Educational Effectiveness of the John W. Rawlings School of Divinity Graduate Programs
In early fall 2019, a request to MDiv students went out, requesting information about their required internship experiences. Below is a selection of their responses.
“C-fam is a nonprofit organization that stands for Center for Family and Human Rights which stands for the traditional family plan and stands up for human rights issues. As far as my work here I wrote a blog for the International Youth Coalition in which shed light on the current human rights issues discussed within the United Nations… C-Fam is a Catholic based organization but on majority of issues we agreed were wrong and ultimately brought light to what is going on at the UN and globally. I thoroughly enjoyed this internship by far and hopefully it will open doors in the right places” (Student 01).
“My internship experience at Baldwin Community church was phenomenal. I had the opportunity to serve, learn and most importantly to be more practical. I served in many areas while I was doing my internship because I was so eager to do the work of God. One thing I would never forget was when my pastor asked me to preach in two services and on the first service I preached, he asked me to preach all four worship services. This was a great experience and I was grateful to do this. Many people came to thank me because they were blessed and mesmerized by the sermon. All I can say is that God deserves all the Glory. Thank you for reaching out afterwards” (Student 02).
“As for the internship itself, it was a great experience. The best thing I could have done was to complete the internship outside of my home church. If I was to give someone advice, it would be to do just that – seek internship opportunities outside of your home church. In doing so, one will gain a broader perspective of “church work” and open themselves up to hear what God is saying” (Student 06).
Fall 2019 Alumni Survey (Vocational Placement)
The Alumni Survey is sent in October (within 6 months of spring graduation) to both the fall and spring graduates and summer graduates of the relevant academic year (response rate below for Divinity graduate and doctoral level). The survey asks about the vocational placement of the graduate. The placement results below are identified using the categories prescribed by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the accreditor of the programs for which the vocational placement data below is reported.
- Vocational placement: “Graduates are in positions for which the degree program prepared them, regardless of whether those positions are compensated or volunteer” (ATS, 2019).
- Non-vocational placement: “Graduates received degrees in programs which they sought for non-vocational reasons, such as for personal enrichment” (ATS, 2019). These graduates are not seeking vocational placement.
- Further study: “Graduates are pursuing additional education-at any level” (ATS, 2019). If they are also vocationally or non-vocationally placed, they are not listed in this category.
- Seeking placement: “Graduate are actively seeking appropriate [vocational] placement” (ATS, 2019). There were not of these among the respondents to the survey.
- Other: “Graduates have positions or placement that do not fall within any of the above categories” (ATS, 2019).
Of 1,293 graduates of these programs invited to respond to the survey, 249 completed at least a part of the survey. The response rate is 19.3%. Twenty-eight respondents did not complete the placement questions in the survey, leaving 221 respondents for whom placement data is available. Care is taken in the reporting to count respondents in only one category.
Master of Divinity
There were 80 Master of Divinity respondents to the survey. Of these, 42 (53%) reported vocational placement with 3 reporting non-vocational placement and 5 reporting further study. Thirty respondents reported a status that fell in the category of “other.” No Master of Divinity respondents reported that they were currently seeking vocational placement.
The five doctoral respondents represented the Doctor of Ministry program with three respondents and the PhD (Theology and Apologetics) program with two respondents. All respondents reported being vocationally placed. The EdD, a newer program, has not yet had any graduates.
MA in Christian Ministries – 36 hour program
There were 54 respondents to the survey for this program. Of these, 32 (59%) reported vocational placement with 7 reporting non-vocational placement and 2 reporting further study. Thirteen respondents reported a status that fell in the category of “other.” No MA in Christian Ministries respondents reported that they were currently seeking vocational placement.
MA (Theological Studies) – 36 hour program
There were 50 respondents to the survey for this program. Of these, 27 (54%) reported vocational placement with 5 reporting non-vocational placement and 2 reporting further study. Sixteen respondents reported a status that fell in the category of “other.” No MA (Theological Studies) respondents reported that they were currently seeking vocational placement.
No other programs had enough respondents to report significant data for the program (20 respondents would be the minimum target).
As noted above, there were 221 respondents to the survey reporting placement data. Of these, 119 (54%) reported vocational placement with 15 reporting non-vocational placement and 13 reporting further study. Seventy-four respondents reported a status that fell in the category of “other.” No respondents reported that they were currently seeking vocational placement, this indicates students who desire to use their degrees vocationally are able to do so within six months of receiving their degree.
Additional Data from the Survey
This group of graduates was asked, “Did your most recent degree from Liberty result in a raise of promotion?” Out of 102 respondents, 24 (23.53%), responded, “Yes.”
This group of graduates was also asked, “Have you completed any licensure/certification or ordination exams related to your major?” Out of 108 respondents, 33 (30.56%), responded, “Yes.”
The group of graduates was also asked if certain experiential learning activities were a part of their degree program. Respondents were given a list of nine experiential learning activities and prompted to select all that apply. Only fourteen respondents indicated there were no experiential learning activities in their degree program. They were also asked to indicate to what extent the experience helped prepare them for work in the field. The choices available were:
- A great deal
- A moderate amount
- A little
- None at all
All selected experiences were found at least moderately preparatory by more than 76% of the respondents. Some experiences, like “Spiritual Formation,” (selected by 44 respondents) were found at least moderately preparatory by 89% of respondents. “Field-Based Ministry” activities (selected by 28 respondents) were found at least moderately preparatory by 93% of respondents with 64% finding that the activities helped prepare them a great deal.