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School encourages MBA with MDiv

School encourages MBA with MDiv

Inside Higher Ed reports that North Park University is encouraging ministry degree students to pursue a business degree in conjunction with their theological studies:

North Park, an evangelical college on the north side of Chicago, believes its seminary to be the first to encourage students who want to become pastors to study business.

The college is affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church, founded by Lutheran immigrants in the late 19th century; it’s a small denomination of Christianity, with fewer than 200,000 adherents in the United States. Although its seminary is the only one for Evangelical Covenant ministers in the United States, and also trains students from other Protestant denominations, just 41 students graduated this spring.

College administrators argue that for many church leaders, an academic background in business background is very helpful.

“You may really be leading a church and planning a budget and other financial matters,” said Kirsten Burdick, the seminary’s director of admissions. At a small church like Hoden’s, pastors are sometimes the only administrator in the building. At a larger church, a big staff and complicated finances can make training in accounting and management helpful.

Traditionally, much of that experience was learned on the job, Burdick said. But alumni have found their training is attractive to churches: “To have that ministry experience and training, but also to have the business-mindedness is really significant,” Burdick said.

Students can pursue a master’s in business administration or a master’s in nonprofit administration in conjunction with a master of divinity, a master of arts in Christian formation or a master of arts in Christian ministry.


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Has it really come to this? Perhaps it’s time to return to house churches.

June Butler


Susan: thank you for your note! Your program with Kellogg makes much more sense to me than an MBA program.

I’m a business-guy, and have taken some seminars from Kellogg when I was with GE Captial years ago. They are quite good…Kellogg and Wharton’s seminars/courses.

An MBA for a rector/pastor strikes me as duck hunting with a cannon: WAY too much fire power for the job. 🙂 I like the Seabury approach. (The scholarships $ don’t hurt, either!)

Kevin McGrane


I rather suspect that many (if not most) MDiv + MBA double-majors, will get MBA-requirement careers (at least until their loans are paid off!).

I am ambivalent. Administration skills for the parish are certainly valuable, but can one major in “Business” and yet keep the Gospel perspective that “does not count the cost”?

JC Fisher

Susan Harlow

Seabury Western has developed a partnership with the Kellogg School Center for Nonprofit Management at Northwestern University and now offers courses with Kellogg in our Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Development program. These courses are open to MDiv students as well as clergy and lay leaders for enrichment. Here is a link to the two articles written by Sarah Fisher and Amity Carrubba reflecting on their experiences in the course offered this June 2012:

We at Seabury are convinced that clergy and lay leaders can benefit from the expertise and experience of the business world in such areas as conflict resolution, leadership in the midst of change, branding and marketing, as well as insights on developing one’s own personal leadership in this global and complex world. The church of today needs innovation, leaders who are not afraid of failing, and a well-articulated vision for being the people of God in this postmodern and postChristian culture. Some insights from the nonprofit and business worlds may help us move in bold, new directions for living out the Gospel.

Susan Harlow

Carole May

And while they are at it, they might also go to a technical college to learn building maintenance, electricity, and plumbing. By the time they are finished with all that, their M.Div. and their MBA, they’ll be ready for retirement 🙂

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