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Doctoral Research

To all my family, friends and fellow travelers… and any strangers that might be reading this!

I have been blessed to complete my Master’s degree and am happy about the completion. The degree focus is on Leadership. I’m not sure what my GPA is, but I made mostly A’s!

My purpose for the degree was to satisfy some personal needs on a number of fronts:

  1. I wanted to be a better prepared pastor and preacher for my church and my ministry.
  2. I wanted to be prepared for the future in teaching at a college into my retiring years – although I do not think I will ever “retire”. Online campuses are excellent for taking and teaching from anywhere you have the internet.
  3. I enjoy school, like no other time in my life, and could enjoy being a perpetual student – but I need to make the learning work for me.
  4. I have taught college courses (Banking and Computers) for 5 years and enjoy the instructional world and would like to continue with it as I approach my “retiring” years.

This online campus learning experience was very enjoyable. I met students from all parts of the U.S. and even on other continents. My instructors have been a blessing to my personal walk with God, and some of them have become really good friends and mentors.

My reason for writing today is that I am trying to determine my next step. Personally, I would love to attack a doctoral program. The problem is trying to narrow down a doctoral focus so that I am more “marketable” and more “meaningful” the older I get. When we moved to Washington I found out that I was too old, had made too much money, and had too many experiences in the Information Technology arena to restart my career in this new location. I never did get a job, so I focused on being a full-time pastor and a full-time student.

My next logical step would be a doctoral degree, or it could be another MA… Regardless, one would make more sense than the other at this place in my life. Online Doctoral programs take 3-4 years and are costing from 22,000-65,000 dollars… How can I justify spending 65k at this point in my life? Most online schools still require 1-3 residency events revolving around the dissertation process, so I would need to factor in some travel costs and time. There are some international schools that revolve around the dissertation process with no classroom experience. Not all of these schools are regionally accredited, but generally their accreditation would allow me to teach for a college/university.

Degree focuses that I have looked at are connected to Education, Philosophy, and Theology. Doctoral of Ministry programs (DMin) generally require 3-5 years of ministry experience after your latest Master’s degree (preferably an MDiv), so this might rule these programs out. Some seminaries require your doctrinal framework be closely related to theirs. Education degrees that focus on schools of higher learning are a viable option.

Some schools require certain grade point averages, which I definitely meet. Most require certain grade levels on GRE or MAT testing (which I have yet to take), although not all care about what grade you make.

I have started charting my research and hope to narrow down my direction over the next few months. The following are various schools I have been looking at, in case you are interested…

  • Argosy
  • Bethel Seminary
  • Birmingham, England
  • Capella University
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Knox Theological Seminary
  • Liberty University
  • North Central University
  • NorthCentral University
  • Nova Southeastern
  • Oral Roberts University
  • University of Phoenix
  • University of South Africa
  • University of the Rockies
  • Walden University
  • Western Seminary

By the way, I am registered to take Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew from Hebrew University. It’s an online class that begins in June and provides some additional college credit.

So, any insights you have, any questions you can think of to help me formulate a plan, anyone you think I should chat with, or any school you might suggest — any comment would be appreciated. Feel free to forward this email to someone you think might have a suggestion that would help me; I confess I do not know everyone that might have a valid input.

Blessings to all…

Michael Gurley