceptable, what would that be?  I'll check your other thread, it may lead me to more questions and answers! But by skimming through this thread, I would refrain from any non accredited degree program for now until you dig deeper...  If you were up for an ED with focus in Christian Ministry, I would have recommended you this, but it's 3 years and 16K : https://www.degreeforum.net/mybb/Thread-...Doctorates
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#10
(11-18-2020, 04:39 PM)bjcheung77 Wrote: Just wondering why are you looking for a PhD in Biblical Studies, what's your end goal?  And also curious if you're looking for similar alternatives?  If other alternatives are acceptable, what would that be?  I'll check your other thread, it may lead me to more questions and answers! But by skimming through this thread, I would refrain from any non accredited degree program for now until you dig deeper...  If you were up for an ED with focus in Christian Ministry, I would have recommended you this, but it's 3 years and 16K : https://www.degreeforum.net/mybb/Thread-...Doctorates

End goal? - Several: (well, two)

1. I enjoy the academic challenge, have the time (5 days a week/10 hr days), and have several Bible related topics I would like to pursue through advanced research. 
2. I would love to teach at a seminary online, asynchronously. Even better would be a position as a mentor like at Redemption Seminary or CES where you are assigned a certain number of students and you follow them through their entire program. Redemption wants a PhD to do this and, although they currently accept unaccredited, they won't if they receive accreditation in the future. I don't think CES will ever get accreditation. 

That's it. Those are my two main goals for pursing a PhD. I'm not doing it for money or fame. In fact, I would absolutely love to toil away quietly as a modern hermit academic in a seminary somewhere, penniless, spending my days reading and writing and conversing with students about the biblical minutia. But, sadly, I think those days are gone (if they ever existed to begin with). 

I have looked at alternate PhDs from EDs to ThDs to DMins. Even the PhD in Biblical Studies is slightly off topic from my real research interests (Death, Consciousness, Afterlife, Persecution, Christian Philosophy). 

Unfortunately the Evangelia University ED won't cut it. 1. It's nationally accredited (which isn't a deal breaker but keep reading). 2. It's way off topic. 3. It's $16k. 4. It takes 3 years.

Liberty University's PhD in Bible Exposition is Regionally accredited, is closer to topic, only takes 2 years, and is $14k all in. But, I really can't afford that, which is why I would settle for a Nationally accredited seminary if the price were similar to NationsU. Unfortunately, even though there are seminaries that do have that price point, they are ALL unaccredited.

Personally I have no problem with unaccredited seminaries. My research has revealed many have the same rigor in curriculum. Yet, the problem lies with the huge limitation those degrees will have in securing and keeping employment in the future. This leaves me in no man's land in between RA (outpriced) and No accreditation (no legitimacy or employment opportunity in the long run).

Kind of a catch 22.
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