If I get the BTh from Oxford, will I still need to get an American MDiv to be ordained?
The BTh is the standard degree required and sufficient for ordination for all Christian denominations in the United Kingdom. In this sense it is exactly equivalent to the MDiv in the United States. The individual courses within the BTh are similar to the courses in the American MDiv as well. There are biblical studies courses, theology courses, history courses, and courses in practical ministry. Each individual denomination within the United States has its own ordination requirements. Some will accept the BTh as sufficient for ordination, others may require a few courses from a denominationally tied seminary after the BTh to fill in any gaps which remain (courses about church polity or specific practical ministry training which aren’t covered in the BTh), and others may not recognize at all. With the assistance of the Ministerial Student Director in the religion department, students should explore their particular denominational requirements before applying for this program.
If I participate in the Joint BA/BTh Degree Program, why can I only take six upper level elective religion hours at Georgetown College?
One of the main benefits of the joint degree program is that you will not be asked to duplicate courses which you’ve already taken in college during your subsequent theological education. Almost all of your religion requirements for the BA at Georgetown will be fulfilled at Regent’s Park College in the BTh portion of the degree.
What if I decide at some point in my three years at Georgetown that I do not want to complete the second portion of the joint degree at Oxford?
The good news is that the joint degree is easily convertible back to a traditional four year degree with a major in religion (or some other discipline), but those who have progressed deeply into the third year before making the transition may find it difficult to complete the remainder of their religion hours (if that is the chosen major after conversion) in the standard four years. For that reason, a decision to revert back to the standard four year degree program should be made sooner rather than later. Regular evaluation of the student’s work will take place during the three years at Georgetown, and careful advising should help those who won’t be a good fit at Oxford to transition to the standard degree well before it will be a struggle to finish at Georgetown in four years.
Am I really a good enough student to succeed at Oxford?
This is a question that you should be asking from the moment you first realize your interest in either of the theological programs. As you might imagine, expectations are set very high at the oldest English speaking University in the world, and your work in theology at Oxford will be challenging, but if you have a solid academic starting point and a desire to become a truly excellent student, the training program at Georgetown in the first three years (or four years if you are simply making preparation for application to the MTh) is designed to help mold you into the kind of student who can succeed at Oxford. The key is to work very hard in your time at Georgetown. Read broadly (not just in biblical studies or theology), develop your skills in critical thinking and writing, and learn to love learning for its own sake. Students are expected to maintain a consistently high GPA at Georgetown College to earn serious consideration of their application for the BTh segment of the Joint Degree Program, and those who are struggling along the way will likely be encouraged to transition to the four year degree. Solid academic performance is also a prerequisite for admission to the MTh at Regent’s Park College.
When do I apply for these programs?
Though the Director of Oxford Programs would like to know about your interest in the Joint BA/BTh Degree as early as possible, application is usually made no later than the end of the freshman year. There is no formal application process for the specialized BA in preparation for entrance to the MTh at Oxford, but students should contact the Director of Oxford Programs for careful advising throughout their undergraduate career. Applications are typically at Regent’s Park College at Oxford no later than January of the anticipated entrance year. The Director of Oxford Programs and the Ministerial Student liaison in the religion department will gladly assist the student with the process of making application to Regent’s Park.
Will my financial aid at Georgetown apply to the three years in the BTh at Oxford?
The fees charged for the first year of the BTh program at Oxford (the fourth year in the program overall) are identical to your yearly charges at Georgetown (financial aid awards and scholarships will still apply). The last two years, however, the student will be charged the full Oxford rate for international students. Please consult the Director of International Programs for an estimation of the costs of the final two years. Scholarships and need based aid are potentially available from a variety of sources for the final two years, and the Director of International Programs will offer assistance in obtaining information about those as well.
Will housing and meal plans be arranged at Oxford?
Yes. For the Joint BTh/BA Degree Program, your first year of housing at Oxford will either be guaranteed in college at Regent’s Park College or secured by the Director of International Programs at Georgetown College. The dining hall at Regent’s Park College will provide a meal plan, and during the first year of the BTh portion of the joint degree, the standard meal plan fees paid to Georgetown for the year will cover these costs. The latter two years of the BTh, housing and meals will be arranged directly by Regent’s Park College, and the charges may differ. Those who have been accepted for the MTh at Regent’s Park College will work directly with the College’s Bursar to find housing and arrange payment for meals in the college dining hall.
If I am in the Joint BA/BTh Degree Program, when will I actually receive my Georgetown BA?
Your degree will be granted after you have completed all the coursework and exams in the BTh at Oxford, because that work in religion will be transferred back to Georgetown to complete your BA in religion. After you finish at Oxford, you’ll be awarded two degrees: the BA from Georgetown and the BTh from Oxford.
Is the MTh at Oxford only for those who are “called into the ministry”?
Most who will complete the MTh at Oxford will be interested in the ministry or will plan to actually be ministers. Several people who are taking this course of study at Regent’s will have already completed a BTh degree, and may others will already be active ministers. The degree as a whole is concerned with theology in its applied context, so those who are more interested in Masters level study of theology which might lead to a PhD or an eventual academic post might be better served by an MSt or MPhil in theology at Oxford.
What kinds of preparation should I undertake during my years at Georgetown to make sure that I have a good shot at acceptance into either program?
As early as you first realize your interest in either program, you should make an appointment with the Director of Oxford Programs, Dr. Brad Hadaway, to construct a training plan. He will make concrete suggestions about what you can do to improve as a student and suggest a class line up which will help give you the background necessary in the discipline(s) you hope to explore at Oxford. In addition, there are a number of general principles that, if followed, will help you to develop the excellences necessary for a successful candidacy.
First, take the really challenging courses and professors at Georgetown rather than avoiding them (even for your general education courses). The skills you learn as you try to meet the high expectations in such courses will be invaluable and provide the building blocks for later development.
Second, read beyond the syllabus. Ask your professors for reading lists (the classics in their disciplines or just the classics, period!), and expand your horizons.
Third, hone your academic writing skills by writing some each day, perhaps in response to your classes and reading assignments. Find interlocutors who will read your writing and comment on your ideas. The Director of Oxford Programs can offer guidance about other writing exercises which will be helpful.
Finally, learn the fine art of constructive critique and critical thinking by consistently reflecting upon and evaluating the claims you encounter in your readings and lectures. Participate in class discussion to improve your ability to think on your feet and your ability to speak your mind articulately. Practice tutorials at Georgetown will give you a chance to measure your progress, but they will also give you the most intense training with respect to each of the academic skills mentioned above.
What are the advantages of completing a theological degree at Regent’s Park College in the University of Oxford?
The main advantage of completing a theological degree at Oxford is the access you would have to the excellent theological faculties and libraries at one of the most respected universities in the world. These degrees could also open the door to further quality degrees in higher education for those who are interested in both a ministerial and academic vocation. The international context is also extremely helpful to those who want to do ministry with a “world” view and from a broader context than a domestic seminary can typically offer. Regent’s Park houses highly respected theologians, philosophers, and biblical scholars, and as a result the education delivered is of an extremely high caliber, but one of the most important selling points of the Regent’s degree is the sense of community at the college. Because of its intimate size, studies are undertaken within a community with a view not only towards the development of the Christian mind but also towards the development of strong ties with others who share your sense of vocation and theological curiosity.