FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – A revamped School of Church Music (SCM) degree program has entered the final stages of pilot course testing and is set to launch in fall 2013. The new, streamlined Master of Arts in Worship (MAW), which features online and hybrid course options, allows students to gain theological and musical training without having to physically relocate to Fort Worth.

SCM Dean Stephen Johnson says the new degree will enable more people to seek further training without having to leave, neglect or postpone their current ministry service. Johnson also pointed out what he described as a “groundbreaking feature:” The degree will be offered in both Korean and English.

Johnson said the degree’s redesign comes as a response to the desire from many to pursue further education without stepping away from ministry positions.

“For the worship studies, they have some initial reading, then come to campus for a special week of intensive classes [and] group worship sessions, and then they return home to complete the final project or paper,” Johnson said. “It is a wonderful way to have the best of both online and residential training.”

The new MAW has been streamlined down to 36 credit hours, whereas the previous degree required 40. The degree offers an equivalent education by combining nine courses in the worship area into four hybrid classes and then rolling the existing required practica and applied study portions into three comprehensive practica. The core for the degree, which includes courses such as Spiritual Formation, Systematic Theology, Old and New Testament, and Baptist Heritage will remain the same with the exception that the new degree will not require two semesters of auditioned ensemble.

Simons said the degree will include study of biblical foundations of worship and culture, worship leadership, worship design, congregational song, and philosophy. 

“The newly redesigned degree [also] includes practicum skills training in arts management, media, and leading small instrumental forces in worship,” Simons said. “The MAW degree concludes with an in-the-field worship ministry project and document designed and created by the student and supervised by one of the ministry department faculty members.”

Johnson said the change will affect all new students entering the Master of Arts in Worship degree program, from fall 2013 forward.

“This program is open to our alumni, who want further training while in the field, to any person with a completed undergraduate degree in any major,” Johnson said. “The target for this degree is any person who has a desire to serve or is already serving in a local church and cannot get away to come to campus for two years.”

Simons added that a small number of existing students will have the option to complete their degree under the current MAW degree or to switch to the new degree plan, but the new MAW will soon phase out the old and exist as the only degree of its kind.

“The MAW can be an excellent path of study for worship leaders or for pastors seeking added preparation in worship studies,” Simons said. “It is a degree that will foster cross-pollination of pastors, worship leaders, and missionaries; and it provides an added element of cross-cultural pollination between those studying in English and those studying in Korean.”