Northeastern Seminary


Prospective Students | Seminary Distinctives

Integrated Curriculum

Northeastern Seminary's approach to biblical, theological, and historical studies in the master's programs reflect a centuries-old integrated, holistic approach to ministry preparation while the doctor of ministry program combines scripture, spirituality, and leadership in an interwoven curriculum.

Northeastern Seminary's Innovative and Integrated Core Program (Click to expand)

At the heart of both the M.Div. and M.A. degree programs is the Core curriculum, which proceeds in a coherent sequenced manner with four larger courses using a common methodology (BHT/BIB 511-514NE). All students begin their NES experience with the Core. These four courses involve the student in the traditional studies of biblical theology, church history, and systematic theology in an integrated, holistic, and non-sectarian approach to theological study.

Each course covers a distinct era in the development of Christianity and investigates that timeframe through five lenses:

The Church's historical and cultural context 
The Church's interpretation and use of Scripture 
Theological issues and contributions 
Church life and ministry 
Application of the above to ministry to contemporary culture

 

Along with this biblical, historical, and theological journey across 2000 years of church history, the student practices the classic spiritual disciplines employed by Christians down through the centuries to nurture and maintain a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

BHT 511NE 
The Biblical Era: Evangelism, Missions, and Church Growth
Credits: 6.5

This course involves an in-depth study in the biblical record of the first century Church. Significant time is spent in the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament. Special attention is given to evangelism, missions, and church growth, as distinguishing features of this era of church history.
[Corequisite: must be taken with PSF 511NE]

BHT 512NE
The Formative Era: Controversy and Politics in the Church
Credits 6.5

This course mines the rich resources of the patristic and medieval eras of the Church's history. During the patristic era, the Church-working with the resources of the biblical era-clearly defined Christian doctrine in subjects such as: the nature of God and the Trinity, Jesus Christ, creation, human nature, and salvation (cf. Apostles' Creed); the basic Christian pattern of living; and the structure of the church, worship, the ordained ministry, membership and church discipline. The medieval era saw additional developments in ecclesiastical policy and restatements of doctrine after recovery of Aristotle's works.
[Prerequisite: successful completion of BHT/PSF 511NE and BIB 511NE]
[Corequisite: must be taken with PSF 512NE]

BHT 513NE
The Protestant Era: Reformation and Revival in the Church
Credits: 6.5

This course studies the Church in the tumultuous 16th-18th centuries, which led up to the modern era. During the Protestant Reformation and Great Awakening, the Christian Church experienced massive upheavals as it wrestled with the doctrine of salvation. Many new denominations and movements emerged as the contestants joined battle and reached differing views on such issues as: the way in which people become Christians; the manner in which Christians are to live; and the nature of the true Church in polity, the sacraments, public worship, and the ordained ministry and mission.
[Prerequisite: successful completion of BHT/PSF 511NE, BIB 511NE and, if your program requires it, BHT/PSF 512NE and BIB 512NE]
[Corequisite: must be taken with PSF 513NE]

BHT 514NE
The Modern and Postmodern Era: The Church in an Age of Science, Technology, and Secularization
Credits 6.5-

This course surveys the history and theology of Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries. Specific attention is given to the prominent theologians, theological movements, and the ecclesiastical developments of the modern and postmodern eras. This course exposes the student to contemporary theories of biblical interpretation, the impact of social location on theology, and problems of religious pluralism and secularization.
[Prerequisite: successful completion of BHT/PSF 511NE, BIB 511NE and, if your program requires it, BHT/PSF 512NE, BIB 512NE, BHT/PSF 513NE, and BIB 513NE]
[Corequisite: must be taken with PSF 514NE] 

BIB 511NE
Biblical Worldview
Credits: 2

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments embody a distinctive worldview or vision of life that communicates God's intentions for humanity and the cosmos, stretching from creation to eschaton. This worldview is interwoven into the warp and woof of Scripture, but is especially communicated through the overarching story told in its pages, which provides the non-negotiable framework that should guide the church in living out its mission. This course explores the unity of the biblical worldview and helps students engage in theological reflection on key moments of its narrative unfolding, with implications for Christian living in the contemporary world. Our theological reflections will intentionally interact with counter-tendencies in the church and society that present challenges to embodying this worldview. This course will also explore how a solid grasp of the foundational biblical vision of reality helps equip church leaders to become better interpreters of Scripture, a skill central to the pastoral vocation.

BIB 512NE
Biblical Exegesis I
Credits: 2

Building on BIB 511NE, this course introduces students to responsible interpretation (or "exegesis") of the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), thus laying the foundation for BIB 513NE and BIB 514NE. The course focuses on hands-on, practical skills in reading the biblical text carefully in its literary and historical/cultural context, to understand its message for today. Students will be introduced to the process of exegesis, applying each step in the process to two significant biblical passages (one Old Testament and one New Testament). Significant attention will also be paid to researching and writing an exegesis paper as a basis for teaching and preaching in the church.
[Prerequisite: successful completion of BHT/PSF 511NE and BIB 511NE, or permission of the instructor] 

BIB 513NE
Biblical Exegesis II
Credits: 2

Building on BIB 512NE, this course provides students with further opportunities to grow in responsible interpretation (or "exegesis") of the Bible (both Old and New Testament). It focuses on hands-on, practical skills in reading the biblical text carefully in its literary and historical/cultural context, to understand its message for today. Focus will be placed on a variety of biblical texts as case studies in exegesis, many of which will be chosen for their relevance to BHT 513NE. Significant attention will also be paid to the process of researching and writing an exegesis paper as a basis for teaching and preaching in the church.
[Prerequisite: successful completion of BHT/PSF 511NE, BIB 511NE, and, if your program requires it, BHT/PSF 512NE, BIB 512NE]

BIB 514NE
Biblical Exegesis III
Credits: 2

Building on BIB 512NE and BIB 513NE, this course provides students with further opportunities to grow in responsible interpretation (or "exegesis") of the Bible (both Old and New Testament). It focuses on hands-on, practical skills in reading the biblical text carefully in its literary and historical/cultural context, to understand its message for today. Focus will be placed on a variety of biblical texts as case studies in exegesis, many of which will be chosen for their relevance to BHT 514NE. Significant attention will also be paid to the process of researching and writing an exegesis paper as a basis for teaching and preaching in the church.
[Prerequisite: successful completion of BHT/PSF 511NE, BIB 511NE, and, if your program requires it, BHT/PSF 512NE, BIB 512NE, BHT/PSF 513NE, and BIB 513NE] 

PSF 511NE, 512NE, 513NE, 514NE
Introduction to Personal and Spiritual Formation
Credits: 0.5 for each course (2 credits total)

Interwoven throughout the period of the NES Core curriculum, these courses are designed to provide a theological, historical, and practical introduction to the resources and disciplines of formative Christian spirituality. In addition to exposure to classical materials through integrated readings in the Core curriculum, students will participate outside of class in a faith-sharing practicum, chapel programs, seminary retreats, and an individual formative assessment process.
[Prerequisite: see BHT511-514NE]
[Corequisite; must be taken with BHT 511NE, 512NE, 513NE, 514NE] 

Theological Field Education (Click to expand)

The Field Education program at Northeastern seeks to develop people who will be effective Christian leaders in the changing contexts of our culture. Specifically, field education provides the opportunity for seminarians to develop their professional understanding and competence in ministry, as they are involved in the practice of ministry under capable supervision.

M.Div. students take four courses and are expected to complete placements in both a parish and non-parish setting. This course sequence provides students with hands-on professional training from capable practitioners and educators. Students develop professional understanding and competence in ministry. Each course provides time for on-site training, personal and peer-reflection, and classroom instruction. Personal and Spiritual Formation (faith-sharing groups) is a continuing aspect of field education. M.A. students take one field education course and choose a placement best suited for their intended ministry.

Northeastern Seminary partners with churches and ministry-related community agencies in imaginative and innovative ways to enhance and revitalize pastoral theological training. Our focus on the practice of ministry and on theological reflection in field-based learning programs brings the theory of ministry and pastoral experiences into dialogue. This coupling of theory and practice strengthens students' personal and professional development making them better prepared for effective ministry.

Essential Elements of Field Education (Click to expand)

Both M.Div. and M.A. students are required to complete a field education component. Normally, this requirement is met during the second and third years. Each M.Div. student experiences at least two distinct ministry settings, namely, a congregational and a community-based placement such as a hospital, hospice, children's home, nursing home, or prison. Students in the M.A program are only required to take one semester of field education.

All field education courses consist of a minimum of 8 hours of ministry practice each week and 4 hours spent in preparation and involvement in peer reflection groups for a total course involvement of 150 hours.

Students have a mentoring supervisor in each placement to foster the seminarian's personal and professional growth and to observe ministry activities. Mentoring supervisors meet weekly with seminarians to invest themselves in the lives of the students.

Students currently employed as pastors can use their church appointment for their congregational placement. In these situations, a mentoring supervisor will be assigned to the student to fulfill the above requirement.

Students complete a learning/serving covenant for each placement. These documents are prepared to help seminarians identify the things they want to learn in the process of serving. Students are asked to develop goals and objectives in the following three areas:

  • Ministry Knowledge (Knowing): "I want to better understand…"
  • Ministry Skills (Doing): "I want to be better able to do…"
  • Ministry Character (Being): "I would like to be…"

Each parish placement provides a lay ministerial advisory committee to serve as a resource to the seminarian. Its primary focus is to create a supportive environment that allows seminarians the opportunity to learn more about their ministry setting, as well as to learn how the congregation is receiving their ministry.

Peer reflection groups are an important part of the field education experience. Seminarians meet regularly for the purpose of integrating classroom training with field-based ministry experiences. In addition to continuing to develop their spiritual formation through faith sharing group meetings, students submit case studies based on their actual ministry experiences for discussion during the peer reflection group meetings.

In addition to student case studies, the director of field education makes formal presentations related to the personal functioning of pastors. Some of the topics included are:

  • Ministerial Ethics
  • Exploring Your Sense of Vocational Calling
  • Maintaining Emotional Wellbeing
  • Marriage and Family Adjustment
  • Managing Transitions in Ministry
  • Authority/Leadership Conflict
  • Exit Interviews: "Why Do People Leave the Church?"
  • Church/Staff Relations
  • New Beginnings in Ministry

Mid-term progress reports and formal final evaluations occur at the end of each placement. The evaluation process seeks to help seminarians clarify personal directions in ministry, address issues that contribute to or hinder their effectiveness, and provide an intentional learning agenda. Students are encouraged to consider taking a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) from an accredited CPE center. One unit of CPE can be substituted for two semesters of field education. There are hospital- and parish- based ACPE centers in western New York. This recommendation is especially important for students whose denomination requires the completion of CPE for ordination. Please contact your denominational representative for your specific ordination requirements. CPE is also an important consideration, if not essential, for individuals considering institutional ministry. Contact www.ACPE.edu for more information on the nature of this educational experience.

Field education is an indispensable component of seminary training. Field education provides students who have successfully completed the Core Curriculum the opportunity to further develop their readiness for ministry. The primary focus is to integrate what has been learned through classroom-based study, with insights and experiences of ministry gained under supervision.

Being Fully Prepared to Share in the Mission of God

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