Global Campus Now Offers Fully Online Degrees

For nearly 40 years, Western has been offering remote learning options to students who are not within close proximity to our physical campus locations. What was once a correspondence “experiment” involving the mailing of recorded videos has blossomed into a full-fledged online program which now servesroughly 40 percent of Western’s total student body. While the technology has evolved over the years, the mission behind online programming has stayed the same.

“We desire to equip students around the world for gospel-centered transformation, wherever Jesus has already sent them,” says Andrew Pack, Western’s new Director of Online Learning.

To more clearly reflect its mission, the online campus recently updated its name to the Global Campus. According to Pack, this new name puts more focus on who the campus serves, rather than how the training is delivered. “It helps us move forward with a global vision.”

The name change also coincides with the addition of a fully online degree option, as an alternative pathway to the requirement to attend week-long “threshold” classes in person. Until now, these on-campus intensives have been required at both the start and end to each student’s degree program.

“The goal of the in-person requirement had been for students to know and connect with Western and its professors, emphasizing the importance of spiritual transformation,” says Pack. “But new methodology allows this connection to happen in ways that were not previously possible with remote learning.”

One of the opportunities for greater connection is a new class format called “Online LIVE,” which launched this fall. These classes are held in real-time, with teachers and students interacting through a video conferencing platform, such as Zoom. With even more Online LIVE classes scheduled for the spring, Global Campus students will have the option of enrolling in a certain number of these synchronous classes as an alternative to an in-person requirement.

“The residency requirement was a real impediment for many students desiring to attend Western, especially for our many international students located around the world,” says Pack. “The changes to the Global Campus mean that all of our students can receive their theological training in whatever context that God has called them to without traveling to Portland.”

He notes that it will soon be possible for an M.Div student in the Global Campus to finish a fully online degree in three years taking only Online LIVE classes in real time. And students who live outside of the U.S. will not be required to navigate the cost and logistical challenges that come with international travel.

The Online Live classes are one of several new ways that the Global Campus is leveraging emerging digital technology in the classroom. More instructional and advising support is available than ever before, and the Global Campus will continue looking for new ways to be innovative. But as Pack says, the driving focus remains the students, not the technology.

“Our aim is to get the technology of the interface out of the way. The point of what we are doing is to connect students to our worldclass faculty and each other as they undertake the journey of theological education, that they might grow in their union with Jesus, their life with His Church, and as ambassadors to the lost.”

Learn more about Western's online degrees.