February 19, 2019
Dallas (SMU) – Perkins School of Theology-Southern Methodist University will offer a Spanish-language Master of Theology (Th.M.) degree to a second cohort of students beginning in the fall of 2019.
The advanced Master’s degree is a non-residential program designed for experienced full-time pastors or Church/academic leaders. Once selected, the next group will follow the same path as the first cohort of seven students, who began in the fall of 2017 and will graduate in May.
“The students in this first cohort are all outstanding scholars who show promise for Ph.D. work,” said Isabel Docampo, Director of the Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions. “Given the positive responses we’ve had, it’s clear the degree is filling a need in Latin America and in the U.S.”
Perkins is the only institution in the U.S. offering this type of program, according to Hugo Magallanes, Director, Houston-Galveston Extension Program and Associate Professor of Christianity and Cultures.
“Our original goal was to prepare students to eventually become professors,” he said. “In Latin America, many pastors are bi-vocational – serving churches and teaching– so they were not getting the opportunities to prepare academically in a particular field of study. But we think there’s also an opportunity to reach students in the U.S. who prefer to read, study and write in Spanish.” (Although the application process is in Spanish and all the instruction is in Spanish, students based in the U.S. may opt to write their papers and thesis in English.)
The two-year, 24-hour program is designed for those who want to enhance the practice of ministry through advanced study of a particular theological or pastoral discipline; undertake scholarly examination of a specific aspect of the Christian religion/traditions or function of Christian ministry; or prepare for more advanced study at the doctoral level. Intensive courses are held in Dallas and onsite in Latin America, in combination with online class contact and mentorship.
The first cohort included students from Argentina and Mexico, as well as students who live in the U.S. but grew up in Spanish-speaking countries or territories: Chile, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, and Puerto Rico. These students were fully funded through a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. The second cohort will be partially funded, with 50 percent scholarships, by Perkins.
The degree program answers a clear need; the Hispanic population of the United States is increasing rapidly, while the Protestant Church is expanding exponentially in Latin America. And Magallanes says that Perkins is uniquely situated to offer this type of program.
“Although a number of other seminaries have degrees or certificates taught in Spanish, Perkins — with our location in Texas, which has a large Spanish-speaking population and also has one of the busiest airports in the United States (DFW) with many connections to Latin America — is ideally suited for this task,” he said.
Three full-time Perkins faculty members are Hispanic, and three administrators are bilingual in English and Spanish. In addition, a significant collection of Spanish language biblical and theological materials is included in the world-class collection at Bridwell Library.
Interest in the program is already high.
“Even before the website went live, we were receiving emails from people who are interested in this next program,” said Jon Herrin, Recruitment and Admissions Associate at Perkins. “I think the benefits of this program will resound around the world, far beyond the walls of the school.”
Applications for the next cohort are now open; the deadline to apply is March 15. For more information, visit the web page here.
Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.