Perkins School of Theology meets you where you are both spiritually and geographically through our flexible extension program in Houston.
In keeping with our mission to prepare and empower women and men as faithful leaders in Christian ministry, our courses provide an opportunity for you to continue your journey in ministry on-site in Houston attending seminary while still employed. This reduces the cost to students (tuition, fees and travel time) and creates a smoother transition for families.
Offering M.Div., D.Min. and M.A.M. Degree Programs
Perkins offers students in the Houston-Galveston region—and others willing to travel to Houston—the opportunity to complete two different master's degrees in theology: the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and the Master of Arts in Ministry (M.A.M.).
About the Extension Program
Perkins extension classes meet in Houston; one of the most socially, culturally and economically diverse cities in the United States. The program allows students to take advantage of an extraordinary range of opportunities for Christian ministry, both as clergy and laity.
All courses in the Extension Program meet for 10 hours face-to-face (student-professor) at the beginning of the semester and for an additional 10 hours at the end of the semester. The remainder of the class is taught online. One-week intensive courses will usually be offered during the January Term and during the summer.
The extension program offers three courses per semester (fall and spring) and three courses during the summer. Students who successfully complete each of these courses in the regular sequence will earn the M.Div. degree in three years and the M.A.M. degree in two years.
Q&A With Dr. Dallas Gingles, Director of the Program
Q: What is the Perkins Houston-Galveston Extension Program?
A: Our extension program blends the best of traditional classroom education and online education. Most of our courses meet for intensive face-to-face classes that total 20 hours of required in-person education. These classes meet either for 10 hours at the beginning and end of the term or for 20 hours in the middle of the term.
These face-to-face sessions help students and professors get to know each other, work together on traditional classroom assignments, and generate deep friendships. The rest of the coursework is done online in order to create the maximum amount of flexibility for students. But, because our students know and trust each other from the time they spend in the classroom together, they have a real community of learning that helps them work together during the online portion of the classes.
Houston-Galveston students earn a full Perkins|SMU degree, taught by Perkins faculty. This means that the education students receive trains them for ministry while being academically rigorous. Students from this program have won awards for the academic work they’ve done and gone on to be bishops. This means that students in the program should expect to work hard, but also that our professors–and Perkins faculty and staff as a whole–are dedicated to helping them flourish in that work.
We guarantee that students can earn an M.Div. in three years and an M.A.M. in two years if they follow the pattern of courses we offer. This means that students take nine hours in both the fall and spring semesters and nine hours in the summer.
Q: What makes this program unique and stand out?
A: The Houston-Galveston Program is over 25 years old. In 2017, we began looking at ways to update the program and, based on significant student feedback, we began the redesigned model in 2018. Most other programs similar to ours have been started in the past year or two.
Unlike those, Perkins has been dedicated to the Houston-Galveston Program for more than a quarter of a century, and we developed our model to respond directly to the needs of our students. That gives our program a strong student-centered focus while also giving it a lot of stability, tradition, and support–including a deep and engaged group of alumni.
Part of this tradition includes a deep commitment to providing a full Perkins education. Many, if not most, programs similar to ours use a large number of adjunct faculty. Our program is taught by the same faculty who teach on the Dallas campus, and we provide all the same support programs that Dallas students receive to the Houston-Galveston students.
One unique feature of the Houston-Galveston Program is our strong and vibrant partnership with Houston Methodist Hospital. Many of our classes and gatherings are hosted in HMH, and this means that we are able to teach and learn with world-class medical practitioners. This provides interdisciplinary opportunities for students, and opens up vocational options for them that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Q: What does a typical student’s schedule and workload look like?
A: This is graduate school, and we really value the strong academic tradition we have as a university-based seminary, so the honest answer to the workload question is it’s a lot! One myth is that online education is easier or less intense. It actually requires more organization and diligence on the part of the student, because you don’t have weekly classes to help keep you accountable to the course schedule.
Students do pre-class reading and assignments before the first face-to-face session so the face-to-face class time can focus on conversation about what students have already read and engaged. Once classes move online students can usually establish a fairly straightforward study schedule–putting their reading, discussions, lectures, etc., into a weekly sequence.
Q: Can students feel immersed in the program while learning remotely? If so, describe how.
A: Yes, for sure. Students in the Houston-Galveston Program talk about developing lifelong friendships. They meet during face-to-face sessions, form close relationships, begin study groups on various media platforms, and even end up sharing rental houses when they come back for the next face-to-face sessions.
Q: What are some benefits and takeaways from the extension program that we need to highlight?
An excellent university-based education.
Regular Perkins faculty members: very few adjunct professors.
A long tradition of excellence in this program, where most other programs are brand new.
Students form relationships with professors and peers.
Online education allows for maximum flexibility while face-to-face sessions help build those relationships.
Accelerated gradation (three-year M.Div.; two-year M.A.M.).
Institutional setting in Houston Methodist Hospital.
Q: What is the best part of the program?
A: The best thing about this program is the students! Houston-Galveston students are incredible and impressive. Most of them have full-time vocations–a large majority in full-time ministry. They work hard in those jobs while working just as hard as students. They come from multiple states denominations and have wildly different backgrounds and perspectives. They use those differences to challenge and learn from each other. They support one another, especially when work or family life is difficult, and cheer one another on when there are successes to celebrate. Graduate schools can be cutthroat, competitive environments. But these students are in it together, and it shows. I can’t say enough about how much I respect the Houston-Galveston students.
Q: What is one piece of advice you’d give to a potential student considering the program?
A: Well, because I meant it when I said that the best thing about our program is our students, the best thing a potential student could do is meet a Houston-Galveston student.
If you have any questions about the program or would like to learn more, contact Dr. Gingles.
Meet the Team
Site Director of the Houston-Galveston Extension Program