Tuition for Southern Baptist students in the master’s programs will remain at $173 per semester hour. The move confirms the administration and trustees’ commitment to protect students from the burden of increased tuition in a financially uncertain time.The article goes on to favorably compare SWBTS's decision to that of other seminaries in the state of Texas, including divinity schools at TCU and Baylor by stating:
TCU announced a five percent increase for 2009-10, and Baylor University announced increases of seven percent for the university and just under seven percent for its Truett Seminary.Kudos to SWBTS, right? Well, not so fast.
Yesterday, Th.M students at SWBTS were told by administrators that tuition for their master's program would be increasing to a flat fee of $2,050 per semester regardless of the number of hours a Th.M student takes. Faculty at SWBTS have formerly advised students to work towards a Th.M degree over two full academic years (four semesters). Thus, this new rate schedule for the Th.M. means tuition costs of $8,200 for Southern Baptist students and $16,400 for non-Southern Baptist students. The Th.M used to cost Southern Baptist students $173 per credit hour, the tuition rate declared in the article as unchanged, for a total $4,152 to complete the 24 master level credit hours. The new cost for Southern Baptists completing the Th.M in the suggested time of four semesters is $8,200, for a whopping 100% increase in tuition.
Some SWBTS administrators might object to the above by saying, Th.M. students could finish the 24 credit hours in one year, and thus actually save money!" Such an objection would, however, seem disingenuous given that SWBTS administrators themselves recommend that students take two years to complete the Th.M in order to ensure a high quality of scholarship. Further, few seminary students actually take 12 master's course hours each semester, even as M.Div students. Th.M. students usually take less hours per semester than M.Div. students since even more is demanded to complete the most advanced master’s degree offered by SWBTS.
The change in the billing structure certainly would not seem in the best interest of the vast majority of Th.M students. Many SWBTS Th.M. students are pastoring in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and only have time, unfortunately, to take one class per semester as a means of continuing their education. Thus, the total cost for the Th.M. degree for those pastors taking one course per semester has now increased astronomically - from the former $4,152 to $10,850, a 152% increase.
There are just a couple of questions that I believe should be asked by Southern Baptists of SWBTS administrators.
(1). Why is the change in billing structure not being announced openly? The seminary newsletter categorically states tuition is not increasing. There is little room to interpret the statement "master’s programs will remain at $173 per semester hour” in a manner different than the way it reads.
(2). Is it possible that administration at SWBTS might wish the public at large to believe the school is doing one thing, but in reality, they intend to do just the opposite? At best, the story in the school's newsletter needs be amended to include the relevant information concerning the enormous increase in tuition for Th.M students.
To be clear, it is the perogative of SWBTS administrators and trustees to increase tuition by changing the billing structure all divinity students if they desire. The issue is not the increase. Our concern is that any SBC institution might represent to the public something that is contrary to what is actually happening.
The Th.M. degree program at SWBTS is seeing an enormous tuition increase. I would suggest that we put the facts out for all to read and resist any temptation as Southern Baptists to be hide the reality of our decisions. The solution in this particular situation, in order to maintain integrity, is for SWBTS administrators to address the tuition hikes for the Th.M. degree program in a public manner as soon as possible.
In His Grace,