With the popularity of online learning on the rise, Christian higher education institutions are looking at ways to consolidate – and this could mean the beginning of the end of seminary extension campuses.
According to a Christianity Today, Chicago's Moody Bible Institute will be closing both its undergraduate campus in Spokane, Washington, and its distance learning extension site in Pasadena, California. In addition, Fuller Theological Seminary plans to shut down three of its eight satellite campuses and reduce degree options at two more.
Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, explained that there has been a move away from a residential seminary model towards online – or distance learning options.
"We're starting to see cases where branch campuses that were located in areas that were geographically proximate and helpful to these seminaries just a decade ago are now not economically viable because students that would have been drawn to those branch campuses are now participating in distance learning," Walton pointed out.
He recalled that in the past, students would move outside of their area to attend a seminary, but this is not the case any longer.
"People are more likely to select a seminary that is either geographically proximate to them, or participate in a distance learning option than they are to go and travel to a school which is further away – but perhaps is theologically closer to their orbit."
Walton predicts that there will be more consolidation and change for higher education in the future.