Educational Effectiveness

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness oversees institutional research and assessment programs at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Educational effectiveness reflects the strength and integrity of educational programs. Academic programs and administrative units establish learning outcomes and objectives, identify appropriate measures and set achievement targets. Student and unit performance are assessed annually and the findings are used to improve programs and service offerings. Southern also evaluates its institution-wide performance through ongoing strategic planning processes led by the Office of the President.

Southern Seminary’s mission is, “to be totally committed to the Bible as the Word of God, to the Great Commission as our mandate, and to be a servant of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by training, educating, and preparing ministers of the gospel for more faithful service.” To serve the convention’s churches, the seminary needs to maintain stable program enrollments, ensure students finish their studies in a timely way, and ensure students have the resources to seek and find ministry placement. In keeping with its mission, Southern has identified program enrollment, time-to-completion and placement as appropriate indicators of student achievement. Additionally, the institution has identified the IPEDS Graduation Rate (150%) as a metric of success for SACSCOC purposes. This rate should be higher than 25% with a goal of 40%.

Southern’s most recent Graduation Rate (150%) was 42%.

In keeping with common practice, Southern Seminary uses non-duplicating fall enrollment data, gathered in mid-September (after the drop/add period), to establish enrollment goals and measure achievement. Some doctoral programs meet in the winter term and thus use a census date of late October, as noted below. Enrollment goals and actual enrollments show that Southern has met its goals relative to this mark of student achievement.

DegreeFall 2021 GoalFall 2021 Actual
Associate of Arts2921
Bachelor of Arts230246
Bachelor of Science542552
Master of Divinity1,7721,906
Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling150185
Master of Arts in Christian Education4254
Master of Arts in Church Ministries3128
Master of Arts in Discipleship and Family Ministry0*2
Master of Arts in Leadership2221
Master of Arts in Missiology3433
Master of Arts in Worship Leadership3530
Master of Arts (Theological Studies)197260
Master of Arts (Islamic Studies)1013
Master of Arts (Apologetics)1540
Master of Church Music0*5
Master of Theology4953
Doctor of Ministry178188
Doctor of Educational Ministry132154
Doctor of Missiology35
Doctor of Education157
Doctor of Philosophy208252

*These programs were discontinued in Fall 2021.

Time to Completion

Southern assesses time-to-completion for its undergraduate and graduate programs annually as one mark of its educational effectiveness. Southern’s goal is for at least 70 percent of completers to graduate in five years across all programs. Southern collects completion data following its winter and spring commencements. Southern also reports graduate time-to-completion data to ATS annually.

For 2020–21, 86 percent of undergraduate completers finished their program in five years or less. Among master’s students, 78 percent of Master of Divinity students completed their program in five years while 79 percent of students in all other master’s programs completed their degrees in five years. Within the area of doctoral studies, 94 percent of professional doctoral students completed their program within five years while 78 percent of research doctoral students earned their degree within five years. These findings indicate that Southern exceeded its time-to-completion goals during 2020–21.

Southern’s primary mission is to train graduate students for ministry and for its graduate programs, Southern considers student placement as an indicator of effectiveness. Consistent with denominational tradition and ecclesiology, Southern Baptist churches are independent congregations and Southern cannot guarantee students placement, yet Southern seeks to place at least 60 percent of its graduate students who are pursuing placement. The seminary collects placement data at the point of graduation each winter and spring and reports this information to ATS each fall. Following Association reporting guidelines, placement data are reported one academic after degree completion. Among self-reporting completers from the 2020–21 academic year, 71 percent of graduates had found or were not seeking placement; 8 percent were pursuing another degree; and 20 percent were seeking placement. Southern met its achievement goal with regard to placement.

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