Blog Interview – Dr Rick Walston – Columbia Evangelical Seminary

logo This week we travel to the United States to learn about a college that is quite different to those that we have featured so far.

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Columbia Evangelical Seminary.

148454_1705877132912_7671423_n My name is Rick Walston. I am the president (and one of the professors) of Columbia Evangelical Seminary (see more here). My education includes graduate degrees in apologetics and religion, and I have a DMin, as well as a PhD. I’m also a published author with six books (see more here). I might best be known for my book, Walston’s Guide to Christian Distance Learning.

2) Tell us a little about Columbia Evangelical Seminary.

Established in April 1991, Columbia Evangelical Seminary is conservative evangelical and non-denominational. It offers all level of degrees, i.e., undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral, entirely through distance learning. Over the years, CES has enrolled more than 500 students.

Recently, TheBestSchools.org named Columbia Evangelical Seminary as one of The Top 10 Graduate Programs in Christian Apologetics.

Columbia was established to reach those who cannot afford to leave their jobs to live on a college campus for several years. All course work may be accomplished entirely by mentorship study on-line. Students may be as specific or as broad in their majors as they desire. They may choose one solitary major, such as apologetics, or biblical studies, or counseling, or philosophy, or theology, etc. Or, they may choose an interdisciplinary major in which they combine several disciplines of their choice. Because CES students virtually design their own curriculum, it may be as varied or as specific as the student desires. CES offers majors in many fields, including but not limited to: Arminianism, Apologetics, Bible, Counseling, Calvinism, Christian Philosophy, Comparative Religions, Cults, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Ethics, Evangelism, Exegesis, History of Christianity, Homiletics, Jewish Studies, Leadership, Men’s Ministry, Ministry, Missions, New Testament, Old Testament, Pentecostal/Charismatic Studies, Postmodernism, Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Gifts, Theology, Women’s Ministries, Worldviews, and more. Furthermore, students may custom-design their majors (to be developed between the student and the seminary) to meet the student’s specific needs.

3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

WGfullcover Students may do either. Students work at their own pace, taking single classes at a time or multiple classes simultaneously.

4) How do Columbia Seminary students fund their studies?

With CES’s low tuition costs, Associate’s & Bachelor’s $100 per credit, Master’s $110 per credit, and Doctoral at $125 per credit, students do not have to go in debt to earn the degrees they desire. CES is much less expensive than many educational alternatives.

5) Does Columbia Evangelical Seminary take students from overseas?

Yes. We’ve had students from the U.K., South Korea, South Africa, France, Sweden, and Germany, just to name a few.

6) What type of ministry is Columbia Evangelical Seminary intended to prepare students for?

CES has trained pastors, counselors, missionaries, writers, parachurch ministry leaders, and more.

7) When students leave Columbia Evangelical Seminary, what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

Many of our students have gone on to be apologists, counselors, pastors, professors, and writers.

8) What is distinctive about what Columbia Evangelical Seminary offers compared with other colleges in the UK and overseas?

CESSgrad First, our programs are entirely off-campus through distance learning. Next, our students work one-on-one with mentors/professors of their choosing. Some students have even brought their own mentors to the program. Of course, CES has to approve the mentors that students bring to their programs, but it can be done. And, finally, students are allowed to design their own programs to meet their own specific needs. For example, one student might design a systematic theology degree in Reformed theology whereas another might design a systematic theology degree in Arminian theology. Students may design apologetics programs based on Presuppositional Apologetics, or Classical Apologetics, or Philosophical or Scientific Apologetics, or any combination thereof. In essence, students may design their programs in any Christian major.

9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

Since our programs are all distance learning, we do not have a library. Students are encouraged to tap into local resources wherever they live, and they are instructed how to use the Internet and many of its resources for much of their research.

10) Does Columbia Evangelical Seminary offer a distance or on-line learning option? If yes, please tell us more about it.

Yes, as stated above, all of our programs are distance learning via on-line. Thus, there are no residency requirements whatsoever.


My thanks to Dr Walston for taking part in this interview series.

Blog Interview – William Badke – Trinity Western University, Canada

twu This week we return again to Canada and interview William Badke about Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia.

1) Please introduce yourself and your role at Associated Canadian Theological Schools.

badke William Badke, Librarian for Associated Canadian Theological Schools of Trinity Western University.

2) Tell us a little about Associated Canadian Theological Schools

Associate Canadian Theological Schools began in 1988 as a partnership of three Canadian denominations seeking to pool resources in order to provide strong seminary education.  Now five denominational seminaries, each with its own identity but working together for the common cause of theological education, ACTS is the graduate theological division of Trinity Western University, the largest Christian university in Canada.
ACTS has some 400 students, of which a quarter are from outside of Canada. They take programs in ministerial development, chaplaincy, counselling, and academic research.

3) Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

Our programs are a mixture of full and part-time, although the majority of our students do their programs part-time.

4) How do Associated Canadian Theological Schools students fund their studies?

Funding comes from a wide variety of sources, include personal savings, student loans, denominational support, working spouses, and scholarships.

5) Does Associated Canadian Theological Schools take students from overseas?

ACTS has always had a strong contingent of students from overseas, primarily from Asia but also from many far-flung countries on all continents.

6) What type of ministry is Associate Canadian Theological Schools intended to prepare students for?

Associated Canadian Theological SchoolsOur programs prepare students for pastoral ministry, missions, chaplaincy, counselling, personal enrichment, and academic work in religion. We also welcome lay people who have undergraduate degrees.  Our Master of Arts in Christian Studies enables almost anyone who qualifies to pursue study even if they are not intending to go into full time ministry.

7) When students leave Associated Canadian Theological Schools what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

The list in 6. encompasses the majority of ministries our students go into.

8) What is distinctive about what Associate Canadian Theological Schools offers compared with other colleges in Canada and overseas?

The primary distinctive of ACTS is its unique cooperative structure that enables denominational seminaries to maintain their identities and missions while at the same time sharing faculty and resources in order to strengthen theological education.  Critics said it couldn’t be done, but now, with over a quarter century behind us, the consortium is flourishing.

9) Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

Library The library provides an up to date resource for all aspects of theological research.  The print collection, of which some 100,000 volumes are relevant for seminary research, is supplemented by large e-book holdings.  Journals, most of them electronic, cover every aspect of the seminary curriculum.  Unique to ACTS is a required Research Strategies course that prepares all students for the rigours of seminary research.

10) Does Associated Canadian Theological Schools offer a distance or on-line learning option. If yes, please tell us more about it.

With a country of the breadth of Canada, it is inevitable that students at a distance will want to access seminary education from where they are.  Thus ACTS provides a wide variety of online and modular (one week, on campus) courses to enable students at a distance to access their programs without long residential requirements.


My thanks to William Badke for his contribution to this series.

Blog Interview – Dr Mike Bird – Ridley Melbourne Mission and Ministry College

logo This week I am interviewing Dr Michael Bird about Ridley Melbourne Mission and Ministry College.

Please introduce yourself and your role at Ridley College.

I’m Michael Bird and I teach Theology and New Testament at Ridley Melbourne Mission and Ministry College. I’m also the postgraduate coordinator for postgraduate research degrees.

Tell us a little about Ridley College.

Ridley is over a 100 years old and was founded as a place for training evangelical Anglican clergy. In more recent decades, it has also trained people from all sorts of denominations for a variety of ministries and missions in Australia and internationally. It has around 200+ students studying various degrees in theology such as Bachelor of Ministry, Bachelor of Theology, Master of Divinity, Masters of Arts in Theology, as well as Th.D and Ph.D.

Are the courses full time, part-time or a mixture of both?

Yes, FT and PT. We also have a gucci distance learning program with a web-based learning suite called “The Ridley Certificate.” Coming soon also is our full integrated distance learning degree on a platform called “eRidley” where you’ll be able to do B.Th, B.Min, and M.Div on-line. I’m currently working on segments of eRidley. As more and more students move to studying on-line, or split between on-campus and on-line attendance, Ridley is set to provide flexible yet robust teaching and learning in theology.

How do Ridley College students fund their studies?

lecture_w_960 Most students are able to access student loans with “Fee Help” from the Australian Government to pay for their degree and get financial assistance from Centerlink to sustain them for the course of their studies.

Does Ridley College take students from overseas?

Yes, we have several students from overseas studying with us, in undergrad and postgrad. We also a lot of former asylum seekers from Sudan and Burma also studying with us too!

When students leave Ridley College what kind of ministries / jobs do they go into.

e-ridley_w_297 It is so varied that it is impossible to say. Many go into Anglican ministry, pastoral ministry with other churches, many go into overseas missions work, many become school chaplains, and others simply return to the work force to be more informed about their faith in secular employment.

What is distinctive about what Ridley College offers compared with other colleges in the UK and overseas?

Ridley has a number of distinctives including (1) Learning as a way of life; (2) Formation of character into Christ-likeness; (3) Community as the context for theological formation and spiritual devotion; and (4) Mission and ministry as the goal of theological education.

Please tell us about the library and other research facilities.

ridley_library_final_w_0101 We have The Leon Morris Library with a great collection of books, excellent array of journals, and some of the nicest librarians you’ll ever meet. Located as we are in Parkville in Melbourne, we are close to the CBD, Melbourne Zoo, Uni of Melbourne, and a great array of cafés to hang out with students.

My thanks to Michael Bird for his helpful contribution to this series.