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Boyce to offer Spanish associate of arts online
May 04, 2007
By David Roach

Beginning in the fall Hispanic church leaders will be able to earn an associate's degree entirely in their native language and entirely online through Boyce College, the undergraduate college of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The degree, an associate of arts in biblical and theological studies, will include 60 hours of courses and will not include any residency requirement for students. Course lectures will be delivered to students on DVD, and material will be discussed and enhanced through virtual classrooms online. Class assignments are submitted online as well.

"The Hispanic community is the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States," said Hayward Armstrong, Southern's associate vice president for distance education and innovative learning.

"Many Hispanics are bringing with them an evangelical background while others bring a predisposition to hearing and responding to the Gospel as a part of their transition to a new culture. Southern Baptists have a responsibility as cultural hosts and as spiritual mentors to help provide training for leaders in a rapidly growing number of Hispanic churches."

The degree, which is a Spanish-language version of an existing program, is targeted primarily at Hispanic pastors and church leaders serving Spanish-speaking congregations across the United States. The undergraduate offering will complement the graduate-level courses Southern already offers in Spanish, Armstrong said.

"For the past three years, Southern Seminary has offered courses in Spanish at the graduate level," he said. "The associate of arts program in Spanish will allow us to drill down below the top leadership who come to our country with a basic theological education and provide basic biblical and theological formation for leaders with little or no prior training."

Many Hispanic church leaders would like to take a seminary degree in Spanish but lack the prerequisite undergraduate degrees, the United States residency requirements or the financial resources to attend seminary, Armstrong said.

Boyce originally considered opening an extension center to meet the need of educating Hispanic ministers but ultimately realized that an online degree addresses most effectively the common barriers to theological education.

"We were looking for a way to help with some of those problems," he said. "Two of them we couldn't do anything about, but we could provide an educational level that would be more applicable to their backgrounds. Obviously something from Boyce college would meet that need better than the seminary would."

Courses in the degree program will be geared uniquely toward ministry in a Hispanic culture and not simply attempt to translate ministry principles for English-speaking America into Spanish.

"Boyce College is committed to providing explicitly biblical and thoroughly practical training of Great Commission workers for the churches of the world," Armstrong said. "This program continues that commitment, with a Latino flavor.

"Courses are not simply translations of English courses. They are designed to prepare Great Commission Hispanic leaders to minister in Hispanic contexts."

Other foreign-language Boyce degrees include a bachelor of arts offered in Vietnamese.

For additional information about the associate of arts in Spanish, call Programa Hispano at or visit Programa Hispano online at www.boycecollege.com.

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