Crestmont College offers BA degree

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Crestmont College, officially inaugurated in September 2000, is being challenged by a new breed of student and, by all accounts, responding with quality and creativity.

Just a year ago, the college existed only as the College for Officer Training, providing an accredited two-year program of education and training for officer candidates.

Today, the 44-acre campus is the site for Crestmont College, which includes the School for Officer Training and a new School for Continuing Education.

“The School for Continuing Education has a variety of new programs under development, but the keystone is the new five-year Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Degree program,” said Captain Edward Hill, Dean of the new school.

“We’ve designed an innovative program which we believe is responsive to the educational needs of the field. It is manageable because participants have five years to complete their upper division work, and it is relevant because it provides our officers and others with critical new tools and technologies and a new standard of excellence in education and training.”

The current target audience for the BA Degree program is adult learners: newly commissioned graduates, 26 of whom began their coursework last June, as well as other officers who have five or more years of ministry and soldiers who have an AA Degree or equivalent units and experience.

The program’s primary designer is Major Brian Jones, Crestmont’s Director of Degree Programs and Online Studies. Jones, who received his Doctorate of Ministry from Azusa Pacific University in May 2000, says that the choice of different concentrations should provide relevance to the broadest possible student group. “Currently we’re offering areas of concentration in Applied Management and Leadership (business and management), Bible and Christian Ministries (theology) and Caring Ministries (psychology and counseling),” Jones said. “There will also be limited opportunity to develop individual study programs.”

The required 90 units of coursework are completed over five years through an innovative combination of distance education, classroom intensives and work-related research, according to Jones. “Students use their own computers and the Internet to take required general education courses designed for offsite Crestmont College students,” Jones said. “We use Blackboard, Inc., which is a major online platform provider for 3,300 higher education institutions worldwide, and we are engaging expert help in the field of online education to assist with the design and delivery of our courses. Last fall, the 26 students completed a 3-unit online math course and this spring they will complete an online Leadership and Character Development course designed and taught by Crestmont faculty.”

Each summer for five years students return to the campus for an intensive two-week session of core coursework with faculty from throughout the territory and beyond. For the first session, said Jones, Crestmont’s adjunct teaching staff included faculty with associations at William and Catherine Booth College, Asbury Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, and Occidental College. “Students completed nine units of coursework in Human Growth and Development, Pauline Thought, Organizational Psychology, Christian Leadership and Counseling Essentials, in addition to a seminar in Biblical Preaching and Worship.”

The third and fourth components of the BA Degree program are Spiritual Formation, in which each student is assigned a mentor to help with spiritual and maturity issues, and a Ministry Practicum, which uses the field assignment as an internship setting, giving students credit for experiential learning and professional development under the supervision of an experienced officer.

What’s ahead for the BA Degree program? Accreditation for this upper division program is a goal, says Jones, along with opening the program to more people in the territory, with an emphasis on planned ministry development for each and every student. He also points to more training for Crestmont faculty in developing online course material, for the BA program and also for online lower division and certificate programs under development.

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