MA in Apologetics Online at HBU: Highlights and Q and A

582x231-MAA-HBUWhat does it mean to do a Master’s in Apologetics — fully online? At HBU, we are committed to having a robust, rigorous MA program, one that brings the Oxford-inspired, seminar-style, highly interactive graduate school experience to every student enrolled in our program, wherever they call home. You can learn more  here.

What’s special about the MA in Cultural Apologetics – both Online and in Houston?

Dr Holly Ordway talks about the interdisciplinary focus:

Dr Michael Ward explains the “rich mix” of rational and imaginative apologetics:

Highlights of the Master of Arts in Apologetics Online:

  • A cultural apologetics approach: uniquely, HBU’s MA in Apologetics equips students to use both rational and imaginative strategies for apologetics in the 21st century.  To do that, we take an interdisciplinary approach, so courses involve culture, literature, history, and the arts as well as theology, Scripture, and philosophy.
  • Small class sizes: we cap all of our MAA classes at 15 students. You’ll never be lost in the crowd, and you’ll get the most out of our seminar-style, discussion-based courses.
  • No residency requirement: the program is 100% online.
  • An integrated curriculum: the courses are designed to relate to, and build on, each other, so that you’ll be making connections between the material in different courses. The whole 36-unit degree is more than the sum of its parts.
  • Faculty involvement: we never use teaching assistants, so the faculty member listed as your professor for each class is the one who teaches the whole class, interacts with students, and does all the commenting and grading of student work.
  • Community: every student has a faculty advisor, and new students are given a student mentor.
  • High academic standards: the online curriculum is identical to the residential curriculum, and the courses have the same high level of rigor. Lots of reading… lots of writing… lots of interaction and discussion. It’s challenging, and exhilarating!

What’s the experience of the online MAA like? The online program is designed to provide a full graduate-school experience, but in an asynchronous format that allows for students to balance work, ministry, and/or parenting with academic study (and to have professors and classmates in multiple time zones!). We use a custom designed web platform for our online classes (with full tech support). The courses run 15 weeks, on the same schedule as our on-ground classes, and are seminar-style, focusing on class discussion of the readings, critical thinking, independent research, and writing assignments or other projects on which you receive individual attention and feedback from your professor. You don’t have to log in at any specific time, but you’ll be expected to log in to the course page several times per week to contribute posts, and to read and respond to your classmates and professor in the discussion forums – the equivalent of attending class and having class discussion.In the discussions, guided by the professors, students explore the ideas presented in readings and lectures, challenge and respond to each other, develop communication skills, and learn how to become independent thinkers.

Writing assignments are the other major part of the MAA program, for both the online and Houston versions. We do not have any tests in the program – only writing (lots of it!) and projects. You can expect to write at least 3-5 essays in each class, with the assignments carefully designed by your professors to lead you into a greater understanding of the material and mastery of the concepts and skills for that course. Since class sizes are small, you’ll always get feedback from your professor on your writing, not just a grade, so that you can grow both in  knowledge and in communication skills as you go forward. You’ll interact with your professor through the online discussion boards, through your writing assignments and the feedback you receive on them, and through email, on-campus meetings (when possible) and/or Skype video conferences.

Furthermore, since our faculty work closely together in the MAA to create an integrated curriculum, you’ll be encouraged to apply what you learn in one class to what you’re working on in another class. Our online students report that after the initial period of adjustment to an online experience, there’s a real sense of community, and the discussion boards feel very much like an in-person discussion. We provide peer mentors for new students to help build community as well.

Do  I need to come to campus? No. The MAA Online has no residency requirement. All classes are 100% online and there is no requirement to travel to HBU (this is particularly helpful for our international students!). Students are, of course, welcome to travel to HBU as visitors to come to events such as conferences, and to meet our faculty in person, if they would like to, but the degree is designed to be completed exclusively online.

What are the classes? MAA students take a total of 36 units (twelve three-unit courses).

  • Apologetics Communication: Students develop graduate-level skills for academic success as well as practical apologetics and ministry work in Apologetics Research and Writing and Apologetics Communication. Students can also take Creative Writing and Apologetics as an elective.
  • Imaginative Apologetics: Students learn how to use imaginative as well as rational approaches to apologetics in C.S. Lewis and Imaginative Apologetics; Film, the Visual Arts, and Apologetics; and Literature and Apologetics.
  • Apologetics Essentials: Students gain a solid foundation for apologetics in Philosophy of Religion: Faith and Reason; “Mere Christian” Theology and Apologetics Implications; and Scripture and Apologetics Implications.
  • Christian Thought and Culture: Students explore the way Christianity affects culture in Ancient Philosophy and Culture; Medieval Philosophy and Culture; and Modern and Post-Modern Philosophy and Culture.

How can online MAA students get involved in apologetics ministry? We are always working to make connections for our students. For instance, we have a partnership with the national apologetics ministry Ratio Christi, which places trained apologists as chapter directors on college campuses; they keep us notified of job opportunities (both paying and volunteer). We also have a partnership with Explore God, an online apologetics ministry, that provides internship opportunities for students while they are enrolled in our program. We also have academic conferences (Philosophy and Theology) on campus every year, where students can attend and even present papers.

Can I attend part-time? Yes. We welcome both full-time and part-time students.

What does it cost? Tuition is $1,500 per three-unit course, plus university fees of approximately $1000 per semester. Federal financial aid is available for students who take two classes or more per semester. A limited scholarship for students with high GRE scores (note: the GRE is not required for admission) is available at the time of application; contact the Graduate School for details.

I’m not Baptist. Is this program for me? Absolutely! HBU is a ‘mere Christian’ university and the MA in Apologetics is an intentionally ‘mere Christian’ program: conservative, orthodox, and ecumenical. We have Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant faculty (from a range of denominations) and we encourage Catholic and Orthodox as well as Protestant students to apply.

What kind of undergraduate degree do I need to be admitted? The MAA is interdisciplinary, and so we welcome applications from students with a variety of backgrounds – philosophy, theology, and Biblical studies; humanities such as literature and history; the sciences; and the arts (visual and performing). Some of our students are creative writers, others engineers, others teachers, others musicians… the classroom community is part of the learning experience in the MAA.

Apply now!  If you’re interested in applying, you can do so online – here’s the link to the application. Come join us in the Fall!

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