The University of Mobile’s first fully online bachelor’s degree – the Bachelor of Science in Marketplace Ministry – starts January 2015 with online courses in the areas of theology, biblical counseling and leadership. It signals the university’s move into online higher education and is the first of many online degrees for adults age 23 and older who want higher education that complements – not competes with – adult responsibilities of family and career.
“We have 22 years of experience in adult education, and that will be a great benefit as we expand our program to offer more online degrees that are flexible, affordable and faith-based,” said Danny Chancey ‘79, director of Adult and Professional Studies, formerly the Center for Adult Programs.
UMobile President Dr. Mark Foley announced the push to add an online degree component a year ago. A team led by Dr. Audrey Eubanks, vice president for academic affairs, opted to start with the Marketplace Ministry bachelor’s degree. Dr. Doug Wilson, dean of the School of Christian Ministries, guided the course selection and development.
The expansion into online degrees allows the university to enter a new market of prospective students who are looking for a different type of educational experience than the traditional on-campus model. Students who will be attracted to earning a college degree online are adult non-traditional students who want college courses delivered directly to them.
The aim is to enroll more students and grow the university, without the expense of major capital investments such as new residence halls, classrooms and offices.
At the same time the Marketplace Ministry degree program goes online, the university is offering the online Associate of Science in General Studies. Adult students may opt to take individual courses from the core curriculum to fulfill prerequisites for bachelor’s degrees, or work toward their associate’s degree. The programs are marketed online at learnonline.umobile.edu.
About Marketplace Ministry Chancey is excited about the Bachelor of Science in Marketplace Ministry, the first fully online degree offered through the School of Christian Ministries.
The degree has three components: theology, biblical counseling and leadership. It is designed to be an effective tool for those who are called to ministry in any setting, particularly in non-traditional settings.
Chancey said Marketplace Ministry prepares graduates to answer their personal call to serve God in areas ranging from traditional church ministry to para-church ministries that target a particular area of need. The degree prepares people to:
• Be leaders in para-church ministries like Samaritan’s Purse and Promise Keepers
• Develop their own ministries to reach people involved in human trafficking
• Build programs that help the homeless
• Become more effective on the mission field
• Work in faith-based and non-profit organizations
• Focus on urban ministry
• Increase their knowledge for bi-vocational ministry, and more.
“Ministry is not only done in church,” Chancey said. “Wherever you are, wherever your own marketplace is, you should be fulfilling the Great Commission.”
He said the program seeks students new to the world of higher education or who have completed some college courses or earned a degree in another field. The online program is for students who will:
• Embrace learning and willingly engage in an ever-changing environment
• Develop as confident Christian men and women who make practical application of their faith in the world
• Become leaders with the integrity to live and work in a manner consistent with what they believe.
“This is a way for people to prepare for God to use them wherever they are,” Chancey said. “You can now come to school to prepare for ministry while you’re sitting at your kitchen table, or on your cell phone.”
‘Connect the Dots’
One of the first students enrolling in Marketplace Ministry will be Heath Mason, a 40-year-old self-employed businessman. Recently, on a mission trip to Honduras with his son, Mason said he felt like he didn’t have the answers to help people.
Although he grew up going to church, “they never seemed to connect all the dots for me,” he said.
Then he learned about UMobile’s
Marketplace Ministry degree.
“I’m hoping that I can help some other people connect the dots, starting in my own house and at work. I was looking for something that would give me a background to be a better witness locally, and give me better knowledge and a biblical background deeper than what I was getting when I was trying to read on my own,” Mason said.
He also has a desire to start a faith-based non-profit organization.
Because he lives in Mobile and could attend on-campus classes, he enrolled this fall in pre-requisite courses through the university’s Adult and Professional Studies. The university already offers individual courses completely online, on campus and in a blended combination of online and on campus. Mason took several on-campus courses and one online class that gave him enough flexibility to go on a two-week cruise, completing assignments and taking a test online while on vacation.
Mason said he never thought he would be back in college. He never cared much for school and didn’t expect to add to the courses he had already taken in junior college.
“I felt like God was pressing me,” he said. “This is strictly for me and what I feel like God is leading me to do.”
Mason said he also wanted to be an example for his children.
“I was trying to teach my boys that life isn’t just about how many zeroes you can get in your bank account. That there are some things that are more important than money, there are things you can do out there that pay a better interest rate than money,” he said.
Mason said he likes the idea of “marketplace ministry.”
“It starts with me in the marketplace, wherever that marketplace is, wherever you are,” he said.
The new online component is part of a broader program of adult education that gives adult students choices in online and on-campus learning.
The university will continue to offer on-campus programs leading to bachelor of science degrees in elementary or early childhood education, leadership and cultural studies, a bachelor of business administration and the RN to BSN degree.
Both the online and on-campus programs are designed to address the unique needs of adults who are starting or returning to college. Later in 2015, the online program will expand when the School of Business launches the Bachelor of Business Administration.
Learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Marketplace Ministry, the Associate of Science in General Studies, and other degree programs for adult students at learnonline.umobile.edu. For information about adult degree completion programs, contact Adult and Professional Studies at 855.446.9571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.