1. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
There’s something almost sad about the idea of distance education where your school is in a city as vibrant as New Orleans. Nevertheless, NOBTS is a great seminary with a tuition that clocks in at a low $240 per credit hour. And who knows — maybe you can use your online program to justify a trip to New Orleans for a sweet get-away? With seventeen extension campuses, NOBTS makes it feasible for online students to visit a campus or even partake in residential activities or classes.
New Orleans Baptist works hard to live out their values of scholarly praxis and discipleship. They are not all about theory, but rather about having an academically-solid foundation from which to do the work of ministry.NOBTS is marked by a sense of, in their words, “urgency.” An urgency to equip ministers of the gospel and build up the Church, to do the work of the Kingdom. This strikes me as the right kind of faith-filled urgency.
For the online student, faculty and seminary blogs help keep you engaged in the life of the seminary and its scholarship, and a robust resource center of research tools and articles will provide you with tools for academic success. They also have a cool YouTube channel featuring scholar and pastor interviews, institution-relevant news, and tips to make it through seminary successfully.
2. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Evangelism and missions are the heartbeat of our seminary.” We ought to so value seminaries whose hearts beat to that tune. Southwester Baptist is uniquely positioned to dive head-first into this mission, being connected to one of the largest denominations, and being one of the largest seminaries. They have a robust and experienced faculty, and have well-honed their programs to truly train and equip future and current ministers for global gospel ministry.
If you belong to the Southern Baptist Convention, tuition is a mere $260 per credit hour; if you are any other tradition or denomination, you will pay $480 per credit hour (which isn’t awful, in the scheme of things).
Now, you may have heard about scandal surrounding Southwestern’s most recent president, Paige Patterson. Regardless of how well or poorly that was handled by the institution and denomination, the fact is Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has made corrections, picked up pieces, and walked forward in apparent strength and wise counsel. By all accounts and appearances, this school is doing well and its students are thriving.
3. Gateway Seminary
Coming in at a very close third-place is Gateway Seminary, based in California. Like Southwestern, Southern Baptist students get a discounted tuition rate of $265 per credit hour, and other online students will pay $495 per credit hour.
Gateway’s emphasis and mission is on developing leaders for the world. To that end they have developed a list of eighteen “essential leadership competencies” that inform and shape their education models (and don’t miss the president’s). Here’s a sample of the competencies:
- Self-Aware – Performs ministry with an awareness of personal calling, gifting, and theological reflection.
- Biblically Literate – Faithfully interprets and applies the Bible.
- Historically Grounded – Ministers out of an historical awareness of the faith and its expressions.
- Theologically Grounded – Ministers based on theological convictions expressive of evangelical thought.
- Ethically Grounded – Grasps evangelical convictions to confront moral issues.
- Apt Teacher – Teaches using approaches that are biblically and educationally appropriate.
- Educational Leader – Prepares programs and personnel to provide for the teaching ministry of the church.
- Financial Manager – Manages personal and ministry finances well.
4. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Southeastern Baptist is a very well-regarded and respectable institution in the Southern Baptist Convention. Daniel Akin is the president, and they have faculty members such as Walter Strickland II, Andreas Kostenberger, and Jeff Struecker (portrayed in Black Hawk Down). And here’s two fun facts: #1 the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, J. D. Greear, is a graduate of Southeastern. #2 They have a faculty member whose last name is “Bible.” Can you beat that?
As the two previously-mentioned schools, SBC students will receive a very discounted tuition rate. Students who are from the Southern Baptist tradition pay only $290 per credit hour, compared to the normal rate of $580 per credit hour.
This seminary takes the great commission seriously, and they take gospel scholarship seriously (did I mention Andreas Kostenberger?), and have a helpful YouTube channel with plenty of nerdy Bible roundtables, chapels, et cetera. And if you need or want to visit the campus during your online education — North Carolina is lovely in the Fall!